Today, let’s chat about something that doesn’t get enough attention: qualifying leads. If you’ve been working at it, and doing your research, you’ve likely developed a great way to generate leads. This is a great start, but often only half the battle.
Not all leads are created equal. In any business, but especially real estate, you will encounter tire-kickers and people who are just plain not qualified to buy what you are selling. If someone can’t buy what you’re selling, is it worth spending your time on them? Thats a complex question, and the answer is, it depends.
In this article, we will explore:
If someone can’t buy what you’re selling, is it worth spending your time on them?
This is the first misconception about qualifying leads. When I work with a new agent, they are often startled with the cold efficiency of how I qualify leads. If you’re new to the business and starved for work (and money), it can seem counterintuitive to try and turn people away from working with you.
Even if it seems like the qualification process is effectively turning people away, it’s important to remember that it’s not. Qualifying leads is tackling problems before they come up. When commission is on the line, new salespeople like to tiptoe around issues because they don’t want to spoil an opportunity. The fact is, if the issue is going to come up anyways, getting it out of the way now is in everyones best interest.
Qualifying leads is ensuring client expectations meet market realities. We’ll cover the best ways to qualify below – but first:
Do most leads have problems? Yes. As a new agent though, not only are these great learning opportunities to hone your pitch skills, they are also chances to convert trash into gold.
So a new homebuyer reaches out to you and they want to buy a mansion on a condo budget, and they won’t have it any other way. Yikes! While some experienced agents wouldn’t waste a moment, new agents should take note. This is an opportunity to grow your own knowledge by educating this potential client. Show them the benefits of your community, and why a condo that may be the same price as a mansion could be perfect for them.
Converting unconventional leads may take more time and work, but the results can be worth it. Especially if you need the commission. Schedule a 30 minute call with every new lead you get as a new agent. Build a relationship with these folks, teach them, even if they aren’t ready yet. They might be in the future – and you should be their first call when the time comes.
If you don’t know already, the first person to respond to a lead often gets the business. If you aren’t responding within 2-4 hours, its possible the lead has already chosen to work with someone else. Even if I can’t give a full response, I like to send a quick note of “Thanks for reaching out – I will be in touch shortly!” This acknowledges the lead, shows them your dedication, and builds their anticipation of your response.
Give every lead the time of day. Even if someone sends you a random text message with little detail, or leaves you a vague voicemail, get back to them ASAP. I can’t count the number of times where I’ve gotten off a phone call thinking “wow that person was awful to speak with”, only to have them buy a property cash the next day. I’ve had unlikely showing requests for my listing that have turned into a double-ended sale, while hot-to-trot buyers who self-identify as ready to buy now fizzle away into dust.
Never write off any lead, regardless of how it came in or who you think the person may be.
OK – lets talk about the best ways to actually qualify leads. This comes back to a key facet of modern sales that I like to call easy to buy, easy to sell. If what you’re hawking is difficult to understand, explain, or actually buy, how do you expect prospects to turn into deals?
You have to reverse engineer typical problems so you can get to the heart of the issue quickly. The number one thing tends to be costs & financing; maybe only certain banks work in your area. Be concise – but not blunt. A bullet form list, no more than three or four questions will suffice. Any more than this, and your questions will go unanswered. You are trying to get key information out of your prospect. I like:
When they answer these questions, you can start to match their expectation to the reality. Maybe it will be a good fit – or maybe it will take some massaging. The key is to get to the potential speed bumps out in the open, early.
The key is to get to the potential speed bumps out in the open, early.
When you reach a point with a lead where their expectation simply will not reach reality, you have come to a “No.” This could come as quickly as in the first moments of a cold call – ouch. If you ask me though, I would rather get to NO within those first minutes than hear a NO after weeks of work. Because in this business, you tend to get paid when the deal is done. Any work you do until that point is free.
Addressing pinch points and qualifying your leads early on is essential. In a key segment of my busines, I work with investment condos that are notoriously hard to finance. I joke that I sound like a broken record, hammering home the financing difficulties and reiterating again and again the need to work with certain banks only. Despite this, I’ve gone weeks with clients showing multiple properties. Negotiating an offer. Going through conditions and inspections. Only to find out at the last moment that financing wasn’t approved – they didn’t listen and were with the wrong bank.
You won’t always be able to qualify-out every problem. But trying your hardest up front can ensure you save time and heartache down the line!
The most important thing to remember is that sales is a people business. If you brush off every lead that comes your way, they will stop coming.
Taking the time with each lead to at least understand their expectations and educate them, ensures that even if they aren’t ready to sell or buy today – when they are, you are who they want to work with. And if your business is just getting up and running, you have zero excuses and should be able to take the time with each lead that comes in. Not only could this help your business, but it will also help you hone your skills so you’re that much better when the serious leads come up.
Being first to the punch, and asking the right questions up-front can help you save time and make more money. Even if you end up at a NO, thats fine. That just means you can move on to the Next One.
Cheers and happy selling,