Win More Clients by Converting Those Internet Leads

The Internet can be a great source for leads. But your Web customers expect to get information immediately, and you can't always be on call. Learn how you can do a better job at winning over leads that come through the Web.

March 1, 2010

I often hear real estate professionals complain about how few clients they have. But when I ask them what they're doing about their online follow-up systems, I get a blank stare.

In fact, most practitioners and offices get dozens of inquiries a week from online venues. Yet many of these go unanswered, and many that do get answered don't get those responses for 24 hours or more.

That's unacceptable in today's fast-paced world. Buyers expect instant responses. But you can't possibly be available all the time.

They don't need to know that, though. You can automate some systems so that the buyers who come in through the Web get an instant response that will reset their expectation for when they will hear from you.

Make Your Information Readily Available

Personally, I don't like the idea of having to be available 24/7. I never have. I've always given my clients a schedule and told them when to call me and when not to call me. However, you can put Web systems in place that let your prospects get their questions answered immediately, and set them up to want to speak to you further.

If you're interested in setting up systems to convert your Internet leads, you really don't have to get too fancy either (see 6 Best Practices for Online Leads). Don't make it complicated; just make it functional.

How Do You Answer Immediately Without Losing Sleep?

Easy: Set up a separate e-mail address for each listing with a vacation autoresponder attached to it. This autoresponder shouldn't be the standard "I'm out of the office, but your message is important to me" message.

Instead, it should read something like this:

Thanks for asking about my listing at 123 Main Street! I know you're probably in need of some more information about the property, and I want to give that to you right away whether I'm available or not. To do this, I've set up a special Web site about this listing to walk you through all of the details. Click on http://www.123MainSt.com to find out more. There's also some additional information there about buying a home and about the Condon Park development.

I'm not available at the moment, but as soon as I get your e-mail, I'll be in touch to make sure you've got all of your questions were answered. I try to anticipate my clients' needs—please let me know how I did for you. You can e-mail me directly at: sallysells@sallysells.com. For faster service or to set up an appointment right away, call my cell phone at 555-555-5555. If I don't answer, I'll get back to you within four hours. We'll talk soon!

In an e-mail like this, consumers get what they expect — an instant answer to their inquiry with more information. They also have the ability to contact you directly and even potentially reach you on the phone right away.

It also conveys that you won't be available all the time but will get back to them in a specific time frame. This way, consumers are provided with an appropriate expectation of availability from the start.

What Happens When They Get to the Web Site?

On the Web site, you have to do a fantastic job of describing the property. Why? Because you owe it to the seller to do so. Plus, you don't want to show the house if it isn't going to be right for the buyer, so let them weed it out if they need to.

The important thing is that they don't weed you out as well.

This Web site is your opportunity to talk to them and sell them on your services (or at least sell them on talking to you about your services). It should include:

  • Testimonials from past clients.
  • A video of you talking to the buyers about the pitfalls of buying a home without a buyer's agent and the benefits of working with you. (Make sure you show off your personality in the video. People want to work with people they like — be likeable.)
  • A white paper or a similar resource that gets them to give up their phone number. The white paper should be specifically targeted to the type of buyer who would want that house. For example, if you are selling a home in the Condon Park development, the white paper would be "What Every Buyer Should Know About Living in Condon Park." To get this, they have to provide their name and phone number. Remember, the goal isn't to give out information — it's to get the buyer on the phone so that you can make an appointment.
  • Plant the question in their heads of what else they don't know and that perhaps they should call you — you'll be that person who can anticipate their needs and set up a Web site just for them.

Basically, look at this Web site as the conversation you would have had with them if they had called the office to ask their question. Then ask for the call.

Remember, if you don't ask for it, you won't get it.

Give Them a Reason

Your Internet leads need to feel like they're going to get something in return as well. Tell them why they need to call you.

Will you sort through all of the listings for them so that they don't have to? Will you preview properties so that they don't have to spend their precious time looking at things that just won't work? Will you negotiate on their behalf to get the best price? Will you do research on the market and the area to make sure that they don't overpay and that they won't have any unpleasant surprises at closing?

All of these are benefits that serious buyers would love to have.

If Only They Would Call!

It was so much easier to convert buyers when they would simply call us. We could hear their tone of voice, ask questions while we answered theirs, connect with them on a personal level over the phone, and then ask for the appointment. Now, we have to do all of this virtually.

Video, friendly pictures of ourselves, testimonials from clients, and the quality of our information all have to speak for us now. Sure, it's going to take time to set all this up. We'll have to spend some money too.

But if we plan well, we can use some of the materials over and over again. And ultimately, one additional sale that comes from these systems can pay for the whole shebang.

Plus, wouldn't it be great if we could set up an online system that makes buyers call you and say "Would you please sell me a house?"

Kelle Sparta is the author ofThe Consultative Real Estate Agent: Building Relationships that Create Loyal Clients, Get More Referrals, and Increase Your Sales(AMACOM, 2005). She is also the founder of Sparta Success Systems , a real estate training company.

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