Tips & Advice on Realtor Tools, Lead Generation & Real Estate Systems

Tips & Advice on Realtor Tools, Lead Generation & Real Estate Systems
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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

How Tech Savvy is Your Lead Generation System?

Realtors need leads, and lots of them, to run a successful Real Estate Business. Working leads takes time though, and many Realtors struggle once they start getting a high volume of calls or inquiries. Do you harness the power of technology to capture these leads? Or does that one phone call get lost in the shuffle? Do you have a database that keeps all of these leads organized and automatically contacts them on a regular basis, without you having to do anything? No problem, we’ve found the answer!

Lead generation and prospect capture are two tools that every Realtor should be utilizing. To that end, we would like to offer up the following synopsis of some tools, as well as our thoughts on the systems. We looked at three services: ProQuest, by RealtyStar; DriveBuy Technologies; and Michael Anderson’s Automated Prospecting software. We compared them according to the service they offer, cost (both initial and ongoing), tech “savviness,” type of data captured, CRM (Customer Relationship Management) compatibility (i.e.: Top Producer or Microsoft Outlook), and added our own two cents’ worth. We’ve posted this information in a summary format, but if you are interested in learning more about any of these systems and how they can help grow your business please contact us to discuss it.

After you’ve reviewed these tools and their capability for lead generation and capture, we would love to help you implement one to turn your business around. The surest way to get more closings – more leads!

Proquest, by RealtyStar, available at, offers a recorded information line for listings with a unique 800 number for each listing. There is a one time fee of $297, with ongoing fees as follows: $29.95/Month and $0.189/Min up to 1500, $0.149/Min after 1500. There is no consumer website associated with the product. Data is captured via ANI (kind of like a sophisticated caller ID) which captures 100% of numbers, even unlisted or those who used *67 before dialing. Information is delivered to the agent via text, email, fax or web display. It is not noted on the site whether a long term contract is required. The pros of this service are that it is a tried and true approach, the offer a 6-month money-back guarantee, and the ongoing monthly fees are affordable. The biggest con is that it is moderately expensive at initial outlay.

Drive Buy Technologies, available at, offers a unique code provided for each listing that buyers can text to request additional information. Within 10 seconds, a text message is returned containing information about the listing and including Smart Links to a website with additional information and pictures. There is no initial set up fee and ongoing monthly fees are $8/Month per code and $9 per sign/rider. Web information is presented to the consumer via Smart Links in text message. The consumer’s cell number is captured, and while I’m unsure of how it is stored, I did receive a phone call within several minutes of texting for the demo. The system is compatible with both Top Producer and Outlook. There is no long term contract, you pay month to month and only for active codes. I did the demo text on the website and received a text back immediately with Smart Links. I was also texted by the salesperson within a few minutes, and called within an hour. I was impressed by the quick response and knowledgeable suggestions. I was also provided with references, both on the web and with numbers to call to verify how the service works. The pros of this service are that it is very affordable, it is tech savvy for today’s mobile users, codes are reusable (switch from listing to listing like a lockbox) and can be branded, i.e.: HOME123, PAM789, etc. Cons are that the only data captured is cell number, not name or email. Standard text messaging rates apply for the consumer using the service.

Automated Prospecting Services, available at, offers a software package which enables users to build their own website with unlimited pages. A sophisticated system of auto-responders is then designed to allow the user to stay in “hands-off” contact with the lead. The initial cost is $997 (although the website is currently offering $500 discount for first 100 orders. There are no monthly fees, but if you want the software update subscription it is $99/year. The website is completely controlled by the user, so consumers see exactly what you want them to see. Data capture forms are also designed by you and therefore any data you wish to have is attainable. APS offers a CRM system inherent in the software. The biggest pro of this service is that it offers a complete package, including web site, data capture, automatic responders, and Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Cons include the fact that it requires an expensive initial outlay and it does not appear to be tailored specifically to Real Estate.

DriveBuy Technologies and ProQuest by RealtyStar are both very user friendly and won’t break your budget. DriveBuy Technologies, with its instant gratification in the form of text messaging and Smart Phone compatibility meets the needs and desires of today’s buyers, but limits the data capture for you, the agent. This is where your personal touch comes in, follow up and get that additional info – it gives you a reason to call! You need to then introduce them to your automatic MLS property search tool that will automatically email properties that meet their needs. The recorded 800 number information line by ProQuest provides excellent data capture opportunities, but is less likely to leave trace information behind on the consumer’s side; they have to rely on their memories after listening to the message. But again, golden opportunity for the Realtor: you can leave a message about your automated property finder service on the recording to peak their interest in signing up for property email alerts.

Automated Prospecting Systems by Michael Anderson is a much bulkier package, and a bigger financial outlay, but provides a highly sophisticated system for someone wanting an “all-in-one” package deal. We encourage you to visit their web site or contact us for additional information if you are ready for a sophisticated package.

