Prospecting and Lead-Gen
Choosing the Right Partner Can be the Difference Between Success and Failure
Real Estate has been slow to adopt MarTech… and that leaves opportunity for professionals to capitalize on.
When I first started in the real estate industry, there were a handful of ways to grow your business and generate leads. Direct mail, cold calling and door knocking were common practice, and in-person networking was the gold standard. As companies like Trulia and Zillow gained popularity, many agents augmented their prospecting by purchasing leads. When we think of PropTech, we often think about disruptive technologies that streamline the real estate process or make homes/buildings safer, smarter, and more efficient. PropTech is defined as any technology used to make real estate transactions and management more efficient, but real estate professionals should not limit themselves to just using PropTech. MarTech, FinTech, and Sales Enablement all create an immense opportunity for real estate professionals.
Real Estate is a marketing business. The marketing of properties is only half the job. Since agents are all independent contractors, and most markets have way more agents than properties to sell, the top producing agents are the ones that know how to brand themselves and generate leads. The best agents to hire may be the ones that are most knowledgeable about the market, but the top producing agents are the ones that can most effectively market themselves. “Best” and “Top” are not mutually exclusive.
I reached out to a real estate leader and asked him to detail how he goes about growing his business and the role that technology plays in the process:
“Whether canvassing on behalf of landlord clients (Related Companies, Hudson Yards) or tenants (Axium Infrastructure, Kastle Systems), prospecting is the core and foundation of my business.
Tools like LinkedIn and ContactOut are essential for sourcing prospect information.
I virtually live and breathe via my Outlook calendar and reminders. A salesperson who isn't diligent with follow-up efforts might as well throw in the towel! At the same time, it's a fine line between being pleasantly persistent and a pain. Let us all avoid the latter.”
With the amount of money that is generated each year through real estate commissions, it is no surprise that so many companies have targeted agents with productivity tools in a race to capture wallet-share. With so many different companies promising to help agents grow their business, each with their own secret sauce, it can be difficult for agents to decide who to partner with.
Companies like Chime Technologies make AI-powered sales acceleration tools to empower brokers and agents with everything they need to generate, capture, and nurture the right leads to close. According to Chime’s Channel Manager Randy Carroll, “Chime’s platform empowers agents by combining a fully integrated IDX web site, a responsive CRM system, and intelligent multi-channel marketing services. Featuring innovations like AI-powered chatbots, three line dialers, and social media-friendly features like live streaming capabilities and Dynamic Facebook ads, Chime gives agents the technology tools and automation they need to drive conversions right now.”
LemonBrew Technologies provides exclusive, vetted, and pre-qualified residential buyer and seller leads. By analyzing hundreds of data points their algorithm is able to make the best consumer / partner agent match which converts at an amazingly high level. “As a LemonBrew Partner Agent, you receive exclusive and qualified buyers and sellers who wish to work with knowledgeable and responsive real estate agents. The proprietary dashboard, called the BrewBoard, allows our partner agents to track and manage client matches”, said Jason Doshi, LemonBrew’s President and Co-Founder.
Generating real estate leads online is a critical component of an agent’s business plan, but knowing where to start can be a challenge. Not only are there multiple ways to approach online lead-gen, but the rules and best practices are always changing. This is where the right partner can make the difference between success and failure. Dan Lott, CINC’s VP of client marketing provided me with valuable insight:
After you have your site, you need to select which markets you want to target for your advertising. You should pursue leads in areas where you want to get leads. You may be able to get a lot of leads in a city an hour from your office but if you don’t service that market it is wasted spend.
Within your target market, similar towns or neighborhoods will often have vastly different cost per leads. CINC has been accumulating data for 10 years on what are the best submarkets within each market so that you can target under-the-radar areas that effectively generate leads at a low price. For example, if you are near a lake or other geographic feature you could target people searching for homes near the lake. Since most of your competition focuses their marketing on cities you can get a lot of leads there.
It is important to be flexible in where you want to receive leads. We generally suggest you start with around a dozen areas. This helps you diversify. However, if you only want leads in one area you can consider adding niche ad groups that target specific property types rather than the conventional homes for sale - such as condos, townhomes, luxury homes. You can often get these niche leads for less than regular leads because they are not as competitive. Digging into more narrow niches can be fruitful. CINC has a list of around 75 niche property types that we market to and they can be success based on the city and part of the country.
One of the key components that Dan suggests focusing on is diversification. CINC focuses on search advertising (mostly Google) and social advertising (mostly Facebook/Instagram). Choosing the right type of advertising will vary for each client and CINC recommends that clients use a combination of Google, Facebook, and their proprietary remarketing advertising ListCast, with the majority of spending on Google.
“Reonomy empowers the likes of Cushman & Wakefield, CBRE, Marcus & Millichap, and more with actionable data and solutions. CRE professionals and organizations gain comprehensive market understanding, discover opportunities, and streamline research processes.” says Morgan Slade - Reonomy’s Director of Product Marketing and Brand.
Real estate sales is no different from any sales role in the fact that prospecting is the most important part of the job. No matter how great your last month was, if you are not constantly filling up your pipeline, then lean times are almost certainly in front of you. Real estate is a personal business and no amount of technology will ever replace the skills needed to build deep trusting relationships. However, technology can absolutely change the amount of people that see your brand, the effectiveness of your messaging, and your response rate. According to Therealestatetrainer.com, 65% of homeowners use the first agent that met with. This tracks with metrics from SaaS sales automation companies whose studies show a similar pattern amongst buyers.
“While others may try to disintermediate real estate professionals or endorse a single set of services they own and operate, we are creating an open marketplace. That means a consumer experience that reinforces agent value, and products and services that give agents and brokers choices for how they want to manage their business.”
Realtor.com offers multiple lead-gen products including Connections℠ Plus, a complete lead solution that can help set agents up for success by streamlining the process of capturing, communicating, and connecting with leads. According to Ben, “This lead-gen solution allows agents to combine quality leads with premium features that give those agents the means to capture, communicate, and connect with those leads in one single and easy-to-use platform – realtor.com® for professionals.”
I believe this is an important nuance. In a previous article I wrote that agents' traditional role is evolving. Optimizing lead flow is just one part of keeping up. By layering in value-adds for the customer, agents are able to increase their deal flow by 400%+, even if overall lead flow is down.
In last week’s article I featured a prospecting tool from Apollo.io. Later in the week I was speaking with a friend of mine who is one of the top commercial brokers in the nation. He called me to inquire about the product since it caught his attention. When I asked him how he currently identifies who to reach out to, he told me that he purchases spreadsheets of contact info (company, name, email address) from a company overseas. He then emails them one-by-one. Whether it is Apollo or another tool, he was blown away by the fact that affordable and easy to use technology exists which provides access to contact information for every prospect in the market; at his fingertips, sorted by any and every filter you could imagine. On top of that, the ability to use tools to build automated marketing sequences which are constantly refined based on open rate/click through rate, opened his eyes to time savings and efficiencies that MarTech could deliver to an agent.
Each week I plan to showcase a featured product or service. My criteria for selecting each week’s featured product is that I will only include solutions which I have personally used and has met one of the following:
increase my own productivity
truly unique and innovative
This week’s solution is from UrbanImmersive* and is one of the most exciting new products that I have seen in awhile. Last week’s article was on Virtual Tours and UrbanImmersive brings Virtual Tours to the next level:
Besides for creating a fully immersive 3D Tour, this solution allows you to virtually tour your clients through the property in real-time. The product is feature rich and cost effective.
*Full Disclosure: The team at UrbanImmersive have me invited to join their board of directors.