14 May 2019

Stop wasting your time: qualify your leads

Time is money, so as a buyers’ agent – or any agent for that matter – knowing how to qualify a lead is critical, especially in a changing market.

But what is the simplest way to determine if a prospect is actually a lead? Should you refer leads onto other agents? When should you say no to a prospective client?

To help answer these questions, we chatted with one of Sydney’s leading buyers’ agents, Jacque Parker of House Search Australia, to help you stop wasting time on dud leads.

You’re an agent, not a goldminer

And, as such, you should not be probing dark crevasses. You should know exactly what questions to ask to ensure success.

“Developing a checklist is imperative for effective qualification of leads,” says Parker. 

“From finding out how ready they are to buy, through to their financing situation and experience in the market, researching and knowing your lead in as much detail as possible is going to assist you to best service their needs, and indeed ascertain if they are ready for your services.”

Parker says while this sounds simple, it does take time to know what to ask.

“It’s not easy to be great at qualifying,” she says. “You need to ask the right questions in order to understand if the lead meets your agency’s buyer profile. Getting good at this take practice.”

And sometimes, even with experience, Parker says a lead can surprise you.

“You can complete the perfect qualification of a buyer,” she says. “But, in real estate, changing markets and personal circumstances can and will upset the best intentions of buyers.

“Given that some searches extend into several months, buyers can also lose momentum and enthusiasm, with some choosing to change criteria or withdraw from a search altogether. 

“It often comes down to the motivation of the buyer and their time frame.”

It’s ok to say no

In a changing market, it’s hard to imagine turning any lead down. But Parker says it’s a must to protect your business.

“Some leads, even if they tick most of the boxes, just aren’t going to be compatible with your services,” she says. “This is largely due to insufficient budgets or unrealistic criteria.

“Though it can be tempting – especially in lean times – to take such clients on, it’s vital to understand it is not only detrimental for the client (raising false hopes), but also yourself and your business as it prevents you taking on more suitable clients.

“It goes without saying that if you cannot assist a client, refer them onto another buyers’ agent you know and respect.”

Parker says sometimes buyers' agents must make tough decisions if the lead has borderline budgets or criteria.

“Similarly, if a lead has a lengthy history of searching without success, you have to be diligent and probe more deeply to find out specifics,” she says. 

“Taking on ’serial lookers’, can be a huge error, especially in a changing market where buyers are fearful of further price falls.”

Parker’s top tips to qualifying a lead

  • Develop an initial contact question checklist to gather the information you require 
  • Have a plan to direct leads appropriately if you can’t assist
  • Listen more than talk
  • Don’t make assumptions

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