Real Estate Lead Conversion: The Complete Guide

real estate lead conversion
real estate lead conversion

Real Estate Lead Conversion: The Complete Guide

Whether you are an inside sales agent, sales team leader, or an owner of a real estate company, this article is for you. We’re going discuss how to convert real estate leads on your calls and which lead sources you and your team should be working.

First, let’s dive into how to consistently have successful and enjoyable sales calls and increase your conversion rate. These strategies are key for both individual agents looking to better their numbers and for team leaders who are looking for ways to increase the profitability and success rate of their team. 

Real Estate Lead Conversion Is All about Mindset

Mindset is the key factor that will determine success as someone who makes sales over the phone. It doesn’t matter how many scripts you study, how many objections you practice handling, or how much research you do on your leads. If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t be successful on your calls.

And the critical element to a successful mindset is positivity. Staying positive about your role and about the disposition of the lead is paramount. What this means is that you need to be telling yourself the right stories in your head about what you are doing and what you are trying to accomplish.

Because let’s face it, our heads are filled with crap when it comes to cold calling and sales in general. It has an almost visceral negative connotation to many of us. Put that to bed for you and any agents or ISAs you have working for you.

If your sales person has good stories in their head—if sales and cold calling have a positive connotation—they will be unstoppable. If they have negative stories in their head about cold calling, lead generation, setting appointments, etc. and what those things mean about them as a sales person, then no matter what you do or say, they won’t have successful calls and they won’t generate leads.

Here are three things you can do to help cultivate a positive mindset and interaction:

  1. Know and understand the benefits you bring to every person BEFORE you dial them. 
  2. Know what you are offering them and how it is going to palpably improve their lives.
  3. Live and breathe mantras like “they are waiting for my call” or “they need my help”. 
  4. Repeat these between each dial to keep your energy up on your entire list of leads.
  5. When you feel yourself becoming negative, take a break and focus on your commitment to helping others. Remember, they are benefitting from your call because what you are offering is valuable to them.

Enter Your Real Estate Calls Confidently

This may seem obvious, but if you don’t project confidence when you get on the call you will not be successful. This means that when the lead picks up the phone always sound as though you know exactly who the person is that just answered.

Believe me, they will tell you if they are not the right person. Quickly identify who you are and ask your most important question, usually some form of “are you buying” or “are you selling”.

Remember, you are a stranger and most people typically do not want to talk to strangers on the phone. So you are fighting an uphill battle. The minute you hesitate, the minute you sound like you don’t know exactly what you are talking about, or the minute you sound like you don’t want to be on phone, you have given them the excuse they are looking for to hang up.

Real Estate Objection Handling

You’re going to hear a lot of “no’s”. You can’t escape this, it’s the nature of the business. But what you can do is learn how to properly deal with objections and turn more of those “no’s” into “yes’s”.

To do this, you need to understand where objections come from. At Smart Inside Sales we have a technique we call the PPO Process. PPO stands for Perspective Process Outcome.

The prospect’s perspective is their past experience, knowledge and speculation. Examples of perspectives that may lead to objections are “I’ve sold my home myself before”, “I’ve already met with an agent”, and “I can do what an agent does, you guys don’t do much.”

The prospect’s process is their own plan that they have for their situation. Examples of a process is “I’m going to sell my home myself”, “I’ll just use the agent I used before”, and “I am just going to wait until spring to sell my home and get a better deal”. The process is typically what will lead to an objection. They have their plan and you are not a part of it in their mind, so they turn you down.

And finally, the outcome. This is the unique result or benefit the prospect believes their process will deliver for them. Examples of these are “not wasting time”, “avoiding disappointment”, and “proving to my neighbors or real estate agents or to the world that I am right”. 

These are the three components that make up an objection. The key here is to understand these three parts of the objection from the lead’s point of view, not just from your own. Below are the five most critical aspects of dealing with an objection once they tell you it:

  1. Acknowledge – Listen to what they say and let them know that you understand it.
  2. Paraphrase – Restate what they said without leading and without interpretation.
  3. Inquire into their perspective, process, and outcome – This is where you dig into their thought process how they see it. Get them to walk you through their knowledge, plan, and the unique thing they hope to accomplish. These are the three things you need to know in order to counter their objection, so ask questions that get you the answers.
  4. Determine the unique benefit or result they hope to achieve – this is their sought after outcome.
  5. Close if appropriate – Close if the lead does not bring up another objection as a result of the PPO process or if it becomes obvious that meeting is the next logical step in your conversation.

