Whether you’re making social connections at a party or interviewing for a new job, first impressions are everything. And when it comes to real estate leads, first impressions are more than just important—they’re crucial to your success.

In the real estate industry, much time is spent focusing on the strategy behind building your brand, generating leads, negotiating, and closing sales. But what about the part in between finding leads and negotiating sales? What about the period of time when you’ve already found the lead, but you haven’t yet started building the relationship?

Making a first impression with potential clients is so much more than just returning phone calls and cleaning out your inbox. Your first impression can help a potential client start to trust you, establish you as an expert in your local market, and secure your role as his or her real estate professional. Consider these tips for a successful first encounter with a future client:

1. Respond Quickly—“Speed to Lead” Is Essential

Between social media, online shopping, and information at the push of a button, today’s consumer expects fast, efficient service. This why speed to lead is so important in real estate. The quicker you respond to emails, phone calls, texts, new online leads, social media messages, and Zillow messages, the more likely you are to convert that lead into a client.

Keep in mind:

• 86% of leads believe response time is “extremely important” when choosing their agent.

• You’re 100x more likely to reach a lead than if you respond in 5 minutes versus 1 hour.

• 31% of leads expected a real estate agent to reply instantly to their online inquiry.

2. Pick up the Phone Whenever Possible

If a lead contacts you via telephone, do not let it go to voicemail unless you are with a client. Many consumers won’t leave you a message and will move on to another agent if you don’t answer their call right away. If you are away or with a client, be sure to either text or set up an away message that says you will be in contact shortly.

3. Respond in the Same Way That Leads Contact You

People reach out to you in a way that is most comfortable and efficient for them, so it can be beneficial to respect their choice when contacting them for the first time. It’s long been a best practice to respond back in the manner that the lead reached out to you. If a contact sends you an email, respond via email. If he or she sends you a text message, text back and then suggest a phone call. If someone reaches out on the phone, call back.

However, data is increasingly showing that response time is the most important factor in converting online leads. If comes down to a decision of quick response or responding in the same manner as the lead reached out, go with speed. Your pipeline will thank you for it.

4. Make Sure Leads Know How To Contact You

Give leads multiple ways to get in contact with you—by phone, text, email, or social media to make it most convenient for them. You want to show them that you are available and ready to address any of their needs.

5. Prove Your Value From the Very Beginning

Balance the need to respond as quickly as possible and respond with the information the potential client is looking for. If possible, have all relevant information in front of you. Prove your value and expertise from the very first conversation. Leave your lead with information he or she didn’t have before the call — a CMA, school district information, a listing detail, or other valuable materials.

If you are out and not able to collect the information requested, contact the lead right away and let them know that you are collecting the information that they’re looking for, but that you are happy to answer any other questions they may have. Then, follow-up on your word and get back to them as soon as you can with the other requested information.

6. Have Your Own List of Questions

Your new lead will likely have a list of questions for you. But, make sure you have questions prepared for them. What are they looking for in a home? What makes now the right time to buy or sell? What are their must-haves? Are they a first–time buyer or seller?

Asking questions that allow you to best serve them will work wonders for both of you. They’ll feel valued and like you truly care about what is important to them, and having as much information as possible will allow you to work smarter and faster for them.

7. Consider That There May Be Multiple Decision Makers

In most real estate transactions there are multiple people tasked with making a decision, whether it’s a couple, family members, parents helping their children buy a first home, or friends buying a vacation property together. Make sure you know who is involved so that you don’t overlook important parties.

8. Respect Their Schedule

Yes, your new lead is looking to buy or sell a home. But they also have other things going on in their lives. If you pick up the phone to call a lead and he or she sounds busy, ask, “Can I call you back at a time that is more convenient for you?” Then, always call back at the agreed-upon time.

9. Be Patient

When a contact reaches out to you, it doesn’t always mean he or she is ready to buy or sell today. In some cases, it takes over a year for a lead to become active. The way you approach and handle first contact tells your lead a lot about the way you do business—if you’re pushy and aggressive, they’ll work with someone else.

Never brush off a lead that isn’t transaction-ready. Take the time to answer their questions, build the foundation for a relationship, and nurture them until they want to buy or sell a home with you. Consider it an investment in your future business.

10. Ensure All Your Leads Are in Your CRM

Once you hang up the phone or click send, take the time to enter your new lead into your real estate CRM, if they aren’t in it already. Keeping track of every single lead helps you manage your leads and nurture them until they’re ready to buy or sell.

Remember that you’re not just selling a home, you’re selling yourself and the partnership you provide your clients.

For more information and tips on real estate leads, check out our lead generation and nurturing blog and resources center.

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