Follow up strategy is the most critical part of hiring a real estate ISA. If you were to just hire an ISA without first defining your follow up process you’d be gambling with the most important part of your funnel.
Through thousands of hours of experience and several studies we have been able to create this collection of best practice when it comes to real estate lead follow up.
“The Fortune Is In The Follow Up”
Everybody knows that.
But almost nobody lives by that, in fact, most salespeople (ISAs or Realtors) will text a lead once or twice and then just give up on that lead altogether if they don’t get a response.
So what’s stopping us from maximizing our ROI and diligently following up with our leads until they’re actually qualified?
The 2 main reasons that salespeople struggle to actually follow up effectively are:
1. They Don’t Focus On The First Step
When we ask agents what the first objective of follow-up is, they almost always say something like “get more closings” or “to turn leads into sales”.
And while that’s not technically wrong, it does skip a lot of steps.
The real first objective of follow up is to get a response.
Because you can’t do anything with an unresponsive lead, you can’t qualify them, build rapport with them, set an appointment, or close on a house with them if they never respond.
We tend to think of this as a staircase that you climb one step at a time, instead of the more common approach where agents just try to jump up an entire flight of stairs from a standing stop.
When you look at it this way, it becomes a lot clearer how your follow up efforts can turn leads into closings.
2. They Don’t Know The Best Practices
We know from experience that real estate sales wisdom tends to oversimplify things. Sure the fortune is in the follow-up but what does that look like...practically.
So instead of just telling you that real estate ISAs need to follow up with your leads, let’s take a look at exactly what they need to do.
In this chapter, we'll review several studies as well as our own internal data gathered by setting 10’s of thousands of appointments to compile the best practices in real estate lead follow. These best practices all piece together to create an unbeatable lead follow up strategy.
Remember the first goal of lead follow-up is to get a response, so why make it hard for people to respond to you by emailing or calling them?
Emailing is like sending someone a postcard, maybe they’ll get it but they’ll pretty much never respond.
Calling people you don’t know is a waste of time in a world where our phones automatically silence unknown callers
Texting is just so elegant in that, almost everybody uses it and can respond on their own time, texting removes friction.
Texting is everywhere, at-your-convenience, immediate, and most importantly it’s super easy.
The fact that texting is super easy means that more of your real estate leads will respond to you than they would on any other channel.
This gets them to the next step in the communication staircase faster.
No truism has stood the test of time better than speed to lead, you need to reach your leads quickly in order to have a strong chance of reaching them.
Studies have shown that leads are 10 times less likely to respond if you wait just 5 minutes after the lead registers online to reach out.
Meaning your leads go cold within 5 minutes and you’re 10x less likely to make contact with them if you wait to reach out because you’re busy reviewing contracts, on a listing appointment, or with another client.
This is a core principle of online lead conversion and it’s called “Speed To Lead”, the faster you get to a lead the more likely they are to respond.
Even with this being generally available knowledge agents still don’t follow up immediately, instead, they get to them as soon as they can.
Here’s the harsh truth ‘as soon as you can’ isn’t fast enough.
By the time you’re reaching out the lead has left your website and has moved on to the next agent.
This slow response time is something you’ll need to address with the standards you hold your real estate ISA to.
Now we have to take coverage and scale into consideration.
Leads don’t become leads only during business hours, they become leads at all hours of the day.
Because of this your real estate ISAs need to be able to respond to online leads 24 hours a day if you want to reach them within 5 minutes and maximize your chance of connecting with and converting these leads.
In sports, there’s a saying that “availability is your single greatest ability”, the same is true for real estate ISAs.
A full time real estate ISA only works 40 of 168 hours in a week. So what do you do about the leads who come in when they’re not working?
Now we also have to layer on scale, over time you’re going to want to generate more and more leads to keep your business growing.
As you grow, you’ll need to grow your real estate ISA coverage as well. For example, what do you do when 25 leads all register at the same time?
There would be no way for one real estate ISA to reach out to all of them within 5 minutes.
