Let me ask you a question. Have you ever received a call from a potential customer who wanted information about a listing? Of course you have. Do you remember how you go through that little verbal tap-dance just to try to get the customer’s phone number, so you have a lead to work? Maybe you use the old classic line, “Let me look that up and give you a call right back.” Maybe you have another technique.
How many times has the customer hung up and failed to give you his number, indicating he would call you back? And did he call you back? No. In fact in the car business they even have a term for those customers: “be-backs”. They’ll “be back” in touch. I don’t know about you, but I’ll trade you 10 be-backs for one new lead.
Or how about this? You spend hundreds of dollars in marketing, trying to get the phone to ring, only to have those few calls come in after you are done for the day. You have a choice — either you answer that phone 24/7 or you lose business. And in today’s economy we can’t afford to lose the business so that means we work longer hours.
How about knowing which ads are working and which ones aren’t? Wouldn’t it be nice to know where you are receiving a nice return on your advertising investment and where you are simply wasting your money? It’s been said that over half of all money spent on advertising is wasted. Wouldn’t it be nice to identify which half? Of course it would.
Well, I have great news. You can easily solve all those problems with the same simple tool — by using IVR technology. IVR or Interactive Voice Response technology is the technical name for an essential marketing tool more commonly known as a “call capture hotline”. I say essential because it is one of only a handful of technologies that every agent needs to prosper today.
Let me explain how a call capture hotline works. Instead of calling a telephone, your customer would call a computer that has very sophisticated interactive software. And that software, would not only allow the computer to answer the phone, but it would also play an outgoing message to your customer, it could transfer the call to your phone number, and it would send you a text or email notification of the customer’s phone number, time of call, and extension called.
Instead of advertising your company phone number, hoping your colleagues will pass along your calls, or even your cell number, you instead advertise your “hotline” number. Typically it will be an 800, 888, 877, or 866 toll-free number. Along with the number you advertise an extension number or code. For example, you might advertise a number like 800-555-1212 Ext. 3000.
The reason the toll-free number is important is that toll-free numbers are governed by some very interesting laws. Since a toll-free call is essentially a “collect call” the receiver is entitled by law to know who is calling. That means that typical caller-ID block software is rendered ineffective when calling a toll-free number. It’s the law. The one paying for the call has the legal right to know who’s calling.
So practically speaking, every single caller who dials your hotline, is giving you his phone number. Better yet, the number and the extension he dialed is emailed to you while the customer is still on the phone. And because you have a written proof of his call, you can call the customer back with no fear of violating the Do-Not-Call laws for 90 days! Talk about powerful!
To set it up, all of your various advertising would have the same 800 number, but each ad would have a unique extension allowing you to track exactly which ads received the most calls. For example, you might have one extension for yard signs, another for your website, another for The Real Estate Book, and yet another for Homes & Land Magazine. When you received your notification email or text, you could tell immediately where that lead was coming from.
But here is where it really gets cool. Not only do you get every single caller sent to your inbox with a valid phone number, and not only do you know exactly which ad every single call is coming from, but the actual number of calls you receive will increase as much as ten-fold. Why? Because many customers are early in their search process and don’t want to talk to an agent.
If given the opportunity to call a computer to receive their information, many will choose that option over talking to an agent. In fact, two identical ads placed in the same magazine for month, one with an agent’s phone number and one with a hotline number will have entirely different results. The one going to the agent might get 10-15 calls all month while the hotline ad will receive 150-200 calls in the same month!
Why? Because many customers don’t want to speak to an agent yet. A hotline gives them the peace of mind of calling a machine. And when they do, their phone number is electronically captured and forwarded to you. Now you get to reach out to them gently without scaring them off. Now you have an opportunity. In fact, lots of opportunities. How cool is that?!
I personally use my hotline to capture leads wherever they might call. Yard signs. Website. Print ads. Even business cards. It really is a no-brainer. Not only do I always capture the lead, but I know exactly what ad source produced it and I get calls 24 hours a day 7 days a week without having to answer my phone when I am off duty. I never miss a lead. Never. Even if they hang up. When it comes to telephone lead generation, there is nothing better than IVR technology.
“So,” you’re asking yourself, “How do I get a hotline to help me solve those problems?” “How much will it cost me? I’m already spending more than I can afford.” There are a number of companies that will sell you their IVR hotlines. Most require a one-time investment of several hundred dollars to get your account set up and then between $50-300 per month depending on the number of calls you get. There are a number of companies who offer the service, some better than others, and most have similar pricing.
But another way of getting the technology is by using our LCM Success technology. Not only do you get state-of-the-art Internet lead capture with our LCM web gateway, but you get IVR technology with our LCM phone gateway. Add to that our Pipeline client manager application, our Virtual Assistant and mobile application, my List-EZ online listing program, and personal coaching to help you over the learning curve, and you have every single technology you need to thrive in today’s real estate market.
Best of all, you get it all for as little as one dollar a day. So check it out if you haven’t yet. And even if you don’t get it from us, get it from somebody. IVR technology is truly a “must-have” in today’s real estate market. It will produce a huge return on investment.