Few of us would argue with the idea that leads must be carefully managed and nurtured in order to make a sale. This is the lifeblood of CRE and many other industries. Still, with the masses of correspondence and data they deal with on a daily basis, brokers can find it challenging to address this aspect of their work as well as they would like.
The research shows us that neglecting this area can be a costly mistake. General sales research shows that 35-50% of sales go to the vendor that responds first. A 2014 survey covering 11 states found that 67% of real estate leads go unanswered entirely! This in the era of digital tools and 24/7 connectivity is astonishing. Considering this, just by responding once to a new contact, you’re outperforming more than half of your competition. But with digital tools and some strategic planning, you can do much, much better.
Understanding that it takes time to convert leads can provide some needed motivation to stick with it. Online Marketing Institute discusses the number of follow-up “touches” it generally takes to convert a lead. Their scenario for what it usually takes to convert a lead shows just how time-consuming the process can be:
- Initial email campaign.
- Initial direct mail campaign.
- Call: prospect not there; leave a message.
- Send email follow-up.
- Call: prospect is not involved in any way and refers to correct contact in company
- Start over. Call the referred person, leave voice message.
- Send email follow up. First email.
- Call, after no inbound response: prospect not able to talk then, but schedules another time.
- Send email follow up confirming call appointment day and time.
- Conference call held. Prospect interested, but wants more information before all the qualification questions on script (which the sales team needs) are completed.
- Send personalized email follow up with relevant info. The email may include information on case studies, webinars, and web pages with supporting information about the product. (AKA, mid funnel content.)
- Prospect now ready for a peer-to-peer talk about needs/pains, access to budget, purchase authority, level of urgency and timeframe. Now, the scoring data says the prospect is sales-ready qualified!
- Email to confirm appointment scheduled with field or inside sales rep, CC rep.
Thirteen separate actions that may result in a sale –and that’s with a “warm” lead. Another factor to consider is your level of experience. This has also been shown to make a difference in how quickly leads can be converted.
Knowing the importance of persistence and consistency in nurturing leads, it becomes obvious that this is not a job you can check in on once or twice a month. Here are some important strategies for effectively maintaining a healthy list of leads, and moving them to conversions.
Respond quickly –This remains important throughout your relationship, but is especially crucial at the outset.
Provide multiple ways to get in touch -Employ a variety of channels, and monitor them.
Make yourself useful – Don’t make every contact about making a sale. Provide your leads with useful information to build a relationship.
Respect their schedule– Think of each contact as a form of customer service. Make every effort to accommodate your lead’s schedule; make it easy to work with you.
Use digital platforms– Software specifically designed to track leads and generate automatic contact when appropriate can help you stay on track with your conversion plan. This last strategy makes the whole thing manageable. It frees up time by eliminating redundant tasks and simplifies scheduling, so none of your leads get lost in the shuffle.
As with most of the tasks we face each day, lead nurturing is made more effective when it’s well planned and consistently managed. The numbers show that the payoff is very much worth the effort.