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Is the 60 Second Agent the Best Agent?

Great job, Leslie. Sometimes I am in meetings, appointments, Webinars....you name it. Busy people get things done. The person I am with is who I focus on during their appointment time. They scheduled me and it is their time!

Should you hire the real estate agent who returns your call in 60 seconds or less? Should you entrust the biggest financial transaction of your life to the broker who instantly emails you back “Hi, this is Bill, how can I help you?”. Is speed of response the best measure for future performance? Do real estate brokers think consumers are dumb?

No matter the business, we’re all told that today’s consumer wants an instant response. In a widely quoted Harvard Business Review article The Short Life of Online Leads the authors deplore the unresponsiveness of companies who have invested heavily to generate those very leads. The implication is that not responding quickly enough will cause the consumer to take their business elsewhere, a subject that the authors hope to explore in future studies.

I understand because if I’m online and looking for an answer, I’m engaged. If someone emails or calls me two days later, I have likely looked for the information elsewhere or I maybe I’m handling another part of my life at that moment.

On the other hand, do we kill an opportunity with how we respond?  The canned auto-response “Thank you for your inquiry” plus linking to a drip campaign, is not, in my opinion, a valuable response. The company may think that I’m a lead, but I may never again open more than that one canned email from them.

I worry that too many real estate brokers have chosen speed of response over quality of response.  As the real estate business has contracted and the internet has changed the way consumers think about real estate brokers, too many expensive consultants and aggressive product vendors have preyed on brokers’ fears.

The listing agent is most likely to be able to provide useful information about the house and community. The likely hood of an out of area agent converting a website inquiry into a client opportunity is virtually nil. Wouldn’t it be better if website “leads” were followed up by a listing agent (presumably a local expert). After some some online interaction, perhaps the consumer will see the value of working with a local expert and even request a phone call.

Many brokerages and agents purchase advertising on real estate search sites like Zillow.com and Realtor.com. There’s a lot of debate in the industry about whether this is a good idea for either the consumer or the business. For the purpose of full disclosure, I buy advertising on these sites. Many of the consumer inquiries are from people who haven’t chosen an agent, and I know that I can provide top-notch service in the communities I work in.

After some experimentation, I’ve decided to restrict my ad buys to a few zip codes that I know very well. I don’t cast an enormous net across the internet to try to snag any and all leads through instant response and an impersonal drip campaign. I’ve found that consumers can almost instantly sense when they’re being treated like a lead rather than as a potential client. I’ve found that it’s far, far better to provide relevant information that a consumer is actually interested in.

But a quality response to an inquiry takes time and care, and a busy agent can’t make that happen 24 hours a day. I  do my best to hit the “speed” requirement with a quick personal email or text to say that I’ll get back to the inquiry as quickly as possible.  I understand that people are reluctant to provide personal information to a complete stranger, but I will try to get enough information so that my response is useful. If my response resonates with the consumer, then we may be able to work together.

I’m not suggesting that consumers tolerate poor or indifferent response at the first point of contact. But I am firmly convinced that working with the agent (read online system) who appears to respond the most quickly is an equally bad idea.

Think carefully about how you evaluate the 60 second agent.

This post was written by Leslie Ebersole of Baird & Warner Real Estate.
Use or reproduction of the material published on this site is expressly prohibited
without the express written permission of the author.

 

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Comment balloon 4 commentsCheryl Ritchie • June 18 2012 08:31PM
Is the 60 Second Agent the Best Agent?
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