By Glenn Houck
RISMEDIA, April 17, 2007-There is a huge gap between the way your agents perceive Internet leads and the way the industry's top lead-generation companies measure Internet leads. Most agents manage by perception, where the lead generators manage purely by ROI.
Here's the typical view of an agent: "I've tried just about every Internet lead source out there and the quality of Internet leads is terrible. Most of the leads aren't even worth calling, and are a complete waste of time. I closed one or two deals initially, but then the quality seemed to go down."
Here's the typical view of a lead generator: "Our lead data is very high quality. Some agents and brokers are making a killing on our leads, but most others are struggling. The successful agents are closing 2-3 percent, and they tell me they have a system where they respond, immediately and diligently. The rest don't seem to follow up on the leads. Are these agents just plain lazy?"
So, whose viewpoint is correct? The answer is simple. Both and neither.
Brokers should improve their ability to measure conversion rates by lead source, and compare their successes to the true cost of acquiring those Internet leads. On the other side, lead generators should look for ways to provide a better quality lead, and one that doesn't carry so many "hidden costs," like the cost of calling and filtering out the majority of the leads that are not qualified buyers.
Beyond this, the single biggest thing that both sides can do (to increase their "mutual" success) is to put in place repeatable systems and processes to respond immediately to leads and only pass highly qualified leads to their agents.
Some Brokers are Making it Work
Some progressive brokers have literally spent millions building sophisticated live-transfer call centers that respond to each Internet lead within 10 minutes.
Many brokers are starting to outsource lead response, qualification and live-transfer processes to companies like LeadQual, with much success. In doing so, they not only boost their Internet conversion rates, but they also discover which lead sources are providing positive returns, and which are not. This helps brokers target their marketing dollars toward the sources that have the best quality leads.
Some Lead Generation Companies are Stepping Up, Too
On the lead-generation side, two progressive lead generators-IncredibleAgent and RealEstate.com-have recently announced "live-transfer" lead programs where agents can purchase live-transfer leads, rather than raw, unqualified Internet leads. This is a huge step to provide better qualified leads to the industry, and should be very well received by agents and brokers alike.
The gap is still wide between today's lead generators and today's brokers/agents, but there are certainly signs that show the two sides trying to improve their processes to respond to consumers immediately and pass only the most qualified ones to an available
Glenn Houck is co-founder of LeadQual, LLC, and was previously a senior vice president at HomeGain. For more information please visit www.leadqual.com.
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