I Don’t Want to Talk to Someone Until I Do, and Then I Want to Talk Now: The Importance of Lead Response

This week DialogTech is heading to Anaheim, CA for the 2011 Annual REALTORS® Conference and Expo. I’m looking forward to it. Real estate is one of our top industries and Annual as its commonly referred to is always a fun and memorable event (this year I get to meet Tony Danza).

Getting ready for the conference reminded me of another real estate event I attended last year and an interesting presentation given by Errol Samuelson, President of Realtor.com. He described how many of the phone leads generated by Realtor.com go to an agent’s voice mail and the majority of those callers do not leave a message. In general responsiveness is a problem in real estate.

At the time I was part of NAR’s Second Century Ventures and decided to research the problem further. So I looked at a few property listings on REALTOR.com, Trulia and Zillow and made some calls to agents. Six of eight went to voice mail. That’s 75 percent! Admittedly my sample size was small, but the point remains.

Now, I understand most real estate agents are in business for themselves and don’t have a large support staff to handle calls. So I don’t expect my call to be answered every time. But what was most troubling was how long it took to get a response. In some cases it was hours or even days. Couple that with the fact that nearly two-thirds of homebuyers and sellers choose the first agent they interview* and you have the potential for a lot of missed opportunities.

The problem isn’t unique to real estate. It’s true of sales and marketing in any industry. Prospects don’t want to talk to someone until they do, and then they want to talk NOW. And if you’re available at that critical moment, the odds of winning the business are much higher. How much higher? A recent article in the Harvard Business Review suggests about 21 times**. That’s a huge difference.

Here’s an easy exercise you can do to see how well your company is responding to voice leads: call it. Alternate the time of day and number you call from. You could even get friends or family to do the same. It may sound a bit like spying on your employees and co-workers, but hey, this is your business we’re talking about.

And, if you’re at the NAR Conference please stop by and see us at booth #344.

*NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers 2010
**Harvard Business Review, March 2011