By Glenn Houck
RISMEDIA, April 23, 2008–Nearly every home buyer starts their home search online. That’s a fact. And, according to California Association of Realtors®, Internet buyers nearly always use the very first agent who responds to their inquiry.
The trouble is that in addition to all of the actual buyers – there are millions of other individuals who at best are doing research, and at worst are just surfing the net just to waste your agents’ time.
Agents are salespeople, and salespeople are compensated to make prospecting calls to close deals, right? If this is the case, why are 48% of all Internet leads in real estate ignored? And, why is the average response time on the rest of the leads greater than 16 hours?
Is it because they are lazy? No – Absolutely not!
Here are a few reasons your agents don’t respond to Internet leads:
1. Internet leads typically convert to a closed transaction less than 3% of the time. Agents are not accustomed to being rejected 97 times out of 100, and it’s especially frustrating for those agents who attempt to call each lead, quickly.
2. The sheer volume of low quality inquiries quickly leads to agent burn-out, causing agents to cherry pick, to delay their response and even to not respond at all.
3. Agents are outside sales professionals, and are not always in a position to make an instant response to an Internet lead. Should they stop their “face-to-face” conversation with a qualified prospect, in order to call a lead that has less than a 1 in 30 chance of becoming a sale?
So, if getting an instant response to each and every lead is nearly impossible to do by funneling leads directly to agents, what is the solution? Sophisticated brokers are implementing call center technology that allows them to respond to every lead within minutes (under 10 minutes should be your goal), and then transfer only the qualified buyers to an available agent in the field. Those leads which are not interested in being transferred to an agent are placed in an e-mail harvesting database until they become ready to transact.
Implementing a system like this is extremely complicated and expensive to build and is costly to manage, but the rewards can be significant. If such an endeavor is outside your budget, you should consider outsourcing this capacity, where similar or better results can be found at a fraction of the cost to implement.
Glenn Houck is the co-founder of LeadQual, LLC. LeadQual helps brokers with Paid Search Marketing, SEO and Internet Lead Response, Qualification and Live Transfer. This reduces the cost of getting visitors to broker websites and improves conversion from Internet inquiry to closed home sale.