by Rebecca Bradshaw
The internet can be a great source of new leads for real estate agents. However, not all leads turn into clients. How you handle leads, when and how you respond, and how you build and nurture your relationships with them, are all key elements in converting online leads into long term, loyal clients.
Contact leads as quickly as possible. Studies have shown that most online leads expect a response within one to four hours, and that the majority of buyers and sellers opt to use the first real estate agent they make contact with. Since it’s impossible to personally answer every query right away, use automated responses that either let the lead know you will be contacting them within a specific time frame, or by linking them to a website with your current listings, testimonials from past clients, and any other pertinent information. Be sure to follow through on your commitment to contact leads when you say you will.
Communicate regularly, but don’t just use email to pursue and maintain leads—pick up the phone and call. Voice contact can be an effective tool, allowing you to build a rapport with the client and to potentially build a long term client-Realtor® relationship. Take notes; the more a lead feels that you connect with them on a personal level (and vice versa) the greater their loyalty in the future, and the more likely they are to send referrals your way.
Make sure you are giving potential clients information that fits their situation—although it may be easier and quicker for you to prepare a rote script for all of your properties describing good school districts or homeowners associations, is that really what the lead is looking for? Show potential clients that you are personally invested in doing the best you can for them by providing information that is relevant to their specific needs.
Nothing will turn a lead away more quickly than an agent who drops the ball. Make sure you are providing excellent service by meeting deadlines, providing detailed information to your clients, and by returning emails and phone calls in a timely manner. In other words, be professional, organized, and consistent. Add even more value to your services by knowing which reputable local designers, repairmen, and other home related services to refer to your clients.
Continue to nurture client relationships even after your business is done. Stay in touch with past clients by calling periodically, perhaps on the anniversary of a sale or during the holidays. Use automated marketing tools such as monthly email newsletters to keep your name at the forefront of clients’ minds. This is especially useful for holding onto clients long term—when that couple you sold a home to three years ago decides it’s time to downsize, your name and contact information will be readily at hand when they decide to list their property and look for something new. Staying in touch with previous clients is also an effective way to garner future referrals.
Sources: IXACT Contact, Real Estate Magazine, Discover Publications