Real estate lead generation: why marketing & sales can’t just get along
You’re spending good money on generating real estate buyer leads via paid ads on Google and/or Facebook. The leads are flying in, your sales team is busy, the future is bright. Roll forward 6 months. The sales are not rolling in as you forecasted.
“These leads are no good,” complains the sales team.
“The sales team isn’t following up the leads properly,” says the marketing team.
Why can’t sales and marketing just get along?
In most cases, the truth is somewhere in the middle, and it is precisely in the “middle” where the issue often lies. Simply put leads are being passed on to sales too soon and/or without sufficient information. There is a disconnect between what the potential buyer (the lead) expects to happen next and what the salesperson actually does.
But there is hope. The singular reason why this misalignment SHOULD be easy to solve is that everyone wants for the process to produce sales, so the intentions are aligned and are mutually reliant.
Leading US lead qualifiers Verse refers to this as the “lead conversion gap”.
“Often, there can be a lot of pointing fingers. Maybe sales teams aren’t following up with the leads marketing gives them. Maybe marketing isn’t delivering high quality or high volume of leads. Whatever it may be, the hand-off between marketing and sales leaves about 55% of leads neglected without ever being contacted. This is a huge gap in the funnel many companies struggle to close,” reveals Verse.
In the case of real estate I find this happens most frequently in very small (“boutique” anyone?) agencies, where the brokers also act as telemarketers, or in huge agencies or developers, where there are so many departments communication breaks down and company politics often play a role.
Verse explains: “While everyone is trying to figure out whom to blame, both parties tend to have a role in the lead conversion struggles:”
Common Problems in Marketing:
- Poor understanding of targeted demographic
- Outdated lead generating tactics
- Trouble generating a high volume of high-quality leads
Common Problems in Sales:
- Filtering and funnelling leads
- Following up with leads quickly enough
- Maintaining sales morale (“lead fatigue”)
- To prevent more questionable copy and pasting, here’s the link to the article by Verse which explains this all in more detail. This blog post is aimed at shedding light on the issue of misalignment not to score SEO points. The credit is all theirs.
- KPIs – You need to set easily measured KPIs which align with the lifecycle stages of a lead: sale, no sale is not enough. This will allow you to forecast progress. In Spanish real estate, especially in Coastal areas, a large chunk of sales are to foreign buyers. This stretches the time it takes for the journey from lead to sale to 3-6 months. If you don’t have KPIs for the earlier stages you won’t be able to accurately determine if there is a problem after 3 months, which is too long to wait.
- Information – Sales teams need to be armed with as much info about a lead, especially to have a perfect grasp of what it is they are expecting to happen next, so they can follow up appropriately. A common scenario: buyer sees a property development he/she likes on your website which has 15 photos, a drone video, prices and detailed description. Completes a form for more info. The agent gets their details+ what it was they’re interested in. The agent sends them a 500-word email with 25MG of attachments containing… wait for it… 15 photos, a drone video, prices and detailed description. If the lead gets to the end they will read “if I can be of any further assistance please let me know”. The follow-up needs to progress things to the next stage a conversation or directly a viewing.
- Not enough – The follow-up itself comes is too little, too late. Two calls and two emails ain’t going to cut it. Won’t bore you with why here.
- Cookie-cutter – In an attempt to be more personal, the cut and paste of a standard email seem somehow less human. Why? Because a third of their time of your sales team is likely spending on admin tasks. Adding tech to the follow-up process can free up time to allow the sales team to make it more personal where it counts.
- Speed-to-lead – as it sounds, it takes too long to get back to the buyer. Regardless of your chosen channel, the quicker you can respond to the lead the better your chances of closing. There are mountains of stats and research on this, so I won’t bore you. Important to stress, I’m not advocating what this response should be, just that it should be quick. It’s logical if you think about it.
- Dropping the ball – This follows on from #5 above. You might have a killer follow-up process, marketing and sales could be 100% aligned, but what happens when everyone’s gone for the day? My own research last year of more than 10,000 real estate leads revealed that 46% of them were generated in between 6pm and 9am. The answer isn’t making your teamwork 24 hours a day, but there are some options available to you involving automation or external agencies.
If your sales team hasn’t worked with leads generated from online ads before, chances are they’ll struggle to convert them. There are several practices you can put in place in advance to close the lead generation gap so this does not become a learning exercise at your expense.
This is often the case with property developers who fancy saving some money on agency commissions and have a go at some direct sales themselves. Their sales team might be brilliant, but they are not used to dealing with leads so early on in the buying process, and neither is your process. When doing working out budgets for generating direct leads, don’t forget to include the time and investment required for the technology and training required to convert them to sales.
However, before you do the above… the very first stage is doing the maths, what’s it going to cost to deliver the results you need? Have you done the maths? That’s a whole new blog post.