Follow this process, understand where the prospect’s objection is coming from (from their own point of view), and respond in a way that makes sense given the lead’s perspective and goal.

Real Estate Lead Sources

Once you understand the strategy for how to efficiently and successfully make sales calls, you have to, first, have leads to call and, second, know where to get those quality leads. 

These days, you and your real estate team are—hopefully—getting leads from a variety of sources with varying levels of interest and who are at different stages of the buying or selling process. So how do you determine which leads should be worked, when they should be worked, and by which of your inside sales agents?

Work All Your Real Estate Leads

The short answer is this: work all of your lead sources. This includes inbound leads, inbound referral leads, expireds and withdrawns, for sale by owners, and even past clients and sphere leads. Although there are definitely more and less valuable lead sources, each source is a potential for business, and it is smart not to avoid any of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that this isn’t always practical. Depending on the size of your team and stream of leads from certain sources versus others, you may have to focus on the most productive sources at the expense of less productive ones.

If you have a real estate team with multiple inside sales agents, then the critical thing to do is prioritize lead sources for your different ISAs, depending on their skill and experience level. This is where having a larger team starts to exponentially work to your advantage. You can have your newer inside sales agents work the less productive or less valuable lead sources, while your more experienced ones work the more valuable sources.

What this does is twofold. This allows you to work all of your lead sources (because even those “less valuable” sources can still generate a lot of business for you) and also allows your newer ISAs to gain experience and hone their skills so they can graduate to also working the more productive sources.

All Real Estate Lead Sources Are Not Created Equal

Like we already established, all lead sources are not the same. And as such, they should be worked in a specific order, depending on different factors like the size of your real estate team, and how much bandwidth your team has.These lead sources should be worked in the following order, from top to bottom:

  • All inbound leads
  • Inbound referral leads
  • Expireds, withdrawns, FSBO leads
  • Past client sphere leads
  • Circle prospecting (If this is in support of a farming strategy or if the ISA has NO ONE ELSE to call)

Inbound Leads

Inbound leads is the key lead source for your real estate team. The reason they are so important is in the name itself. Inbound. These leads are people who have followed the trail of breadcrumbs you have laid for them. Through going on your website, signing up on a lead form, responding to an email, responding to direct mail, looking on Zillow, or whatever the avenue may be, they have expressed interest in your company and what your company offers.

They have exerted at least some effort in finding you, and have expressed enough interest in order to drive them to your website and give you their contact information. At a minimum, these leads are somewhat active and most likely have some problem they are trying to solve. That is what makes them so valuable to you and your team.

These are the leads that your inside sales agents should be targeting and contacting first. They are looking to solve a problem and your business can step in and be the solution they are looking for.

Inbound Referral Leads

Inbound referral leads are similarly valuable. For some types of referrals, the concept is essentially the same as for other inbound leads. People actively trying to solve a problem and so are going on websites like Dave Ramsey, Agent Machine, or Upnest in order to look for a real estate agent who can help them solve it. They are primed and ready for you.

Traditional referrals can also be tremendously valuable to you. These leads may not have come directly to you via a website or advertising response, but were brought to you by a friend or family member they trust enough to listen to.

The Rest of the Leads

The key is to work all of your lead sources if your ISA team has the ability to. There are three common mistakes that ISA teams often make:  

  1. Only putting the ISA on working cold outbound leads (which are much more difficult to convert and don’t typically provide enough contracts and closings to make the ISA position profitable.
  2. Ignoring outbound altogether and only having the ISA work low quality inbound.
  3. And the WORST mistake: hiring an ISA to solely do circle prospecting, which is randomly calling every phone number in a neighborhood looking for a potential lead.

There is a lot of business to be found in expired listings, withdrawn listings, for sale by owners, past client sphere, and circle prospecting.

These aren’t necessarily the low-hanging fruit that inbound leads can sometimes be, but if your inside sales agents know how to get to the heart of the desire of leads and prospects who fall into this category, then there is ample business here that a lot of other teams will not be taking proper advantage of.

