For real estate professionals across the board, successfully converting online leads into clients can be a challenging proposition, considering the numerous demands on their time. Agents, by necessity, focus on the customers that are ready to transact, and are traditionally ill equipped to respond to incoming online leads while engaged with a client.
At a brokerage level, solving this challenge often reaches a crisis-level tipping point, as six-figure marketing spends can be greatly impacted due to low conversion rates. It’s a story we’re all too familiar with, yet even a small improvement to conversion rates can make a huge impact on profitability and the health of an office.
As the lead conversion conundrum continues to unfold and brokerages look for value-add solutions, many are doubling down and expanding their business by focusing on online lead conversion.
That aha, breakthrough moment is coming via FiveStreet, Move, Inc.’s lead management system, as brokerages utilizing the platform are making significant headway in agent lead conversion—often seeing substantial improvement in conversions overnight.
Taking the industry by storm over the past few years, FiveStreet can be tied into almost any lead source and hooked up to just about any follow-up system. Not only does this allow real estate professionals to keep up with the fast-paced market, but they can also rest assured knowing that they’ll never miss an online lead—even when they’re out of the office working with a client.
Laying a Solid Foundation
“In speaking with agents, we learned that many of them were spending thousands of dollars a month on online leads, yet those leads were continuously falling through the cracks,” says Rusty Klophaus, director of product and technology at Move, Inc. and founder of FiveStreet. It was this disconnect that ultimately laid the foundation for FiveStreet’s creation in February 2012 when Klophaus and his team began looking into the online lead space and brainstorming ways to help agents deal with them more efficiently.
From there, FiveStreet was born and the first leads were processed a few, short months later. While the first paying customers didn’t come onboard until August 2012, Klophaus notes that things kicked into high gear when Craig Simoneau—Move’s senior product manager—was hired to join the founding team.
“Things really started to take off in early 2013 when we brought Craig in and put him in charge of sales, support and marketing. He was basically in charge of everything other than writing code and was instrumental in getting the product out into the market,” says Klophaus.
As the program continued to gain traction, the industry took notice and conversations among some of the biggest players in the space began to take shape before FiveStreet was acquired by Move, Inc. in October 2013.
Today, FiveStreet has processed more than 5 million online real estate leads, but Klophaus and Simoneau—who describe the program as a lead triage system—are committed to keeping the product as simple and straightforward as possible by continuing to focus on handling the first five to 15 minutes of the lead process.
A Simple and Straightforward Approach
As any real estate professional can attest, technology changes on an almost daily basis, and every new tool or program that comes to market does so with the promise of making life simpler. But more often than not, they try to do too many things, leaving the user frustrated and the product ignored.
With many lead gen programs to contend with, FiveStreet’s team knew they had to create something different, something that would resonate with today’s agents. Instead of just assuming what agents were looking for, they went back to the proverbial drawing board and spent months speaking with agents to determine the exact pain points they were experiencing when it came to online leads in order to shape the product effectively.
“We’ve experienced a lot of frustration with lead systems bringing leads in and having a lower close ratio than we’d like,” says Joe Clement, a broker at RE/MAX Properties in Colorado Springs, Colo. “Our decision to choose FiveStreet ultimately came down to wanting to get our arms around leads and put a structure in place so that we could get a consistent flow of connection going out to the lead.”
In addition to the level of frustration surrounding the online lead process, other pain points emerged as well. “We found that there were really three big problems when working with online leads,” says Simoneau, “the first being that they’re delivered to an agent’s inbox, rather than being placed into one dashboard,” causing a lot of extra work to get all the information in one place. The second pain point revolves around the fact that if an agent is out of the office on a listing appointment or at a showing when a lead comes in, they’re not going to blow off the client to respond to the lead. And last but not least, many team leaders were struggling to get the leads into the hands of team members in a systematic fashion.
Armed with actual data, the team at FiveStreet put their heads together to bring the concept to fruition by building an engine that would parse out the necessary data (name, email address and telephone number) from any online lead vendor that sends leads through email. “Our software is responsible for transcribing that info, putting it into an agent’s customer database and helping them get someone on their team to follow-up with the potential buyer,” says Klophaus.
Today, the program processes leads from more than 100 online vendors and has the capacity to handle 3,000 different lead formats, a boon for real estate professionals looking to simplify their lead gen efforts. “We no longer require multiple services to handle various marketing channels,” says Jerry R. Reynolds, director of IT at PureWest Real Estate in Bozeman, Mont., who explains that the consolidation of lead sources offered through FiveStreet has truly revolutionized his business. “FiveStreet gives us one easy tool to manage them all.”