Real Estate sales are quite different from most sales. Many transactions have their entire sales cycle completed in a relatively short time (depending on the product). Real estate sales, on the other hand, can take up to 18 months to come to fruition. The length of time of the real estate sales cycle has tremendous implications on real estate leads, how they are acquired and how they transact.
The Real Estate Sales Cycle For A Buyer
For the sake of creating a personalized editorial picture, lets say that Jack and Jill are going to sell their home. Jack and Jill may toss around the idea a couple times at dinner or watching TV. They think about their new home and how exciting it would be to make their life in that new location. Their first step is either to see what their home is worth or to possibly look at potential new listings in the area. They are in the very beginning stages of their sales cycle. This part of the cycle will most likely take place on the internet. So now, we have Jack and Jill searching real estate websites such as Zillow or their favorite local real estate broker website to sign up to receive the newest listings. They may do a Zestimate on their current property to see what they can get for their home. For a more accurate home value, they may even utilize the “get your home’s value” on a local real estate broker’s website. During these early steps of the home selling process, Jack and Jill have most likely become a real estate lead. Are they ready to sign a listing agreement? Are they ready to drive around with a REALTOR to look at new homes? The answer for both of those questions is a resounding NO. Does that mean that Jack and Jill are not legitimate home sellers and ultimately home buyers? Of course not… this is how the process takes place from the consumer side. As for the real estate agent that received Jill as a new lead for “getting her home’s value” — when Jill didn’t return the agents phone call, that agent wrote Jill off as another “junk lead”. This is where the system of lead generation for real estate breaks down.
No Shortage Of Leads, There Is A Shortage of Conversions
Nowadays, if you are a real estate agent, you have hundreds, maybe thousands of options for acquiring real estate leads. With the average home buyer becoming a “lead” for multiple real estate agents during their sales cycle, there is no shortage of real estate leads, there is a shortage of conversions. The challenge in the real estate industry is incubating those leads until they get further down the sales cycle. Many agents, whether they be dealing with buyer leads or seller leads, give up quickly if they don’t get an immediate response from their leads. They write them off as “junk leads”. What needs to happen is to incubate those potential home buyers and sellers as they progress through their long sales cycle. As they get closer to the end of the cycle, where they NEED to deal directly with a real estate agent, they will either choose an agent that has kept in touch with them or possibly become a new lead with someone and act.
Using a CRM
One of the most common ways to keep in touch with a potential lead as they move down the sales cycle is to use a CRM. A CRM is a Customer Relationship Manager and they are used in just about every sales vertical. At the most basic level, a CRM will hold your database of leads with some level of differentiation (past clients, potential buyers, potential sellers, etc) and use drip e-mails to stay in touch. Some of the more advanced CRM’s will scrape leads from multiple sources, give a variety of ways to “touch” the client over time and follow the client through their sales cycle and some will even call or text your client. In addition to the major non-industry specific CRMs on the market such as Salesforce, Zoho and SugarCRM, they have many real estate specific CRMs such as Follow up Boss, Top Producer and Brivity. Each one of these CRMs offer a similar set of tools, but with a different take — some more robust than others. Some automate much more of the process while some rely more on human intervention.
–Read Our Article On Does Your Real Estate Website Include SEO–
Many of the stand alone CRMs can get expensive and require a lot of work to get set up, putting them out of reach for an individual agent. In addition, with a good CRM being such an important part of real estate marketing today, many real estate website companies provide their own CRM with their web product. An example of these types of companies are Kunversion, Real Geeks or Siez the Market. Although CRM’s built into your website provider can create an elevated level of synergy, many of the websites themselves can lack the customization as compared to a “built from scratch” site. Lastly, many national franchises and larger independent real estate brokers provide a CRM to agents whom they are associated with. Although broker/franchise provided CRMs are usually the most affordable (sometimes even free) historically, these lack many of the features of the most robust stand alone CRMs. Which one is the best? That really depends on the specifics of your situation, how much money you want to spend and your technical acumen for setting up a CRM. There are a lot of options here, but to be successful in real estate today, NOT having a CRM is NOT AN OPTION.
