In the wholesaling world, mismanagement of leads is considered a mortal sin. Why? For starters, without proper lead management, you’ll be throwing money out of the window! Undoubtedly, lead management is an integral part of the success of any organisation. And today’s special guest will show us why.
Cierra Ford is the chief operating officer (COO) of Arnold Elite Realty and the one responsible for building all the systems they have in place for lead management. She is also one of the coaches of REI Radio.
In this episode, Cierra not only covered the essentials of lead management, she also shared practical ways to strengthen the lead management process. So if you’d like to make money from every lead you have, today’s episode is something you just can’t miss!
Lead Management – The Good, The Bad, And The CRAZY! With Cierra Ford
Before we get going with this episode, I just want to make sure you are aware of the contest that is going on for all of March 2020 where three lucky winners are going to have a wholesaling business experience of a lifetime. For the whole month of March 2020, what we are doing is a special ratings and reviews contest, where we are going to select three lucky winners.
We are going to take care of all their accommodations, their flights, their hotels, and you will spend two full days with the head rhino himself, Mr. Tom Krol. Imagine what this would be like for your wholesaling business, whether you are just beginning or you have already done some deals. If you have spent two full days with Tom Krol in sunny Florida and all the accommodations were taken care of, what would your year look like?
To enter into this contest for these ratings or reviews, we want you to go over to iTunes and give us a rating and review, five stars, please, and take a screenshot and send that screenshot of the review to Darrin@WholesalingInc.com. If this is not enough, we are also going to feature the three of you on the Wholesaling Inc show. While you are down there, Tom is going to put you in the hot seat so get ready. Now let’s get going with this episode.
People ask me, as long as I have been in the business, what are a couple of the biggest mistakes I see investors or even their team making? The two biggest I see is number one, most people do not know their metrics, also known as KPIs and the second one is lead management. It is one thing to be able to generate a lead. It is another to not fumble those, execute them, and get them across the line.
I can go back to the very first business coach I had who at that point had coached hundreds of real estate entrepreneurs around the country. I remember him telling me, “Chris, after all of my years of coaching, the thing that I have to work on most with my clients is lead management.” It is a rampant problem in the industry and something that everyone needs to learn how to do.
I have a very special guest. My Chief Operating Officer, Cierra Ford. She is the one that has built out all of the systems that we have in place for lead management. We are going to get into the practical ways in which you can strengthen the lead management process in your company. The bottom line, the better you manage your leads, the more revenue, and money that you are going to make.
Cierra, welcome to the show. I am glad to have you.
Thank you. I am glad to be here.
You are my COO, but for those that do not know you, tell us a little bit about you. What is it you do, which you pretty much do it all for us?
I build the operations, manage the people, and make sure that everything is flowing and delegated properly. If we have an issue with the system, it is my job to go in and troubleshoot it and make sure that it is performing the best that it can for our company. It is keeping things on track and making sure everything is moving in the right direction. That is the way I would sum it up.
If you are reading and you are newer to business and you hear that word system, everything in your business comes down to a system. If you make a bowl of cereal in the morning, that is a system. Do I get the milk out first? Do I get the cereal? How much do I pour into it? Everything we do can be broken down into a system. What you do for us is develop systems and more importantly, systems that are efficient.
I have got a grasp on what Cierra does. We are going to be talking about the systems behind our lead management and what we have found over the years works best for us. Let’s hop into the meat. Let’s first talk about why lead management is so important. Why are we making such a big deal out of this? Someone might be reading going, “Lead management? That is one of the most important things. why is that?”
Checks and balances. You have to make sure that the money that you are putting into your company as far as marketing goes, you are getting a return out of that. You are not going to know that without managing these leads and making sure that everything has been touched and followed up properly. It also allows you to track back to make sure that you are putting your money in the right place. It holds yourself and people accountable. It makes sure that your money is going in the right place to the right sources and you are not wasting money overall, which is the biggest deal.
That is a great way to boil it down. If you are not managing leads, you are probably wasting money. Let’s talk about this concept of auditing leads. When we hear the word audit, we are thinking a tax audit from the IRS. What does it mean to audit leads? What does that look like?
