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In the following interview, Kelly Norris, executive vice president and general manager of Heritage Sotheby’s International Realty in Napa, Calif., discusses lead cultivation and generation,®, training and more.

Region Served: All of Napa County, some of Sonoma and Solano counties
Years in Real Estate: 29
Number of Offices: 2
Number of Agents: 65

I understand you’ve been managing the company for four years. How is the real estate market growing in Napa, and how is your company growing as a result?
It’s been growing substantially since 2011. We’ve been growing in double digits year-over-year, and since I took the management job four years ago, we went from roughly 26 agents to our current 65. As of this time last year, the market has more or less flatlined. The difference is that everyone else has seen a dip in their business, but we continue to grow at a double-digit rate, year-over-year, in topline sales.

Being in an upscale, boutique area, are people starting their home searches online, or is it all word of mouth?
Word of mouth is always important, but our online presence couldn’t be more important today. It’s a huge priority for us to make sure we’re found in a number of different ways through portals like®. At the same time, we do social media/Facebook marketing and have our own personal website. We have our own internal marketing department that works on SEO and our blog to drive traffic to a number of different areas so we can gather as many online leads as possible.

How has your online presence contributed to your growth?
We’ve been a part of for a long time. They pull our listings every month, but being one of the larger listing companies in the Valley, we started using them in a larger way. We have an auto-responder in FiveStreet, which auto-responds to inquiries so we can filter those throughout the company. We also have Market Snapshot, which sends clients (or those we’re still turning into clients) reports full of market information. Leads then go into Top Producer, which all our agents can utilize. The whole package has been extremely successful, allowing us to capture the lead, place the lead, auto-respond to the lead before physically responding to it, then put it into our CRM until we can do something with it. It’s revolutionary as far as this industry is concerned. Our company is on the forefront of technology and is paramount to that.

How do you incentivize agents to respond before consumers land in your competitors’ hands?
We realize that timing is everything and people searching online want information now. If we wait until tomorrow, the lead is virtually gone. Our listing agents, because they’ve worked so hard to take the listing, get first crack at the lead that comes in. Because our listing agents are busy, they often can’t get to the lead within five minutes, so it creates opportunity for other people in the company. After five minutes, it gets broadcast in a round robin type of format, going to two agents at a time.

We keep track of how fast they’re responding so that I can reach out to these agents and say, “If you really want to better your business, you need to do these things in a timely manner.” It allows me to be a better manager.

How does your firm’s agent productivity compare to the norm?
As an agency in this county, we have the highest productivity per agent by far. Compared to our competitors, we’re probably 25-45 percent ahead per agent. A lot of that can be attributed to our commitment to lead generation and training, to cultivating these leads and turning them into clients and customers. I can’t emphasize how important is to us as a company. We just signed another contract, and our long-term goals definitely include them.

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Nick Caruso is RISMedia’s senior editor. Email him your real estate news ideas at

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