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Internet Leads/Users/adamp/Desktop/Stuff for FAR/Magazine Assets/OCT08/images/ManageIt
Good for Something

Having trouble getting sales associates to follow up on Internet leads? We’ve got some solutions.

When J.M. Parrish introduced an Internet lead program last year, he attached a condition: If sales associates agreed to accept a lead, they had to respond within 15 minutes or they’d lose it. A lot of sales associates balked.
The one who grumbled the loudest took the first lead. That customer closed on a $500,000 home.

“It was funny,” laughs Parrish, owner of Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish Realtors® in Gainesville, who through Coldwell Banker has access to LeadRouter, a lead-generation service. Other companies provide similar technology under different names.

Although this system enables immediate customer capture, just 60 percent of Parrish’s sales associates participate, and their conversion rate hovers at only 5 percent. Parrish preaches its advantages but still encounters resistance. Top complaint: Most leads aren’t immediate conversions.

So, what can you do to get them to follow up on Internet leads and convert them to customers? Here are some tips.

Scrub and incubate.
Parrish’s sales associates sometimes receive bogus leads and they get impatient about tire kickers. Because of these problems, Parrish, who paid $1,000 for start-up and pays $2,500 annually, doesn’t pass along his costs. He also doesn’t require participation.

Eventually, though, he wants to implement resources, such as an Internet lead coordinator, to scrub each lead and nurture it until that customer is ready to buy.

Meanwhile, Parrish holds regular training sessions on good incubation practices such as adding these leads to a regular drip marketing campaign to maintain contact.

Set up a central call center.
The main problem with Internet leads is that they’re mostly “inquiries,” translating into few sales, especially if they’re processed inefficiently, says David Therrien, the Baltimore-based chief technology officer for Keller Williams. That’s why a call center can analyze the urgency of each consumer’s needs, with those that don’t require immediate attention going into a database, to be assigned to sales associates for long-term cultivation.

Determine your manpower and information technology needs according to the volume of calls, he adds.  

Adjust to the market.
To adjust to the market, Margaret Reyes, broker/owner of Florida Real Estate Store Inc. in Spring Hill, is encouraging sales associates to pursue Internet leads from rentals, lease options, property management and short sales.

She does her own Internet marketing through the company’s national Web site. “We’ve had a couple of straight sales, but most of our customers have poor credit. Thanks to our focus on Internet marketing, we’re renting one or two homes a day and completing a lease option to purchase at least once a week. We’ve adapted to the changing market,” Reyes says.

Sales associates stay motivated to keep up to date because nine out of 10 Internet leads buy or rent within 30 to 90 days from the first inquiry, she adds.