Using AI for Lead Engagement in Real Estate
Once the stuff of sci-fi movies, artificial intelligence (AI) has made its way into the mainstream. In fact, recently AI made headlines when a Google employee believed the AI bot they’d been developing was now a sentient being with consciousness. While that may be an extreme example of AI as part of our cultural zeitgeist, more and more businesses are finding useful, practical ways to incorporate it into their operations. AI can take on many forms, from large scale data parsing and analysis to simpler chat-bot style customer service applications. Specifically in the residential real estate industry, Realtors are leveraging AI to handle initial lead conversations.
AI in residential real estate commonly takes the form of a virtual-assistant style add-on tool for CRMs that can initiate SMS text conversations to help qualify new leads or re-engage existing leads. As Realtors are looking for ways to control costs in a shifting market, using an AI tool can be a smart investment for several reasons.
Texting has high response rates
According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 93% of Realtors preferred to communicate via text with their clients. Why? Because they’re getting responses. The majority of American adults own some type of smartphone and a growing number prefer to be texted rather than called. Texting is quick and easy. Real estate leads (and Realtors themselves) can control their time with texting; a text doesn’t have the immediacy of a phone call. And, a lead can retain some measure of anonymity through text. For busy Realtors, texting can be a huge time-saver and helps avoid the reticence of making dozens of calls a day.
“Most Realtors aren’t calling those dormant leads,” said Scott Selverian, Sierra Interactive’s Strategic Services Manager and real estate salesperson in Northern Colorado. “How do you engage them without taking any more of your time? AI is the unseen assistant that tees up conversations so Realtors can be out there selling houses.”
Pairing the convenience and response rates of texting with an AI assistant that can carry on text conversations to engage and qualify leads can significantly improve response rates (64% on average, according to data from Structurely) and increase appointments set – all without additional work from you.
Use AI across the lead lifecycle
Realtors can leverage an AI assistant not only for initial contact with new leads, but also for re-engaging older leads that have gone cold. That’s an important consideration for a sales cycle with home buyers and sellers that can take months, if not years. On average sales people quit after four attempts to reach a lead, but 50-60% of sales happen after the fifth attempt. An AI assistant is an easy way to engage the dormant leads you already have in your database, even over a long period of time. In navigating an uncertain market, an AI assistant is a wise investment to mine your existing database for transaction-ready leads you’ve already spent money on. Likewise for new leads, response speed is a critical factor, and an AI assistant helps you respond first, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, before they go to your competitor.
“This is a way to move leads through the first part of the funnel for you, without you lifting a finger,” said Selverian.
AI complements your existing tech stack and process
An AI assistant adds additional value to what you’re already doing. For small real estate teams, it can act as a very cost-effective virtual inside sales agent. The average salesperson sets 1 appointment for every 209 calls, so for larger teams with ISAs in place, an AI assistant can support your ISAs, teeing up warm leads and increasing their productivity and effectiveness.
For teams with sophisticated lead follow-up systems in place that include action plans, triggers, tags and the like, an AI assistant still has a place in the ecosystem. Action plans are designed to get leads to engage and identify who is ready for a conversation with an agent, but even the most effective action plan can’t have a conversation with a lead in real-time. That’s where an AI assistant comes in. You won’t lose out on a hand-raiser simply because you weren’t available to chat.
“Even if you are working with a partner already, this will support what you’re already doing,” said Selverian. “It’s meant to augment and enhance the lead follow-up systems you have in place.”
The freedom to do what you do best
At its core, the residential real estate industry is about relationships. While prospecting and lead qualification is part of the deal, it’s typically not what Realtors want to spend their time on. AI is an investment that gives you time back that you can spend with your clients helping them find or sell their home.
While there’s significant ROI on a Realtor’s time, one or two deals more per year can cover the cost (and then some) of implementing an AI assistant as well. According to data from Structurely, an AI assistant can help set up to 7 times more appointments than the average ISA, making it a highly cost-effective avenue to generate more deals and increase GCI.
“As Tom Ferry says, it’s sweat equity or check equity,” said Selverian. “Either you’re putting in the work or you’re investing in something else to do it for you. Realtors don’t want to deal with technology. They want to spend time with people. AI is technology that enables them to NOT spend time with technology.”