How to convert real estate leads into clients for life

Searching for hot real estate leads is often the bulk of an agent’s workload. In fact, the average agent spends 64% of their time prospecting – that’s a whopping two thirds of their working week. The cost to acquire new business is huge.So, when you do get some, you want make the most out of it - right?If you’re thinking in the short term, every real estate lead is one potential sale. But every new listing represents a significant investment of your time, money and energy - and a client’s lifetime value can go well beyond that of a single successful sale. If other sales and opportunities come out of that first sale, your initial investment will pay dividends. That’s why one of the signs of a great real estate agent is a long list of loyal clients. And let’s not forget about referrals -  after all, the vast majority of agents and marketers believe that one word-of-mouth referral is more valuable than 10 online leads. That makes sense when 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. This isn’t a new idea. Marketing professionals have been successfully harnessing the power of referrals for yonks - remember this commercial?Part of building a lucrative referral base is being a great agent during the transaction - but that’s just half the battle. To keep your clients coming back to you (and referring others), you need to stay in their lives past that first transaction. So, how do you make sure you’re the only agent in their life?Well, no doubt you’ve read articles like this one that tell you to send birthday cards, anniversary cards and the rest. But we’re betting most of you do this already - and so do your competitors. Let us show you how to stand out from the crowd.

1. Get to know them as a person.

Learn who your clients are as people - get to know their likes, dislikes and interests. Did you notice your seller wearing a Broncos cap? Great, make a note of it. If your agency has some tickets to spare - invite that client along. Did they mention they’re taking the kids camping this weekend? Pop it in Rex, so when it’s time for your weekly call you remember to ask them if they caught any fish.But if you really want to create a human connection that goes beyond the agent/seller relationship, you also need to let them learn about you. Humanise yourself and let people know who you are beneath the suit. Sellers want to work with other humans, not cardboard cut-outs.It’s completely up to you how you inject your personality into your business - wear a jazzy tie, crazy pair of socks or eye-catching pocket square,  chat to other parents about your own kids, share your love of motorcycles with the seller who has a Ducati parked in their garage. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure it’s genuine. The aim is to get people to think of you as a trusted advisor - or even better, a friend.

2. Get to know what real estate leads needs in a house

… Not just what they tell you they want.When you make a new connection with someone, drop in a few questions that will subtly get you valuable information - without coming off too pushy. Work out if they’re married, if they have kids, if they work in the local area. Then you’ll know whether they need to be near schools, whether they value proximity to public transport and parks - not just whether they want a house with a pool. And (of course) don’t forget to pop a tag in the contact record in Rex. Say, for example, someone coming through an open home mentions they have an elderly parent they’d like to have move in with them. Add a ‘granny flat’ tag. The reason for this is simple. If you know what someone needs, and not just want they want, you’ll be able to recommend properties that tick most (if not all) of their boxes.  Perhaps someone else in your office has listed a property that would be perfect for your lead. Why not let them know about it? Your lead will be grateful for your honesty and assertiveness - and you might get yourself a split of the commission!

3. Anticipate their next move

The average person moves house every 7 years. Assuming they buy their first house at the ripe age of 25 and settle into their final place of residence when they turn 70, chances are they’ll move about 6 or 7 times in their life - and they’ll be needing an agent every time.If you’ve invested the time getting to know a little bit about them, you’ll be able to work out where they are in the buying lifecycle - and whether they’ll need to upsize or downsize in the near future. And if you’ve worked out what they need in a house, you’ll be one step ahead of every other agent. Remember those tags we mentioned? Well, when you list a new property with a granny flat, simply search your contact records for the word ‘granny flat’ and - and hey presto! You’ve got a list of people who might just love this property. Give them a call and let them know you’ve just listed a property that you think ticks their boxes - chances are, they’ll be very grateful to you for looking out for them. Bonus points if it’s an off-market property. Things like this show you understand their needs, and care about more than just your commission. But don’t waste their time with anything that doesn’t suit their needs. The key is to become their trusted advisor - and wasting their time with unsuitable listings won’t get you there.

4. Keep in touch

This one’s pretty straightforward. To be someone’s agent of choice, you have to be front of mind. A great way to do this is through an e-newsletter. Research shows that email marketing is one of the most effective (and cheap) way to engage clients and prospects. Lots of agents send out a weekly, fortnightly or monthly newsletter to their database - but how many send multiple newsletters, with content tailored to the recipient? Think about it: in your database, you’ve got current buyers and sellers, past buyers and sellers, investors, renters, stickybeaks and everyone in between. That’s a diverse bunch! No one likes spam, but recipients won’t be so quick to hit ‘Delete’ if you’re providing them with useful information. People react much more positively to communication containing information that is relevant to their lives. The problem is, what is relevant and useful to a househunter won’t necessarily be relevant and useful to a new homeowner. The best way to ensure you’re providing value to everyone in your database is to have up-to-date tags in each of your contact records, classifying that contact as a buyer, past owner - or whatever the case may be. Then, mass merge those contacts into a mailing list. When it’s time to write your newsletter, create one for each contact list. For example, create one newsletter for your current buyers and sellers featuring market news, your newest listings and inspection times. Create another for past clients with local community news, home maintenance reminders, remodelling tips and information on the mortgage market. The aim is to provide all of your contacts with useful, tailored information that reinforces your value as a real estate agent.

5. Be consistent

No matter how you choose to keep in contact with past clients, consistency is key. Consistency will help you stay organised and diligent about reaching out to your past clients regularly - ergo keeping you top of mind, ergo ensuring you are their agent for life and opening the door to referral business.A tool used by many real estate professionals to stay organised is a customer relationship management system. A CRM will help you manage your contacts and remind you when it’s time to send a birthday card, anniversary gift, or just touch base. And if you use it well, you’ll be able to tailor your communications based on their specific needs and interests. Research shows that if you can get a new customer to buy from you once, then there is a 50% chance that they will buy from you again - rather than from someone else. That’s like tossing a coin! Make sure you apply the above so it always lands the right way up.

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