Home shopper leads to builders are like moving cars to dogs: we all chase them, but are not always quite sure what to do with them when we catch them. And, like the dog chasing the car, his “capture strategy” is often much more clearly defined than his “management strategy” regarding what to do with the car once he’s caught it. Builders are not much different. They use Realtors, promotions, signs, events, emails, websites, banner ads, retargeting, landing / capture pages, tv and radio, billboards and print to get a shopper’s contact information. Many even outsource their lead capture process to advertising or marketing agencies. But while builders are comfortable working with others to generate leads, once they get a lead they keep it “in house”. Capturing leads is very expensive and once a builder has landed a lead, they rarely turn over lead management to an outside vendor.
Based on internet secret shopper studies, there seems to be no clear industry consensus on how to deal with a lead once it reaches a builder, but here are 5 things to keep in mind as you or your team approaches lead management.
- READ the Lead. Before anyone fires off a substantive response to the shopper, take a moment to read the lead. Most have information on them that will help determine what the shopper is looking for and why the shopper is looking. Leads contain gems of information, like time of day the shopper was looking, where they currently live, what community they’re looking for, if the shopper has a home to sell, are currently leasing, or is the shopper looking for their first home. Did the shopper leave you several ways to contact them (phone number, email and mailing address) or just one? Does the shopper’s phone number indicate they might be a relocation buyer? Each of these bits of information will help you determine how best to address the needs of the shopper rather than deliver a generic email containing information they probably already know.
- What does the Lead NEED? Information contained on the lead will often direct you toward resources to discover what the lead needs to make a decision. If you have their information, do a quick Facebook, LinkedIn or Google search on the individual. You’ll be surprised what you learn. The lead’s LinkedIn page will tell you if they’re employed, how long they’ve been there and you can make some assumptions about their current salary, if they’ve had a recent promotion or have gotten a new job. If the person is active on social media, you may discover their marital status, number of children, hobbies and the associations they belong to or things they follow. I once typed a home shopper’s name into GOOGLE and found their baby shower page! Talk about an impending event! Once you discover a little about the lead, you’ll know the information they need to start making a decision.
- FEED the Lead. There are three parts of effective lead “nourishment”: timing, method and content. Initially, all leads should be contacted as quickly as possible with an email thanking them and letting them know that you’re putting some information together to help them on their journey. This email should indicate when they can expect your second email to create some obligation and anticipation about that email. All subsequent emails that you send to that shopper should be delivered during the time period that you initially received the lead. If the shopper likes to shop online on Saturday mornings at 10:00am, then all your correspondence should be done during that time until you learn otherwise. The method that you use to contact the lead is often dictated by the information the shopper includes on their registration. Most put their email address, some put their phone and still fewer put their physical address. Attempt to contact the shopper with all of the methods they’ve included on their registration. Assume a phone number is for their cell, and try both calling and texting. The shopper probably won’t answer an unfamiliar number, so be prepared with a concise voice message that thanks the shopper for considering your community and then create some obligation with the shopper by letting them know you’re putting together something specifically for them and to look for that informative email. The content that you put in your email will be determined by what you learned from your cursory internet search. Your emails will start feeding the lead the information they need. If they have children, compare the schools there they currently live to the schools in your district. If there is crime in their current area, how does that compare to crime in your community? Is your community closer to their job? Can you cut their commute? Compare your neighborhood amenities to theirs. How does your community align with their interests and hobbies? If they have a home to sell, what can you do to help them sell it quickly? Are they upsizing or downsizing? Feed your leads with relevant information, tailored to their lifestyle and needs, and you’ll make a more significant connection than builders who simply send current inventory sheets. Putting the shopper’s needs in front of your own by feeding the lead with relevant and new information makes you important and valuable to the lead.
- LEAD the Lead. Stop following up with leads and start leading them! The goal is to get the lead to follow you! Delivering new and valuable information that will help the shopper achieve their quality of life goals based on your research about them, their life and ambitions as you know them is the only way to get the shopper to follow up with you. Get to know the shopper so well that you can eventually tie their goals to your community, inventory or house plans you’ll start to put distance between you and the other new home sales people in the market.
- Help the Lead SUCCEED. As a new home sales counselor, you’re paid for selling homes. But the only reason someone buys a home is if they think that purchase will make their life and their family’s life better. Often, the information that a shopper needs to feel comfortable taking the step into home ownership is less about the actual home and more about the new and improved life they’re embracing. This is often a journey, and each step of that journey requires different information. Information about selling an existing home quickly and repairing credit may be more valuable to a shopper during your early conversations than making sure they know about your existing inventory. Often we try and speed through the home sale process by focusing on the end of the process rather than the journey that we take with the shopper, but it is often the partnership we create with the shopper during the journey that secures the sale.
These five lead management steps will help new home sales teams focus their efforts on people rather than on product, putting themselves in a position as valued allies of the shopper and that will result in more sales.