BY: DAWN HIGHHOUSE
Here are some frightening statistics:
U.S. businesses spend billions of dollars generating sales leads only to lose more than 70 percent of them simply because they don’t make contact quickly enough, according to one study.
But that’s not the only way they’re losing out on opportunities, says Brandon Stuerke, president of Advisors Edge Marketing, a specialist in marketing strategy and automation for financial advisors and other professionals.
“A study of more than 600 companies by Dr. James Oldroyd of MIT found that the odds of a lead entering the sales process were 21 times greater if the business made contact within 5 minutes of generating the lead versus contact in 30 minutes,” Stuerke says. “Another study, this one by the Harvard Business Review, found that the average response time by businesses to a generated lead is 42 hours – and that’s just for responses that occurred within 30 days.”
The excerpt above comes from an article on www.realtor.com – the emphasis is mine. I wish I could tell you this didn’t happen in our industry, but the truth is, I hear this complaint all the time. Home buyers who are on MHVillage, actively looking to purchase a home call us directly in desperation. “I’m really interested in home XYZ,” they say, “but I can’t get anyone to call me back.” This breaks my heart.
Think of your leads like a pint of Hagan Daaz ice cream: wonderful, but also very perishable. Would you leave ice cream you’ve paid for sitting on the kitchen counter for a few days? Of course not! Leads, particularly internet leads, are just as perishable. Every moment that lead sits without being taken care of, it loses value. You’ve spent a lot of time and effort into your marketing, now’s the time to make it pay off!
Here at MHVillage, we send out roughly 50,000 leads per month to our Professional users. To get the most out of those leads, you need to respond quickly. Here’s why:
The First Contact Creates a Bond
People are always a little afraid of the unknown. The quicker you can reach out to the buyer and create a bond, whether it is through email or via the phone, the quicker you start to build a relationship. Buyers are much more inclined to work with someone they know, and the sooner you get your foot in the door, the better.
Compare and Contrast
When buyers shop online, they start by finding something that fits their needs. Once they have that first one, they begin comparison shopping, but they always compare new finds to old ones. “Is Home B better than Home A?” and so on. If you are the first seller to respond to their inquiry, you have the opportunity to cement your home in the top position.
Build Customer Loyalty – Before They Buy
A quick response is a sign of great customer service. Show your buyer that you are there for them by answering their questions right away. If they have to wait too long to hear from you, they’ll start to feel neglected.
Out of Site, Out of Mind
The minute someone clicks away from your ad, they begin to forget the details. Buyers might contact sellers of several homes in one night, but by the next morning, they’ll have a hard time keeping them all straight. Are you selling the white house on the north side of town or the gray one on the south? Is it the one with the garage, or the carport and the shed? The closer you can get to them when your homes are fresh in their minds, the better.
Modern technology offers a number of great tools for helping you handle your incoming leads efficiently and effectively:
Buyers are Going Mobile, You Should Too
At a recent state association meeting, one of our clients came up to me and told me how he turns 75% of his MHVillage leads into sales contacts – he calls them immediately. This gentleman had a simple system: the leads went to an email on his phone, and his goal was to call them back within 5 minutes – preferably while they were still looking at the home online! He’s smart – in the article quoted above, that 5 minute marker is an important one. Here’s a quick tip – have an email account dedicated to your sales correspondence only. (That way when you see an email come in, you know it is from a buyer and you won’t have to wade through the tons of daily spam and other nonessential email we all get in our day-to-day accounts.) Have that email on your phone so you are ready to respond instantly.
Route Calls Effectively
There are a lot of options in phone systems these days. You can route calls to your cell, to your home and even to your email. If your office system won’t support this, take a look at some of the free and low-cost systems out there, like Google Voice. With Google Voice you can have a specialized phone number for leads and have it ring multiple phones at once. You can have voicemails be shared among several phones, and you can even reply to calls with text.
Emails: If You Can’t Respond in Person, Have Your Computer Do It for You
Obviously, a personal response is better than a canned response, but a canned response is better than none at all. Most email systems will let you sent up an automatic reply. You can craft the equivalent of a professional voice mail message that provides your company name, your business hours, driving directions, link to your website, phone number and a promise that someone will get back to them the very next day.
Check Your Spam Folders
We keep a complete copy of all your leads in your MHVillage account.
If you use a public email system like Gmail, Yahoo, or AOL, know that these companies try to keep their users from receiving Spam. While that effort is appreciated, it means you can lose leads if they wind up in the wrong folder. In fact, Gmail recently changed its settings to where some important emails might have ended up in the wrong place. If you do lose one, don’t worry! MHVillage always keeps a copy of all your leads in your account.
Creating a Sales Strategy
Here’s a few more tips and tools for creating a powerful sales strategy. (Click on the links for more information about each one.)
- Start with good, solid information online. Make sure your company and community information is up-to-date and has good contact information.
- If you have your own website, increase web traffic by linking it with MHVillage.
- List your entire home inventory online to create the widest marketing net.
- Use all the tools in your MHVillage account to make powerful home listings. (Here, Here, and Here)
- Now that you have a powerful marketing presence, set your benchmarks and goals for lead follow up. (Use technology where you can to make things easier.)
- Sell those homes!