It can be broken down in a couple of ways. If you are a company that has salespeople that you work with and have your own acquisition managers or even agents in the brokerage world, a lead audit means to be an audit of the leads that are being assigned to those salespeople or running through your prospecting assistant. You need to be looking at the notes.
I have been in companies or I have seen that people left a voicemail and there is no detail. Even if they have reached these people, there is very little meat there. The importance of that is if that lead has to go to someone else in the future or if that person is not dead and calls back in a year, we know exactly where the conversation left off. You do not have to waste time trying to build rapport again. You have already had that conversation written down right where you are picking up and you are focusing all your attention on that.
There needs to be one place where all of your leads are housed, followed up, and notated.
The next piece is you need to be tracking for a follow-up date. We have had leads lost in the system. I know everybody has because they are not dated properly. If somebody is not ready right now, that does not mean that they will not be ready in a month. You need to make sure that you are statusing these properly so you can go back. If it is a new lead, you have to have a certain tactic. If it is a follow-up, you need to have another. You need to make sure the statuses are properly checked, and then the last one is storage.
What does it mean to status leak?
You are staying where you are in that conversation. If I have something coming into the system as a new lead, I know this person has not been touched and contacted yet. They are a priority for the day then I have people in follow-up. These people have already had my attention. I have built some type of relationship with them.
You have to switch your mind for that conversation. The status not only helps break down where the lead is at that time but also helps you switch your state of mind when you are speaking to these people. What kind of conversation do you need to have? It is going to be different based on what conversation you had or did not have.
All this auditing that you are doing is through a CRM system. When we talk about checking notes, looking at the status, and making sure it has follow-up dates, what you are auditing is the CRM software like a Podio, correct?
Absolutely. You cannot do this on a spreadsheet. It is not going to work. I know some people start there but it is another waste of money. You need to make sure that you have a system that you are able to check and track. It can be time-consuming to have paper notes so it is important for it to be in a CRM.
How important is lead management when it comes to CRM? Could you have high-level lead management without a good CRM like Podio?
Straight up no. I do not think that you can manage things properly. It does not have to be Podio. There are a million different CRM, but there needs to be one place where all of these leads are housed, followed up, notated, and again, a huge part of this is the source. You have to have a place where you can quickly check where these leads came from and you are not going to do that on Excel. You are not going to do that on a piece of paper. It is too time-consuming and things will get lost in the shuffle.
Going back to the auditing, as you said, whether you have a team or you are the team, you are a solo investor, you need to make sure you are putting good thorough notes in there because that lead could be passed to somebody else. The follow-up dates are important because if you miss that, then you are going to miss the time in which you should follow up to convert that lead. Make sure your statuses are correct like this is a new lead, a hot lead, a follow-up, etc. You had one other thing you were going to hit on for lead audit. What was that?
That was the source. You have to make sure that you have everything in that system sourced. What marketing strategy did it come from? Which campaigns did it come from? That is the only true way you are going to be able to figure out what is making you money and what is not. If there is no source, you have no way to track this back. That means you are throwing $10,000, $20,000, or $30,000 at a potential marketing campaign that is not generating you anything because you cannot check and that is dangerous. That is the true way to get yourself into some trouble. That is huge.
Now that we understand lead auditing, let’s talk about accountability. Is it important to hold accountable the lead management process? The real question we are all asking is, how do we do that? What does accountability look like in the world of lead management?
The first thing is no empty threats. If you expect people or even yourself to be hitting a certain amount of numbers or contracting a certain amount of contracts and it is not happening, you need to be looking in that system to see why. When you do this lead audit or you are looking through these leads, you are going to find things are not touched properly. It is human nature.
Things are going to get skipped and missed over, but the important thing here is do not use empty threats. Do not tell somebody you are going to reassign their leads or they are not going to get additional leads if they do not do A, B, and C and then not do it. You have to stick to your guns if you are telling somebody they need to hit all of these points on every lead then you need to hold them accountable for that.
Unfortunately, that means that we take leads within our company if you do not make the calls and we see a lead as basically sitting there. It is going to be passed on to somebody else. Realistically, we are taking food out of other people’s mouths by letting this lead it to another salesperson that is not doing anything with them. That is money that another person could be making and ultimately the company.
