Brokers are just starting to get involved in the real estate standards efforts at RESO, but haven’t yet begun to push for any strategic initiatives. Earlier this month I posted about how brokers would benefit from RESO coming up with standards for measuring how advertising site visitors are interacting with listings, and I hinted that the next strategic frontier for brokers at RESO after creating those interaction standards could be creating standards for transporting lead information.
Just recently, I was reading about one franchise that parses lead emails to automatically put leads into an agent’s contact database. That approach is unreliable, as email formats may change. Also, the approach doesn’t scale well to receiving leads from all the places from which leads may be generated. Currently, leads are moved around via email and also via a hodge-podge of proprietary APIs. This is a problem that is solvable, and if done right, it can really put brokers in the lead management driver’s seat, in a way they never have been before.
First, let’s look at what we want to move around. The typical lead includes:
- Contact information. There’s an existing RESO standard for this.
- Additional lead information (e.g. Buyer or seller? How soon are they ready to buy/sell? Information request details. Etc.). There’s not yet a RESO standard for this.
- Saved searches There’s an existing RESO standard for this.
- Interaction with listings. There’s not yet a RESO standard for this, but a work group has been formed.
There may be additional categories of information that could form the lead, but the ones above would be a good starting point for discussion. Once “what” information comprises a lead is established and standardized, we can turn our attention to creating a standard for “how” that information is transported. This is where it gets interesting! First, we must take a step back away from the technology and ask the business question, “Who controls where the lead information goes in different contexts?” For example, a broker may have a lead management system and want portal leads to go into that system. But what if that broker is a RE/MAX broker, and the franchise has done a deal with Zillow to get those leads into LeadStreet? What about if the agent has a preference for how they want to receive leads? Maybe they don’t want the lead going into any type of system and just want a quick text message and/or email because that’s how they can handle the lead most effectively. How will it be determined who can make those decisions with the portal sites and other lead sources? There may be variation in what data payload is desired in different contexts, and also that the recipient may want data sent to different places – for example, into the MLS for easy prospect setup, into a CRM / marketing system, and into a lead management system. This information could also be used to create an elegant bridge for the consumer from an advertising portal to a broker site/app experience – imagine the consumer not needing to re-input their searches and favorite listings at the broker site!
For brokers and other stakeholders, the opportunity to establish standards for leads is tremendous. Brokers have been joining RESO in recent years and I’m looking forward to their increased active engagement in helping set priorities for the standards process.
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