Lead Conversion: Part One | The Zebra Blog

Lead Conversion: Part One

Young Woman at a Computer

Seven Tips for Converting Internet Leads

Even if the shorter days and cooler nights weren’t a big tip-off, I always know when fall has arrived.

Why? Because once again my inbox is flooded with requests from agents who have taken the summer off and are now feeling panicked about their lack of business.

Because they haven’t been prospecting during the summer, and haven’t been keeping in touch with past clients consistently, they’re now scrambling for leads.

And in desperation, many of them decide to pay a company to provide internet leads.

There are hundreds (or maybe thousands?) of companies out there selling online leads to hopeful agents. The promise is, of course, that an agent will receive dozens (or hundreds!) of leads, which they will magically convert into commission checks. I’m not even going to get into the problems with some of those leads in the post. Instead, I’m going to pretend that each and every lead that arrives in your mailbox is a legitimate buyer or seller.

Now all you have to do is convert them with a quick email or two, right? If only it were that easy!

Question: Why does almost every agent I talk to have such a poor conversion rate for online leads?

Answer: They’re not engaging with these potential clients and keeping them hungry for more. (Well, part of it may be that all those leads aren’t legitimate. But again, for today’s purposes, I’m going to pretend they are.)

Internet leads are very different than leads which call you, walk in to your office, or drop by an open house. The internet lead is typically looking for information … without commitment.

That’s why so many people opt-out of forced forms when searching online – they don’t want to share information before they’re ready to do so. You have to assume that, for whatever reason, these potential clients want to remain anonymous, and most importantly you have to remember this:  you have not earned the right to ask anything of them.

If you want to be successful in converting online leads, the key is to position yourself as a professional resource, once who gives freely before asking or taking. It’s that simple! How does that look in real life? Let me share seven tips with you:

  1. Don’t assume that an online lead doesn’t have potential, that they’re not serious about buying or selling, and that they’re just using you for information. These kinds of assumptions are costly – don’t make them! Online leads are searching for the right solution. Be that solution! People start their search – and research – online.  Treat online leads with the same care you would someone who stopped by an open house. Don’t let them start with you and finish with someone else.
  2. Stand out from the competition in terms of knowledge and/or service. Don’t merely give an online lead exactly what they ask for. Go beyond! If they ask about a home in a certain neighborhood, provide information about the home and the neighborhood. Then also include information on similar neighborhoods which might meet their needs.
  3. Don’t push too early for information. If someone hasn’t offered more information, there’s probably a reason for it. Be respectful of boundaries. But let’s say you really want to get someone’s mailing address. Let them know you’ve prepared a report that has information that you’ve prepared – information that would be helpful to them. Ask if you could mail it to them. When they then provide their name and address, mail it promptly! What kind of report would they want? What about appreciation rates for neighborhoods in your marketplace? That’s something every potential buyer would value. Sales price and market time statistics would be of enormous value to a seller.
  4. Don’t be too casual. Email and texting has created an environment where it’s ok to be quite casual. These internet leads aren’t your personal friends. Keep the conversation professional, and be sure to use standard punctuation and grammar. No smiley faces, no “U R” instead of “you are”.
  5. Be consistent … but don’t be overly persistent. Don’t keep pushing and prodding and asking if people are ready to go. Be a resource, not a persistent pain in the neck.
  6. Be timely. If you are going to work internet leads you must make sure you are notified immediately when a lead comes in. With today’s technology, that’s pretty simple to do. And when you’re asked for information, send it as quickly as possible. If they don’t get it from you, they’ll simply go to the computer and find a different resource.
  7. Keep it clean … and by “it” I mean your social media profile. Once a client connects with you online (or perhaps even before) they may take the time to do a little research … on Facebook, on LinkedIn, on Pinterest. Be sure that the messages you’re sending on these sites put you in the best possible light. Posts talking about the killer kegger you went to last weekend, or how wasted you were at your high school reunion are probably not going to help with lead conversion.

While the odds aren’t in your favor given the poor quality of many online leads which are sold to you, if you follow these tips you will significantly boost your conversion rate for online leads. You can also use the same principles if you are generating leads from your own website.

There are agents in the marketplace right now who are doing a great job converting online leads using these strategies … and they’re making a good living at it. They’ve learned the skill of incubating leads, and not expecting conversion after receiving a single email.

Know what clients want, and be sure you can provide it. When someone is ready to move forward, whether they are a buyer or a seller, they typically take the path of least resistance. If you’ve been a good source of timely, reputable information – and you’ve built a respectful rapport – you will get the business.

I’ll be talking more about lead cultivation this month, with segments on in-person and telephone lead conversion. Watch for those Zebra Reports in September!

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8 Responses to “Lead Conversion: Part One”

  1. […] Converting In-Person Leads After my Zebra Report last week on converting internet leads agents reached out with many comments. I was actually surprised to […]

  2. Tom Minch says:

    Great post Denis. Internet leads are different from traditional leads that most agents get used to. It’s a numbers game here, you need to be patient and persistent. Calling every single lead is what everybody needs to do, there is no way around that. Sadly, many agents are not doing it since the misconception that internet leads are “not good”.

    Having a system to manage internet leads is very important, you can’t just bury leads in your inbox and hope you’ll find them “when the time comes”. It simply won’t come and you’ll give up the opportunity to someone else who cared enough to follow up.

    • Denise Lones says:

      Tom, thanks for taking the time to comment! Internet leads do end up being a numbers game to a certain extent. Timeliness, persistence, and – again – differentiating yourself is key to success.

  3. Doug Bullis says:

    I have a slight disagreement with #3 above — the part about having a “prepared” report. That sounds canned to me. Meaning, it sounds like it’s nothing extra special you’ve prepared for them as opposed to “let me prepare something special jus for you and get it in the mail today!”
    I slightly disagree with #4 — using smiley faces. I think it’s one of those ‘use good taste’ things. Due to the lack of emotions in emails or the inability to use voice inflection, sometimes I think it’s appropriate to use emoticons provided they’re used sparingly and at the right place in an email. I think it helps inject a tone of friendliness. Again, if used sparingly, they can add a little color to a conversation. It also instills a little personality with your professionalism. Professionalism isn’t so much about how stuffy your email sounds, but about how you respond to their request for information — quickly, friendly, and informative/useful.

    • Denise Lones says:

      You’re right – the way I phrased the “prepared report” could sound canned. I think it would be effective to offer to create a special report for someone as you’ve mentioned. I am going to stick with my use of smiley faces comment though. I hear what you’re saying, and I do think they’re ok after you’ve had communication back and forth with a client, but they should not be part of your initial communication with internet leads UNLESS they have started with smiley faces, and you are a smiley face kind of person. In that instance, it could be appropriate to include those kinds of emoticons in your email. Great comments Doug – and thank you!

      • Doug Bullis says:

        Re: Smiley faces — Again, I think it’s a question of judgement. I’m not saying one should plaster their emails with smiley faces, but there could be a particular sentence within the reply that could constitute the use of a smiley face, i.e., getting a friendly point across. As you know, there are not a lot of unskilled writers out there and people interpret what is being said very differently. A smiley could indicate your comment was friendly in nature as opposed to direct or rude. The key is getting the point across and sometimes you can’t do that in an email with the intended affect. How else do you put emotions in an email?

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