In real estate, lead tracking and follow-up can improve efficiency and increase the bottom line. But when you add team members into the mix, making sure every lead is accounted for gets more complicated. Paul Chiolo of Keller Williams Oceanside Realty has mastered the process. But it took time and some tweaking to get the combination of people, process and lead flow perfect.
Chiolo knew he needed a new lead tracking system after he landed a developer contract to list condo units at The Grande at Diamond Beach, a community of 125 luxury beachfront residences in New Jersey.
Though the 25-year veteran had already successfully worked with many developers and high-rise condos, generating, converting and servicing leads for another $180 million worth of listings meant sweeping changes.
“The volume we were seeing demanded a foolproof tracking system,” Chiolo recalls. “Our developers demanded it, and implementing it stretched our team. We had to remove every limiting belief that says a small team can’t intimately handle a massive volume of Web leads, walk-ins and phone calls.” Using the FAST Leads System from The Millionaire Real Estate Agent, Chiolo and his team dramatically improved their lead conversion process while reducing the redundancy in their business operations.
The FAST Lead System at Defined
FAST is an acronym for Funnel, Assign, Source and Track. In a nutshell, leads are funneled into a single point of entry and then assigned to appropriate team members. Next, leads are sourced in order to calculate the return on investment for various marketing and prospecting activities. Finally, leads are tracked in order to make sure customers are properly serviced and converted into clients.
It’s a great theory, though putting it into practice was challenging. Chiolo says the biggest issue in the beginning was information duplication from tracker to tracker and from report to report. That left Kimberly Bailey, a broker associate and sales team leader at Keller Williams Oceanside Realty, handcuffed to a computer, filling out redundant trackers and lead forms.
The two did some digging and discovered that some of the information they were entering was not only duplicative, it was irrelevant to the success of a project. So, the team boiled down the tracker reports to just the necessary facts, which drove up production on both the residential and commercial arms.
“We were trying to please our developers and other clients but we weren’t communicating well internally,” Chiolo admits. “Once we gained the respect of our clients and showed them we had a better way to track leads that would allow us to spend more time selling their units, we were able to reduce multiple trackers to a more comprehensive one. That helped us have a focused daily call – and that call has become our main tool.”
The FAST Lead System in Action
At 9 a.m., the team – Chiolo, Bailey, buyer specialists, a closing processor and marketing rep – joins a daily call. The Monday call lasts 30 minutes. Tuesday through Friday calls run about 15 minutes, though it wasn’t always that way. In the beginning the calls took up to 90 minutes a day, which drained the front line buyer agent’s productivity.
During the call, the team discusses the tracker report. Agents identify hot prospects, discuss any client objections and then develop an action plan to overcome them. The buyer specialist and closing processor discuss all pending closings, drilling down into any financing issues that need to be resolved. And the marketing rep discusses e-mail blasts, message goals and analytics.
“If Mr. and Mrs. Smith are looking at 123 Main Street, what’s happening?” Chiolo asks in an example of the tracker call discussions. “They are torn between that house and one on Baker Avenue. What’s it going to take to get them to sign a contract? If they are checking with lenders, who are the lenders? That’s a hot lead that we’ll discuss the next day until it closes.”
With more than 15,000 leads coming in on a single project, the team has to keep it tight – no chitchat about the kids or weekend golf – to the point that every customer is labeled for a streamlined discussion. Chiolo figures without this system in place, there would be “complete internal disaster” and the risk of losing a project or disillusioning the team.
The FAST Lead System Requires Accountability
In 2012, the team achieved $78.6 million in closed sales volume. Chiolo says there was no possible way they could have reached those heights without the tracker system. "It wasn’t easy to get everyone on board," he says.
“Agents dreaded the calls mostly because it was foreign to them. Hour-and-a-half daily calls are like a form of torture to a real estate agent,” Chiolo says. “But being held accountable did magical things for our team. It swept away any excuses and made our team shine. It made them realize they have nowhere to hide and pushed them to perform at levels they didn’t think they could.”
Going back to the example of the homeowner, Chiolo explains what he means. “If Mr. Smith is headed to the bank to talk about financing the home on 123 Main Street on Friday morning, the agent should follow up Friday afternoon. But in the real world – or in a world without a tracker system – that doesn’t always happen. The agent forgets because he’s busy chasing the next lead or handling a closing. The tracker equips the team lead to question the agent about Mr. Smith’s bank appointment. The agent knows he’s accountable and comes to the daily call with answers.
“Salespeople don’t always realize the value of accountablity,” Bailey says. “We’re independent agents. So taking it from A to Z with the accountability tracker was, of course, a little scary at first. But once agents start to see how much it actually benefits them in the long run – to have someone pushing them and encouraging them to follow up so they don’t drop the ball – they embrace it.”
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