Superstar Lead Conversion Playbook & The 3 S’s of Lead Conversion

In the real estate industry, one of the most common topics of discussion and debate is lead conversion, particularly when dealing with leads generated online. Agents may vehemently defend this method or that piece of software. But many forget to return to the fundamentals of real estate lead conversion and to reexamine the systems they have in place for capturing and nurturing leads.

In Episode 30 of #OfficeHours, we examine the Superstar Lead Conversion Playbook and the 3 S’s of Lead Conversion. Catch what you missed from the episode below.

Now let’s take a look at the fundamentals of real estate lead conversion, including the 3 S’s. Once we have those basics covered, then it’s time to invest money into lead conversion tools and strategies.

Back to the Basics: The 3 S’s of Lead Conversion

Breaking down real estate lead conversion into three S’s is a simple way to remember a critical component of your sales funnel.

These are the 3 S’s of lead conversion:

  • Sources – Where buyers are coming from. To maximize sourcing, you need to know where your leads are coming from and establish a strong, authoritative presence in those places.
  • Speed – The importance of responding quickly to communications with leads. It’s not always about having the perfect script or even being the best real estate agent for the job.  Being first and fast is more important than being best.
  • System – The tools and processes that convert leads to sales, from initial contact through follow-up communications to the sale itself.

When it comes to real estate lead conversion, it’s critical to nail down these fundamentals first before investing money into other technology, software, or personnel to your business. Let’s break down each S and how they work together to generate and convert leads for your real estate business.

Sources

Lead Conversion
Source: Virgo Group via Wikimedia Commons

Understanding where your leads are coming from is critical to maximizing lead sourcing in general. It’s only detrimental to you—and helpful to your competition—if you are not established, or at least present, on the main platforms where leads are first able to connect with you.

Whether you’re a top agent in your area or a newly licensed realtor just starting out, about 50% of your leads on average will come from your friends, family, and sphere of influence. Always focus on the people who know you best. These are often some of the easiest leads to capture and nurture due to your proximity to or shared connection with the lead.

But where do the other 50% of leads come from? Picture for a moment what happens first when someone decides they want to buy or sell their home. More often than not, they pull out their smartphone or hop on their computer and start searching for listings and other information relevant to the homebuying or selling process.

So where are your leads going when they first embark on this real estate journey? And is your sales pipeline configured to effectively and efficiently siphon leads from those sources?

When it comes to real estate, agents tend to pull leads from four main sources. These include more general search and social platforms like Facebook and Google as well as real estate-specific sites like Realtor.com, Zillow, and Trulia.

4 Key Sources for Real Estate Leads

  • Facebook
  • Google
  • com
  • Zillow/Trulia

If you’re generating leads from these sources, the next step is to determine whether they are good leads and how you should follow up with them. Marketing analytics can help you determine which platforms work best for your particular business and community, and you can adjust your efforts to have a more established presence on whichever platforms generate you the most and strongest leads.

Speed

Mobile Phone Lead Conversion
Source: carinakrammer via Pixabay

Once you know where your leads are coming from, the next step is to ensure that you are responding to them with whiplash-inducing speed. As a general rule, if you get a lead, your goal should be to respond to almost any communication within 5 minutes. If not, you may miss your opening to jump on this lead before your competition does first.

Imagine the mindset of a potential homebuyer when they first enter the buying cycle. They may go to Realtor.com and click a listing, but when do they want to set an appointment to see that house? In many cases, right then and there, while they’re thinking about it. So if you don’t respond to that lead within 5 minutes, you could be missing a promising opportunity, and that customer may move on and funnel into the next (Read: faster) agent’s sales pipeline.

Consider this stat: If you respond to a lead in 30 minutes versus 5 minutes, you have a 100 times (100x) worse of a chance to convert that lead. Usually, you’ll lose the lead because another agent followed up with the lead first, or because the lead stopped the search or lost interest for whatever reason.

In short, if you respond within 5 mins, regardless of what exactly you say, you will have a significantly better chance of capturing that lead. Speed is one of the most important pieces of this lead conversion formula.

But with that speed must also come a sense of patience and understanding about where your lead is in the buying cycle. That lead could be several months from actually being ready to pull the trigger on what is a massive, life-changing decision. That doesn’t mean the lead isn’t of high quality—you just need to nurture that lead until they are ready to move forward.

