“Leads, Listings, Leverage,” “Lead generation, capture, follow-up, and conversion”, leads, Leads, LEADS! What, pray tell, IS a lead, how do you know when you have one, and what on earth do you do with it when you do?
On the surface it seems like such an easy question, but if you ask fifty agents that same question, you will hear at least as many answers. You probably think that you know exactly what a lead is, but try to define it so that anyone could fully grasp the concept and you will likely find it’s like describing a spiral staircase without using your hands—not as easy as you would think it should be.
To get the most benefit from your lead generation activities, it would serve you well to understand the term better, so first, let’s look at what my childhood friend Mr. Dictionary has to say. (Hey, don’t judge! It was either read the dictionary or play with my older sister. Since her favorite games were anything that involved me being the “go-getter” my choice seemed like the obvious one.)
Of the 19 definitions of the noun form of the word, these two are most applicable for our purposes:
-A suggestion or piece of information that helps to direct or guide; tip; clue. Such as: I got a lead on a new job. The phone list provided some great sales leads.
-A guide or indication of a road, course, method, etc., to follow.
What it does not say is, “A person who is looking to buy, sell, or invest in real estate.” (Or any other product or service)
So why are you treating PEOPLE as “leads”? I find this especially ironic in an industry where it seems every agent’s “unique” value proposition includes something about treating every client “like family” or “the way (the agent) would want to be treated.”
This might have something to do with the facts that in 2010:
- Average number of transactions per agent: 8 [i]
- Average full-time agent income (between 40-59 hr./wk.): $49,000 [ii]
- Median Realtor income: $34,100 [iii]
- Nearly 40% of agents reported earning less than $25,000 [iv]
Is it possible that the most successful agents are those who understand what a “lead” actually is and therefore recognize the best methods for generating them and systems for building business around them? If a lead is information that guides or directs, then we should be looking at lead generation in a different way than simply calling names on a list.
What information has that person provided that is guiding or directing you to believe they have a need that you are qualified to meet? Does looking at homes on your website accurately indicate that they are in the market for a new home? Does researching prices of homes sold in a particular neighborhood indicate that a homeowner is preparing to sell? How are you providing information to and gathering information from prospects or visitors to your websites?
Not offering compelling calls to action is like going fishing without bait. If you catch anything at all it will be by accident and most things you hook won’t be what you are hoping to catch.
The purpose of all of your marketing efforts, including your websites is to cause the reader/visitor/recipient to take an action of some sort. The primary goal may be to have them provide their contact information, but ultimately you need them to provide you with that information that will guide you in your interaction with them. Let’s look at three of the most effective ways of uncovering this information.
★ Address Their Fear—Offer answers to the most common questions that homebuyers and sellers ask in the form of a video, blog article, PDF download, or eBook. (With the number of short sales, foreclosures, and REO’s in today’s market, fear is an extremely powerful motivator.)
★ Reveal Their Desires—Provide tools to allow your audience to choose the type of home best fits their lifestyle, which neighborhoods are best suited to where they work and play, or a Dream-Home Finder.
★ Meet Their Needs—Be the source for more than just MLS searches. You know more than they do what it takes to have a successful real estate transaction, so provide that information to them in a way that is easy for them to access and digest. Create a list of lenders and service providers, a guide to understanding the local market, a list of questions to ask when hiring an agent, lender, or other professional. The list of information you can provide is limited only to your own imagination.
The common denominator in all these is that in each case an action should be required in order to access the information. This can be as simple as:
- an opt-in form for an offer for your videos, downloads, eBooks, etc.,
- a free (or paid) membership site, or
- a dedicated phone number for free information included on your marketing pieces.
The beauty of all this is really in its simplicity. By becoming the source of the information you not only build your brand and position yourself as the expert, you also grow your database in a way that will allow you to market to it based upon the information that most interests the individual. When you adjust your marketing message to address what matters most to the recipient, your influence with that person grows exponentially. Increase your influence and you will automatically increase your conversion. Your ever-expanding client base and your bottom line will thank you for it.
★ These topics will be covered in-depth as individual articles in the coming weeks.