Lead follow-up lessons from a real life buyer’s experience

I want to share a personal experience I recently had while starting my home purchase process. Working in the real estate tech industry, I naturally pay more attention to the workflow, tactics, and services real estate agents provide. Let’s take a quick look at my experience, what was done exceptionally, and what left me wanting more.

I was searching through homes one evening at about 6:45. I found one that piqued my interest, so I submitted an inquiry to the listing agent, asking her a few questions on the property.

How she handled my inquiry highlights three tips you can use to convert more online leads. And in a time when online leads are becoming more and more prevalent, you’ll want to check these out. Here’s a quick timeline and explanation.

6:50 PM – I send in an inquiry through Trulia asking some more specifics about the property (it was a multi-family with a separate single-family).

6:59 PM – My phone buzzes with a new e-mail. Assuming it was a work-related e-mail, or maybe some ESPN update, I was surprised to see it was the listing agent responding to my inquiry. She had already sent me a reply with tons of information on the property. It was impressive not only because she sent me all the info I wanted, but because of her response time and the quality of her e-mail (more on this later).

7:01 PM – I responded with a quick “Thank you! I think that answers all my questions.”

7:01 PM (30 seconds later) – She e-mailed me right back saying, “If you have any other questions I can answer on this property or another, let me know. Here to help.”

Her lead response was undoubtedly an A+ performance. She sent me a custom e-mail within minutes of my initial inquiry that included everything I asked for, and the applicable listing attachments as well. She took the time to personally respond to my “Thank you!” and made sure I knew she could provide the same service for other properties. Although, after this initial exchange, I didn’t hear from her again.

There are two tips to absorb from this story, and one pitfall to avoid. As we look at these, compare your practices with this agent and think of some ways you might be able to improve.

  • Tip 1: Reply to all leads and reply completely. In a recent REALTrends study, 45% of online real estate leads received no response whatsoever! By simply responding to every single lead, you’re already a leg up on almost half your competition! Make sure you get the person the answers they need, do it quickly, and business will follow down the road. You won’t convert every single lead, and you may not convert them with a single e-mail, but you’ll get enough to make a difference in your GCI at the end of the year.
  • Tip 2: A properly leveraged system makes you look amazing. If you read that first point and thought I was crazy to tell you to type up a detailed e-mail to every inquiry, you’re right. You probably don’t have time to do that. What you can do is leverage a system (process, software tool, etc.) that automates this first touch and leaves a positive impression, allowing you to quickly follow-up with the exact information a potential client is looking for.
  • Finally, the pitfall to avoid…Don’t forget to follow-up. So far this agent has done a lot of things right. She responded to me promptly, left me with a very professional image in my mind, and answered all my questions. What is she missing? She hasn’t followed up yet. Many studies show that leads take more than one contact to convert into a client or turn into a sale. For all she knows, I could be a cash buyer ready to purchase, giving her a quick and easy commission check. But she’s left it up to me to initiate the next contact, while other agents could be contacting me since I last spoke with her.

Don’t get me wrong, she made a good first impression, but you can’t convert leads with one contact. People are busy and it’s not unrealistic to assume they forget you after the first one or two e-mails back and forth. Unless you stay in their face, they could end up going with another agent who is just in the right place at the right time. If you want to close leads, make follow-up contacts. What’s the worst that could happen? You call a lead like me, I answer and tell you no. If that happens, who cares! You just saved another 3 or 4 follow up attempts (your time and money). Go invest that saved time in better leads.

Here’s a quick graphic of what I like to call “The Three F’s of effective follow-up.” This agent had two of the three, but the highest conversion rates come when all three are executed together.

Related: Click here to check out our automated lead management platform, Pipeline ROI.