There are a lot of misconceptions about lead referrals in Australia. Prime among them are that lead referral businesses are just online algorithms that spit out a pile of names and sell them indiscriminately by the dozen to agents who are too lazy to do the work themselves.
And certainly while there are operators out there who will simply try and sell you the names of people who have clicked on their website, their behaviour should not lead you to tarnish all referrers with the same brush. In fact, fears around being treated this way can be constructive to help identify some great ways to qualify your referral partner and the processes they use to deliver you quality leads.
Here are our tips to help you qualify your lead referral partner.
1. How good are their data credentials?
Good operators in lead generation are pros at big data. They will have processes in place to not just capture leads from their own website, but the analytical capability to overlay them against other enormous data sets, identify behaviour and qualify further.
This technical expertise in data science - rarely employed within most real estate agencies - is one of the primary values that a lead referral business can offer as a partner. Your referral partner should be able to crunch large datasets quickly, to a high degree of specificity and have the track record to show you their success rate at identifying genuine leads in your area.
2. What's their process?
Big data and tech is not the be all and end all of lead referral. While the data analytics does the heavy lifting, it's what happens next that really identifies the quality of the final leads you'll receive. Quality referrers have processes in place to take the auto-generated lead sets and refine them further, ideally with a good old fashioned human being at the helm.
"Quality referrers have processes in place to take the auto-generated lead sets and refine them further"
He or she will contact and ask questions of the potential lead to both understand their likelihood of conversion and identify the types of behaviours and skills that they are looking for in an agent to ensure that agent is a good match for them.
3. How much do they discriminate?
Ask your potential lead referral partner how many other agents will be receiving the leads you'll receive. Do they discriminate? Are they exclusive? Or will they send everything out to a broad audience and it's a free-for-all from there?
4. Is it their primary business?
Lead generation for real estate is a bit of a buzz word in the industry at the moment, attracting new entrants who see it as a great way to extract even more revenue from their existing customer base. Partner with a business that is genuinely passionate and committed to the value and importance of delivering quality leads to you, who will engage in a personal relationship with your business and can justify the value they will bring.
"Working with a quality lead referral partner should make you feel like you've got an entire lead identification and qualification team working for you"
Working with a quality lead referral partner should make you feel like you've got an entire lead identification and qualification team working for you, committed to driving new business your way - not just an upsell.
5. How many leads will they send you?
Maybe you think this should be the first question you ask your referrer? But quantity is not everything. What you really want is good quality leads that have been properly qualified and which you know offer a real and valuable opportunity for you for you to convert quickly and turn into a relationship that lasts for life with that vendor as well as their friends and family. So don't just count the leads at face value, count the return on investment they give you.
6. Can they help you understand your own database better?
The data inside your CRM is your own, but a good referral partner should be able to help you analyse and understand it better, using their data analytics capability to reveal new opportunities that are already in your database. These prospects should be yours and yours alone - after all they came from your CRM.
7. Can they help you understand how your team is performing?
There's no point in spending any kind of money on leads if your team does nothing with them. A quality referral partner will have the tools to help you measure and manage your team's performance with leads. It should be able to show you the number of leads received, conversion levels and other metrics that will help you improve their performance significantly.
On this point, the role of a good lead referral partner is to augment and improve your lead capture, not replace it completely. So using their insights to lift the lead performance of your team can have long lasting benefits across the business, not just with the leads they supply.
8. Can they justify their value?
Everyone has an opinion on how lead referrers charge but price only really comes into it when there are concerns about the value. Good operators will be able to provide solid answers and insights to all of the points above that articulate their value and demonstrate to you how they will augment your current processes and help you lift your conversion game.
"Good operators will be able to provide solid answers and insights that... articulate their value and... help you lift your conversion game."
Remember too that every lead that you successfully convert should become a client for life, and has additional value in that they will refer friends and family to you when you deliver an amazing service so the price you pay should be repaid many times over.
Good operators should also have more than one charging option so you can choose the best payment structure for your business based on the frequency with which you receive leads and be able to demonstrate to you how the rigour, the smarts, the data infrastructure and the qualification work that goes into delivering such high quality leads more than justifies their price.
Marta Higuera is the joint CEO of OpenAgent.