Nurturing Real Estate Leads

By: Todd Riley of Sherlock Home Inspections

So, you’ve just returned from a day out on the town where you met a lot of new folks, and made a lot of great sales contacts. What do you do next? Unfortunately some Realtors wait too long to follow-up with these new prospects, and the leads go cold. Others will begin to bombard these leads with unwanted sales materials and annoying sales calls. Still others will simply pass on the contact after one quick follow-up because they weren’t immediately ready to purchase.

Marketing vs. Realtors

Experts estimate that up to 80% of the money spent to generate leads for Realtors is wasted or ignored by Realtors. But it’s not your fault! The marketing department will be quick to point out that their efforts and spending generated new contacts, so they did their job. Realtors argue that the contacts generated by marketing weren’t “qualified leads” because they weren’t ready to buy. The types of contacts generated by marketing are typically longer-term prospects. This is where the process of lead nurturing can help turn mere inquiries into qualified leads and qualified leads into sales.

What exactly is lead nurturing?

Lead nurturing is the process of building trusted relationships with qualified prospects so that when they are ready to buy or sell, they will do so with you. Your readiness and urgency should ALWAYS outweigh that of your clients, but that doesn’t mean a lead should be ignored or forgotten. Most leads that aren’t ready today eventually will be, and a savvy Realtor will provide them with relevant information until they are ready to make that move. Lead nurturing is not repeatedly calling a contact every few days, weeks, or even every month essentially asking if they’re ready to buy yet. Lead nurturing is not sending unwanted and often irrelevant brochures, newsletters or e-mails. It’s not bombarding your database with sales stuff promoting all of your new listings. Lead nurturing is about providing regular and meaningful dialogue with qualified prospects regardless of whether they’re ready to buy or not.

Why use lead nurturing?

Done properly, nurturing sets you up as the trusted advisor. When you’re providing prospects valuable education and information up front, you are perceived as an expert. And because you’re not trying to sell or make a pitch, you become a trusted advisor. Many prospects will view how you sell to them as an indication of how you will ultimately serve them. If they’re happy with you before the sale, they’ll be happy with you after the sale. If you’ve been nurturing them properly and providing helpful insights and solutions along the way, when there finally is a need, you will be the first call a prospect makes, and if you nurtured them properly you will be the ONLY call they make.

How it all works. Most prospects today are researching and obtaining independent information via the internet long before ever engaging with a Realtor. That’s why the best lead nurturing programs try to actually become part of a prospect’s information-gathering process. Generally speaking, a successful lead nurturing program includes a steady string of meaningful communications such as letters, emails, success stories, third-party articles, research reports, news articles, and more. The key word here is “meaningful.” The information provided should be useful to the clients even if they never buy from you. It should help them consider all the issues they will face in the buying process. Finally, it should provide practical information that they can use to educate themselves. Providing content that is valuable to prospects is essential in ultimately converting more qualified leads and expanding sales opportunities.

When to stop nurturing. There are many ways to determine whether a lead is ready or needs more nurturing. Ideally they’ll be asking “buying questions” and taking ownership by “painting a picture” of themselves in the home. They may also use “WHEN” more often that “IF.”Create a scoring system for new leads. This can be as simple as labeling leads “cold, “warm” or “hot” or creating something more complex based on specified standards. The leads that don’t qualify as sales-ready should continue to be nurtured.

Return on Investment. Research shows that nurtured prospects are more likely to have a greater overall positive impression of you and your company. Plus, Realtors that are willing to invest in a lead nurturing program will usually see an increase in sales-ready leads, a more potent sales pipeline, higher close ratios, and shorter regular sales cycles. In general, you may also see a more predictable sales pattern and an improved ability to produce more qualified leads. If you give it the proper time to grow and develop, the results are sure to be worth the wait.