It’s amazing how few leasing professionals make the time to follow up with their potential customers. So, let me get right to the point. Customer follow-up is a massive problem across the property management industry. Out of 48,935 shopping reports conducted by Ellis Partners in Management Solutions in 2017, 50.2% of potential customers never received any follow up contact after their initial visit with a leasing professional. Why is this happening? We know there are companies that teach follow-up in their leasing training classes. In fact, some have written follow-up policies and step-by-step systems in place. Yet, it is still not taking place. The response I usually receive from leasing professionals is that they simply don’t have time. Yet, when we break it down, it usually works out to be 2-3 minutes to write a quick thank you card, place a phone call or draft an email.
There is a common saying in sales that goes, “The fortune is in the follow up.” If your average rent is $700 and your average resident stay is 18 months, the total value of that resident is $12,600. Divide that by 3 minutes and that works out to be $4,200 for every minute spent on follow-up. Who wouldn’t like to make $4,200 per minute? That is certainly not small change! Leasing professionals are quick to say that they don’t have time to follow up. But more likely the failure to follow up is not really about time at all but rather one of these reasons: 1) they feel it is pushy or intrusive; 2) they make false assumptions about the prospect’s leasing decision; 3) it is not a priority or on their daily radar; or 4) there is no accountability system in place after leasing training is completed.
So, how do you overcome these obstacles? When the leasing training and policies aren’t working, you inspire them to be memorable in a big way by opening their eyes to the facts and by presenting them with some really good reasons to follow up with EVERY customer. Use these 5 Did You Know’s to inspire your team to follow up.
1. Did you know that only 2% of sales occur on the first visit?
Studies reveal that only 2% of sales occur when a salesperson and customer meet for the first time. Those who do open their checkbook quickly tend to have already done most of their homework and walk in with leasing on their mind. If a leasing professional comes across as knowledgeable and trustworthy, then they may choose to lease. The remaining 98% of qualified customers can be closed by engaging in ongoing dialog and building up trust in the relationship. This takes time. It takes effort. It begins with follow up!
2. Did you know that 8% of salespeople close 80% of sales?
I can’t tell you how many times I have personally shopped for a product, provided my information, and never heard back from the salesperson ever again. It happens all of the time! There is research that suggests only 20 percent of all sales leads are followed up on. That means that 80 percent never receive a follow-up call, email or thank you card. The research also tells us that those 8% of salespeople follow-up at least 5 times with the customer before they agree to purchase. Even if we bring that number down to 2 or 3 follow up contacts for our industry, few make it happen. If they make that first attempt, too many quit too early. The bottom line is approximately 92% of our leasing professionals give up too early on the customer and only 8% are truly achieving consistent success at the leasing desk.
3. Did you know that customers are more likely to lease from someone they trust?
All things being equal, people will do business with and refer business to those people they know, like, and trust. All your leasing training, marketing and time is wasted if your customers don’t trust you to do what you say you’re going to do. Did you tell them that you have their best interest in mind? Did you tell them that your goal was to help them find the perfect home? Did you tell them that your service was heads above the competition? Following up with customers is a great way to prove your intentions. If you tell your customer all of these things and they never hear from you after they walk out the leasing door, they won’t believe you and they won’t trust you. Ultimately you are saying, “You are only important to me when you are conveniently standing in front of me.” This makes it really easy for them to consider your competitors.
Building trust takes time and a lot of hard work, but it is well worth it. According to a Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now survey, when customers trust a brand, 83 percent will recommend you to others and 82 percent will remain loyal.
4. Did you know that following up is a sign of gratitude?
Whether your customer does or doesn’t lease on the first visit, following up becomes the most important step in the leasing process. Did they take time out of their busy schedule to visit you? Did you learn something new about your product that you didn’t know? Did they mention a friend they might refer? Think about the last time someone expressed gratitude or appreciation towards you. Was it in person, on the phone, via email, or maybe you received an unexpected thank you card?
When was the last time you received an authentic hand written thank you card or letter? According to the U.S. Postal Service’s annual survey, the average home only received a personal letter once every seven weeks in 2010, down from once every two weeks in 1987. Where do you think that number is now? Think about the impact of this small act of gratitude. If you want to be memorable in a big way, send a hand-written thank you card! Showing gratitude through follow-up creates a stronger relationship, and by nurturing that relationship you are increasing the odds the customer will lease or refer a friend or family member.
5. Did you know numbers don’t lie?
- 35-50% of sales go to the business that responds first. [Source: InsideSales.com]
- 63% of people requesting information on your company today will not purchase for at least three months – and 20% will take more than 12 months to buy. [Source: Marketing Donut]
- 50% of customers are qualified but not yet ready to buy when they make the first contact. [Source: Gleanster Research]
As you can see, following up with customers is a necessary part of the sales process and should be an important focus of leasing training. There is absolutely no way around it. Contrary to popular belief, the leasing process doesn’t end at the close and thank you for visiting!
Creating and using a follow-up system is a guaranteed way to lease more apartments. In fact, with only 49.8% of all leasing professionals making contact after the first visit, you will not only lease more but you will stand out amongst your competitors. In a market with heavy competition, a leasing professional can be memorable in a BIG way by simply following up with every customer.
Vice President of Training and Development
Edge2Learn / Ellis Partners in Management Solutions