5 Pipeline Management Tips for Real Estate Agents
As a real estate agent, your job is managing a sales pipeline to close more deals. In the real estate business, each agent handles their pipeline differently. It is likely a combination of marketing, in-person meetings, property showings, placing properties into escrow, and closing on the properties.
An active pipeline is crucial toward your future success as an agent. When you master your pipeline, you’ll see at which stage any deal is, whether you have enough deals on the board to achieve your goals, and which deals need your attention now. Sales pipeline data keeps you on top of the number of potential deals you are currently working, the average size of your deals, your close ratio and the average time to close.
Read on if you’re interested in making a sales pipeline work for your real estate business. We’ve asked several successful agents how they’re managing a pipeline for maximum returns.
1. Upgrade your pipeline tools
Will Featherstone, founder and owner of Baltimore-based Featherstone & Co. of Keller Williams Excellence, has helped hundreds of homeowners navigate through the home selling process. A few years ago, his team integrated a CRM system to close deals. Before doing so, Featherstone says he lost thousands of dollars in both potential and future business. Since then, his team has been consistently ranked first or second in the Maryland/D.C. region for number of closed deals.
“Getting leads as a source of business is one thing,” he said, “but how you track and manage those leads is crucial and a major part of being a real estate agent.”
In the past, Featherstone did everything by email and spreadsheets, but he had his first aha moment within two days of adopting CRM software. “This one system helped streamline, automate, and organize my growing database,” he said.
Its accountability feature allows Featherstone to see and manage the team’s number of new leads, tasks due, contact percentage and time to action. It also helps his team send customized drip email campaigns.
Featherstone explained that the drip email has been a great augmentation to his pipeline, keeping his service in front of the right eyes. He often gets the following message: “Will, I’m so glad to hear from you. I’m ready to buy now.”
A significant part of managing a sales pipeline in the real estate business is staying in the forefront of customers’ minds. Agents are everywhere: at cocktail parties, at school fundraisers, at the local coffee shop. The only way to make sure you’re not lost in the mix is to make sure the relationship you’re building with your clients doesn’t fade away. The right pipeline management tool can help.
“I personally decided that I never wanted to lose another client again,” Featherstone said. “If you’re spending your marketing dollars generating leads online and you currently don’t have a way to monitor what’s going on in your business, a CRM could be the solution.”
2. Score your leads
Once you’ve added prospects to your pipeline, lead qualification is crucial. Julian Walker is a director at Spot Blue International Property Ltd. His team uses a sales pipeline to close deals with British investors seeking properties in Spain.
“We use a CRM to follow up with prospects to turn them into qualified leads,” Walker said. “We ask them a series of questions to qualify and categorize them as leads, we then build a relationship by following up with leads over time.”
Walker said that using Excel, in the beginning, is good. However, to build a successful sales pipeline that involves input from several different people and sources, you have to upgrade to a CRM tool.
3. Make and track your phone calls
According to the National Association of Home Builders, 5.48 million existing homes and 592,000 new homes sold in February 2017. That’s a lot of potential; your job is to move a small slice of that pie through your own sales pipeline.
“My biggest lesson learned is simply making my phone interviews every day in the first hour I’m at the office,” said Bob Gordon, a real estate agent who’s done more than $35 million in production in his 20-year career.
“I always ask if it is a good time to chat, and then keep my conversations to under three minutes,” Gordon, currently with Berkshire Hathaway in Boulder, Colorado, said. “My calls focus on my clients and prospects, not on me. Most everyone is always very happy to speak about themselves.”
It’s not enough, however, just to get on the phone every day. You have to track your phone call and meeting activity. By logging call and meeting details with relevant notes, you’ll keep a prospect moving forward toward a closing date.
4. Don’t lose sight of the whole pipeline
As you grow your pipeline, avoid spending too much time on only one part. If you have four deals likely to close this month, it’s still important to keep adding new prospects through prospecting and marketing. A pipeline isn’t helpful unless it consistently receives new inputs.
If you focus only on your showings or closings, you’ll have nothing to do a month from now. Organize and track your prospecting so marketing campaigns are never random or inconsistent.
“We aim to acquire 100 new prospects each week through a variety of channels,” Walker said. “This includes outbound calls through telemarketing, press releases, search marketing and SEO, referrals, social media marketing, and networking.”
Keep adding prospects, qualifying your leads and setting up meetings to learn about your clients’ changing needs and goals.
Move prospects along your pipeline through engagement: fast responses to inquiries, focused meetings with buyers and sellers, lots of questions and results tracking. Organize your pipeline with closings in mind.
“Today the challenge for agents is conversion,” Bruce Ailion, owner of The Ailion Team in Atlanta, said. “The only way to convert is to engage with the prospect. With so many leads coming from so many places finding a system that meets the needs of today’s agent is daunting.”
To stay on top of your pipeline, Ailion suggests tracking where the lead is in the sales funnel process. “The key is quick response, meaningful engagement based on where the prospect is in the sales process and tracking results.”
By taking a disciplined, activities-based approach to your sales pipeline, you’ll have strong 2017. Stay focused, keeping the whole picture in mind, upgrade your tools and stay in the forefront of your clients’ minds.
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