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...from a Sow's ear.

(hey! come look whut I made from thet Sow's ear!)

By Alan May | Broker in Evanston, IL

How much Trulia business have I ignored?

I had this epiphany yesterday. 

I have been on Trulia for many years.  I get a fair amount of leads, by answering questions in Trulia Voices.  I've had listings, I've had buyers... it's a good lead generation method, that works nicely for me.

With some regularity I get these "stock" leads through Trulia, and they always say the same thing:

Alan May, I am looking for a real estate professional to work with and came upon your profile on Trulia. Please reply to this email or even better please call me if you are interested in scheduling a time for us to talk. Thank you

It sounds "canned" doesn't it?  So, I press the "spam" button, and send them off into "lead-purgatory", so they won't bother me anymore.  After all, I can smell a sales-pitch when I see one.  In fact I had two of those this morning... "spam - spam".

Every now and then, a member of the Trulia public will ask: "Why don't any of the agents on Trulia respond to our contact requests?"... and I would answer: "Some agents don't check their e-mails regularly" or "some agents might have a profile on Trulia, but never check their account..."  or something along those lines... I can't think of any legitimate reason why an agent wouldn't respond to an inquiry.

Well.... yesterday I got a phone call, while in the car on my way to an appointment ... she started with "Hi... is this Alan?... I am looking for a real estate professional to work with... are you interested in scheduling a time to meet with me?"

Almost as though they were reading the very same language. What do you suppose they're trying to sell me, now?  So I responded rather curtly "What's this about?"...  she went on to say that she and her husband were looking to purchase a home in the Evanston area, and they're looking for an agent familiar with the area... etc... etc... etc... It's a real call... I change my tone right away, and we set up an appointment to meet, and go over their parameters.

So, as part of my exit conversation, I ask "So, how did you find me?"... and she tells me "I found you on Trulia... you're very prominent there, and I like the comments that you leave... you seem knowledgeable, and friendly... "... and then she drops the bombshell... "I pressed the 'Contact Me' button under your photo and sent you a note twice... but I guess it didn't get through'.

Dunn... dunnn.... dunnnnnn.

So I go back into my leads on Trulia, and check... and sure enough... there's her phone number attached to one of those "canned" inquiries... and it's then that I realize... That's the standard language that comes up when a reader presses "Contact the Agent".  How would I know that, since I've never pressed the "Contact an Agent" button before?

Yikes!

I start to look backward in my leads, and there are two more recent ones... I call the numbers... and sure enough... they're legitimate leads.  Real people at the end of those calls, looking for real estate assistance from the guy they perceived to be on Trulia all the time, and surely he'll respond to my contact request.

More Yikes!

So... for all of you people who've tried to contact me, before, through Trulia, and have reached a dead-end.  I apologize.  I will be looking at my Trulia leads, far more carefully from now on.

UPDATE: Trulia, after hearing about this is furiously brainstorming some new language for the standard contact comment.  Now that's responsive!  Thanks Pete... thanks Emily.

- 12
I don't even want to know how much business I've ignored.

Comments

By Pete Flint,  Tue May 8 2012, 08:34
Great post Alan and great reminder to answer those emails that come in from Trulia.
Happy to see you're getting these calls and email via Trulia!
Best
Pete
By Alan May,  Tue May 8 2012, 08:41
Pete - I'm getting more leads than i realized.