Stick to your guns, no empty threats, and make sure that you follow through. If you had a repercussion for your sales members that if they do not do A, B, and C, follow through. Make sure that they are treating these leads as important as they are. This is money for them and your company. As far as being a single person, if you do not have a team, it is the same thing. If you do not have a strategy to audit and look at these leads, you might as well throw your money in the trash can because there are going to be things that fall through the cracks. It is inevitable.
If I have a salesperson, an acquisition manager, or maybe a prospecting assistant, how often should I be going in or someone on my team and auditing these leads? Is this done weekly, daily, or monthly?
Don’t wait around for new leads.
This is daily. The way that we have this set up is our acquisition managers and our prospecting assistant are getting leads all day. By the end of that day, we are in that system, looking at everything that came in that day, everything that had a follow-up date set for that day, and we are making sure that they are touched. It has to be daily. One day goes by with a lead that had a follow-up date of Monday and now it is Tuesday, you potentially lost that deal to somebody else. One day, that is all it takes so it has to be done on a daily basis.
If you have a salesperson that is not following the process, you are auditing them, and they are making multiple mistakes, do you pick up the phone and call them? Do you email them or remove the leads? What is that look like?
It depends on the situation. If I am jumping in there and see a follow-up date was not set, and they have been assigned twenty leads and it is just this one and it looks like honestly was accidentally skipped over, I am going to shoot them a message and say, “Could you check this lead? The date is not there.” I can tell that they are doing what they need to do and things happen.
There can be honest mistakes but if we are going into a system and we are seeing that statuses are not changed, no notes indicating the last conversation that they had, and no follow-up dates set, that is when I am picking up the phone. They have 24 hours because we are auditing at night. We cannot expect them to jump back in at midnight. I am giving them the next morning to catch everything up, but it is always a timeframe like, “You have this time to get it all caught up or it is reassigned to another acquisition manager or salesperson.”
That is a good system. Let’s talk a little bit about lead reviving. We have leads in this system and I am curious what you think is the best thing to do. You got new, fresh, hot leads, which all of your salespeople want, and then you get these dead leads or these old leads. How are you managing good leads and some of the more seasoned stuff?
It is inevitable that things are going to slow down and random parts of the year. It happens to everybody. You do not know when it is going to happen, but sometimes lead flow creeps down. At that point, we do not wait around for new leads. What we are doing is we are actively going into our dead leads and we are seeing if we can meet their price now that time has passed. We are re-running numbers.
We are also looking at the area. We are expanding our buyers’ list every day. We know now there are certain areas we can help with that we were not able to in the past. We are actively going through that, but we are not only doing it when it is slow. We are doing it all throughout the year but when it is slow is the time when our acquisition managers are focusing on those. We make sure that we are not wasting leads and opportunities. It is huge.
Another thing with that is it does not have to be deadly. It can be the olderly. It can be follow-ups that people said, “Call me back next year.” Why are you going to wait until next year? Circumstance change. Especially on the lead management side, we are looking at these leads to see, “Have they sold?” We are pulling tax records. We know it is not a waste of time when we hand it back to an acquisition manager.
We are looking to see if the property changed hands, their situation has changed, or we will have our prospecting assistant go through those leads and see if they are ready before that year. Just because somebody is not ready right now, does not mean that they are not going to be ready in a month. You are wasting an opportunity if you are not going after those people still and not keeping them in your process.
People think that the auditing might be on the newer stuff coming in but what you are saying is you guys put equal time into reviving the old stuff.
We had one acquisition manager that wanted more. She was getting a decent volume of new leads and she had her follow-ups, but she wanted more. She dug into these dead leads and there was a month where she pulled three deals out of dead leads. People’s situation changed and the numbers worked out better. She was able to revive leads because of the system that we have created.
If someone is reading goes, “I need to be doing lead management on myself or be the lead manager for a while for the acquisition manager I have. Even more importantly or ideally, I would like to hire a lead manager,” what do you think the characteristics of a good lead manager are? How do you know you have got one that is doing a good job and keeping everything and your sales team in check?
