PROPERTY MANAGEMENT: Are You Leveraging The True Value of Internet Listing Services?

Jeff Smedley of CallSource makes the case for implementing an effective lead management systemBy Jeff Smedley, CallSourceToday’s multifamily industry is faced with a never-ending challenge: To increase revenues while getting the most from their investments. But in this age of rapidly advancing technologies, the multifamily industry has an ally that can drive traffic to apartment communities—the Internet.  In fact, the power of the Internet has greatly extended advertising reach and penetration, enabling leasing professionals to maximize their sales potential. However, there are fundamental problems associated with Internet leads: 1.) How do sales agents capture leads? 2.) How do you identify what web sources are delivering leads, and 3.) How do you prevent leads from becoming lost opportunities?   Unless these criteria are met, marketing campaigns won’t deliver maximum results and will fall short of meeting acceptable ROI objectives.Failure To CommunicateYour leasing professionals wield a great deal of power over those precious Internet leads – they’re your front line, your first interaction with these leads.  Do they have the necessary skills to prevent leads from becoming lost opportunities and convert them to leases?  The leasing consultant’s initial telephone conversation with a prospective renter creates a lasting impression that is critical in the effort to drive traffic to a community. The first 30 seconds of a call determines the tone for the entire leasing interaction – an unfocused sales presentation can send the wrong message to the prospective resident.  Today’s consumer, who has already been to the Web, researched a property and now calls into the leasing office, expects to find a knowledgeable leasing professional who can quickly qualify them and help them to decide whether they are interested in visiting the property.Knowledge Is PowerThe communication and lead-handling skills of leasing consultants have a direct impact on revenue. The Internet delivers leads who are motivated to learn more about your properties. Unfortunately, a disappointing percentage of leasing professionals actually turn these leads into sales, even though their phones are ringing. The latest multifamily industry report* underscores the importance that training and performance improvement play in helping leasing professionals boost profitability.  Room For ImprovementAccording to the latest multifamily industry report*:• Only 30 percent of calls from qualified apartment seekers were converted to appointments.• Only 24 percent of leasing professionals set a specific appointment with time and day• Only 13 percent of leasing professionals offered to send information to the caller • 28,142 calls were reviewed • 2,220 appointment-setting opportunities were missed • 777 fewer leases were written as a result • Total lease revenue lost by these communities: $10,731,924Apartment leasing trainers concur that telephone technique continues to be the weakest link in lease generation. Unfortunately, onsite property managers are often too busy to micromanage the sales and customer service team.  That’s why it’s important to have a system in place to ensure professional handling of leads, and provide the ability to easily track the training and performance of every employee.  Effective Lead Management Systems Increasingly, today’s leasing professionals need to possess not only superb selling skills, but must be able to efficiently work with technology necessary to do their jobs (e.g., using a CRM or lead management system).  To fully leverage the power and scope of the Internet, multifamily professionals need a system that can manage and identify lead sources, objectively evaluate leasing skills and performance, train them to be more effective and provide ongoing analysis. This empowers your sales team and demonstrates that you’re committed to their success. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. Traditional lead management systems, however, fall short in several areas: 1.) they have no means to determine the quality of leads received; 2.) they have no way to assess the outcome of follow-ups; 3.) they can’t continuously measure and evaluate employee performance; and 4.) they don’t seamlessly integrate with in-house CRM and property management systems.Characteristics of a Results-Oriented, Lead Management and Training System:• Meets user-specific needs through individualized training programs• Provides a scalable system that supports a wide range of range of communities• Offers continuous performance evaluation and individualized employee training• Seamlessly links to HR, CRM and property management systems• Automates management of leads• Identifies how many calls are actual leasing opportunities and how many are not• Analyzes and ranks individual call handling performanceThis type of system balances individualized training and leading-edge technology to help you harness the Internet and achieve greater sales success.  Jeff Smedley is vice president, Multi Housing, at CallSource, a provider of call-tracking technologies and advisory services that enable companies to increase their marketing effectiveness. * CallSource, Q2, 2008 Multifamily Telephone Performance Analysis (TPA) Industry Report Card.