Maybe we want to reconsider the "canned language"... something more like "you've received a contact by someone from your profile... you can reach them at 555-5555"?
By Barbara Carter, RE Asso Broker,  Tue May 8 2012, 19:07
I have had the same experience, Alan...Dunn... dunnn.... dunnnnnn.
Great Post
Barbara
By Alan May,  Wed May 9 2012, 08:13
I didn't imagine that I was the only one.
By Veronika Barash,  Wed May 9 2012, 15:54
Thanks, Alan! I was ignoring most of the emails from Trulia till I got same type of call last week! I am back!
By Trisha Bush, Broker,  Thu May 10 2012, 19:57
I have had the same experience. I am now a huge Trulia believer. Thank you for writing such a great post worth reading!
By Ron & Diana Dahlberg,  Fri May 11 2012, 19:26
Alan: Thank you for sharing your experience. I believe we all have had similar scenarios ... I always try to get back to the prospects but ... like you ... some of the leads seem "fake" and leaves me with an "I'm not sure this is a real buyer/seller ... so I'll follow up later" ... unfortunately, the prospect will move on to another agent within a timeframe if they don't hear back from us ... so then it's our loss!
By Janet McCarthy,  Sun May 13 2012, 21:29
Good for you that you are getting leads. i haven't got a call or lead in a month. They say that the market is saturated in my area.
By Sheila Hall,  Wed May 16 2012, 07:52
Thanks Alan, great information!
By Wes Black,  Fri May 18 2012, 07:23
An excellent post. Boosted my confidence level!
By Carlos Barron,  Sun May 20 2012, 13:49
Great post. When I was not responding, I though Trulia did not work. Now that I respond to every lead (within 5 minutes when possible), 1 out of 10 will either start a conversation or schedule a meeting. I have had great success using Trulia but it took me realizing the obvious... that I needed to respond to leads to make it work.
By Alex Dunajski,  Tue May 22 2012, 07:16
Thanks Alan, good information!
By Joanne Bernardini,  Wed May 23 2012, 04:26
It's important not only to respond but to respond quickly! The lead will move to a new agent if you don't!
By Spirit Messingham,  Thu May 24 2012, 20:34
I respond to every single lead I get from Trulia, many times minutes after they send the request. Usually I look up the property they are interested in, copy the link so they can see what I know, that the property is already under contract. I explain this is the case many times on free sites like Trulia & Zillow but I can help them search the inventory & find a property that meets their criteria & actually available. 95% of the time I never hear from them again. In the past year I have not had 1 sale from Trulia.com, vs I spent $1200 on Zillow & sold $900K from the leads. Not sure there is a lesson here other than more people in Tucson, AZ use Zillow.com when they are interested in buying or selling real estate.
By fanny montalvo,  Fri May 25 2012, 10:08
...Not only have I never ignored an email or vm from Trulia Contact request- but, to date, my agents are working with, and doing deals with those leads that came in and I contacted immediately. Geeting back to them as I say, 'In a NY minute' has proven to be the most effective lead conversion!
-Fanny Montalvo, Associate Broker-Managing Director-Sales
AC Lawrence & Co, New York City
By Mary Beth Hurtado,  Sat May 26 2012, 15:58
Wow Alan, thanks for the heads up.
By Pat and Steve Pribisko,  Mon May 28 2012, 08:20
Alan, thanks for your post. I have ignoring those leads as you have. I, too, thought those leads were spam. I, too, ignored them. You have provided me with some important information. Again, Thanks.
By Kerry Lucasse,  Mon May 28 2012, 16:12
That's so good to know, Alan! I'm 95% sure that I've ignored a few leads because I just couldn't take another solicitation from someone posing as a buyer.
By Mary Mitten Fahrenbacher,  Sat Jun 2 2012, 15:52
Alan:

Great to see you have learned to work through the spam. I have been lucky with Trulia as a lead source and recommend to everyone to follow-up on any lead as quick as possible. This reflects on your overall professional impression. Also, it takes about 10 dead-end leads to find one qualified lead.
By Carla Pennington, Realtor(R),  Sun Jun 3 2012, 10:48
I've been in real estate long enough to know about Trulia, but I've just discovered Trulia Voices! Thanks for that little tidbit of information!
By Endre Barath,Jr.,  Sun Jun 3 2012, 13:11
Alan, this post clearly shows that "our attitude effects our business" good post!
By Elena Ravich, Manhattan Expert,  Sun Jun 3 2012, 15:14
Alan,