A Virtual Genie has experience in building successful Real Estate Systems designed to enhance your business in prospecting, staying in touch with current clients during transactions and listings, and post-closing follow up. Visit our web site to learn more about our team and remember: Your Wish is Our Command!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Text Capture: The New Generation of Lead Generation

Call Capture is a GREAT tool, and it will bring leads. However, if you are on a REAL push to capture every possible lead, then you've got to embrace technology as it advances. Now you have the power to send information about your listing or service via text message. How does this work? Visit Text Capture Hotline for more information, but here are a few general facts:

  • Text capture works just like call capture, except the prospect will text the number you have posted for more info, and an auto-generated text message will send them more info on the property/service.
  • Advantage: You now have a cell phone number, and you know this person prefers text messages. You can contact them to get their general 'wants' on a home, and every time you run across one in the marketplace, you could text them. If they are a seller, you could text them tips for selling their home. When they ask you to stop texting you, just call them back and tell them you'd love to meet with them face to face so you can learn more about their needs and remove them from your text campaign. Bold? Yes!
  • You now have access to a cell phone number, a much more effective way to reach potential clients than a home phone that rings and rings and rings...does anyone even stay at home anymore?

Utilizing a Virtual Assistant to set up these lead capture systems is a smart investment in the future of your business. Contact A Virtual Genie for more information on using a Real Estate Virtual Assistant to increase your prospects on a regular basis.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Call Capture for Listings: The Script

Call Capture is not a sure bet to great leads. It takes skill, strategy, and dedication. This Blog is dedicated to those who have never used the technology before for their listings, or to those who have used it, but failed to yield the response to justify the expense or time.

The service is only valuable if the provider is reliable and technologically advanced. I welcome the suggestion of other companies, but in this case I only have one to recommend: . You could start capturing leads for as little as $35 a month, and increase your options within the service as your lead generation increases. This provider is highly recommended by ByReferralOnly - a leader in Realtor lead generation strategies.

The Script
What, exactly, do you record? A monotone description of the property features they are calling on? NO! If you don't think you have a great phone voice, this is where your assistant or virtual assistant can help out. Don't risk losing a lead because the voice they are listening to is stumbling, nervous, or flat. The script should make your prospect want to take a next step - a step that is given in the call. You also don't want to make the mistake of letting the call capture service record the message for you. Although they say they are trained; you need to stay on top of price changes, and change the recording if it is not working the way you want it to.

For example, you have listed a great home - you know that once people are inside, they will fall in love, but the outside doesn't have great curb appeal. Then FORGET specific details in your recording. You want to entice them to learn more, to see more. If you give it all away on the recording (or in your flyer box outside the home), you give them no reason whatsoever to contact you for an appointment. You must use this to your advantage in the script:

'Hi! Thank you for calling xyz Realty info line on the property located at 123 Main Street. I will tell you about this property in a moment, but first, grab a pen to take some helpful notes for your home search. At xyz Realty, we have a FREE automated home finder service that will email listings directly to your inbox each time a new home is listed that matches your wish list. For more information on signing up for this FREE homefinder service, please have your pen ready at the end of this recording. Now back to the home you called about: 123 Main Street is a lovely 3 Bedroom plus Den home located on a quiet interior street. The floorplan is light and bright, with decorative windows and archways through-out. The kitchen was updated with maple cabinetry, newer appliances, and upgraded flooring. The Dining Room is open to the Family Room, perfect for entertaining. Upstairs you will find all three spacious bedrooms, plus a bonus room that is perfect for a den or office. You won't believe the size of the Master closet and Bath! Outside you will fall in love with the private, gated swimming pool and expansive decking. Shade trees are lined perfectly along the edge of the lot. Priced at $xxxxxx, it is a great value. To learn more about this home and to schedule a showing, please call agent xyz at 000-000-0000. To learn more about our automatic homefinder email service, and receive email updates with homes that match your wishlist for FREE, please log onto That's spelled x y z r e a l t y dot c o m. You can also leave a message in our general mailbox and we will return your call within the hour. Leave us your email address, and we can sign you up for this great service. Thank you for calling our information line, and we wish you the best of luck in your search for a dream home."

Note two things:

First: I offered a valuable service to them that had nothing to do with the home they were calling about. You must do this in case the home is not what they are looking for. Maybe they want 4 true bedrooms, and they don't want a pool. Your info line should always give them something else to be interested in, to help them find a home.

Second: I didn't give too many details about the home (no square footage, no specific flooring references), and I saved the price for LAST. If you give the price away up front, they will hang up if it's not in their price range. While you will still have their number to call them back, giving them ammunition to hang up during the first few seconds gives them the power to say 'We're not interested' when you call them. Are sign callers ever really interested in the house when they're calling on the sign? 9 times out of ten, these folks need help finding a home, and driving around is not the best use of their time. They need a Buyers Agent!

Tips for Getting the Number 'Out There'
So the house is tucked back in the community, and virtually no one is going to call the number attached to the sign. What do you do now? Now you post this toll free info line to every online ad possible, following the same directions as above: Don't give ALL the information away in the ad. Why in the world would they want to call the number if you've given them every last detail? Your job as the sellers agent to promote interest, not just give information. YOU are in charge of how the information is given about the home, so use that to your advantage!

