Say you’re a real estate brokerage that invests in marketing and technology to bring in leads for your agents. How do you actually get your agents to use those leads?
Panelists at a session of the real estate conference Inman Connect San Francisco tackled that very question on Wednesday, part of the Broker Connect track. The panel included Lane Hornung, co-founder of hyperlocal online publishing platform Zavvie and brokerage 8Z Real Estate; Lisa Sundberg, co-owner and director of learning and performance at Kendrick Realty; and Robert Slack, managing broker at Robert Slack Fine Homes.
Should brokers pay for leads?
Moderator Joseph Rand, managing partner of Better Homes and Gardens Rand Realty, first asked: Given that company dollars are declining, should brokers be paying for leads at all?
If you can offer agents 40 leads per month, that’s a great way to attract agents, Slack said.
Hornung said he thought brokerages “could go either way,” but that if they did decide to generate leads, “don’t go halfway, go all the way,” he said.
So if a lead comes into the brokerage’s system — whether from realtor.com, Zillow or another source — what happens to those leads? Rand asked.
8Z Real Estate has an inside sales agent (ISA) team, according to Hornung.
“They’re your first line of defense. They clearly have to respond quickly,” he said.
The brokerage arms those sales agents with technology and lead routing, he added. The ISA team does not prequalify those leads, but asks them “human questions” to determine which real estate agent in the firm would be a good fit geographically and in terms of personality.
At Kendrick, leads go to the brokerage’s call center team and to a Realtor designated by ZIP code, according to Sundberg.
“Our call center does do some qualification questions about pre-approval,” she said. “[We’re] just trying to determine where they are in the process.”
At Slack’s brokerage, leads automatically go into a customer relationship management (CRM) system and are distributed from there to agents by ZIP code, according to Slack.
His brokerage also has an ISA team. Because he’s based in Florida and his firm often hears from international clients, sometimes the team reroutes such clients to an agent who can speak their specific language, he said.
All leads go to a real estate agent, unless they say they already have an agent, he added.
In that case, the firm adds those leads to an MLS drip campaign, he said.
“That’s the goal of incubation — don’t lose them, keep them somewhere,” Rand said.
Passing the lead on to the agent
At 8Z, only about 1 in 10 leads go to an agent, Hornung said. The ISA team deals with them when they’re not yet ready to transact and passes them on to an agent when they are.
How do you make sure that your agents are doing more than a “half-assed” attempt at a phone call? Rand asked.
“We have a saying: It’s never the lead,” Slack said. If an agent blames the potential client, that’s a sign they don’t belong at the brokerage, he added.
Slack’s firm has conversion ratios agents must meet to stay employed. If they don’t meet them or sell less than two homes per month, they must come in for “retraining,” he said.
“‘Retraining’ sounds like a Soviet system in the 1980s,” Rand joked.
At Kendrick, agents are given daily goals to meet, and supervisors can see exactly which leads have been contacted and when, Sundberg said.
As the session came to a close, Rand asked the panelists to share a “hardcore best practice.”
“Speed to lead,” Slack said. “Whenever they’re not closing, they’re missing one part of the process,” usually forgetting to set up an MLS drip campaign.
“Treat your agents like professionals. Don’t treat them like children,” Hornung said.
Don’t tell someone they’re out of a job because they’re not following up on leads, Sundberg said. Rather, intervene ahead of time.