What is the best way to convert internet leads in to actual listings and sales…into real sellers and buyers? Internet Lead Generation is one of the hottest topics in the real estate industry today and there yet with all the buzz, the average agent is not having a lot of success in converting those “leads” into closings. How should Realtors approach internet leads to effectively convert them?
Here are the 5 steps to more effectively converting internet leads into real clients:
1. PROSPECT VS LEAD.
Understand that most of the time, Internet leads are not LEADS, they are prospects. This means most of them are not going to regularly convert into immediate business. This important to give you an accurate perspective of your business pipelines.
2. TALK TO THEM.
They are not truly a lead until you have a conversation with them. The goal is to take the conversation offline as quickly as possible. Until you do, there is a high probability they will end up with another agent. Email conversations are very unpredictable in terms of converting prospects into actual transaction.
3. SPEED TO CONNECT.
You have 2 minutes after you get their information call them and connect with them. That is the magic window that gives you the best chance to turn a prospect into a client. Speed to conversation is critical.
The average incubation period on an internet lead is 6 to 24 months. The internet is where people start their search, but most of them are not going to be ready to actually sell or buy for months. If you are only trying to pump out a deal today, you will not be effective with this group.
5. NURTURE SYSTEM.
You must have a simple, effective system to nurture these prospects. My PC (Personal Circle™) System gives you a very simple model to follow. First, email them 2 times a month, once with a market update and once a month with your “Featured Listings of the Month.” Second, call them once a month just to touch base and stay in touch with them until they’re ready to move.
Hi there it's Kevin Ward, the founder of YesMasters Real Estate Success Training and the author of the number one best selling book, The Book of Yes: The Ultimate Real Estate Agent Conversation Guide.
Today I want to talk about the future of real estate. Well, not really but…yes, really, because everybody knows that the Internet is a permanent fixture and a major component in real estate. Now I'm going to say this up front that it is not the end-all be-all of real estate because most of the things that make real estate happen is not the Internet, but I'm going to talk about it, and I'm going to try and help you understand it.
The topic that I'm talking about today is what is the best way and the truth about converting internet leads, because it's really a hot subject in the real estate market today among real estate agents and brokers. And that is how do you generate and how do you convert internet leads?
I want to be crystal clear that this video is not about how to generate internet leads. That’s a totally different conversation, and the reason I do very little training on video about internet lead generation is because the Internet is constantly evolving and so the strategies and the methods of Internet lead generation are evolving so quickly that if I do a training video like this on my blog or on YouTube or on a podcast 6 months from now it's going to be largely obsolete or out of date.
What I'm talking about on how to convert internet leads are things that will not change over time no matter whether you have the internet lead from a paid service or from a real estate portal like Zillow or realtor.com or Trulia or any of those or whether you got it organically through marketing on social media platforms like LinkedIn or Facebook or Twitter or wherever it came from. This is not stuff that changes over time. These are principles of converting internet leads that are dynamic, that are powerful and that are fundamentals of skill and strategy that you must master regardless of where the internet lead came from.
How do you convert an Internet lead and turn it into money? How do you turn it into actual income as opposed to getting a lot of traffic and then it all just kind of sputtering out and dying? Which unfortunately happens for way too many agents. Let me say this first of all about the real estate agents and the Internet. A lot of the talk out there today is that the Internet is completely changing the way real estate is it done. It is definitely a dynamic, it is definitely a factor in the way we do real estate but it is not ... it does not change the fundamentals and basics of real estate.
Here are the key parts of real estate. Number one there is a house…a piece of real estate, right? That's the main thing that we're talking about. And on both sides of that there is a seller who owns the house and there is a buyer who wants to own the house. You have a buyer here, a seller here, a house in the middle and the transaction is the seller selling it to the buyer and as a real estate agent your job is to facilitate that transaction and to represent the interests of the one that is your client. All of that being said everything that is happening in the Internet in terms of the real estate has not changed that dynamic. A buyer wants to buy a house, seller wants to sell a house there's a house to be sold, boom they make it happen. Still to this day virtually all of that transaction happens offline, that transaction does not happen online.
It's absolutely true that well over 90% of all buyers start their search to buy a home on the Internet…absolutely…but they buy it offline. They do not buy it online. They may find the house. They might find an agent, but they're going to make the purchase decision and consummate the purchase process offline.