There are plenty of lead sources out there, and you can take advantage of them all!

If you are going to scale or sustain your real estate business or team, then you need great inside sales agents providing you with a constant stream of new leads. The most important thing is finding someone who wants to grow and produce value for the company and themselves (if you find someone who understands that producing value for one produces value for the other, you’ve struck gold). Then just make sure they are good at talking on the phone and train the heck out of them.

Real Estate ISA Training: Role Playing Is Key

real estate ISA training role play
real estate ISA training role play

Real Estate ISA Training: Role Playing Is Key

Success as a real estate ISA comes just like success for anything else. Through training, coaching, and hard work. If you’re building a successful real estate business, then it all comes down to how productive and effective your team is.

True success in the real estate industry comes with building a successful real estate team. You can be an awesome solo agent, make tons of money, and have a very comfortable life. But without developing a solid real estate team around you, you’ll always be in the trenches, you’ll always be turning over stones, you’ll always be knocking down doors. You can do better than that.

The kind of success you want, the kind that allows you to make money even when you’re on vacation, on the weekend, while you sleep, comes from hiring and training the right people to go into the trenches for you. Building a consistent and valuable team of real estate agents and real estate ISAs allows you the time to both focus on your business as a whole and to actually live the life you want to live.

How to Train Your Real Estate Team

The bottom line of training your real estate team is that YOU MUST set aside time and resources in order for it to be successful. Real estate training isn’t just about how to sell houses, specifically—in fact, the majority of it is general sales training. Your agents and ISAs need to train in lead generation, lead conversion, how to talk on the phone, caller objection handling, closing techniques, and the list goes on.

Inside sales agents are critical to the healthy growth and success of your real estate business. And the most important part of an ISA role is being able to convert leads and close on their phone calls. This incorporates objection handling, closing techniques, and lead conversion.

Use Role Playing for Real Estate Training

If you are going to successfully train your team, then you need all the tools possible at your disposal. Role plays are an incredibly powerful tool for training real estate inside sales agents. This not only allows ISAs to practice closing techniques, objection handling, and all the other sales components they are taught, but also allows other people in the group to learn from mistakes that their colleagues make. Just like pilots use flight simulators, so should inside sales agents use role play groups.

There are basically three types of role play structures. The first is one-on-one with a coach or experienced sales person. This is a lower stress environment that is sometimes better for less experienced ISAs who are just starting out. The coach describes a scenario or objection and then plays the role of the prospect. The ISA tries to set an appointment with them and the coach offers advice and insights along the way.

The next real estate role play structure is with three people—two ISAs and a coach. For this structure, the coach will determine the scenario or caller objection, and one of the agents acts as the caller and the other as the prospect. They go at it with each taking turns in each role, giving each other feedback based on how they think the other did, and the coach steps in as necessary with tips and advice on how to improve.

The last general structure for a real estate role play operation is sometimes called a “fish bowl”. This is done in a group of several ISAs and a coach. This is often the format that coaches will use when hosting virtual role play groups. The coach either plays the prospect with each ISA, or the agents take turns playing the role of caller and prospect. The value of this type of setting is that everyone present, even those not directly participating, gain from the experience. They get to see they aren’t alone in the common mistakes that all ISAs make, and they typically get to hear a wider range of insights and practical advice because many people will make different mistakes or make them in a different way.

Role Playing Is Key to Real Estate ISA Training

Training is key to a successful real estate team, and role playing is key to a successful real estate training program. They allow your inside sales agents to practice real world situations, make real world mistakes, and receive real time insights from an experienced ISA or coach. Although they aren’t exactly like a real phone call, it is the closest your agents will get to them before they actually start dialing.

At Smart Inside Sales, group role plays are an integral part to our real estate inside sales agent and agent training program. We offer an engaging, encouraging environment with agents of all skill levels and real estate experience, as well as coaches with many years of sales experience. We meet weekly and have made a significant positive impact on every team we work with.

Click here to learn more about our role play groups and coaching programs. 

