With the proliferation of online Real Estate lead-generation services–including Zillow.com, HomeGain, HouseValues, and HurryHome–seasoned real estate agents who haven’t exactly embraced 21st Century technology are beginning to get a little nervous. How are these Internet lead-generation services going to affect the industry? More importantly, what effect will these services ultimately have on my bottom line, and what can I do to remain competitive?
Although Internet lead-generation services are certain to shake up the industry, this technology is only the most recent to affect the way we do business on a daily basis. When colleagues ask me what they can do to remain competitive, I offer the same advice I have been giving throughout my career as a real estate mentor, coach, and author:
- Embrace change.
- Master new technologies.
- Market wherever your customers go.
1. Embrace change
Whenever a new technology affects your industry, you have three choices: resist it, accept it, or embrace it. Those who resist almost always lose their competitive edge. As soon as the competition adopts the new technology, you fall at least one step behind. The early you adopt the change, the sooner you can master the new technology and the easier it is to keep up with changes as it matures.
Real Estate agents who adopted Internet lead-generation technology in its infancy (2003-2004) have discovered ways to reduce bad leads, optimize their conversion rates on good leads, and minimize costs. Those who wait face a much steeper learning curve. I encourage you to get started today.
2. Master new technologies
At first, adopting a new technology may cause a slight dip in productivity, but over time, they almost always boost productivity. I can remember the time when the only gadgets I used to run my real estate office were a telephone and a handheld calculator. Now, I have computers, fax machines, a PDA / Blackberry device, a digital tape measure to estimate room sizes, broadband Internet access, numerous websites and blogs, email, instant messaging, access to a conference call center, and more. I can travel to Kenya while closing on a house in Detroit and talking with a virtual assistant who works out of her home in Mexico City.
Every technology, no matter how easy it may be to master requires some investment and “getting used to.” The same is true of Internet lead-generation services. If you are accustomed to “by referral” prospecting and print-marketing techniques, this new method may feel a little awkward at first, but I would bet that when you first entered the business, the whole thing felt a little awkward.
3. Market wherever your customers go
To thrive in sales, in any industry, you have to market via any and all media that your customers rely on for information. In the past, that meant marketing in print publications, via direct mail, on television and radio, on billboards, and by word of mouth. With more and more people seeking information on the Internet, you had better have a presence there, as well.
I encourage you to have your own website or blog, where people can find information about you and your business, homes you have listed for sale, information about the neighborhoods in your farm area, and any other information that current and prospective clients will find useful.
In addition, sign up for an Internet lead-generation service. These services provide one of the easiest ways to tap the power of the Internet for leads without having to market extensively. Lead-generation services do the heavy lifting — marketing a service to prospective home buyers and sellers, gathering their information, filtering out lower-quality leads, and delivering promising prospects right to your computer.
Remember, only you hold the answer to the ultimate question: “Internet Lead Generation: Boom or Bust?” By embracing new technology and new ways of doing business, you can capitalize on a host of new opportunities. Resist the change, and you’re likely to become technology’s latest casualty and the Realtor everyone used to talk about.