The goal for you as a real estate agent is to understand that and understand that with all the changes in the Internet the skills of mastery and being a professional and massively success through real estate agent still are the same. It's all about connecting with people, communicating with them, building a relationship, building a trust, helping them to find the right house and buy it. Or…if they are a seller helping them position that house in the market right, represent them and help them sell it for the best results. That's the name of the game.
The real estate industry is not changing when it comes to how buyers and sellers do deals. Does that make sense? The Internet is a factor it definitely has changed some things but it has not changed the game. Having said that, it has changed how a lot of us are getting leads just because we're getting leads from the Internet and this didn't even exist 15, 20 years ago in terms of being a serious tool for lead generation. How do you convert internet leads from the Internet into actual transactions to sellers to buyers to closings and so forth?
There are five steps that you have to understand and that you're going to want to master to be effective with internet leads. Once you generate an internet lead here is what you have to know.
#1 PROSPECT VS LEAD.
As you generate an “internet lead” what you're actually getting from the Internet typically is a prospect not a lead. A lead is someone that you know is going to make a decision in the near future…how I define is any time in the next 30 days. Whenever they first come online I don't know where they are in the process, but most of them are not ready to buy a house today. They're not ready to sell their house today, and it's important you have a clear perspective that what I'm getting from the Internet…that these leads are really until I talk to them just prospects. They're potential buyers and sellers, and if you'll understand that these are prospects not leads it helps maintain a perspective of where is your business. Where are the pipe lines in my business filling up.
Because let's say you're getting 150 “leads” a month, what does that mean? How many deals is that converting into. Well of those 150 there may be only five that are actually going to buy or sell house this month. Initially I have 150 prospects. I have conversations with them and I realize, 145 of them are going to take some time, they're not really leads today. They're going to be leads. They're going to be buyers and sellers down the road but they're not leads yet. The way this plays out, so you have a perspective of it, is anybody that is ready to do something NOW, they're going to give you an appointment. That's what I'm looking for with a buyer or seller. The best thing is to get an appointment with them which is a listing appointment or a buyer consultation appointment. You're going to set an appointment with them they're going to go buy or they're going to sell.
What if they're not ready to do something for a while but it's imminent? Here's what I look at it. A lead is somebody who will meet with me, have an appointment in the next 30 days or less. If they are less than a month away from actually setting an appointment, making a what I call a signature decision which means to list their house or to buy a house, that would be a lead. Anybody that is over 30 days out, they're what I call your personal circle. They are a future lead but they are not a lead right now. The reason it's important is this is my funnel. These are people that will make a decision right away. Leads are people that are going to make a decision sometime in the next month or so, and the other (Personal Circle) are people that are over a month out.
If I understand that these people right here…these are internet leads, these are real leads. These are prospects. They’re down the road a bit. It helps give me a perspective of what can I count on in terms of business immediately. Understand you take them through a process…through a conversation of pre-qualifying them so I can find out, “are they immediate business or are they future business?” It just helps you have a great perspective that when people start out and they start getting these internet leads, they say, “I've got 50 new leads! I'm so stoked!” or 20 new leads in a week and they are like “Yes! I've got it made!”
Then a month later none of those 20 have turned into a single deal. And another month goes by and none of them have turned into a single deal. Or only one of them and they are going like, “maybe this is the wrong way to go.” Well, maybe…or maybe it's just you had an unrealistic expectation that you were going to get internet leads and what you are actually getting was internet prospects who some will be leads now and most of them will be leads in the future.
Just have a perspective of most of what you get on the Internet is not leads. What you get his prospects. Now, how do you convert them from a prospect to a lead? Here is the answer.
#2 YOU HAVE TO TALK TO THEM.
The key to converting internet leads is to go from online to offline as fast as possible. The faster I can get them from the Internet into a one on one conversation with me not only the faster can I get business from it but the stronger the connection is the more likely I am to get business from them at all now or in the future. It's fast as possible you want to take the conversation offline…off the internet portal.
As long as it's still on the internet portal you don't really have a strong connection. Because you're probably not the only agent that has them on their radar. Because if they've gone to your site…they put in some information, they asked for information or whatever. They’ve probably done it with more than one agent. And they've got four or five and they're moving along from this website to this website. They saw this property. It was your listing. They put in their information asking for information on it, and then they went right onto the next one.
You have to understand that the key to converting (and if I'm going to say there's a big one this is the big one). Get the conversation offline. Get it personal. How do you do that? You've got phone numbers…boom, I want to be on a phone call with them immediately. If it's just an e-mail, I want to be talking to them… “Hey, I saw you were looking at this property. Great! What is the best way for us to connect and see what I can do to help you.” You want to take it from online to offline as soon as possible.
