Knock, Knock – Who’s Here? Operations & Opportunities (Part 11)

The Operations and Opportunities series will posted on Tuesdays Wednesdays, and Thursdays through the month of August 2011. A number of operational issues will be addressed in the blog. For more detail, depth or individual information and answers, please contact Soltys, Inc. Comments and questions are welcome. We will post answers and responses.

It is kind of interesting, if you were to walk into many real estate offices, there are very few real estate professionals there and working. Most of the people you will find are brokers and staff, an occasional agent taking up desk duty and evidence by looking at the desks that people have been there at one point.

I walked through an office with a broker not long ago. I do not think he had really done a walk through in a while where he looked at stuff. The calendar on the wall in one work area displayed a page from three years ago and marketing materials that had been purchased to be used in a company-wide campaign were sitting in a box under the desk, no longer useable due to age. Other desks showed mountains of paper and files in such disarray that it would be impossible to find anything but certainly would dissuade anyone from borrowing the desk. When we got done, this shrine to brokerage revealed little in the way of anything that really contributed to the business but a lot of cost. Yes, there were a few people actually working and in most cases, these were senior agents who had grown up differently.

Perhaps what really struck me was that it would be difficult for a client or customer to find someone to work with whether they were knocking on the door of the building, via the social media channels or on the company’s web site. It seems that there is a lot of noise and value put into the development and driving of leads to associates, but few real systems to ensure that someone is there – ready, willing and able to work the lead as well as be accountable for the lead.

Here we are in one of the longest downturns of real estate where a lead should be treated as if it was golden. If you have been around real estate you have probably heard some of the statements below:

  • "All leads that come from the Internet are junk.”
  • “I am too busy to work a lead that is not ready.”
  • “I do not need leads from the company; I work only leads from my sphere of influence.”
  • “I do not want to pay a referral fee to the company for a lead.”
  • “I expect the company to furnish me with good leads.”
  • “I do not use the company tools and systems because I am an Independent Contractor.”

Maybe my view is jaundiced. In most sales positions, the sales person is expected to develop business, work with company generated business and be accountable. This is true in other industries that utilize independent contractors to fill out their sales ranks. Real estate, unlike most businesses, requires that the consumer declare a need and find a professional. There is little if any cultivation of clientele, plan for future business or even a real expectation that business when identified will be worked.

I did a study in Baltimore, MD in which we did something very unusual. We tracked and followed leads to see what happened. We took every lead that could be identified from all sources in three different companies over a three month period. It was not all the leads by any means but was significant. We talked to the buyers and sellers we tracked, asking them about their inquiries to real estate companies and sales professionals, their experience and the final result.

Most people were happy to share the information with us. Here are some of the stats that you might find interesting.

1. Approximately 78% of the leads bought or sold property including listings still active.

2. The average person had to talk to people from eight different companies before they were working with someone.

  • Approximately 60% did not receive a call or email back in spite of promises.
  • Were told after an initial conversation that when they were ready to please call.
  • Associate was good at marketing themselves but actions and initiatives did not live up to the claims.

3. When asked if they would use the company or sales person again who was able to make the sale or take the listing, over 80% said they would. In most cases, the person never heard from the sales person again in person.

4. There were only a handful of people who were asked if they knew anyone else looking to buy or sell or if they needed any other real estate services.

Not every sales professional or company will fall into the status of passive sales but there are certainly a number who do. Unlike many other industries, the machinery is not even in place to manage leads, let alone develop future leads. Knock, knock – who’s here? It's the consumer looking for a person really interested in helping them.

This week our blogs will focus on leads within the brokerage business.