Concern about 'fast paced information'
What about the 'McBuyer' who wants information NOW? There are services that will send a text message to a prospect if they enter their mobile phone number to receive a text message. Stay tuned for our next Blog...Text Messaging Services will be discussed.

For More information on Virtual Assistance for Realtors, please visit us online at

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gaining Leads for the Team - Old School

You've compared methods for increasing your pool of potential buyers, who could also be potential sellers. The methods range from 'OUCH! That's pricey!' to 'That's not so bad, but will it work?'

Not ready to dive into the expense of SEO just yet? Print advertising? Slowly but surely going the way of the dinosaur, right? Door hangers? Most communities have laws against this stuff; and since you're trying to enhance your reputation, you should probably skip it (it's still a great idea for open house invitations). What then? Call capture.

This technology has been enhanced over the years, allowing you access to dozens of prospects who have initiated contact with you. The easiest way to start this project is to attach the number to your listings. No listings? No problem! Most agents in your office would love some assistance in selling those listings! Most states allow agents within the same brokerage to advertise each other's listings, but get permission from the listing agent and your broker. Now what? Post this 'property info line' to as many places as possible. All online free advertising sites. Send an e-blast to your sphere of past clients, friends, family. You can make a sign rider with the number and attach it to the For Sale sign. Get the idea? Instead of 'getting your name out there' - get your call capture number out there!

Some Realtors don't use these numbers to promote listings, they use call capture as an information line for consumers on a wide range of real estate topics. While this is a great idea, it's harder to get the number 'out there' because there isn't a listing to attach it to. But it can be done. We'll be sure to post more call capture advice later in the week, including the best providers in the business, a link to sample scripts, and tracking your results.

Until your team, one lead at a time.

For more information on Real Estate Virtual Assistance, visit us online at A Virtual Genie

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Building a Real Estate Team

As we move into 2009, it is clear that the market is what it is. Realtors can no longer look for 'the bottom' or a change in circumstances. The only option to stay in business as a Realtor and thrive is to increase production, both in listing inventory and with more buyer prospects. How do you make this happen, without sacrificing the quality of service you are providing?

Answer: Build a Real Estate Team. A Team can be as few people as two Realtors and an assistant, or as large as a Broker with multiple agents and an assistant team. In order for a team to be successful and not crumble, a clear plan and guidelines need to be laid out before formation.

Here are our recommendations based on the teams we have helped organize:
  • Create contracts for each prospective team member. Even if they are your friend or long-time co-worker, it has to be treated just like the sale of a home: Everything in writing. Start date, end date, exit strategies and clauses, commission splits, non-compete clauses, and early exit penalties. If you are going to invest the time, money and effort into creating a marketing plan to bring more leads to the team, the first few months will be very hard work, with more money going out than coming in.
  • Develop systems and strategies for attracting new leads, documenting existing lead progress, and tracking results. You can't survive in this environment without knowing your numbers. Don't have a clue on starting this? No problem, there are numerous companies who know how to get this part off the ground for you.
  • Outline your budget. How much do you have to spend on marketing tools? How much do you need to make in the first 6 months to get your return back, and profit? How much do you have to pay someone to put your plans into action?
  • Choose which tasks will be delegated. The easiest way to do this is to draw a triangle on two sheets of paper (make it as big as the paper will allow). One triangle is for Listings, and the other is for Buyer Sales. Put your name, job title, and duties at the top. List only tasks that actually get you paid: Sign up new listings, get buyers into escrow, manage inspection issues, help with pre-closing events. In the next section, list the activities that get you to the stage above. Repeat until all the stages of getting a seller to list or a buyer to buy are on the triangle. Take a highlighter and highlight your strengths - the things you do well, things you enjoy doing, and things that you are able to get done without feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Non-highlighted things need to be delegated, either to an in-0ffice assistant, a virtual assistant, your other agents, and distributed according to budget.

Creating a Real Estate team enables you to earn money in two ways: Directly from your sales, and earning a referral fee or split from those agent(s) who work for you. If you are not ready to bring on another Realtor, and prefer to remain solo, an assistant will be necessary to handle the mounting tasks as your business increases. Here is a link to a fabulous article about the tasks an assistant can do for you: Real Estate Assistant

In conclusion, don't feel the need to take on the expense of a coach at this time. The knowledge you need is available online, and most Real Estate Virtual Assistants have experience helping Realtors get organized, outline goals, and executing those goals to see an increase in their business.

At A Virtual Genie, we never charge coaching fees. Realtors who hire us to lighten their load will always have access to our experience and opinion. If we have reservations about the methods you are using to increase your business, we will let you know. Not only do we help you create the plan of action, we are the watchdog of your marketing/assistant dollar. If we see a cheaper way for you to do things, we will be the first to speak up!

To learn more about gaining help from a Real Estate Virtual Assistant to take your business to the next level without burning out, visit our web site at