A large majority of a builder’s leads convert to sales within 45 days, but some prospective buyers don’t make a decision in that time frame. Is there sufficient value in continuing to work these leads?

BUILDER talks with industry expert Mike Lyon to look at the process of handling aged leads--prospects that have seemed to fade away—to develop an effective, long-term followup strategy.

Is there really value in these older leads?
Even though most conversions happen more quickly, there is still incremental value in the prospects who are hesitating--you just have to know how to cultivate them. They may have pulled back for a legitimate reason—maybe there was a job change, a life change, or even something as simple as summer break that prevented them from buying right away—but that can change at any time. So, taking the time and effort to maintain the connection is vital to getting a return on your initial investment in them. Then, when those prospects eventually take action, your name is the first that comes to mind.

What are some of the most effective tools for nurturing the aged lead?
First of all, make sure they are included in your branded email marketing, like a newsletter or community e-blast. Potential customers do read them as long as they contain timely, valuable, and relevant information. If they are still considering a home purchase, then these prospects will welcome a smartly crafted email campaign.

But remember that email campaigns should include more than just sales pitches. Instead, tell the reader what they need to know about the home buying process, choosing the right community, securing financing, and other topics that relate to their interests and concerns. Focus on the prospects’ needs and not your own.

What about one-to-one marketing?
I know some salespeople are rolling their eyes, thinking they don’t have the time for it, but one-to-one marketing doesn’t have to be time-consuming. If you have a CRM, you can create a text-based email that comes across as personalized, with phrasing like “I hope you’re doing well. Have you seen the update on our latest phase?” or “We’re making great progress and I thought you’d be interested. Let me know if you’d like more information” or even “Tell how to best follow up with you, if your situation has changed, send me a quick reply.” Then send it out to the list of aged leads. Believe me. It works!

What are some ways to increase the response rate?
Pick up the phone. Response rates increase 30 percent when you follow up with both an email and a phone call. What do you have to lose? I tell people to “Go for the ‘no.'” You can learn a lot in one phone call about why this person hasn’t moved forward on the purchase of a home. That’s invaluable to a sales professional, because you then have an objection you can actually attempt to overcome.

Eventually, many of these aged leads are going to buy a home. It may take a year or two, but they will. You shouldn’t readily give up on a prospect after 45 days. Keep working it in an efficient and manageable way that pays off. Treat older leads more like fine wine that should be savored than moldy cheese that should be tossed.

Mike Lyon is the author of Browsers to Buyers: Proven Strategies for Selling New Homes Online. He uses his real-world knowledge of online marketing and sales to help builders nationwide generate and convert more leads. Click here for more information.