#3 SPEED TO CONNECT.
This is another huge one if you want to convert an internet prospect. If you want to convert them to a future client, it is the speed with which you connect with them. Speed is critical. It is very important that you get in touch with them quick. Here is what I'm seeing with my coaching members and I've got several coaching members that are generating tons of business from internet leads and some of them are generating hundreds of leads a month from the internet. Here is what they have found out. You need to talk to them within two minutes from the time they put in their information especially if you get a phone number. Boom! You want to talk to them within two minutes. Those that are having the best impact are the ones that have themselves and a team, either a customer service person or an ISA (inside sales agent)… another licensed person who can make the call immediately if you can't.
They are literally getting notified…boom…You just have an Internet lead. Immediately…you want to call them. This can be a little bit of a challenge…because what happened is they went onto your website, they found your listing. They put in their information. They're looking at that house…that they are putting their information on. They're looking at it, they're looking at it, they're looking at it, boom…phone rings. it’s been less than 60 seconds or less than then two minutes, they are still on your house, they're still on that property and they're going “whoa how did that happen?” Now they talk to you, and there’s a connection and they'll actually answer the phone and now you've got them. What happens is they're only on that page looking at that house for about two minutes and they're going to go to another house and they're going to see that agent that pops up on it, boom…they’re going to be putting their information in and then they've moved on.
The further away you are in calling them back from the moment they put the information in…the less likely you are to get a connection with them to actually get them to answer the phone and talk. Once they got off the Internet looking at houses they are much less likely to actually answer the phone at all.
Speed to connect with them to call them back and actually make the effort to talk to them is critical. Call them immediately, and then call them multiple times that day, three or four times that day if you don't get in touch with them to do everything you can to connect with them quickly. The first agent to contact, the first one to make the connection is going to win the battle most of the time because now you've taken the conversation offline into a live relationship where you now connected with them off the internet portal that they found you on.
Again, you have to understand that with the average internet prospect, (the average internet-generated lead if you want to call it that), the incubation time for them is 6 to 24 months. Most of the time when they come to you online they are just beginning the search. They are just beginning the process of getting ready to sell their house or getting ready to buy a house. They are not ready to do anything today. When you have the conversation you contact them and immediately get in touch with them there is a high probability they're still not ready to do anything today.
Now there's always going to be some that are ready to do something right now. Beautiful! Awesome! Get an appointment with them…boo…you have business. Now you have converted the internet lead because you took action immediately and they were a lead. You talked to them, you took it offline, you connected with them fast and now you can convert them into a listing or a buyer.
You've got to plan on it's not going to happen fast. Now another thing is a lot of the way internet leads are set up, internet lead generation models are set up. The vast majority of internet leads on most portals are buyers and one of the things that I do with my coaching members…is that you learn to build a strong listing based business and to focus your internet lead generation toward getting sellers as opposed to getting buyers…because it's just the way you control your business.
Listings are the name of the game, and if you're going to do a lot of lead generation and you get a ton of buyers that are prospects and their 6 to 24 months out, you can fill up so much time and especially unless you're really skilled how do you work only with buyers that are ready to do something now. You can spend 60, 80 hours a week showing non-buyers. In other words showing prospects who are not going to by for 6 to 24 months and you're literally wasting your time…and starving and going broke because you're spending all your time with people who aren't actually ready to do something today. I hope that makes sense.
You have to be patient and be realistic that when I'm getting these internet leads most of them are prospects it's going to be 6 to 24 months. I've got to be willing to nurture them and not get frustrated and quit. If you're going to do an internet lead generation model, you’ve got to know that in general it's not a turn and burn…boom, boom, boom… Get a lead. Convert it. Get a lead. Convert it. It's going to be….get a lead, get a lead, get a lead…and it's going to be nurture, nurture, nurture, nurture, convert. And it may take you six months before you convert a single one. Now you'll probably and if you're consistent and you're generating enough leads you'll probably convert one a little bit quicker. The numbers and odds are it's going to be on average 6 - 24 months with any online generated prospect.
#5 HAVE A NURTURE SYSTEM.
If you're going to make all this work, and you're willing to be patient with it, the fifth thing that makes the patience payoff is that you must have a nurture system in place to take care of them for that 6 to 24 months until they are ready to do something. It goes this way. I've got somebody…they come online. They find me. They're interested in selling their house but not today. I talk to them. I made a connection with them. I got in touch with them quick. Boom! Conversation is offline, but they're not ready to sell a house right now. They're not ready to move. I can do one of two approaches: I can either try to convince them to move now which typically just leads to frustration and resistance. They're going to resist you and avoid you because you're pressuring them to do something they're not ready to do now.
