Agents often think of internet leads as inferior and let them fall by the wayside. Here’s how you can stop that from happening.

Erica Ramus is an indie broker and a tech geek in Pennsylvania. Her regular monthly column publishes on Thursdays and covers and array of topics including recruiting, independent brokerage, technology and social issues.

Twice this week, I had brokers call me to ask for advice on how to increase agent buy-in (follow up, speed to lead, etc.) for internet leads. When brokers generate leads — and pay for the internet marketing — they have a vested interest in contacting and converting those consumers.

Conversely, we frequently see agents dismiss those buyers as “lower quality” or further out in their purchase timeline, therefore, they might not make as aggressive efforts to work those leads, which in turn frustrates their brokers.

If this is your situation, here are a few ways to get your agents’ attention and increase their prospecting efforts.

1. Create an internet lead team

Larger brokers can create a subset of agents who specifically are trained to work the internet leads. This creates an exclusivity to those leads and a competitive environment for those who are privileged to work on the team.

Give the group a specific name, and require the agents who work the leads to complete detailed training on the platform. Agents who fail to complete the training should not be working these leads.

2. Hold agents accountable

Set out goals and rules for how leads will be handled (lead routing rules, procedures for contacting and communcation expectations). You should have a tracking system, which can be as simple as a shared spreadsheet to a more robust platform such as BoomTown or Real Estate WebMasters, which allow you to track agent log-ins and contact attempts.

Accountability is a key element to making sure your paid leads are really being worked by your agents. If you set rules and procedures and then do not follow through and track what the agents are doing, they will learn that the system has no teeth.

This can be worse than setting no goals or expectations at all. Agents who fail to log in or communicate regularly with leads should be coached to use the system or risk being cut from the group.

3. Follow through

Just as you expect your agents to do what they say they will do, as the broker or manager, you need to be accountable as well. In my office, if an agent does not follow the lead rules, we turn off their lead flow. If agents are not paying attention, you will know pretty quickly as they won’t even notice the leads are not dripping in anymore.

Take a proactive approach to this, and ask the agent when the last time he or she saw a lead come into his or her platform; it might produce a “lightbulb moment” and lead to a coaching opportunity.

If the agent is paying attention to lead flow and asks you directly what happened to the incoming leads, that is the time to have a formal sit-down. Have a conversation about the importance of following the group’s lead rules and communication procedures.

Find out why that agent hasn’t been logging in or reaching out to his or her leads regularly. I normally point out a few closings that came into the platform and closed with other agents on the team, as examples of how the system works. You should know pretty quickly if this is a one-off lapse or a more systemic problem with the agent being on the team.

4. Practice patience and persistence

An agent who cannot or will not adhere to the internet team rules needs to be removed. Internet-generated leads are not cheap, and they involve a different approach. Not all agents are ideally suited to work these buyer or seller prospects. They require patience and persistence. For example, we closed a buyer lead this month that came into our platform over three years ago.

One of our team members also closed two buyers in the past two months where another office member gave up too early on the prospect. The more seasoned agent gave the internet leads to one of the newcomers on the team, who worked it doggedly and finally closed on both of them. The agent with less patience lost out to the perseverance of the newer agent.

5. Give them skin in the game

Some brokers believe that agents who have no skin in the game will always tend to slack on the internet leads. Charging agents to be on the team or taking a referral fee or higher split for broker-generated internet leads are two ways to ensure your agents pay attention to the prospects coming into their pipelines.

As with all managing dilemmas, you can use the carrot, the stick or a combination of those approaches to help agents convert internet leads. Some brokers and agents might overlook these lead sources as too expensive or hard to close. Our office has had great success with generating and converting internet leads, but it’s not without hard work and effort.

Agents who don’t want to put the time in probably won’t be successful in this pillar of business. Those who take the time to learn the process, understand the mindset of the internet shopper and work the system faithfully will find another useful source of business.

Erica Ramus, MRE, is the broker/owner of RAMUS Real Estate. You can follow her on Twitter or LinkedIn.

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