Many agents are brilliant at giving a personal touch and are professional in the way they treat customers, but I would challenge more agents to begin looking at leads from a business point of view.
Instead of merely offering a generic response to a lead and going through the motions of a viewing (or turning down the lead should the property be no longer available), I believe that agents should look at leads not merely as enquiries, but instead as data that can be harvested and nurtured to retain customers.
Portals and the leads they provide have never been so important, especially in these trying times. We can clearly see that agents are under immense pressure to spend their time and money wisely as the market continues to readjust to the realities of Covid-19.
There is a growing consensus amongst agents that some PropTech providers are taking the lion’s share of their marketing budget; with some industry commentators even suggesting they're stifling the very same sector they intended to innovate.
Agents are now coming to grips with the fact that most property searches will start online. Hopefully, most property professionals will realise that in looking for the biggest asset of their life, a home seeker will go the extra mile to look on various platforms, to find their dream property.
While some agents will prefer one portal over another, the main deciding factor for a home seeker is actually how that portal interacts with them (as well as the stock available), which will largely depend on whether an agent will get a lead.
As such, I believe it's imperative that agents treat all portals equally. Agents should ensure that not only do they list their properties in all avenues a potential customer might look, but also that they offer the same level of service regardless of the portal that the lead came from. After all, the more platforms the agent is on, the more likely they are to attract increased numbers of buyers, sellers, landlords and tenants.
Agents put boards up to attract more brand exposure but ask yourself a question, will a consumer remember you from a board on the street more than they will if they see your brand on multiple platforms across the internet?
According to a recent study, people look at their phones for around three hours per day on average. Therefore, it's more important than ever that as an agent to get yourself as much online exposure as possible.
Listing not only with the industry leaders, but also the challenger portals that are free of charge. After all, it costs you nothing to advertise with many of these sites, so you may as well offer your support to increase the eyes on your listings.
Instead of advertising in a few places, you should promote your listings on up to 10 avenues to generate as many enquiries as possible and start to build up a healthy database that you can nurture for continued business.
Nurturing and communication are essential to agents, and I firmly believe that now is the time to see leads as vital data, and a potential customer that may look to buy in the future. As we all know, today's consumers are tomorrow’s customers.
The more data you have and the more your company keeps up with building its brand awareness; the more consumers will come back to you for advice and guidance.
Innovative lead-scoring technology has admittedly reduced the amount of time an agent wastes on a frivolous lead. Still, just because a certain lead might only score 10-20%, you shouldn't ignore them entirely. An occasional newsletter or Christmas email will often do the trick to attracting a potential customer. Ultimately, the more they see your brand, the more likely they are to return to you in the future when they're ready to see through a transaction.
Estate agency is an extremely competitive space, but if I were a consumer, I would go with the agent that I continually saw creative content from, and the one that seemingly cared about wanting my business.
Agents need never to say a lead is 'bad' just because the enquirer does not want to buy, rent or sell now. Who knows where that enquirer will be in 12 to 24 months’ time? The question agents need to answer is how can we be the one that they'll hire next time.
*Christopher May is a director at free-to-list global property portal Residential People