It has to be somebody with a system’s brain. You cannot put a salesperson in this role because it keeps growing. There is a lot involved, checks, balances, and reports going one by one. It can be a little hectic. You cannot put a sales personality in that role. It has to be somebody that is very systematic and thinks very systems-like with an admin personality. The best person for this position is somebody that is on the administrative side and looking for an admin role that is very systems heavy. You can then convert them into that lead management because they are going to take their time to focus on each lead and trace it back. That is the process. It is research.
It sounds detailed. One of the things that stuck out to me and it came out from you is one by one. Going through the lead management process that we have with our company is literally going one by one every day checking these leads at that detail. On average, for us, how long does it take or how many hours a day are spent managing leads in our company?
It is going to depend on your flow. Our people follow the process pretty well. They are detailed. They know what we expect and need to do. That has significantly decreased over time. The more they are able to follow the process, the less time that a lead manager has to spend auditing. Now, maybe it is an hour and a half a day jumping in there to make sure everything is clean and put together. Depending on your sales team. It could be five hours. It depends on the mess that they are cleaning up. With us, it is a quick system review. We have done this for so long that it is now a smooth process.
The ideal person you said is administrative and not sales-based.
It doesn’t matter how good you are. It’s human nature to make mistakes.
It is definitely administrative.
Let’s talk about what it looks like to waste leads. What a lead manager is trying to do is minimize waste. It might be a good way to put it. Are we getting everything we can out of everything we got? How do we stop wasting leads?
This leads back to that status. We have in our system statuses for Spanish-speaking, out-of-the-area buyers, and traditional real estate sales. These are all statuses in our systems. When our salespeople or prospecting assistant is going through their liens and their marketing Spanish out of the area and so on. What we are able to do is we can go in, take a quick poll of all of those out of area leads, and our lead manager created a relationship with other investors in the area that do focus on those areas. We can send those leads to those investors and get a referral fee so we are not wasting anything.
These leads that we cannot service are not sitting in our system dying, we are getting something out of them. The same thing with Spanish speaking. We are able to pull this list of Spanish-speaking and we are creating a relationship now with an investor that is bilingual so he can service those people, so no meat is going to waste. We also do the same thing on the retail side. Stop wasting leads is about that status and making sure that everything is marked the right way. It is a quick pull in a relationship. Create a relationship and sell those leads. Put that money back into your marketing to generate leads that you can close. That is huge.
I hear this idea of being versatile. I am a wholesaler so if I cannot do a cash offer on this deal or that lead is not a cash offer, I throw it away. What your challenge is it does not matter if they are out of your area or they are Spanish speaking, and you do not have a Spanish-speaking person in your organization. You want to make sure that every lead has someplace to go even if you cannot service it because you can get revenue by referring and selling these leads, etc. You are looking at it like, “I am going to make money off of every lead, regardless of what happening to this.”
Circumstances change so in the past, we did not do a lot of land deals. We were referring those out, but now, we have picked up this list that caters to land buyers. That is now something that we are working with, but we were still making money in the past by referring those out. It does not matter if it is not right now. Maybe you are not doing something right now and you intend to in the future. In the meantime, sell those leads. Get some money back in your pocket to help you build that future business and a new system to cater to those people.
You were giving an example of, “I do feel like we are at a point where our salespeople understand the process and follow the system.” Does that mean at some point, you can stop auditing every day that you stop managing leads at that level your team and salespeople will be fine without it, or is this something that always has to occur day in and day out regardless of how sharp your sales team gets in the sense of following the instructions in the system?
No, this is not something that you can take off the plate. It does not matter how good they are. Human nature is to make mistakes. As I said, there are times when one scheduled follow-up date was missed, but that is one opportunity that could have made us $30,000 that month. It does not matter how good they are. It has to be constantly in place.
Another thing is people fall back. People will get into the habit of doing something and something happens and they fall back into their old ways. You have to make sure that there is no room for error and that you are not messing up your entire system by putting too much faith in one fall person and their ability to follow instructions. They have to be monitored. For your sake, for the marketing dollars and to make those people money, if they miss that $30,000 deal because of one mistake, that money is out of their pocket too. It is to help everyone and it has to be ongoing. It cannot stop.
Out of everything we talked about, what do you feel are the main 1 to 2 key points you want to make sure we all hear about lead managing, if we could 80/20 it?
