12 October 2009

Next Gen Lead Generation

As the business continues to change and consumers demand a different type of interaction between themselves and the real estate professional the techniques and responsibilities of lead generation will also continue to evolve.

Seth Godin recently predicted that by 2011, 90% of all sales would be sourced from word of mouth and online promotion.

  • What does the future of online lead generation in real estate look like?
  • Who should be responsible for generating online leads: the broker, the agent or both?
  • Should the next generation brokerage consider directing more attention to generating online leads for their agents? After all, when you ask agents what they want from their broker isn’t leads near the top of the list?
  • Should broker/owners offer and manage robust lead management and follow up systems on their agent’s behalf? It is likely that consumers will research for longer periods of time before making the buying or selling decision so offering value during that long term relationship will be important.
  • Is there enough trust between broker/owners and agents to allow these types of systems to work?
  • Do real estate professionals (whether broker/owner or agent) have the expertise required to execute effectively online?

We are presently seeing examples of brokerages across the country that are surviving and even thriving on broker driven online lead generation models. These companies have taken on the responsibility of generating online leads for their agents. In return, they hold their agents accountable for response time, customer service and follow up. This is a fundamental shift in how most brokerages are operating today.

You might argue that the party who has the ability to generate the most qualified leads has the biggest advantage with the gen web consumer. One thing is certain, online promotion that turns to lead generation will be a huge part of our industry in the years to come.

As for word of mouth lead generation, you’d be hard pressed to hear a real estate speaker today who doesn’t somewhere in their training or presentation throw out the term “back to basics.” These basics of prospecting, follow up, customer service and relationship building are all important components that result in that word of mouth business. The tools and methods may have changed with the introduction of the Internet, but the concepts are still the same. Make connections with people who know, like and trust you. These people will then become advocates for you.

Combining tech and touch in lead generation will prove to a winning combination. 2011 is not that far away, will Seth be right?

19 thoughts on “Next Gen Lead Generation

  1. Sounds right to me. The website leads are the most important these days, and both the broker and the agent should be responsible for trying to drum up leads. The best way would be to have a really good website that is a resource for your clients and everything that they need from financing to relocating and links to the local schools and supply lists. The more of a resource you are, the easier time your clients have moving to a new home and the more they are going to remember you for it.


    1. I agree being an information resource is an important element of the relationship between clients and agents. I also think we need to offer additional value beyond information. Trust, negotiating skills, dependability, and accessibility are also key success factors.

  2. "Is there enough trust between broker/owners and agents to allow these types of systems to work?"

    I think this is the crux of the question. If the trust isn't there that the agents' respective business will be protected, they won't use the tools. If they don't use the tools, the brokerage will have wasted their time and money.

    Building trust starts with having a culture that encourages trust and interaction between brokers and agents working towards common goals – client representation and profitability.

    Earn the mutual trust and things will work.

      1. I think that a key component is quality of the agent – if the quality agents perceive the brokerages to be catering to the lowest common denominator as they have for so long, the agent is going to continue to see their brokerage as a necessary evil rather than a facilitating partner.

        The brokerages need to see – and treat – the quality agents as contributing members to the collective success.

        I also think that the brokers need to be – and be seen as being – competent. There are too many old-school brokers who haven't represented clients in too many years. Either be a manager of a business – or a real estate broker – I haven't seen many people who can competently do both.

  3. Hey Wendy!

    I'm an avid Seth Godin reader and I share your perspective on the very near future of lead generation. As far as "back to basics", the "basics" have changed:

    According to "NAR's 2008 Profile of Buyers and Sellers", 43% and 38% respectively, found their real estate agent through a referral from a friend or family member. Historically, these numbers averaged in the 80th percentile.

    Have friends and family stopped or slowed referring us? Or, is the "current real estate consumer" going online to validate these referrals?

    The data, and Seth Godin, more than suggest the latter! "Basic" today, means having an online presence and relevance that can be found by the real estate consumer of tomorrow.

    It was a pleasure meeting you at the RISMEDIA Convention. I look forward to reading more of your work!

    1. Hi Jim. The tools we use to accomplish "the basics" have changed, but the fundamentals of relationship building are still the same. It's a matter of utilizing new media tools in a way that supports relationship. Agents and brokers that do that most effectively will have a huge advantage in lead generation and business in general.

  4. Wendy, I see a rise in agents taking responsibility for their own leads but I don't think it's about trust, I think it's about instant gratification, especially in a down market. A starving agent will do everything they can to generate leads and the internet allows that process to be expanded and regardless of trust, an agent can take action.

    I like these questions and I would add "what will the next form of marketing be, beyond the Internet?" That's what I'm trying to wrap my brain around these days and it's TOUGH! 🙂

  5. Email leads can be valuable if you stay on top of them and don't let too much time pass before you respond or contact the person by phone. Phone leads are much more confrontational and can be a lot more successful, but email is quicker and people are more comfortable with it. The next generation should work on generating more online leads and framing their property info better online. There is no excuse to not be in tune with your web presence.

  6. I believe that inbound marketing should play a major role in any agent or broker's business model. This type of plan starts with creating an online presence (Blogging, SEO, Link Building, Social Media, Viral Marketing, etc.) and then capturing the leads that you draw to your Landing Pages and Websites (web forms, property update notifications, newsletter sign-ups, registrations, etc.). After you create your community, continue to give them value with email campaigns and personal interaction. I believe this is the direction that "Next Gen Lead Generation" is moving in.

  7. Thank you, for such a clear and comprehensive post. Since I’ve been reading you, I feel I have begun to understand more about this topic. Please keep writing. I just hope people are listening to you and reading you.

  8. As a newbie to the BHandG network, I'm thrilled by these state of the art tools. To throw in my two cents, I'll take a warm lead over an online lead anyday. That said, my past clients and top referral sources get email newsletters, Facebook and Twitter comments daily, and text, just to say hi. As I was typing this a past client and new Facebook friend just commented "A Real Estate Agent with a personality, love it!" Now to my list of contact will be a yearly subscription to Better Homes and Gardens.

    1. Hi Mark

      Welcome to the BHGRE network. Last week was certainly exciting! Thanks for reading and taking the time to post. You are a great example of incorporating next generation lead tools into todays business. I look forward to working with you.

  9. As an individual who has been immersed in Internet real estate marketing for ten years I believe that the real estate industry still lacks an understanding of the Internet homebuyer. There are very few people who know how to succeed on the Internet. Those that do are treating the information as a closely held competitive secret. ____The most important homebuyer "wants" are the ability to view MLS listings and to learn about the neighborhoods where the homes are located. Ninety-nine percent of all real estate website fail to provide these two resources. After a homebuyer finds a home that meets his criteria the next question is "What does the neighborhood look like?" Our websites must answer this question.____My website achieves better than a 12% conversuion rate between visitors and leads. Some days it converts up to 20% of the visitors into leads. This success is based upon giving the buyer what he wants. Just ask yourself "What does the buyer want".

    1. Hi Glenn

      That's great advice. We often discuss with our agents the 3 key questions a website should answer:
      1) what's for sale 2) what's my house worth and 3) how's the market. Having this information will definately increase an agents conversion rates.

      Thanks for your comment.

  10. In regards to Leads Management, Next Gen brokerages need to make a commitment to deploying new management roles and responsibilities to ensure that all online and offline leads are properly managed. Whether it is through a complex system or well-organized reporting, it is the ability of management to change the way they've done business, assign new roles and establish new standards of performance that will lead to greater revenues through better conversion rates of the long term prospect.

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