If ever there was a battleground for marketing and sales, you’d find sales blaming marketing for poor lead quality and marketing accusing sales of poor lead servicing. This gap between sales and marketing is the reason the real estate industry finds it difficult to keep a track on their marketing ROI (return on investments) and keep an appropriate check on sales productivity. A strong real estate lead management system and a thorough understanding of lead qualification is a must.
At the center of any business growth are customers, in case of real estate, they are property buyers. Apparently, these buyers are nothing but quality leads that met sales closure. For real estate businesses to grow they need to get more such leads who are likely to convert and for this right marketing efforts are needed to get good quality leads. Now, what are good quality leads? Who qualifies as good or bad? Let’s try and understand this.
What is Lead Qualification?
“Real Estate marketers must focus on generating leads and not just inquiries. Yes, these two things are not the same. The better marketers understand this, the faster will they see sales closures.”
A lead is not the same as an inquiry, a lead means business opportunity where buyer reflects a strong buying intent, while an inquiry is just a submission of interest without a strong buying intent.
Marketing campaigns launched on various platforms, digital & offline often generate a plethora of inquiries. For these inquiries to qualify as a good lead, they must show signs of generating possible business. The relevance of an inquiry towards your inventory’s buyer persona and buying intent is what makes an inquiry a qualified lead.
Real Estate MQL vs SQL
A qualified lead must then be validated by marketing. What this means is that a marketing qualified lead is more likely to buy your property compared to other leads. Now, this part is important because if just inquiries are passed on to your sales reps, they will spend more time qualifying them rather than what they are good at doing - closing sales.
For instance, a first time home buyer is different from an experienced buyer in terms of process knowledge and generally has a longer sales cycle. An investor is completely different from a regular home buyer; they differ in terms of priority and urgency to buy a property.
Steps to real estate marketing and sales alignment, for better sales pipeline management.
- Set-up mutually agreed on lead stages, according to your buyer’s journey
- Nurture your leads and make them sales-ready
- Profile your lead with certain basic information before sales can take them to visit your sites
- Score your leads to indicate their intent, because, intent matters
Setting a well-defined lead stage is the first step towards aligning your real estate sales and marketing. After having managed over 1 million real estate leads through Sell.Do, we’ve identified the following stages that the real estate industry must define in their real estate sales CRM. This will help in gaining a decent understanding of marketing versus sales qualified leads movement.
This will now make the overall real estate sales pipeline management and marketing lead management easier. Having a clear comprehensive lead stage will let you check on:
- Sales performance by tracking Prospect to Site Visits ratio.
- Sales Closure by tracking Site Visits to Booked/Booking ratio.
- Check lead quality (marketing efforts) by tracking Unqualified to Prospects ratio.
As discussed above, MQLs are more likely to convert compared to non-marketing qualified leads for the reason that these leads are filtered based on their online activities - e-brochures, ask for a callback, or image downloads, filling contact forms. After showing enough intent your lead becomes a qualified lead.
Now to add to this, your marketing team must nurture these leads to a point where they get a step closer to be handled by your sales team, basically, sales-ready.
In general scenarios, a qualified lead breaks into sales and sales team have to spend time educating them on many aspects like checking finance options, what amenities to look for and prioritize, and configurations (2 BHK, 3BHK, and 700 Sq. ft, etc).
By having a nurturing plan, marketing can help sales by educating qualified leads by setting up drip email and SMS campaigns, giving out insightful and educative information to prospective buyers so they do not go with an empty slate for a site visit and eat up the time of your sales team, hampering your ratio of site visits to booking.
Real estate sales CRM must be set up with these drip marketing features when a lead seems highly engaged and interested marketing can then qualify them as MQLs.
This simply means a Qualified lead has shown interest in the property, they are aware of configurations and amenities also they have responded to your nurture plan and are now “sales ready”.
Lead profiling is an important stage for improving your MQL to SQL ratio. In real estate, this becomes even more important because for the real estate industry non-digital marketing channels like billboards, radio ads, newspaper ads, magazine ads and finally direct walk-ins are still used. How can you know more about your leads if they do not get to fill up web form or lead gen forms?
Your sales reps will convert more sales should they focus more on selling rather than spending the majority time knowing the leads. This is where marketing can devise a certain set of questions that you must try and get answered from your leads.
For this, you can give your pre-sales executives below sets of questions which they can ask leads while providing them project information.
Lead profiling questions for real estate buyers
- Contact Information
- Professional Background
Lead Profiling Questions
- What is the budget range to purchase the property?
- Are you buying real estate for the first time? (Knowledge)
- How is lead planning finance for the purchase? (Potential and urgency)
- Is the purchase for stay or investment? (Intent)
- How long have you been looking for a home? (Intent)
- Is there any timeline? By when do you plan to book? (Intent) (Relevancy)
- Do they have location priorities? (Relevancy)
- Are they currently looking for a home? (Relevancy)
Screening your lead will help your sales to understand them better, give them the best experience possible and also understand their funnel stage and conversion chances.
By now, we all would agree upon the point that, a person who just visited your website and has submitted the web-form is at a different level in the funnel compared to someone who has either downloaded brochure and requested for floor plans, who again is at a different level in the funnel compared to someone has made a site visit. Your sales team must focus on deals that are most likely to close. But how can you guide your sales reps? How do you mark a lead better than others?
Lead scoring based on your leads’ activities within the marketing funnel and level of engagement is good enough to determine the warmth & intent of the lead. Giving more time to leads with high lead score should be part of your sales teams KPI, while marketing must try and nurture leads to improve their lead score and push MQLs to SQLs. As of yet, sales reps spend a considerable amount of their time in nurturing leads as well.
Real Estate industry is experiencing a rapid technology growth and tech markets now have real estate CRM that comes with pre-built features like lead scoring, task management, bulk email, and SMS marketing, webform, and property portal integrations; basically, everything that you need to align real estate marketing and sales.
- Inquires and Leads are not the same. An inquiry is just a demonstration of interest while a lead is a possible business opportunity out of an inquiry
- Real Estate sales & marketing must define MQLs and SQLs for streamlining the sales process and better sales conversions
- Define Lead stages and nurture them, profile and score your leads to improve MQL-SQL ratio.