That’s where the last S comes in.

System

Real Estate
Source: fernandozhiminaicela via Pixabay

Once you know where your sources are coming from and have addressed the speed with which you respond to them, it’s time to develop an internal system for collecting, organizing, nurturing, and eventually converting leads.

Without an effective system in place, your leads might be good, but you may not be responding fast enough. Or they might be a great lead, but they’re not ready just yet, and you lose track of the lead over time without a system for following up.

The main goal of this system is that when your lead is ready to pull the trigger—whether that’s in 5 minutes, 5 days, or 5 months—you need to be there. Your job is to be present and to be the authority and expert when that time comes. Your system shouldn’t push the natural progression of that timeline and should always nurture rather than force or pressure your leads too hard. But it should also have enough follow-up built into it that those leads don’t run cold.

The first step in building your system is to create a database that you can feed leads into so you can later follow up and convert those leads into sales. Rather than investing in complicated tools or software, you can much more quickly, easily, and inexpensively create a simple database using a Google spreadsheet or Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, should you already have it or similar software. This allows you to funnel the leads from your key sources into one organized, searchable, and sortable database.

The database is a critical component of your lead conversion system, and without it, you’ll be left without a reliable system to follow up and nurture leads.

Computer
Source: Vojtech Okenka via Pexels

This system will also help with speed. As real estate agents, it’s easy to get in the habit of telling clients, “I’m available 24/7.” Well, unless you’re a robot or the Terminator, that’s actually impossible. But, with the right system in place, you can determine when leads are shopping and browsing online.

If you know the most common times of the day and week when current and potential leads are most likely looking at houses, your system will enable you to respond within that critical 5-minute window. Bottom line: Unless you are bombarded with leads, you have time to respond within 5 minutes, whether through text, email, or any other channel.

Now, you may be considering investing in certain technology, software, or even personnel as you develop this system. But before spending any money, I encourage you to invest time and effort instead. Then you become the system of follow-up. Build a personalized, user-friendly database. Keep up with tracking and nurturing your leads. Analyze your marketing metrics, and continue to always optimize your system. Then, you can become a lead generation monster.

Eventually, this lead conversion system will work so smoothly that you are overwhelmed by the number of leads coming in. And that’s a good problem to have. Only then should you consider investing money into technology, software, or personnel that can increase in your lead conversion rate. Then, you can also become a lead conversion monster.

Marketing Funnel
Source: Jared Sexton via Flickr

But the fact is, most of us don’t have that problem—yet. We have a systematic problem. Where are the leads coming from, and how are we nurturing them over time? Until we can answer those questions and build an effective system in response, lead generation and lead conversation rates will stagnate.

The ultimate goal of this lead conversion system is to capture leads online and take them offline. After generating leads through search engines or an email, the next step is to schedule a viewing, grab a coffee, or otherwise meet face-to-face.

Your sources and speed, as governed by your internal lead conversion system, will ensure you get to the point where you can create that personal touch and actual relationship with leads. Because it ultimately is that personal touch and sense of relationship or partnership that contribute to a higher, healthier real estate lead conversion rate.

Mindset: Adopting the Attitude of a Winner

 

mindset success formulaMindset. One thing that comes up all of the time, especially with the questions I get about success and what it takes to be successful, is the idea of having the right mindset. Unfortunately as is too often the case the big mistake that I see people make is to go out and search for the right mindset instantly – in other words I want to know the right mindset and I want it right now! The problem with this idea of instant gratification is the concept of adopting the right mindset is a collection, it’s even a lifetime of strategies and practice and the way that you look at the world that is going to take time and practice to get right. It’s an unfortunate reality that as human beings we are predisposed to be negative. In other words – we are so good at focusing on what’s wrong rather than what’s right that it becomes a poison that affects people in all aspects of all businesses. Therefore, if you want to learn the idea of having the right mindset let’s talk about the first thing which is probably the most important piece: adopting a winner’s mindset.

Winner’s Mindset

winner's mindset

The idea of having a winner’s mindset is not simply the idea of winning and losing, or I have to win and you have to lose. Having a winner’s mindset involves the concept of looking at the world and things that happen and how you will typically react to those things differently than everyone else. In other words, it’s understanding how to view situations and how they affect you and actually steer you going forward. Therefore, rather than looking at things as wins and losses you need to start looking at things as victories or learning opportunities.

