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When it comes to leads, are you a leader or a follower? Do you have a strategy to find prospects and turn them into clients and referrals? Regardless of their source, it’s important to make the most of the leads that come your way.

Here are seven Homes.com-endorsed strategies to help you make the most of your lead management program and turn those prospects into customers and referrals!

1. Showcase your neighborhood knowledge?

The Internet has whetted customer appetites for all types of real estate information. Educated buyers and sellers make the best customers, but the Web has also raised client expectations. Many consumers are proficient in finding information on their own and are no longer impressed by folders full of MLS and web page printouts.

Agents who provide relevant local information can quickly establish lasting client relationships. If you reinforce individual property information with neighborhood knowledge that interests buyers – including school, crime, housing prices and resident demographic information – you demonstrate a level of expertise few agents can match. By positioning yourself as a neighborhood expert, you avoid pinning your hopes of doing business on a single property.

2.Timing is everything

Most people end up doing business with the first real estate agent they speak to, so fast response is crucial. Research shows many people have come to expect a response from real estate agents within an hour of requesting information. Many brokerages now reward agents who respond quickly with additional leads or other incentives.

Your strategy should include a plan for both initial response and ongoing contact. For example, your goal may be to respond to phone calls within two hours and emails on the same business day.

3. Create a professional follow-up package

Many agents prefer to establish face-to-face contact as soon as possible with an introductory information package. Be sure to have both presentation and leave-behind materials ready to go. Your follow-up package may include:

– A cover letter / thank you letter recapping your initial contact

– Your resume, including professional accreditations such as REALTOR®

– Relevant reports, such as CMAs and Neighborhood Reports

– Sample marketing materials, including flyers and newsletters

4. Have a unique value proposition

All agents understand the importance of creating a unique impression, but it’s more important to make prospects feel unique. After a brief introduction, top agents shift their focus to making prospects feel like the center of the universe. To convert leads to sales, personalize materials and presentations as much as possible. Put your customer’s name on sample flyers and reports. For a knockout listing meeting, take a digital photo of the prospect’s home beforehand and incorporate it into your presentation materials.

5. Making it mobile

Even if you don’t know a Blackberry from a Bluetooth, it’s important to maintain a “mobile office” for responsiveness. More than ever, it’s important for brokers and agents to do their jobs – managing phone calls, customer contacts and accessing listing information – without being tethered to a desk.

It’s easy for prospects on the Web to send out several requests for information, and the agent with the quickest response often wins the business. There may be a learning curve involved in adopting mobile technology, but agents who can instantly obtain current property information from a the Homes.com iPhone or Blackberry apps are a step ahead of those who need to call the office.

6. Divide and conquer

While some prospects are close to buying or selling, many are clearly in the research or evaluation stage. Some brokerages have developed separate strategies for hot leads and those with longer time horizons. Some have automated lead management systems or staff dedicated to prioritizing and distributing leads, but this task often falls to individual agents.

Regardless of who manages leads, an efficient sorting and distribution strategy can help raise conversion rates. Even in a smaller office, having a system in place can help you respond quicker and focus on more qualified leads. If you’re shopping for a lead generation service, notice how lead management is handled and whether it fits the way you work.

7. Track lead quality and cost

The best lead solution for you will depend on your goals, business requirements, budget and your style of working. You may need to evaluate several lead sources and management strategies before hitting on one that’s best for your individual needs.

It takes time to track the life cycle of individual leads, but it’s the only way to make the most of your investment. It’s certainly preferable to a lead generation strategy that underperforms your expectations. Be sure to schedule a reasonable amount of time for your evaluation period. A solution that does well initially may not perform consistently over time.