Magazine article CRM Magazine

Lead Sweet Lead: A Realtor Discovers That as One Door (Fore)closes, Another Might Not Open

Magazine article CRM Magazine

Lead Sweet Lead: A Realtor Discovers That as One Door (Fore)closes, Another Might Not Open

Article excerpt

As home foreclosures surge to record levels, it's almost hard to believe how the real estate market is braving the financial storm. "An average of 75 [percent] to 80 percent of real estate agents in the San Fernando Valley aren't making any money," says Richard Johnston, a Realtor with California-based Rodeo Realty. "It's a numbers game," he says. "If we're not generating a steady flow of leads, we're dead in this business."

Now clamoring over a smaller pool of potential buyers, Johnston needed a solution that would capture visitors coming to his Web sites. "At any given moment, there are seven people on my sites," he estimates, but they were coming and going without leaving any clues as to their identity or what they were looking for.

So Johnston implemented a live-chat solution by LivePerson as a way to connect with visitors in real time. It was a unique service that most real estate agents don't provide, he says. The competitive advantage he had hoped for, however, failed to materialize. As a Realtor, mobility is part of the job, but Johnston found himself strapped to his desk for 10 hours a day waiting for visitors to click on the "Chat Live Now" button.

Even worse, Johnston was averaging only about 15 chat sessions a month. And the few visitors who did take the bait only opened a new can of worms. "They [can be] slow to type, slow to respond," Johnston says. "So then you're thinking, 'Do I leave? Go back to work? Go to lunch? Answer the phone? Or just sit there for the next 20 to 30 minutes?'" On the other hand, when visitors asked questions to no end, he recalls being conflicted: Should he continue to chat while having to handle incoming phone calls and other appointments? A typical conversation could last anywhere from 25 minutes to 40. Despite the effort, the quality of leads coming in, Johnston says, "simply wasn't there."

In April 2008, he came across virtual-chat technology provider UpSellit's solution for small businesses, Moxie-Chat. "I didn't think it would do well originally because the system seemed pretty basic [and I was] used to more advanced systems," he recalls. "With Live-Person, you can customize from A to Z. It's insane." Still, bells and whistles only go so far. "If no one's talking to you and you're not generating leads," Johnston laments, "what good is it?"

MoxieChat requires Johnston to embed just three lines of code at the bottom of each Web page, a drastic improvement from the 15-plus lines and complex embedding instructions with LivePerson. Moreover, changes are entered through a MoxieChat account and automatically updated on each of his sites, removing the need to manually edit the code on every single page as with LivePerson. …

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