Thursday, March 29, 2012

Are lead generators the way of the future

If consumers were surveyed on their biggest issue with real estate agents, the answer would most likely be the lack of follow up and relationship building. This seems to be an ongoing issue in our industry and the changing market does not seem to have an impact on agents’ habits. In every business, one of the key KPI’s for agents in prospecting. It’s simple – two hours a day of prospecting calls will provide results. However, the key feedback I get from sales managers and business owners is that many agents simple won’t do this. So, as an industry, do we continue to accept it as the norm that or do we take this responsibility away from the agents completely? Do we need to head down the path where we have lead generation teams who make all the calls, hand the leads over to the sales agent who is then charged a fee for this service? This model guarantees that the calls are made and that other added services are sold to the client such as property management and mortgage broking. It’s the McDonalds upselling theory of “would you like fries with that”. We know many agents don’t sell finance or property management, resulting in a loss of prospects to the business. The question then becomes who builds or holds the relationships with the clients? Agents will push back on handing over the client relationship to a third party and when they leave they often take the relationships with them. Therefore at the end of the day, does it not make sense to ensure that the relationship with the client is first and foremost with the business and not the agent? Who in the business then builds this relationship – a faceless third party or the agent, or both? Or do we then build a hybrid system where the lead generators make the calls and we hold the agent accountable for building and maintaining relationships based with people they have transacted with and the lead generators keep in touch with others? These are all interesting questions. The even bigger questions becomes at what point will these calls be outsourced to call centres in the Philippines and India. I know of a number of businesses outside of real estate who do this quiet successfully. The usual objection is that how is someone offshore going to build relationships but if the agents are not making calls who is building these relationships. As the market changes it will become more and more important for businesses to capture that gold dust which is the business that flows out the holes in the bucket because agents are not returning or making calls, doing follow up from OFI’s, responding to emails in a timely manner, not using a CRM to help build relationships and therefore have a listing and selling graph that has extreme highs and lows. Maybe lead generation teams is the way of the future for our industry.