Have you ever found yourself parked in front of the phone, dreading picking it up? A cold call is one of the most intimidating tasks of the average salesperson. Thankfully, that first phone call to an online lead isn’t a cold call. It’s not a warm call, either. That call is hot. Not “hot” the way Paris Hilton uses the word, but hot nonetheless.
After all, the person you are calling not only took the time to either register at your website or at the site from which you purchase your leads, but actually supplied you with permission to call by giving you a phone number.
While these potential clients may not be ready to buy a house tomorrow, they were motivated enough to put out feelers. So, get over the call reluctance and start calling these people.
Timing the First Call
How many times have you told a client that “time is of the essence” during a bidding war or any part of a transaction for that matter? The words are even written in most real estate contracts. Agent, take heed. You simply must call these prospective clients back within minutes of receiving the lead. If you don’t, another agent will.
According to a study published at Forbes, the odds of actually reaching prospects are the highest if you call back within five minutes of their submission of the registration form. The longer you wait to call, the uglier the odds get. If you wait over five hours, the odds of making contact with the person are 3,000 times worse.
There is an even better reason to contact the prospect as soon as possible, according to Lou Lynch, online marketing specialist. “Waiting longer than five minutes to call a lead after a lead form/registration has been submitted has a 46 percent lower rate of qualification than those called in under five minutes,” he claims. He goes on to say that a call made as soon as 30 minutes after submission reduces the conversion ratio over 100 times.
A final benefit of a quick response is that is shows the prospective client that you are responsive to her needs.
What to Say
Better yet, let’s discuss what not to say. Unless specifically asked, avoid talking about yourself. Don’t tell the prospective client about your sales volume, your designations and specialties, your honesty and integrity or any of the myriad things many real estate agents talk about when trying to sell themselves.
The prospect doesn’t really care about you and how you do business at this point; he only wants to know about properties.
Don’t work toward making an appointment, either. Online leads are typically not anywhere near ready to buy and require a more relaxed approach. Be the counselor, not the salesperson.
Before picking up the phone, check the lead to remind yourself what the prospect is looking for – how many bedrooms, bathrooms and in what neighborhood. This information gives you insight into the buyer’s needs and fodder for the first phone call.
The best online lead follow-up call is brief:
- Identify yourself. You are most likely not the only agent he’s reached out to.
- Let him know you received his request. If it was a particular property he expressed interest in, give him the status, briefly describe the listing and then listen.
- If the prospective client is amenable to remaining on the phone, you can gently begin asking qualifying questions: “When do you plan on moving?” or “Have you spoken with a lender?” and, of course, “Do you need to sell your current home first?”
Reassure him you won’t be hounding him like other pesky salespeople, and ask permission to send him email alerts when new listings that fit his criteria come up. Let him know that you’re available to answer any questions he may have about the buying and selling process.
“Hi Irma this is Ace Agent with the Best Real Estate Company. You requested information on a house, and I wanted to follow up with you to see how I can help. I see you’re looking in the Happy Acres neighborhood, is that correct?
If you offer incentives, such as a market report or e-book, now is the time to mention it. “I have an e-book about the homebuying process. Can I email you a link to a complimentary copy?”
“I have a market report about the neighborhood you’re interested in. Would you like a copy? I’m happy to email it to you.”
If you don’t offer incentives, close your call with a request for permission to follow up. “Would you be interested in receiving email alerts when new listings that match your criteria hit the MLS?”
If the answer is yes: “Great, I’ll shoot you an email with some properties I think you’ll be interested in and then keep you updated with new listings. In the meantime, if you see something you want to view, let me know and I’ll set an appointment for you to walk through it.”
The key to online lead conversion success is rapid response – the quicker, the better. Second, don’t come on too strong – take off the salesperson hat and put on the counselor hat.
You probably look cuter in that one anyway.