The reason I bring this up now is because you must start with scale in mind, this is why a lot of the fastest growing teams in real estate choose virtual real estate ISAs that are easier to implement as their needs grow.
When we talk about scale, the biggest concern is always scaling costs, as you continue to generate more and more leads, you’ll need more and more real estate ISA’s to handle that work load.
Hypothetical: Let’s say your real estate ISA can handle up to 500 leads per month. You’ve been growing and now have the budget for 800 leads per month, what do you do?
Do you hire a new real estate ISA to work at a portion of capacity?
If you did hire a second real estate ISA wouldn’t that cut into your lead generation budget and sabotage the whole reason you need them to begin with?
This scenario leads us to favor virtual real estate ISA companies that can scale up and down based on your businesses needs.
Many of us confuse our priorities when it comes to following up with online leads.
Sure we want to learn more about our prospects and qualify them as best we can but if you ask these interrogating questions too early, you’ll never get a response.
We’ve seen agents and real estate ISA’s who open with fantastical questions like “Describe your dream home” or “Tell me why you’re considering buying a home”.
We’ve also seen agents jump the gun straight to qualifying with “Are you pre approved?”, which is an important question but if you ask it too early you’ll never get a response, let alone qualify your lead.
We’ve sent millions of text messages to leads and set 10’s of thousands of appointments for our agents, we’ve found time and time again that opening with low friction questions maximizes the number of leads we can move down the funnel.
Low friction questions are questions that make it easy for your leads to respond to. Remember the first goal on the way from lead to closing is to get a response.
Low friction questions are optimized to get a response by eliminating the need for your question to think or even type a lot.
Think questions like “How many bedrooms do you need?” or “How many bathrooms do you want?”
These questions are great at producing a response because they require virtually zero thought and just a few keystrokes.
For instance, if you ask a lead how many bedrooms they need they’d only have to tap their phone twice to respond. Once to click the number of bedrooms they need and again to click send.
This reduced friction will make it so much easier for your leads to answer, and the easier it is for your lead to answer the easier it is for you to move them further down the funnel.
Real estate agents give up on a lead way earlier than they should, in fact most only attempt to reach a lead once or twice before considering it a dead lead.
We follow up with all of our agent’s leads for several weeks after they were first generated, and we often set appointments for our agents 30+ days after they ended their ad campaign.
I love hearing “Sweet! I’d completely forgotten about that ad and now I have 3 appointments on my calendar from it!”[Image of appointment set]The more you follow up, the more you convert; it’s a simple formula.
According to a 2020 Study, the number of attempts you make to connect with a lead has a direct impact on your likelihood of getting a response.
The study shows that of all the leads who will ever respond (real people & numbers only) only small percentage will respond on the first attempt.
As you continue to reach out and court the lead your chances of getting a response gradually climb, reaching a crescendo at 90% likelihood by the 6th attempt.
Simply by being a little more persistent you can more than double (90% vs 40%) your chances of getting a response.
The data suggests that you make at least 6 attempts before considering a lead to be dead.
We think more is better on this topic so we train our real estate ISAs to keep going until the lead is qualified or disqualified.
Created by Hassan Riggs, Smart Alto founder and former real estate ISA responsible for setting over 10,000 appointments, the BANTAR Principle is a way to qualify leads without sounding like an interrogator.
It’s a real estate lead follow up script or template you can use to have a conversation with leads.
BANTAR is an acronym that you’ll want to teach your real estate ISA so that they can kill two birds with one stone by qualifying a lead and building rapport with them at the same time.
Hassan’s BANTAR method is simple yet powerful, and being laid out like a memory jogger your ISAs will have the flexibility to engage your leads and build rapport.
Meaning they’ll be more agreeable when it’s time to set an appointment and you’ll have more information to work with. That’s why BANTAR is the preferred real estate lead script for our ISAs.
If you have experience with live transfers it probably went something like this:
You'll have the live transfer number saved as “HOT LEAD $$$” in your phone.
Every time you see a call coming in from that number you get anxious and want to jump into action.