Wherever you are today if you are looking for the right mindset to become more successful it means that the place that you’re sitting in right here at this moment is not where you want to go. In order to get you there guess what? You’re going to have to leave your comfort zone and try things at a different level. You’re going to have to do things that are uncomfortable; that are new, that might be completely different than anything you’ve ever tried before! If you are getting results now that you’re unhappy with, if you keep doing what you’re doing you’re never going to get there. So the idea of the winner’s mindset is to first of all make sure you remind yourself regularly that you’re going to have to try new things and really put yourself out there – far far out of your comfort zone – to reach this true success that you’re seeking.

You Need to Retrain Your Mind

mindset-retrain your mind

When you put yourself out there not everything is going to work out. You’re going to experience failure. If you have a winner’s mindset you won’t look at things as wins and losses. Every single thing that happens is not necessarily a scoreboard moment. You don’t have to believe that as an entrepreneur you are looking at a win and loss record. You’re either going to win and succeed – or you’re going to learn and move on. You either win or you learn – that’s the art of having the winner’s mindset. It’s not that either I win and I lose and become a failure; it’s either I win when I succeed or I’m going to learn from it and move on to what’s next!

You either win – or you learn

You’ve probably heard that they say the definition of insanity is trying the same thing over and over and trying to get different results. Well, I am here to tell you that’s definitely true. So in order to get different results it means you need a new strategy and new techniques. This usually means trying something new, and well, what if it doesn’t work? Well if you are afraid to fail and you are afraid that it’s not going to work and all you’re ever going to do is stay in your comfort zone and not going to try something new because you’re worried it’s not going to work you’re never going to reach the success that you’re looking for!

Winners Look at Failures in a Different Light

Let’s use an obnoxious example to prove this point. If I came out with the iPhone in 1995 – I want you to understand that it would be a huge failure. Huge! The reason is because the world would not have been ready for the $700 cell phone that can browse the internet and make social media access very easy. I mean think about it, in 1995 there was not a whole lot of broadband internet out there and there really wasn’t any social media that you just had to check 50 times a day on your phone. People weren’t text messaging constantly, they were actually still calling each other. Imagine that! So if I invented the iPhone 1995 I could have been the greatest inventor in the history of mankind. It would have changed the world (so I thought), but the world would not have been ready for it yet. People would have laughed at me for coming out with a cell phone that cost $700. Consumers would be asking – like how do I sign into my AOL account using this phone?

What I want you to understand is even in business sometimes you’ll do things that are great, they might be great product, but the marketplace just isn’t ready for it yet. Or you might try a new style of marketing campaign, something that you’re putting out there providing value in the marketplace, and the marketplace just may not understand the value you thought you created. What you need understand is you’re going to have to try things, and sometimes they’re going to work and you’re going to win and sometimes they’re going to fail. But you – the person with the winner’s mindset – you’re not going to lose you’re going to learn! The adoption of this winner’s mindset is that you look for these opportunities to learn from the things that you did and didn’t work so that your business can grow in the future.

The Success Formula Includes Looking at the Failures as Learning Opportunities

The successful mindset, a winner’s mindset is all about looking at the world differently than everyone else. It is understanding that I’m going to have to try new things. I’m going to put myself out there. I’m going to have to really stretch out of my comfort zone in order to become the success that I so desire. I’m going to be happy about my wins and I will revel in my success, but then I also need to understand that if things don’t work I’m not a loser. I didn’t lose. I didn’t necessarily fail. I learned. And the next time I try something similar, or launch a new product, or think that I’m doing something innovative; the trick there is I’m going to make sure that I don’t repeat the same mistakes again. Adopting the winner’s mindset is all about looking at my business efforts and judging them on the results. It’s about making sure that I either win or that I learn, and so when I win I’m going to keep that in mind going forward and I’m not going to repeat the same mistakes; if they are mistakes at all. Likely they are learning opportunities, to get me from where I am now to where I want to go.

Are You Focusing on Lead Conversion?

Lead Conversion is Really The King

For years the conversation in real estate sales has been centered on lead generation. It comes from good old fashioned sales theory, which is that you need leads in order to generate sales. This is still as true today as it was then, however it is the method by which we gain new leads that now determines the manner of approach.

