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Written by Lisa Fettner

Nearly every agent has experienced the frustration of dealing with third-party/online leads. While they can be an incredible source of business, there’s no denying that online lead generation is out of control.

In many cases, a prospect is simply researching information about their property or is at the very start of the home buying or selling process. And, when coupled with the fact that they search on multiple websites who then sell their contact information to multiple agents, a not-so-great prospect could actually turn into 30-plus not-so-great leads. It’s no wonder that even though nearly 100 million internet leads were generated in 2018, only 1.5% of them actually closed.

Sifting through these low quality, low-converting leads can be distracting and time-consuming. That could be why many prospects report that they never receive a response to their request. Agents are simply too overwhelmed by the volume of leads that don’t pan out. This can lead to missing some real opportunities.

Before buying leads, it’s important to know what your end goal is. Do you simply want to do more business, increase your average deal price or expand into a new market? Be realistic — converting prospects in a new price point or market area will be more difficult than leads located in your current area of focus. You also need a strategy for contacting, tracking, nurturing and evaluating your leads so you can determine which ones generate the best return on investment.

Below are some tips to help tame the flood of data and get your lead management activities under control:

Do a personal assessment: What makes sense for you to do versus someone else? What do you like to do? Yes, you can make every call and send every email yourself, but is that the best use of your time? Are you neglecting work that only you can do to follow up with these leads? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, consider outsourcing some of the initial lead contact and sourcing duties.

Make technology work for you: Most evidence shows that leads need to be contacted right away, and that often isn’t realistic if you’re in the middle of a listing presentation or showing a buyer a home. The good news is, there are many great tech solutions to help you. Customer relationship managers (CRMs), email automation and companies like mine and various others that filter/nurture raw leads for you can all take care of the initial contact and qualification. Just be sure to identify what features and functionality you need before you purchase anything.

Make your schedule work for you — and your clients/prospects:Allocate blocks of time for different tasks, especially recurring ones. Exceptions will sometimes need to be made, but controlling your schedule helps you stay calmer and more focused.

• Offer clients or prospects specific time segments versus open-ended responses. You want to be responsive, but not at the expense of your sanity. There’s nothing wrong with providing time options that work for you. You can always make an exception if need be.

• Identify your prospect’s preferred means of communication (e.g., phone, email, text) moving forward.

• Include your service-level agreements (SLAs) in your client presentations. Let them know when you’re available to show properties, how quickly you’ll return their call, text or email, etc. Buying or selling a home is stressful, and managing expectations helps keep everyone organized and calm.

• If someone is out of your preferred area or price point, refer the lead out. You’ll still receive a referral fee, and chances are a local agent will do a better job than you could.

Do a quarterly assessment: Sometimes it takes a while to determine whether a lead-gen program is successful, so reviewing your lead generation business quarterly is usually sufficient.

• Overview — Analyze the type of prospects you received, where they were in the sales process when they contacted you, price point, area, property type and the overall conversion rate. Consider rating their level of intent (e.g., A, B, C) to prioritize them.

• Compare — Some lead sources might be more expensive per lead, but convert better than a cheaper one. Or, the average price point could be higher on one lead source than another. Allocate each lead as “revenue/lead” to determine which sources make sense for you to continue purchasing.

• Don’t be afraid to pull the plug — If a specific lead source isn’t working for you, stop. You can’t build a house without a foundation, and if the leads you’re receiving aren’t right for you or aren’t converting, it doesn’t make sense to continue.

• Were the leads worth your time? — Assign yourself an hourly rate and use it when analyzing your revenue/lead.

Streamlining lead management helps you more quickly identify who is most likely to transact and needs help immediately. This can increase your productivity, your peace of mind and ultimately your bottom line in growing and maintaining your real estate business.

Want more time to build relationships that grow your business? ReferralExchange verifies your leads and referrals, nurtures and gives them back to you when they’re ready to transact, and matches those clients outside of your area, price point or property type with three great agents.