Agent tools - paying for and handling leads

Finding leads is essential for agents building their business. New leads become buyer and seller clients. Agents use many tools to acquire new leads. The tools they use often address the following problems:

  • How do I capture more leads?
  • How do I manage leads from different sources?
  • How do I make finding new leads easier and faster?

Paid lead sources

There are many sources where agents can pay more to increase their volume of leads. Most agents track success based on cost per lead or cost per transaction. They want to know identify much each lead costs and how much they need to spend on a channel to close a deal. The platforms that are the cheapest or offer the most volume are usually the most popular.

Primary sources of leads

Large real estate portals are the top paid lead source for agents. These sites capture traffic from buyers and sellers. They then allow agents to pay for access to users interested in working with an agent. Platforms usually charge per click, per lead, per closed transaction, or for a certain number of impressions of an agent’s ad. The most popular sources of leads are the most visited consumer sites. These include Zillow/Trulia, Realtor.com, Estately, Movoto, Homes.com, Nextdoor, and Homelight.

Agents also buy leads on major ad platforms like Google, Facebook, and Bing. These services are not real estate-focused and can be hard for agents to use. But many brokerages offer assistance to help agents market on these platforms.

Finally, there are lead aggregators. They work with multiple different sources to collect leads. This can include relocation companies, fix and flip investors, and their own outreach. Services like Opcity even receive leads from other portals, screen them over the phone with their own team, and then provide these leads to agents charging on close. Some other examples are OJO Labs, Lead Geeks, Qazzo, SetSchedule, and zBuyer.

Zillow allows agents to set a budget to capture more leads via Zillow and Trulia. Source: Zillow.

Lead management and advertising platform software and features

Handling multiple ad platforms to capture hundreds of leads can be complicated. Many tools have emerged to help agents manage these lead sources. These often offer a few or all of the following features.

  • Automated advertising: ad platforms like Google and Facebook have sophisticated targeting. Targeting includes keyword terms, audience types, and location. Many platforms help simplify this process. They automatically handle targeting and bidding for agents.
  • Lead generation landing pages and websites: many agents don’t have websites, or those websites aren’t optimized for different ads. Some lead management software providers build custom and trackable forms. These allow agents to collect leads. For example, an agent can run a Facebook ad and then send a potential lead to a form attached to that ad.
  • Concierge reply automation: some lead management tools use technology to automate responses to leads. This might be a combination of artificial intelligence and human staff. These features allow leads to be qualified before being sent to an agent. Some of these services also handle website chat conversations.
  • Lead tracking, collection, and syncing: ad platforms like Facebook and Google have their own tracking and analytics. But agents can find it hard to assess the cost per lead across multiple channels. Many software tools allow agents to track traffic and costs across different channels and ad campaigns. This helps an agent decide where to double down on approaches that work.
  • Lead scoring: many platforms try to guess the quality of a lead using technology. This helps agents prioritize lead outreach.
Tools like driftrock help agents track and respond to leads from different advertising sources. Source: driftrock.

Popular lead management software

There are two categories of lead management software:

  • Standalone lead management and marketing automation: these services  focus on every component of lead generation. Often they  include lead ads for Google, Facebook, and others, as well as targeting support. They sometimes have built-in lead handling or concierge services as well. Some examples are Ylopo, driftrock, BoldLeads, Prime Seller Leads, Curaytor, and CINC. 
  • Agent platforms: many real estate platforms focused on other services also have some components of lead management. Often some of these features are built into CRM or marketing functions. For example, Boomtown includes marketing and lead routing tools. It even has a team of people who will screen leads. kvCore, Real Geeks, Sierra Interactive, and Market Leader all offer some form of lead marketing and management in their platforms.
Real Geeks offers lead management and acquisition services. It also has website creation and CRM tools. Source: Real Geeks.

Generating leads in-house or outsourcing

Inside sales agents

An inside sales agent or ISA works for an agent, team, or brokerage to find new leads, follow-up with existing leads, and pre-qualify incoming leads. ISAs are usually paid on a combination of salary and commission. This presents an alternative form of paying for leads through ad platforms or lead aggregators. ISAs spend a fair amount of their time finding new data sources. They then sending out emails and make cold calls to turn these data source into actionable leads.

Dialers

CRMs help agents place and log calls each day. But ISAs may be making over a hundred calls per day to find and screen leads. And it may not be necessary to record much information until someone answers. This is where dialers can help. These allow agents and ISAs to automatically call lists. They often dial from their computer with one click and can leave pre-recorded messages if there isn't an answer. Many services also ensure compliance with telemarketing laws. Some examples of dialers are Mojo, Kixie, ProspectBoss, and Vulcan7.

Automated and Artificial Intelligence ISAs

Some services help automate the types of services an in-house ISA would handle. This includes automated responses to website chats, instant outreach via email to a Facebook lead, or sending custom text messages to certain leads in a list. For agents not handling a massive amount of leads, these services can solve their lead management problems without the high costs of hiring staff. Some automated ISA services are Agent Legend and Automabots. 

Automabots provides automated chat and text responses. This way, agents can respond to potential leads as fast as possible. Source: Automabots

Virtual ISAs and outsourced lead generation

Virtual ISAs are external companies paid to handle the functions of an ISA. These companies charge a monthly or per-lead fee. They will generate new leads based on an agent’s specified criteria.

Often, virtual ISA services are built into platforms of ad management tools. For example, Prime Seller Leads has an ISA service. There are also non-real estate focused platforms like Upwork, Toptal, Freelancer, Fiverr, and Upcall which have specialized calling and lead generation professionals available. Here is a short list of virtual ISAs: Rocket Agent, Aiva, Structurely, Referral Genie, Power ISA, AgentAssistant, Verse, rokrbox, and Smart Alto.    

Some agents will also hire virtual assistants for administrative tasks. Sometimes these tasks include sending leads a form or scheduling appointments. These services tend to be less specialized for full lead handling. Some virtual assistants are ShoreAgents, Zirtual, Virtudesk, and and MyOutDesk.  

Aiva, a virtual ISA, charges agent teams on a monthly basis based on lead volume. Source: Aiva.

Predictive lead generation

A number of services focus their technology on finding higher-quality leads. They use many different data points to predict which leads are most likely to buy or sell in an agent’s geography or CRM database. The goal of these services is to help agents identify and focus their time on high-quality leads. Some examples of predictive lead generation companies are smartzip, offrs, Revaluate, and first.io.

Services like smartzip help agents find leads who are likely to list their home for sale. Source: smartzip.

Buying lists and completing lead profiles with limited information

Some companies sell access to lists of potential leads. These lists include owners of residential properties, for sale by owner homes, agents in other markets, and really anything else imaginable. These services usually charge by name, geography, or monthly access to a pre-set amount of data. Many can integrate lead lists directly into CRMs and dialers. Services offering lists of leads include ProspectNow, Espresso Agent, Landvoice, and REDX.

There are also separate services that specialize in completing lead profiles, either from existing contacts or new lists. These companies use names and addresses to return phone numbers and emails. Agent can pay to convert existing lists with limited information into full prospecting lists. Some examples of these services are Batch Skip Tracing and Skip Genie. There are also email verification services that ensure that new emails don't get sent to invalid emails. Some examples are Xverify and ZeroBounce.

Platforms like ProspectNow sell lists of potential buyers and sellers across different categories. Source: ProspectNow.


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