4 min read
When leads are coming at you from all directions (phone messages, online listings, emails, open for inspections, text messages etc.) it’s important when meeting potential clients, following up and having that initial conversation to quickly be able to discern the hot from the lukewarm and cold leads by using qualifying questions.
The purpose of asking open-ended qualifying questions is to understand the buyer/seller’s situation better so you can tailor the next steps of your service to suit their scenario.
You definitely wouldn’t treat a lead who is still saving for a deposit and looking to buy in a year’s time the same as one with pre-approval looking to buy in a hurry before their lease ends. So it’s important that you don’t waste your time and talent following up long term or ‘tyre-kicker’ leads that simply aren’t qualified or motivated to act anytime soon.
Use the following five questions to efficiently separate the motivated buyers and sellers from the time-wasters, ‘just lookings’ and dreamers.
1. Have you spoken with another agent?
Get this question out of the way early in your initial conversation. You don’t want to spend hours answering all of someone’s questions and getting pumped for information only to find out they’re already working with another agent who’ll get the deal at the end of the day.
However, if they’re working with another agent don’t be too hasty to discount them. Try to find out why they decided to get in contact with you and what their biggest challenges are in their home search. Maybe they aren’t happy with their current agent or they’re considering different areas or types of properties beyond their current agent’s expertise. This way you’ll know how best to approach them, if you can assist them and whether giving them your time is worthwhile.
2. Why are you looking to buy (or sell)?
This question will give you a clear picture of two vital qualifiers: timeframe and motivation. Strongly motivated clients will usually reveal why and when they need to have bought or sold a place, giving you a good idea of how and if you can help them.
If the client is looking to relocate interstate for work within 3 months, they’ll be highly motivated to sell and a hot lead. If a client is thinking about downsizing as all their kids are grown up and moved out, there’s no fixed timeframe (unless specified). Here you’re probably looking at a lukewarm but equally valuable prospect as the first one, as someone who’s selling will typically be looking to buy in due course also.
Those who aren’t serious about buying/selling may struggle to answer this question on the spot and give vague answers like ‘we’ve just started looking’ and ‘we’re just getting a feel for prices in the area’. Add these leads to the long term list in your CRM and your email database and move on.
3. What sort of property are you after?
This is another great question for gauging how serious a particular lead is and what their goals are. If they have a clear and more importantly realistic wish list of requirements (location, size, number of bedrooms and property features) you can tell they are driven and strongly motivated buyers. If they’re wishy-washy on what they’re looking for, have unrealistic expectations or say they hadn’t really thought about it yet, they’re probably not all that serious right now.
At this point show that you’re proactive and prove your value by letting the client know you’ll add them to your new listings updates list and let warm and hot leads know you’ll be in touch as soon as anything else that meets their criteria comes onto the market.
4. Have you spoken to a lender?
This is a sure fire way to identify highly motivated buyers from the pack. Highly motivated buyers will reveal that they’ve spoken to a lender and may even already have pre-approval. At this point suss out if their loan amount/price range is realistic for the property type and area they’re interested in. If it is, that’s probably the best thing you can hear as it goes to show they’re serious buyers with realistic expectations who’ll be looking to act soon.
This is also your chance to impress and build relationships with clients that haven’t met with a lender yet. Recommend a preferred mortgage broker and give out their business card. Better yet ask the client if they’d be ok with you passing on their details to the broker to get in touch and set up an appointment. How they respond to this will give you an idea of their timeframe and urgency level.
5. When can we meet to discuss this in-person?
This last question is a quick test of how ready the client is to do something and will solidify whether they’re just a lukewarm or hot prospect. For a seller you could offer to come by for a valuation and for a buyer offer to walk them through a listing they’re interested in.
If they say they’d rather get in touch with you, don’t push to lock in an appointment as this means they’re not ready to take the next step yet. If they’re happy to book an appointment then and there you know they’re a serious prospect worth adding to your hot leads pile.
Classifying leads as hot, warm or cold is a fundamental step in the lead conversion process and working efficiently as an agent. Ease these five questions into the conversation to get a good read and understanding of a potential client’s motivation, timeframe and goals when looking to buy or sell. Effectively qualifying leads from the outset will save you a lot of time and headaches in the long run.