Let's examine that last point. Suppose a business person opens up shop and pours large chunks of his startup capital into his marketing. An award winning website design, email and direct mail tailored to targeted audiences as well as coordinated social media and search engine optimization programs has the leads rolling in at a rapid rate. Then, despite this literal tsunami of lead generation activity the owner fails to follow-up and shortly has to close his business. He was experiencing success, his marketing was clearly good and he generated all those leads. Sounds impossible – right? Well then, let's change the story a bit just to illustrate the point. Suppose a restaurant opens featuring the hottest chef in town. The reviews of the food and the ambiance all promise a top-notch experience. Now suppose on the night you go there, despite your reservation, you wait hours for a table due to the crowds of people trying to get a meal. There's no accommodation for your inconvenience, the hostess never checks in with you or offers to buy you a drink at the bar. By the time you do actually get served, you've lost your appetite. Despite the crowds, it won't be long before that restaurant has disappointed enough customers like you, that it too will have to close its doors.
In creating commercial real estate marketing campaigns, we can become so focused on generating leads and building activity that we may not think about what's next. Knowing what to do with the leads you've generated can be the difference between creating new client relationships and watching lots of marketing dollars go to waste.
Time is critical
Lead follow-up is, in some ways, unique to every business due to work flow processes, size of staff and organizational culture. Below we'll explore some universal tips for qualified lead management, but one overarching consideration for any lead is time. Harvard Business Review did a study examining “lead life”. What they found was that “...U.S. Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead.” Clearly the odds of success for developing new client conversations hinges heavily on speed.
The first person to touch a lead when it comes in isn't necessarily the person who is going to eventually work with this prospective client. This person, however, will be the one who is responsible for ensuring that all of the upfront funnel activities are taken care of. That means getting the lead into your customer contact management (CRM) system cleanly and accurately. Responsible party number two is whomever is working the lead. They should know your requirements for follow-up and you should be checking to make sure they are doing that.
Qualify the lead
Qualifying leads is the equivalent of looking for the golden egg. Once found, you hang on to it and don't let it go. There a lots of different ways to go about qualifying, but the tried and true method that's been successfully used by sales organizations forever is BANT (Budget, Authority, Need, Timeline). BANT seeks to uncover the following four pieces of information:
Budget: Is the prospect capable of buying?
Authority: Does your contact have adequate authority to sign off on a purchase?
Need: Does the prospect have a business pain you can solve?
Timeline: When is the prospect planning to buy?
Assessing the answers to each of these points will help determine whether this lead becomes part of your next email marketing drip campaign or gets forwarded along to a sales representative.
Create a personalized follow-up
Commercial real estate is an industry built on personal relationships. To instill trust in clients and deepen your relationships with them, there's a personal aspect to the selling process. Don't miss the opportunity to do this in following up with a lead. Take note of the action they took. Know how they came to find your organization, research their company, industry or region and try to incorporate that into your follow-up. Once you've done this, you're ready to connect, but remember, if they're serious about moving to the next step, they want to believe that they're making a personal connection, not an automated one.
Following-up on commercial real estate leads should not be a haphazard activity – remember the story of the business owner that generated all those leads, but his business failed. Also, be aware that the person that created the lead may not be the only person you need to speak with at an organization. Most recent research suggests that an average of 5.4 different people are involved in each B2B purchasing decision. Further complicating this situation is that often, these people are not from the same department. Don't let these factors detour you from your plan. Work quickly and diligently in your lead follow-up and you'll find success in connecting with your target audience.