Those in sales are accustomed to focusing on the numbers. After all, we like numbers, especially big ones. But what happens when salespeople focus so much on their numbers that they lose focus on current and potential customers?

Those in sales are accustomed to focusing on the numbers. After all, we like numbers, especially big ones. But what happens when salespeople focus so much on their numbers that they lose focus on current and potential customers? Simply put, they’re categorized or tagged and become “leads,” “prospects” and, soon after that, just a blip on your whiteboard.

Then what? I’ll tell you. They go elsewhere … like to your competitor.

Today’s young professionals (also known as millennials) are less tolerant and far less patient than any other group of consumers since before the baby boomers. Why? Ask yourself a few basic questions. What life-changing events have this group of consumers experienced over the last several years? What did their families experience? How did this affect them? Did it change them?

Know the answer yet? Here’s a hint: What does 9/11 mean to you? What does 2006 and 2007 mean to them? Still not sure?

Imagine graduating from college only to witness your parents and friends’ families losing their house and wealth. I don’t know about you, but I’d consider that a pretty big wake-up call for sure. Now imagine this same group of consumers having to or wanting to stay home to help take care of their parents. Once you go through a memorable experience like this, it changes you. It scares you. It matures you. It empowers you.

There are many lessons to be learned from such an experience. First, take nothing and no one for granted. Second, family comes first. Third, family comes first. Are you starting to see a theme here?

Now, let’s consider that your new “leads” or “prospects” are fortunate enough to be in a financial (and emotional) position to a buy a house. They go on to Zillow, Trulia or realtor.com and do their home search. Then, after serious due diligence and much Googling, they pick you to be their Realtor. You respond back as quickly as possible with some carefully written (canned) message because research shows that agents who respond back the fastest have a better chance of securing that “lead” as a new client, right?

I’m curious. At what point do they transition from a “lead” or “prospect” to a “client” or “customer?” Also, what priority do you give to your “leads” or “prospects?” Are they disposable or meaningful? Think about the word “acquaintance.” What level of priority does that word represent?

Here are some fun facts about lead response to consider:

  • The average response time for an Internet lead is 44 hours.
  • 65 percent of all companies don’t nurture the lead.
  • Only 25 percent of all salespeople make two contact attempts.
  • It requires eight follow-up attempts just to qualify the lead.
  • 80 percent of all transactions require five to 12 follow-ups.
  • If you include texting in your response, you increase your conversion rate by 40 percent. When effectively used, texting can improve conversion by over 100 percent.

That sounds like hogwash, but today’s younger consumers are still unimpressed with the new age sales force. In fact, older data from publications like “Harvard Business Review” show that technology hasn’t exactly made us better salespeople.

Slow responses

Now, back to the mindset we’re trying to understand as dedicated (money-driven) and eager (impatient) salespeople. A consumer makes an inquiry or sends a request, and we respond — lickety-split, of course. Crickets. So, we try again. Crickets. So, we move on. They’re obviously not interested.

Really? It couldn’t be that these “leads” and “prospects” are busy with work, family and life? (By the way, did you remember to pick up your dry cleaning? How about empty the trash? Has your wife been hounding you to fix that broken whatever or paint the dog?)

How do you win with today’s millennial buyers? Provide value. Be patient. Educate and mentor. This isn’t 2007, when all you needed was a phone and some business cards. Current-day, well-educated consumers want to know that you’re in it for more than the money. They want to know that you’re seeking a commitment. They realize that this market is a risk, just like any market is a risk. Just like life is a risk.

They’ve already seen and felt hurt — personally. Plus, they already know all about you, your business, your reviews, your listings, your brokerage, your track record and your mistakes. Again, they grew up on Google. We didn’t. They’re tech-savvy. Most of us aren’t. Essentially, they’re waiting for us to catch up. We should learn to be patient. In fact, they aren’t, so we must.

So if you’re serious about winning their business, then be serious about changing your perspective. Focus less on collecting and more on collaborating. Build ‘ships — friendships, partnerships and relationships. Become expert relationship managers. Learn to leverage great systems to keep you informed, organized, updated and current.

Remember, millennials are not interested in 2007. They live and thrive in the present. So focus less on numbers and more on people. Trust me, it works every time. You may even make a few friends and certainly some lifelong ‘ships. Happy fishing!

A loan officer with Guaranteed Rate, Jeff Chalmers enjoys loyal friends, long walks, puppies, ‘ship building and his amazing Ambassador family.

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