Video Provided By Chris Donaldson of Donaldson Education
Video taken from a free webinar from Chris Talks
Real Estate Marketing Options
They say… after 4 moves in a game of chess, their are 197,472 possible positions the board can be in. So is the case with real estate marketing options. With the mindbogglingly number of possibilities for a website, real estate SEO, lead generation, CRMs and advertising verticals, it is no wonder why many agents opt for their broker provided website and incorporated CRM. If you are waiting for me to say that is a terrible idea, you are wrong. There are many reasons for an agent to opt for their broker set of tools and services:
- In the last quartile of their Carrier and not looking to reinvent themselves
- Don’t want to learn
- Are happy with their current income
- Don’t have time to learn
- or just don’t have the technical acumen
For these agents, their broker provided tools and services can be a good option. For them, the other option is usually nothing and that is a really bad option. With the broker tool usually comes some level of support and recognition for using the service as well as extremely low cost.
Real Estate Website & CRM Combo
We talked about this option above. If setting up a CRM or attempting to interface a CRM with a different website seems daunting, these can be good options. The real estate website & CRM combo option usually comes with a monthly recurring charge. They may also include add-ons for Facebook and Google Ad Words that is billed through them. Having one dashboard for both your website and CRM and them fully “talking to each other” can substantially simplify things.
–Read Our Article On Real Estate SEO Best Practices–
In my humble experience, although many of these products have solid CRMs, the website side of the equation leaves a little bit to be desired. They are not bad if you dont want to spend a lot of time customizing a website, but if you have a unique design idea or insist on very specific branding, these may not be the best option for you. Lastly, as a company that has deep roots in real estate search engine optimization, my experience is that these are usually harder to rank on Google for real estate. Not saying it can’t be done, it just requires more time and effort to rank these types of sites as opposed to a custom WordPress real estate website, where you have total control.
Stand Alone Non Real Estate Specific CRMs
Many of the largest, most popular CRMs are really designed as enterprise solutions. These are companies like Microsoft or others that have ultra powerful products designed to be integrated into the workflow of a large organization. Many even integrate with the major account software solutions. This requires a ton of custom setup and cost a lot of money. Although enterprise CRMs such as Salesforce or Clear C2 can be a good solution for a large broker, not usually recommended for agents or teams.
CRMs Designed for Real Estate
Real Estate specific CRMs are nice because many of them may include pre-written drip e-mails and have tailored the product for the real estate industry. Even though these CRMs have insight on what is needed from a REALTORS perspective, they can still require a pretty intensive setup. It is recommend that, even if the product include cookie cutter e-mails, you should still write all of your own. Your first contact with any potential client is generally the most important so you do not want this going out sounding sterile. If you choose this route, make sure that the e-mails you send to your incubated real estate leads is has information about real estate. Gone are the days of reminding someone to “Set Your Clocks Back One Hour Tonight!”.
–Read Our Article On Real Estate SEO, Do Keywords Matter?–
Think about it…when you see a Toyota commercial, they usually have something to do with a car right? As a real estate professional,why would you e-mail a client with “The Best Pumpkin Pie Recipe For Halloween!”???????? Its important to send your clients good information about the real estate market or something they can tangibly use in the purchase or selling of a home.
The Full Custom Option For Real Estate Marketing
If you are looking to have a real estate website for lead generation and want a high level of customization, many of you will opt for a custom built website. Building a website from scratch lets you be in total control of the look and feel of the site, but generally has a larger up front cost. Although you may pay more in the startup, your monthly recurring fees will be either nothing or very little. Another advantage of building a custom real estate website is that if you are planning on attempting to rank for real estate keywords, you have much more control of the website URL structure and other SEO functions. If you take the custom route, you will NEED to implement a stand alone CRM. You will also need to integrate your CRM into the website so newly generated leads get added to specific ongoing campaigns. This, once again, is more challenging to complete up-front, but gives a high level of control in how everything will function.
Because most REALTORS spend the majority of their time assisting buyers and sellers with their real estate needs, DEAN Knows has recently rolled out a Concierge Service for the capture and incubation of real estate leads. We feel this will augment our real estate SEO services substantially. We have had tremendous success with our lead generation from our real estate websites and social media campaigns, but up until now, the agent did all of the critical follow up work which turned the lead into a client. With our new Concierge Service, we now handle all aspects of real estate technology including:
- Website Development
- IDX Implementation
- Social Media Marketing Campaigns
- Setup and Integration of CRM
- Lead follow up from capture to closing
At the end of the day, acquiring real estate leads is not the challenge. That can be done in a variety of ways. What sets the bar for success, in the long sales cycle of real estate, is the ability to CONVERT those leads to sales. A CRM plays a critical part in that.
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