When it comes to real estate sales, lead conversion is actually king.
When it comes to real estate sales, lead conversion is actually king.

Since lead generation is largely targeted towards the internet, it is important to understand that while generating leads is important – converting them to clients and sales is more important. So important, in fact, I call it “king.” All leads should be treated as internet leads, as there is a distinct difference between how an internet lead should be handled and a referral from a friend, for instance.

The Sheer Numbers of Internet Leads

According to Move, Inc.  there were 2.9 million internet leads generated for real estate sales in 2011. In just a few short years, that number had increased to 40.6 million leads in 2014. To put that into perspective, there were only 5.1 million real estate sales in 2014! Which means there were about 8 leads generated for every 1 closed sale. Since the internet space is noisy, and there are tons of leads available and being generated daily, what top real estate agents need to understand is that converting those leads and closing sales is the real key to success in real estate. If you are not at the point in your career where you can simply live off referrals and reputation, you better have a lead conversion strategy in your arsenal that works!

According to Move, Inc. there were 40.6 million internet leads generated in 2014 as opposed to only 5.1 million real estate sales

The Importance of a System

If you are a real estate broker, then having a defined system in place on how internet leads are not only generated – but converted – is going to determine important metrics that measure success. All anyone talks about anymore is how to generate more leads, but if the leads are not converting into clients and into transactions what does it matter? Quality leads, converted into transactions, that’s what really matters in real estate.

For instance, how fast will someone in your organization respond to an internet lead? By what manner will that lead be contacted? Is there a follow-up plan in place in order to nurture those leads over time? How will agents be delivered these leads, and how will their success be tracked? There are so many questions a broker needs to ask herself, and generating more leads may not simply be the answer. A few options that brokers may wish to consider in order to convert more of those precious internet leads could be the following:

  • An inside sales agent or conversion specialist
  • Utilization of an outside sales agent service
  • Assigning leads directly to real estate salespeople in the firm

Speed Kills on the Highway and in Lead Conversion

Speed kills on the highway, and also converts more leads
Speed kills on the highway, and also converts more leads

Nick Saban, who is one of the most decorated college football coaches of all time, has a phrase where he says “speed kills on the highway and on the football field.” I have heard him say this many times, all the way back to his days with my Alma Mater LSU. Of course, he is referring to the types of players he wants to recruit for his program and how speed is as important in football as any particular trait.

This mantra plays very well into lead conversion too. Speed, above all else, is the most important metric which should be tracked. Consider the internet lead, and think in terms of where they may have come from and how they became a lead in the first place. Many times this lead was generated by their searching for a particular property on a search portal (such as REALTOR.com, Zillow.com, Yahoohomes.com, etc.) and you receive information about a potential buyer. This buyer is likely driving through the neighborhood right at that moment, is on their cell phone, and has never heard of you or your brokerage. So what really matters here? First one in usually wins. I will say that again, first one in usually wins! Speed trumps all else when it comes to online lead conversion.

In fact, the more time that goes by (the older that lead becomes) the less likely you are to convert that lead. Consider the following:

http://www.payonperformance.com.au/customer-response-time-matters/
http://www.payonperformance.com.au/customer-response-time-matters/

So how do you respond to leads faster? It all goes back to what I mentioned earlier in this post, which is that having a system becomes paramount in this ever increasing competitive landscape. For instance, do you use a real estate CRM in your business? If so make sure that you are using the right CRM for your real estate business. For instance, if converting internet leads is crucial to your business model then it would be crazy to have a CRM without automatic responders as a part of the system.

As you look at the statistics above and you consider how speed trumps all else in lead conversion, it also bears considering that none of us can be available 24/7. It is literally impossible – you have to sleep! Therefore, having a CRM to be on top of things for you and respond to leads effectively and quickly can make all the difference in the world. If a buyer lead is generated online at 3am, your CRM can send an automatic message letting that lead know that you received their request and cannot wait to speak with them. That way, even if you are not actually awake at the time of the generated lead at least you responded quickly. And if you are managing your time effectively, then first thing the next business day you would be right on top of converting that lead.

I plan to post much more on this topic very soon, as with the emphasis on lead generation in the marketplace I want to also make sure that those leads you worked hard to generate are actually converting – which is where the real staying power is in real estate.