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By Nat Daniels

CEO, Angels Media


OTHER FEATURES

Property Natter: how can agents ensure they don’t suffer costly missed opportunities?

Let it never be said that this column isn’t here to help out agents directly. In this week’s Natter, I speak to my colleagues in The ValPal Network (TVPN) team and Facebook ads supremo Paul Long about the one mistake agents are making that could be costing them thousands of pounds in lost revenue, the importance of nurture, what a sales funnel actually means and whether agents are reluctant, or actually very willing, to embrace PropTech.

Thanks to Craig Vile, Director of TVPN, Anthony Jones, Senior Sales Executive at TVPN, and Mr Long, a Facebook marketing expert for property professionals and himself a director of Drewery Estate & Letting Agents, a company he’s been a part of since January 1999, for offering up their wisdom.

Without further ado…

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You have been doing a webinar series claiming that there is one mistake agents are making that causes them to miss out on thousands of pounds of missed opportunities - can you reveal what this one mistake is? 

Craig Vile (CV): One of the major expenses when running an agency is the marketing costs. That is getting the homeowner or landlord to engage and provide the agency with their contact details. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of pounds are spent per branch each month generating these leads.

Then what happens? Well, let’s be totally honest, most agencies are very busy, most are under resourced and getting to these leads quickly can sometimes be a challenge, right? So, the neg makes a call and if he/she gets a: “Yes I’m thinking of selling”, they will do a perfect job and book in the market appraisal and hopefully the agent wins the business.

But that’s a small percentage, what happens to the rest of the leads that the business owner has spent ££’s generating? Those that the neg didn’t get to speak to, or said they were just being curious? At best, they might be scheduled in to get another call in a few weeks, which will probably not happen, or added to the agent’s database to get a monthly newsletter.

But our research has shown that most of the time absolutely nothing happens to these leads. They are assumed to be of low quality because they didn’t agree to a valuation on the one and only call made by the neg.

This is the one biggest mistake an agent can make and leaves thousands of pounds on the table for some other agency to pick-up. 20% of these vendors will come to market with someone!

I guarantee the agent that can be bothered to stay connected providing them with helpful, useful, informative information and contact the vendor or landlord when they show interest will win the instruction (as long as the agent actually calls them when they do show interest!)

Do we have any stats on how many agents don't nurture their leads? And how nurturing can help lead to a higher conversion rate and more MAs and ultimately instructions? 

Anthony Jones (AJ): We don’t have any exact figures. As I am sure you can imagine, every single estate agent and their processes are different. However, one very interesting stat we do know is that on average is takes four months for a consumer to instruct an agent after requesting an online valuation.

So, what this tells us is that all estate and letting agents need to nurture all of their leads (not just their ValPal leads) for at least four months, which we know a lot of the time doesn’t happen as it would be physically impossible to do so.

This is why automating part of this process can be so beneficial as systems like MovePal allow you to do so, but still provide a personalised touch by both email and text message to stay front of mind of all of your data.

What is a nurture campaign and why should agents be doing it?

Paul Long (PL): A nurture campaign involving emails or text messages is a vital part of any successful inbound marketing strategy. The emails and text messages used help to turn potential leads (sellers and landlords) into conversions (valuations and business). This is done through a process of education, awareness and relationship building over time and is something that is so important with sellers and landlords.

The process of deciding to move is starting a lot earlier and months before a seller will even consider contacting an agent for the first time and during this period a nurturing campaign is vital to stay top of mind and making it easy to reach out when ready. The same can be said with landlords, but an even more important aspect is allowing a landlord to get to know, like and trust an agent and brand before using them later on. The MovePal system provides a solution to all these problems and issues when generating seller and landlords leads.

For any agent reluctant to use another piece of PropTech, what is the single biggest USP MovePal offers? 

CV: It works in the background like an extra employee, identifying when someone is ready to discuss selling or letting their property and sending a notification to the agent to say ‘Okay, time to pick up the phone to this client’. MovePal works by nurturing not only new inbound leads but re-engaging with all their existing database.

With the current market boom, what can agents do to ensure they zone in on the warm or hot leads?

AJ: I think everyone knew a post-stamp duty holiday slowdown was inevitable, although a lot of agents we are speaking with are still busy, which is great. A lot are now looking at increasing their marketing efforts (or didn’t in fact slow down on these) as they know the work you do today, you will benefit from in the near future.

To ensure you are zoning in on your warm or hot leads is again probably in the follow up. A lot of the time we know leads will get put to the side or thrown in the bin as they may not answer the first time or reply to the first email. The follow up is vital to ensure they get the most out of the hot leads, but also the warm leads as people are busy and may not be ready to speak to you straight away.

SMS or email - which one is better for lead generation? 

PL: Both SMS and email are important when generating and nurturing leads. SMS works very well to engage with leads straight away when they have just completed an online valuation or downloaded a guide. Often the first few minutes are vital when trying to convert or engage with a lead and something that cannot always be achieved by a phone call on its own.  

Emails are great for long-term nurture and another touchpoint and platform to show up on a regular basis. Both work well together to keep in front of leads on different platforms and often SMS is a great way to also start conversations with leads before feeling comfortable and progressing to an actual phone call.

We hear the word sales funnel mentioned a lot - isn't this just management speak? What does it actually mean for agents in reality? 

CV: A sales funnel is a visual representation of the journey from your prospect’s first contact with you until a completed purchase. It allows you to see which lead source is providing the best ROI, where prospects are dropping off within the funnel but most importantly which prospects to focus your valuable time and effort on. “A goal without a plan is just a wish,” as someone wise once said!

In your experience, are most agents reluctant to embrace new innovations or are they in actual fact more than willing to listen? 

AJ: Over time I would say the general public, not just estate agents, have embraced new innovations as this is playing more of a part in the day-to-day of people’s lives and making their lives easier, in fact.

There are some amazing parts of ‘PropTech’ out there to help estate agents. I think getting the right mix to fit the certain estate agent’s type of business and what they are trying to achieve, instead of complicating it, is important as estate agency is still very much a people business.  

Facebook ads and lead generation - for the uninitiated, what’s the story?

PL: Most agents now understand the importance of generating regular leads and conversations through social media to help build a further pipeline of future business, but often just don't have the time or knowledge to set up the systems, automation or adverts needed to achieve this.  

The MovePal product has been created to provide a solution in both generating leads through Facebook adverts, but also provides an automated lead nurturing system that helps agents know who to call and when to call them, saving both time and money.  

Facebook adverts have always generated leads at a low cost, but often include people who are very early in the moving process. That is why a lead nurturing system like MovePal is vital to ensure no money is left on the table and helps agents to identify who is ready to move later on.


Thanks everyone for the great answers – and we managed to keep any gratuitous ValPal plugs to an absolute minimum! 😊

You can register for the free webinar with Craig, Anthony and Paul here.

Until next time…

*Nat Daniels is CEO of Angels Media, publishers of Estate Agent Today and Letting Agent Today. Follow him on Twitter @NatDaniels.

  • Chris Arnold

    Marketing doesn't need to be expensive if the aim is to build relationships with an audience that wants, to hear from you. It's almost free if you know how.
    On the other hand, if an agency sees Homeowners as simply 'leads', rather than human beings, that it wants to lure into a sales Funnel, it can be expensive and wasteful. Most agencies don't have a crystal clear or radically different message. Consequently, their aim is to attract anyone with a warm pulse and the belief that advertising will provide this keeps hope alive for them.
    Estate agency is polarizing into those that nurture relationships from the outset and those that hope to turn a lead into something more with persistent transactional messaging.

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