The first thing is, lead management is to make sure you are not throwing money away. It does not matter right now what it costs to get this started, put somebody in place, or the time that you might have to take because you are not able to put somebody else there. It is preventing you from throwing money away. The second is the power in that auditing system. Make sure that notes are done, follow-up dates are set, and statuses and sources are marked.
You need that to refer leads out and trackback your KPIs for marketing. It all flows together. You need it to also make sure that your salespeople are performing. How are you supposed to know if people are at the top of their game if you are not constantly looking at their performance? That lead audit is absolutely huge.
We have learned that lesson through pain over the years. I do want to make a little transition here. You have been on top of the business of what we have been doing. You see every part of it. You have also been a part of a lot of decision-making as we have tried out about every type of marketing channel that is out there.
You are also involved with REI Radio as one of the coaches. We are talking about the technology side of the radio, how to manage these leads, how to get the most out of the radio, how the system is set up, and so forth. I know our students love knowing your side because you come in from a systems mindset. I am curious, after all these years and different marketing channels we have done, what are your thoughts and opinions on radio? What do you think about it from a Chief Operating Officer’s position?
Radio is by far my favorite marketing source. Here is why. Honestly, we have done so many things. Let’s be honest, some of them have been a little crazy and some are normal strategies but we have had a lot of negative feedback on some of our previous marketing campaigns. As the COO, I am listening to complaints. I am hearing, “This is not working. I am getting horrible phone calls.” All of that funneling through me and I have seen a significant decrease in that since we stopped some of those other sources and focused on radio.
They are high-quality leads. These people are calling you. The biggest thing that changed our salespeople is they were not used to people calling them. They were used to having to pick up the phone and they were either cold calling, calling people back, or getting incoming calls from people that are angry about a postcard. They are not positive conversations in other words.
The bottom line of lead management is really to make sure you’re not throwing money away.
It is a huge mind shift when you are having people call you that have the intention of selling their home. It changes the entire environment. People are not as frustrated. People are not banging their heads against the wall or saying, “What does that postcard say? What does that Google ad say?” It is right there. It is also easy to audit radio. You can turn on the radio and your actual radio stations can give you estimated slot times where you are going to play, so you can peek in. You can make sure that those stations are running your ad, how many times a day, and you are getting reports.
It is easy to audit from that standpoint. They are better leads and of higher quality. They are ready to go. It has been a huge bonus for us to be involved in this because we are starting to share this knowledge and we are hearing from other people how they are having that same effect. That is awesome. Nobody wants to be taking negative calls all day. It is a beat down. We have something special and that is cool.
To sum that up, from your perspective, you are the one that has to manage the complaints below. When a salesperson gets yelled at or an assistant prospector comes to you in tears, you are the one that has to deal with that. Radio is definitely the one people are getting yelled at. Everyone wants their phone to ring. It is easy to audit and then lastly, it is one of the highest quality leads that we have been able to generate.
If you are reading and interested and you have been hearing us talk about REI Radio, getting in to see if your market is available because we are limiting the number of investors we put per market and we want to preserve this thing just like we preserve it in Dallas, Fort Worth for us. If you want to ask some questions and do your due diligence, what we encourage you to do is simply book a call by going to WholesalingInc.com/REIRadio. I remember when you and I launched this, we had a ton of questions ourselves like, “Is this right? Is it going to work?” We encourage you to do your due diligence.
Cierra, thank you for coming on and sharing your knowledge about the systems you have built around lead management. For those that are reading, I hope the biggest takeaway they get is that lead management is vital to the success of your entire organization. Cierra, thanks so much for your time. I enjoyed hanging out.
Thank you so much.
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About Cody Hofhine
Cody Hofhine, a multiple Inc 5000 Business Owner. Co Founder of Wholesaling Inc. the #1 Real Estate coaching program across the nation. Co Founder of Joe Homebuyer the leading Real Estate Franchise. A successful Real Estate investor/mentor and sought after Speaker.
Cody has coached over 3 thousand students on how to successfully Build their Real Estate Business through his real estate training as well as help individuals perform at their highest levels with his one-on-one mentoring.
Cody used his background in sales to quickly build multiple 7 and 8 figure Real Estate Businesses that all start on the foundation of clarity or Vision and Purpose.
Cody loves being with his family and doing crazy tricks behind a boat.