Creating an effective lead follow-up system can be the backbone to a consistent real estate sales business. The more effectively you handle the leads you generate, the more production you will achieve. Too many agents are spending too much time trying to find the leads they generated. They know the leads are on their desk somewhere. You need to be able to put your hands on your leads immediately when needed.
One of the best ways to track leads is by a contact management software program. These programs are designed to help you keep information that will enable you to sell more efficiently and effectively. There are many on the market, some of the best are ACT!, Top Producer, and Online Agent. Select a system you are comfortable with that will grow with you and your business.
If you are unable to afford a computer and software, you can do this manually with 3" x 5" note cards in a shoe box. I started to track my leads this way when I started real estate sales many years ago. Sometimes we can get too fancy and technical for our own good. We become excited about all the new technology and gadgetry and forget "old fashioned" sales skills. The key is to meld the technology with quality sales skills. By doing this you will achieve spectacular results.
One of the critical questions to ask yourself is what is a lead? What is your definition of a lead? Each person’s definition will tell a great deal about where he is in the business. When I first started into business, my definition of a lead was someone who wanted to buy or sell. It was a very simple definition. It was also a very broad definition and excluded very few people. My definition today is someone who wants to buy or sell in the next 14 days. My definition has changed dramatically over the years. How did I get from one very broad definition to one that was quite narrow? Let’s take a look at the process.
When I first started, like most new agents, I had very little knowledge of the business. I was chasing after any and every deal I could find. Because my definition or philosophy about a lead was so broad, everybody on the face of the earth was qualified as a potential client. Even though everyone qualified as a potential client, I had too may potential clients to work with. Most of my potential clients honestly would never buy or sell a home, let alone one through me.
I spent a tremendous amount of time trying to persuade people to buy or sell who really never were going to buy or sell. I learned to tighten down my definition to anyone who would buy or sell within a year. Then tighten to anyone who would buy or sell within six months. Then tighten down to 60 days, 30 days, and finally to 14 days. If I had tightened my definition from the beginning, I would have saved myself from a lot of mistakes, anguish, and lost income. Do not wait to clearly define a lead in more specific terms of now business. Spend the additional time working to find more leads through prospecting. Having fewer good leads is better than having a bunch of marginal ones. Quality is the name of the game versus quantity. If your desire is to sell a home a week, you only need two to three now leads weekly to accomplish your goal. Think in terms of qualified people who want to do something now!!
All the time I spent working with people who were too far out, cost me a lot of money. We have all spoken with people many times or even put people in our car to show property who did not have the motivation to buy or sell now!! Do not continue that process, change today!
There are people who want to buy and sell today; our job is to go find them and help them do it. My goal was to list or sell a home every day. My job every morning when I got up was to find that person, every working day. It is truly no more complicated than that. At the same time I was looking, I would find people who were two weeks away, ten days away. If I filled my pipeline with these people, I always had great leads to work with. I did not have lots of leads, but the ones I had were highly motivated and someone was going to get a listing or sale in the next week or two. My goal was to ensure it was me by incorporated sales skills and effective follow-up. You might call it relentless follow-up. Do not let go of a good lead. Have you ever tried to get a bone away from a big dog? Develop that attitude with good leads.
You must clearly define your definition of a lead. Here is a little hint for you, it should be someone who wants to buy or sell in 60 days or less. Any further out and you are not creating closings for the near future. You are also likely to be investing in someone who will never buy or sell. You are investing your time, your most precious commodity, into someone who may not buy or sell. Do not waste your time for anyone or anything. We are all only given so much time in life. You and I only have so many days, do not waste them with people whom we cannot help. If you have too many future potential clients rather than now clients, you will have a high level of frustration and no control of your business, not to mention the financial loses you will face. Keep your number of long-term or "project clients" down so you can invest your time finding people who need help now. I define "project clients" as someone who is:
We have all spent large amounts of money on mailings to people who are not moving. We have also spent large amounts of time following up on poor leads. Stop working with people who are not committed to doing something now. The old belief of "great salespeople should be able to sell ice to an Eskimo" is false. Great salespeople have clear definitions of what constitutes a lead. They clearly follow their narrow definitions. They prospect enough to keep a constant supply of leads flowing, so they can qualify and define them carefully. As it says in the Bible, "Jesus separated the wheat from the chaff, gathering his wheat in to the barn and burning up the chaff." We must separate the good kernels of wheat from the chaff of unmotivated sellers and buyers. The kernels of wheat have value, the chaff has no value. The wheat will feed your body and mind. The chaff will provide zero nourishment.
What happens when you do not separate effectively is you get so bogged down with future business that never happens, you miss the now clients, or you do not have the time to find them because you are hoping this future business will work out. You often feel like you have so much invested in future business you can not just cut your losses now even though in your heart you know it is right. Always remember the least painful loss you will take is the one today.
Take the time today to reflect and clearly define what a lead is to you. Reevaluate and review your definition every quarter to see if it has changed. Stick to your guns. Do not compromise, because most of the time you will be burned. There is nothing more painful then to compromise and then not get paid for your effort. The pain in the pit of your stomach is like no other when you compromise. Once in a while you will find that person you excluded will buy or sell with someone else. More often than not, you just saved yourself time and frustration.
Above all do not be concerned if you made a mistake by over qualifying or over defining which causes someone to use another agent. Great sales people do not worry about the transaction or closing they never had. They focus on the key four letter word, in sales, NEXT.