I found couple of messages in a spam folder and now I am checking there every day before deleting anything. I've got some good leads from Trulia - it does work, especially if you respond fast and have things to offer to your leads!
By Pamela Shemet,  Tue Jun 5 2012, 06:06
Thanks for the wake up call!
By numarianna,  Tue Jun 5 2012, 12:01
Interesting write up Alan, we all need the heads up.
By Rob Weber,  Wed Jun 6 2012, 12:52
I was thinking about writing a similar blog post (though it wouldn't have had as nice of graphics :) since I was looking back at my old leads this past month and realized the same thing. I'd also checked to see wha the standard laguage said because one of my clients I closed said they'd messaged me here and I didn't respond... I now always check/email them back immediately so I don't lose legitimate leads to the sometimes over-eager spam-trigger finger. :)
By Chopper Russo,  Wed Jun 6 2012, 14:54
This is a great post - and I'm sure it will help many - but my favorite part is that Trulia took note of your post and is working to fix the situation. Excellent!
By Chris and Michelle Spalding,  Wed Jun 6 2012, 21:10
Closed our first lead from Trulia last week. The REAL DEAL!
By Kenneth Wallis, II,  Fri Jun 8 2012, 13:33
Good post I just got one.
By Kamal Randhawa,  Mon Jun 11 2012, 15:26
I always respond to the "canned" responses, asking how I can assist them, but never get a reply so I too was starting to suspect...good information!
By Jacques Ambron, CRB CBR SFR,  Tue Jun 19 2012, 12:40
Great post, I get so many canned sounding contacts, that many times I just dismiss them. Might be time for me to be more careful. Great post
By Maxime Shasha,  Wed Jun 27 2012, 17:43
Great info..thanks
By Judi Monday, CRS,  Sun Jul 1 2012, 10:26
A great reminder for all of us. Yes, we do get many dead-end leads on Trulia but buried within them I've discovered many gems.
By Stephanie Leon PA 786-574-3928,  Mon Jul 2 2012, 17:29
Great Post.
By Cathy Barton,  Thu Jul 5 2012, 12:47
There you go ... said well
By Dennis Fessel, CRB,CRS,GRI ASP,  Fri Jul 6 2012, 09:20
Thanks Allen...Sometimes it is difficult to distinquish what is real due to all the tactics used by marketers etc.
By JOANN KEPLER,  Sat Jul 7 2012, 02:24
I completely relate, Alan. Great suggestions. The missed leads is mind boggling and frustrating! Not to mention how poorly this reflects on us, as we are easily apt to leave the potential client very perturbed because of our lack of a rapid response! I went through all of such leads and wrote to some of them weeks after they first contacted me. I blamed technology and wrote each one an apology. Although this did not lead to any instant business - I took this step to limit the damage and fall-out that my silence may have caused. You never know! Right?! My reputation is precious. I truly do care and don't want to be perceived, otherwise!
By Chad Gray,  Sat Jul 7 2012, 09:03
Nicely written post Alan. Thanks for sharing your Trulia experience and posting a follow-up.
By Sharon Paxson,  Tue Oct 16 2012, 08:11
Hi Alan, great post about following up on all leads. Trulia is a highly searched site.
By Alan May,  Tue Oct 30 2012, 12:00
Veronika - yep... that happens.
Trisha - you're welcome.
Ron & Diana - it's that "default" language that tripped me up.
Janet - start working in the Trulia Voices section.
Sheila - you're welcome.
Wes - then my job here is done.
Carlos - seems like a "no brainer", doesn't it?
Patreace - you're welcome.
Alex - you're welcome.
Joanne - true enough.
Spirit - sometimes it's just the luck of the draw.
Fanny - speed does count.
Mary Beth - you're welcome.
Pat & Steve - it sure looked like spam... smelled like spam.... but it weren't.
Kerry - and I've done the same.
Ronald - it's that default language.
Mary - and there are so many agents who 'never' respond at all.
Carla - welcome aboard.
Endre - it's not about "attitude".... the default language led me to believe the inquiry was spam.
Elena - it sure does work.
Pamela - you're welcome.
numarianna - you're welcome.
Rob - i didn't imagine that I was the only one experiencing this.
Chopper - indeed.
Chris & Michelle - congratulations.
Kenneth - glad to hear it.
Kamal - as do I... now!
Jacques - or it might be time to double-check and investigate if they really are "canned".
Maxime - you're welcome.
Judi - a good way to view it.
Stephanie - thank you.
Cathy - I do what I can.
Dennis - you're welcome (and it's Alan).
Joann - right... .they think we're not responding on purpose.... and we lose the lead.
Chad - my pleasure.
Sharon - no question.

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