You can try to BS them…which is what some agents do, but that's the work of amateurs not a professional. Or you can build a relationship with them and be ready when they're ready. The trouble is you can't do it with a ton of people if you don't have a system. Because what will happen is you're getting 100 leads a month…boom, boom, boom all those hundred leads turned into one deal this month, there's 99 that could be a deal in the next year or two but how do I stay in touch with them? You create a system. Again, one of the things that my coaching members learn is…you'll learn what's called my Personal Circle System. And what it is, is if they're not ready to do something NOW…they're not a lead today, they're just a prospect. They're a future lead. I’ve got to have a system to nurture them that will work for 6 to 20 months that allows me to build that relationship with them in a way that doesn't overwhelm me and where they don't fall through the cracks.
I'm just going to lay out for you the basics. Let's say you've got somebody that is 6 to 24 months out how do you nurture that relationship? Here's what you do you put them what I call a personal circle. In that personal circle I want to talk to them now they're not a lead yet they're not ready to do anything yet, but I want to talk to them one time per month until they are. I may have to call them once a month for six months, once a month for twelve months, and once a month for 24 months it doesn't matter and my goal is to be constantly building credibility in the relationship and positioning myself as their go to realtor. That's your goal so when they are ready to do something you're the one that they're actually calling.
One time a month you're actually going to talk to them. Again, this is the nurture system. You want to be sending them an e-mail two times a month. Now I recommend the two e-mails every month are very simple. It's something that you send out to everyone in your database…every one in your personal circle. One is a market update, whats happening in the market, in your city, in your town. And it's better if it's itemized by suburb or market area, so that when it's their specific area they can click on it to get more details and it's basically a simple market update. Here's how many homes are on the market, what's the average days on the market, how many homes sold in the last 30 days, what's the average list price, average sales price and so forth. Very, very simple…but it's a graphic. It just gives them an update on what's happening in the market, but it mainly reminds them that you are in the real estate business, that you are their agent.
The second e-mail is simply my featured listings of the month. It's basically an e-mail that has the front picture of each one of your listings in that e-mail with a hyperlink,…and maybe the address and the price and the picture of each listing…whether it's one listing or ten listings on that e-mail. They are looking and they say, “Wow! Kevin Ward is in business! He does real estate and he's got listings. He's got featured listings.” If they're a buyer, you have something they want which is houses for sale. If they're a seller they go, “He has featured listings! When we are ready to sell, we want our house to be a feature listing.”
Either way with that what you're doing is you're establishing credibility with the seller, with the prospect until they are ready to do something. That's very simplified but I want you to understand if you create a system that for everybody in your personal circle whether they're looking to do something in the next 6 to 24 months I just simply know I need to talk to them once a month on the phone and just say hey I wanted to touch base I know you guys were not planning to actually put your house on the market until August after your youngest son goes away to college, I just wanted to touch base and see if you're on track with that time frame.
They go, “Yep… we're still on track with that time frame…is still six months away.” “Great! is there anything you need right now, any questions you have, any information I can get for you?” “Nope, we're good.” “All right…awesome! Well…I look forward to talking to you soon. In the meantime if you know anyone else or who do you know that's looking to buy or sell right now that I could help…” And you can ask that question occasionally.
The key is I'm not trying to convince them to do something that I want them to do, I'm simply positioning myself as someone who is there to help them. I'm professional. I'm consistent. And I let them know here I am when you're ready.
They like that and that consistency tells them that they can count on you, that they can trust you, that you're a professional so when they are ready they're not going to be calling anyone else. You're going to be their go to agent because you had a system in place that allows you to nurture them without them falling through the cracks and yet you were realistic that they were a prospect now not a future lead, not on lead today.
If you'll do that then you've got the time and you have the perspective and you have the structure and system in place to know that as the leads come in they are going to convert. Some are going to convert fast. Some are going to convert slow. It doesn't matter. The key is when you build it right and I'm going to say right in here, the ones that are leads, you've got to have a good lead follow up system. When you have a good lead follow up system and you have a great personal circle system in place it allows you without people falling through the cracks to convert all the potential business whenever they're ready, I'm ready to make it happen for them.
Let me know what you think about the video, if you like it give it a thumbs up, make any comments or questions that you've got put it here. Be consistent, stay focused and always expect yes.