The Fall Real Estate Market: Find the High Hanging Fruit

fall real estate market
fall real estate market

The Fall Real Estate Market: Find the High Hanging Fruit

With Labor Day having come and gone this year, the prime time for buying and selling homes is largely considered over. If you know anything about the real estate industry, then you know that spring and summer are the times of year when the most houses are moved and the most sales are completed.

This makes sense when you consider the fact that the spring and summer have larger number of buyers, more demand from people who are looking to purchase a home, move, and get settled before the school year starts, and, in colder climates, the weather is far more cooperative.

But just because the frenzied buying may start to taper off once fall sets in doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to buy and sell homes. There are ample opportunities to produce positive outcomes for your clients, as well as for your real estate business.

Real Estate Opportunities in “Off-Seasons”

I’ve written in the past about how there are clear advantages for sellers to list their homes in the winter. To name a few, selling homes in winter means:

  1. Less Competition – Because most sellers wait until the spring to list their homes, there are fewer homes on the market, which means less competition from other sellers. Additionally, the low inventory can create increase competition among buyers, which generally result in higher sale prices.
  2. Serious Buyers – Similar to why there is less competition in winter, this season draws out the serious buyers because most buyers think it is best to wait until spring to check out the market. The ones who do come out do so because they are serious and cannot wait until spring to purchase a home. These are not window shoppers, but motivated buyers who want to take advantage of the less competitive market and get their hands on their ideal home.
  3. You Can Highlight the Winter Side of Your Home – Show off your home’s winter-readiness. Have the fire going, showcase the hot tub, highlight the design and features that will make their life easier during winter, like an easy-to-shovel driveway, new roof and furnace, south-facing windows, and well-insulated pipes, among other things. These features, however simple, will show that your home can handle the harsh elements.

Just as there are advantages to the winter real estate market, there are also some clear advantages to the fall real estate market. What’s more is that this is true for every season. Although there are generally thought to be lulls in certain seasons, if you know your market, understand what your clients’ goals are, and understand the specific advantages of each time of year, there never has to be a lull in your sales.

Fall Real Estate Can Be a Buyer’s Market

The push to buy before Labor Day and before the kids are back in school is a driving force for many home buyers who have children. The first day of school is a hard date that can’t be changed or molded to your client’s schedule or home-buying process. But not all of your clients are going to have children. For those buyers who don’t have kids, it can actually be advantageous to conduct their home search after families are pretty much done looking.

Once families are pretty much settled in for the school year, your clients who are searching for homes and who don’t have children are facing less competition. Fewer people looking for houses means that you have an increased ability to negotiate better prices.

Real Estate Prices Fall

Many sellers list their homes in the spring and summer because that’s peak selling season and that’s when they feel they can get the best price for their home. However, once Labor Day rolls around and their house still hasn’t sold, chances are they may lower the price they are asking for. This means your buyers have more room for negotiation and have an opportunity to get more for their money.

The Holidays Can Create a New Deadline

The holiday season serving as a deadline to get into a new house can go both ways in the fall. This is where understanding your client’s motivation, plan, and goals comes in. For example, buyers who would like to buy and settle into their new home by Thanksgiving, but who are willing to adjust and be flexible based on other factors, can hold out for better deals and houses that better check all their boxes.

On the other hand, the holidays can create an advantageous situation for your seller clients. This is because, for some buyers, the start of the holiday season may be just as big of a deadline as the first day of school is for others. Those particular buyers are going to be highly motivated to get into a home before the end of November, giving your sellers the opportunity to receive over asking price.

You Create Your Real Estate Business

Both this article and our past one about selling homes in winter are just attempting to point out that there doesn’t have to be lulls in your real estate business. There are always people moving, and there are always people looking to buy and sell homes all year long. There might be more low hanging fruit during the “peak” times, but there is plenty of money to be made from the lucrative high hanging fruit that presents itself during other seasons.

The fall real estate market, like the winter real estate market, can offer unique opportunities for both your buyer and seller clients. The key is to know and understand their perspective, process, and desired outcome and understand the market you’re working in.

Successful Real Estate Agents Need ISAs

real estate inside sales agent
real estate inside sales agent

Successful Real Estate Agents Need ISAs

The key to success for your real estate business is the ability to convert leads into actual business. This is obvious, and, really, is true for any type of business. The thing about the real estate industry these days, however, is that there are more potential leads than ever out there. Potential clients are searching for houses online, looking for agents online, and being exposed to a torrent of advertising (yours and other agents’).

