by Todd Katler
Google the phrase “the power of ‘and,’” and you’ll see that it’s the title of a TEDx Talk, a book about responsible businesses and even the slogan of a university.
Over the years, I’ve come to believe that it is a perfect description of how to achieve real success in lead management.
By this I mean operators too often think of implementing solutions as an either/or scenario: should we offer guided tours or self-guided tours? Should we have prospects interact with chatbots or leasing agents over the phone? The answer in these situations is almost always “both.”
You should offer agent-led tours AND self-guided ones. You should have chatbots AND associates available by phone. What you really want is to offer leads a real choice in the way they interact with your communities – don’t make the choice for them. Allow prospects to trade in their currency and you will see your conversion take off.
Case in point: While self-guided and agent-led tours convert fairly similarly on their own, lease conversion increases by 38% for communities offering both options. That’s because you’re allowing prospects to shop the way they want to shop. And with self-guided tours, you make it a breeze for prospects to make return visits or take their first tours during hours when there are no leasing associates onsite. You are outperforming your competition by allowing prospects to engage by the method of their choosing.
Similarly, one NMHC Top 50 operator saw its conversion from tour to lease jump by 16% once it started giving prospects 24/7 access to chatbots and a call center where they could speak with someone over the phone. Don’t make prospects interact with your community in one way simply because you don’t offer another channel.
It’s especially important that prospects be able to speak with someone over the phone. When you look at the conversion rates, either lead to tour or lead to lease, after a well-handled phone call, they’re hard to beat. Someday, natural language processing will be so unbelievably good, people won’t be able to tell the difference between chatbots and humans. But that day isn’t here yet, and phone calls remain an invaluable way to engage with leads. Why would you put 45 to 50% of your leads at risk?
The need for “and” doesn’t apply only to prospect-facing solutions and technologies. For instance, operators may wonder if they should deploy a contact center or a CRM to optimize their lead management. Again, many managers have found the answer to be in the “and.” One Southern California operator was able to reduce its advertising spend by more than 20% while increasing lead to lease conversion by 143% after implementing both solutions.
Lead management is rarely an either/or scenario. Believe in the power of “and.”