Recently, we’ve been sorting out some confusion about how our Engage Conversation Engine fits with Craig Proctor’s best practices for following up with leads. Engage was designed to be used WITH Craig’s system, and to make it easier for you to implement.
But because “Smart Messaging” is a relatively new concept, there are misconceptions. Some agents seem to think they can use Engage as a replacement for agent follow-up. Others think it’s only a dumping ground for uncontacted leads, like an email list. Both of these misconceptions severely limit what Engage can do to grow your business.
Let me clear this up by discussing two major principles of Craig’s system, and show you how Engage helps get you more live conversations.
CRAIG’S BEST PRACTICE #1: You MUST talk to every lead.
Craig has always said you NEED to talk to your leads. This is truer than ever. Free information is everywhere, and people are used to taking what they need and moving on. If you expect business to roll in the front door just because you put up a website and run a few ads, you’re dead in the water.
In the Proctor system, phone conversations are always the primary goal. Nothing is more effective than direct human-to-human communication. It’s essential to call every lead, with repeated attempts until contact is made and a conversation started. That’s not to say you can’t prioritize the calls. Craig himself cherry-picked the best leads, calling the rest later or sending them to ISAs.
In practice, though, calling every lead is difficult, and there are two big barriers.
i. Call Reluctance
For whatever reason, some realtors are uncomfortable making calls and hide behind messaging and automated tools. But Engage is NOT a replacement for call follow-up! No matter how crafty or customized, email/text/voicemail can never replace the personal interaction you provide, and it will never create enough business on its own.
Call reluctance is a mindset issue that your CP Coach can help you with. Using Engage Call-Assist helps as well, in two ways. Data tracking helps your coach review whether you’re making enough calls, and audio recordings let you review the calls themselves to improve your technique. You won’t have this valuable information if you or your team are calling outside the Engage system.
ii. Callback Timing
Even without reluctance, timing can be a problem. Like it or not, website visitors expect instant fulfillment of their requests for information. If you don’t respond quickly, it takes very little time to be branded as unresponsive or unreliable.
Leads are also distracted and forgetful. You want to get them on the phone while they’re still thinking about real estate and gathering information (and before any of your competitors call).
So, IMMEDIACY is the key to effective follow-up. Since instantly calling every new lead is inefficient, Craig recommends Call Blocking to ensure you keep on top of things. This is another feature we built into Engage – Call Blocks simultaneously set appointments on your calendar and pre-select the latest leads, so you can begin callbacks with just one click.
But if you really can’t make the call right away, a well-timed text and/or voicemail drop from Engage can prompt a response that starts a conversation.
To do this well, your pre-call messaging must be targeted specifically to the campaign, and it must be open-ended enough to encourage the dialogue. Our Engage conversation sequences are designed as direct, personal messages from YOU. They’re not system messages or the usual “Call me if you have any questions” spam. We specifically create them to get the lead engaging in conversation with you.
Engage is smart about how it handles your leads. You decide how much time you want it to wait – it only kicks in if you haven’t yet made a call and/or spoken to a lead in that period. When it gets a response from a message, it notifies you and turns itself off for that lead, so you can make the call and continue the conversation.
It also works consistently and doesn’t rely on you finding time for callbacks. And you can always adjust the timing, messaging, and channels for any sequence, to fit with your other follow-up activities and schedule.
When you sit down to make your calls, you’ll find all messages sent by the system, and other team members, recorded in a complete conversation history stored with the lead details. (Including those helpful phone call recordings.) Use Craig’s included Universal Callback Scripts, and keep good notes along the way, and you’ll have everything you need for successful phone conversations, in one place.
Just remember that Engage is meant to complement and assist your phone follow-up, not replace it.
CRAIG’S BEST PRACTICE #2: Use whatever tactics and strategies you can to get more live conversations.
With its strong focus on phone calls, some agents incorrectly reduce Craig’s follow-up system down to “Only Call”. But Craig endorses any and all tactics that can get you a conversation with a lead.
Different marketing outlets generate leads with different expectations. Direct referrals, or people actively searching Google, are more likely looking for a phone conversation with you than leads who clicked through from a Facebook ad. With these different levels of intent, it makes sense to deploy different communication channels to get each to respond.
Nevertheless, “Only Call” agents reject pre-call texts and voicemails. They try dialing a few times, and after giving up, they then dump uncontacted leads into an email list or automated messaging system. Engage can be used that way, but leaving it so late in the process is a huge waste of potential.
“Only Call” follow-up is based on old thinking that pre-call messaging would tip the lead off to who you are, and help them avoid picking up calls from your number. But marketing research increasingly shows that people now avoid ALL phone calls, especially from numbers they don’t recognize. Screening has become the default reaction.
Of course, Craig has tactics for that, such as the double-tap (which, if you want, you can easily do using Engage Call-Assist). But most leads have been burned by too many spam calls in the past to trust answering an unknown phone number.
And “Only Call” has another danger. If something gets in the way of your phone call time (like it inevitably does), your leads will get no follow-up at all. That’s a worst-case scenario that Engage was designed to eliminate.
A better tactic is to start a pre-call conversation. If leads will respond to a text message, a voicemail, or even an email, then why shouldn’t you use them? Responses from these channels also point out the highest-quality leads, so you can cherry-pick your follow-up.
The old thinking about tipping off the lead can now actually work to your benefit, provided you’ve created a legitimate dialogue. The lead knows you’re that agent with the information they got via text, and if they have a specific interest, they’re more likely to pick up your call to continue the conversation.
Engage helps you start that conversation using lower-risk communication channels like text. Ringless voicemail drops are another option, allowing you to explain who you are and what you can give them. Both of these give you a foot in the door so you can ask for and get more productive phone conversations.
OUR RECOMMENDATIONS for using Engage with the Craig Proctor System
- Call ALL leads as soon as possible using Engage, to track your calls and record conversations.
- Use Engage to fulfill lead requests immediately if you can’t make your callbacks in time.
- Use targeted, specific Engage messaging for each of your campaigns, to help connect with as many of your leads as possible. Modify the timing and channels of a sequence to fit your follow-up.
Once you understand how Engage enhances Craig’s follow-up system, you’ll see that targeted conversation sequences can only get you MORE live conversations than phone follow-up alone. I invite you to see for yourself how Engage can help you grow your business.