Needless to say, there are a ton of leads out there for the taking. The question becomes, how do you capture all of these potential clients? And once you make contact with a lead, how do you qualify them to make sure they are serious and worth your time to work with? Finally, how do you maintain contact and nurture leads that aren’t ready to buy now, but will be in the future?

The answer to all these questions is, hire a real estate inside sales agent (ISA).

What Is an ISA, Exactly?

I explain the role of ISAs to my clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled, and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent.  The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.

Their goal is nurture the lead from start to finish, from prospect to client. Often they own the entire sales process. They do their own prospecting, reach out to potential leads, show the lead their intimate understanding of their needs and the product they are selling, and make follow up calls as necessary in order to set up an appointment.

Basically, you are hiring an ISA to be the first point of contact with potential business—representing your brand and the value you or your team can bring to clients, as well as ensuring the potential client is serious about buying or selling and worth your team paying attention to.

Do I Need a Real Estate ISA?

Asking if your real estate business needs an ISA is like asking if your body needs food. Think of your inside sales agent as the person who delivers the leads that feed your business (sorry for the corny metaphor, but it’s true). Now, not every business is necessarily ready for an ISA, but eventually, every business will need one. It all depends on if you are bringing in more business than you can handle while still generating and nurturing leads.

Among other things, you probably need to hire an ISA if you meet the following conditions:

  • You have too many leads to deal with and are unable to follow up with them all.
  • You are so focused on existing clients and income-generating activity that you have no time for prospecting. 
  • You have too little time available to properly prepare for listing appointments.
  • Once a client is finished with the inspection and appraisal process, they often don’t hear from you until right before closing.

If you are already bringing in around 150,000+ in annual GCI, and you already have a solid and well-trained assistant handling your transactions for you, then you are ready for an ISA.  At this point you are able to scale and do more business.  You can leverage your lead generation while producing more appointments and contracts.

Real Estate ISAs Save Agents Time  

On a practical level, a real estate ISA becomes necessary when you simply don’t have enough time to do everything you have to do. As an agent, your main focus is working with clients to buy and sell homes. That’s what you’re good at, that’s what pays the bills. But there are many moving parts to running a successful real estate business; all of which require an investment of time and money.

Generating, converting, and nurturing new leads is probably one of the most important, but also most time consuming, parts of a real estate business. It takes a concerted, dedicated effort to create a consistent stream of new business. Having an ISA ready to contact leads, follow up with them and maintain a relationship with them, all while you are concentrating your efforts on your existing clients, is what will allow you to take your real estate career to the next level.

Other Things an ISA Can Do for a Real Estate Agent

Prospecting for Your Real Estate Business – There are a lot of potential leads out there, if you only are willing to and know where to look. You need ISAs who are constantly picking up the phone to contact expireds, withdrawns and FSBOs a daily basis.

ISAs are critical here because their job is wholly dedicated to picking up the phone and having successful sales conversations, they’re going to be on the phone 6.5 to 7 hours per day—every day, and they ensure that dials are made to get the requisite number of contacts to get you consistent listing appointments.

Retain Your Internet Leads – Research has shown that an internet lead that isn’t contacted quickly and efficiently is a client lost. Having an inside sales agent prepared to reach out to potential clients makes it so that you can reach them while they are still browsing your website. This will greatly increase your chances of making contact and of a successful conversion.

Additionally, if the internet lead is just browsing and not serious about buying right now, an inside sales agent can keep in contact with them. If you are able to maintain engagement with the lead and build a relationship, then you have a better chance of retaining their business when they are ready to buy.

ISAs Increase Your Sales – Once hired and properly trained, leveraging an ISA will allow your business to grow by leaps and bounds. Within their first 12 months, you can expect your ISA to produce between 50 and 60 transactions.

Though it varies, on average ISAs are compensated by a low salary and between 5%-15% commission. This may seem like a lot, but a well-trained ISA is more than worth it. According to a statistic from the Real Estate Trainer, real estate teams which utilize ISAs have found the income they produce to be at least five times the cost of employing them, amounting to a 5 to 1 return on investment.