But it always seems to ring at the worst times, while you’re out on showing homes, on listing appointments or during dinner with your family.
This can lead to a lack of confidence on your first call with a lead or worse you may appear unprofessional if the prospect can tell that you’re not prepared to talk to them.
Not only does this cost you money in missed opportunities, it also ruins your mojo altogether. A few bad live transfers can send even the most cocky Realtors into a slump during down months.
Phone appointments on the other hand allow you to bring your A-game to the call.
By having your real estate ISA set phone appointments you’ll be able to take the lead from one step of the communication journey to the next, you’ll also have enough of a heads up to actually prepare for the conversation.
When paired with a record of the text conversation the lead had with your real estate ISA this prep time will prove invaluable.
In chapter 8, we’ll talk more about how to maximize phone appointments set by your real estate ISA.
We firmly believe that lead conversion requires a personal touch that only humans can deliver.
Your leads aren’t stupid. They know when they’re talking to a real person and when they’re talking to a computer program.
And the verdict is out your leads want a real person not just a quick response from a few lines of code.
People have become so isolated that their endorphins fire off when they get the chance to speak to a real person.
To put this theory to the test we split tested leads with an automatic text and human sent text that clearly states a human is on the other end.
We saw an astonishing 15% increase in response rate just by proving that there was a real person messaging them.
15% increase in responses means 15% more conversations, 15% more phone appointments and 15% more closings. Just be giving people what they really want when dealing with their family’s largest asset. A real person to talk to.
Implementing the Best Follow Up Strategies For Real Estate Leads is the foundation for all the tactics you'll learn in this Guide. When we dive deeper into each practice individually, remember these practices all work together to create one unified perfect follow up plan.
We'll revisit it a few times in this Guide, it will all be cemented into your thinking by the end.
Now that you understand the Best Follow Up Strategies For Real Estate Leads, it's time to dive deep on the #1 tool for reaching your leads: Texting.
The strategies you use to follow up with real estate leads will have a massive impact on your success with a real estate ISA.
The right ISA using the wrong practices is worse than a bad ISA using the right practices.
We arrived at this set of strategies by not only reading the literature and studying all of the available data on lead follow up, but also qualifying 100's of thousands of leads the past several years.
We’ve ultimately landed on 8 best practices that will each boost your conversion rate and when combined can have a massive impact on the quality of your business.
Learn all 8 practices and how to implement them to build a perfect follow up system.
The first goal of real estate lead follow up is to get a response. It’s not to set an appointment or to close a deal.
Those may be the ultimate end goal but they are not the first goal.
When first reaching out to a lead it’s important to remember the first goal of real estate lead follow up, getting a response.
We’ve found time and time again that text messaging is the best where to get a first response from your leads.
Learn all about why that’s true and where to take it from there.
A great script isn’t actually a script, it’s a series of reminders to your real estate ISA that remind them to ask important questions that not only build rapport but also qualify your leads in advance.
Through experience and experimentation we have developed the BANTAR principle, a framework for elegantly qualifying leads and converting them further down the funnel.
Learn the entire BANTAR principle complete with an example conversation between an ISA and a lead using the BANTAT method.
Live Transfers have become a hot topic of discussion over the past few years when talking about real estate ISAs.
However, through lots of trial and error we have been able to determine that 15 Minute Phone appointment is the best way for real estate agents to receive hot prospects from their real estate ISAs.
Unlike live transfers, 15 minute phone appointments actually solve the problem of limited agent availability and can help to increase conversion rates.
In fact the only reason they aren’t the norm is because 15 Minute phone appointments are hard to implement on the real estate ISA’s side of things.
Technology can sometimes seem like the key to all of business’ problems.
But through experimentation and testing we’ve found that chatbots are not the key to converting real estate leads. Instead, you need a human real estate ISA.
We review what happens when leads are met with real people. The effects human real estate ISAs have on your conversion rates, and most importantly the effects they have on your bottom line. People prefer talking to people and in this business, give people what they want.