What is real estate lead routing (and why is it so important)?
The benefits of strategic lead routing
5 lead routing tactics and when to use them
5 best practices for effective lead routing
To convert as many leads as possible, real estate agencies need to optimize their routing processes.
By routing leads effectively, agencies can enhance customer service, maximize efficiency and increase the chance of converting leads into clients.
In this article, we explain real estate lead routing and its benefits, then cover the strategies you can use to boost conversions.
What is real estate lead routing (and why is it so important)?
Lead routing in real estate is the process of directing incoming leads or inquiries to the appropriate person or team at a real estate agency. The purpose of lead routing is to streamline and optimize lead management, ensuring agents attend to as many leads as possible.
Agencies generally route leads systematically based on specific criteria like geographic location, property type, lead source, agent availability or expertise.
Using an effective lead routing strategy ensures each lead goes to the most qualified representative for the potential client.
Agencies assign leads manually, by using automated systems or through a combination of both strategies. Usually, the chosen approach will depend on the size of the agency, the volume of leads and the available resources.
The benefits of strategic lead routing
Effective lead routing in real estate offers several significant benefits for both real estate brokerages and their potential clients. Here are some of the major advantages:
Improved response time. Lead routing helps ensure immediate responses. For example, imagine a potential home buyer submitting an inquiry through an online form. The lead distribution software immediately assigns the lead to the right agent, who can respond quickly and increase the chances of closing a deal.
Increased efficiency and optimized resource allocation. Lead routing prevents agents from mishandling leads. By routing leads to the most qualified or suitable agents, you can improve the quality of service, help agents focus on leads that align with their expertise and avoid wasted time.
Personalized client experiences. Using effective lead routing strategies lets you provide a tailored experience for potential clients. For example, if a lead expresses interest in luxury properties, you could assign them to an agent that specializes in high-end real estate and can provide personalized recommendations and insight.
More consistent follow-ups. A solid lead routing strategy ensures your follow-ups are more consistent. In the process, you build trust and rapport, increasing the likelihood of conversion.
Improved ability to analyze lead performance. By using automated lead routing systems, agencies can track key metrics like lead source, agent sales performance and efficiency. These analytics help teams make data-driven decisions and improve the lead distribution process.
Here are five of the most common lead routing strategies, including their benefits, downsides and when to use them.
1. Round-robin routing
The round-robin lead routing strategy involves distributing leads in a circular manner. Each agent receives leads in order, ensuring a fair and equal distribution of opportunities among the team.
How it works:
Consider a real estate business with five agents. A lead comes in through the brokerage's website and is ready for routing. The round-robin algorithm designates that lead to Agent A. The next time a lead comes in, Agent B gets it. The process continues for Agent C, D, E and back to A.
This strategy ensures you distribute leads equally among your agents, rather than overloading one agent while the others have fewer opportunities.
It also prevents any agent from feeling excluded or neglected, encourages healthy competition in the team and maximizes the chances of converting leads into clients. Each agent has an opportunity to demonstrate their skills and build relationships with potential buyers or sellers.
While it’s equal, round-robin routing can’t ensure that you designate leads to the best or most qualified agent. The result is leads slipping through the cracks that might’ve converted if routed to a different agent.
It also can’t guarantee that each agent receives leads of a particular quality. Some agents might feel unlucky if they receive leads that go cold quickly.
On the flip side, round-robin routing also doesn’t account for experience or performance, meaning a less-experienced agent could receive a high-value lead when they aren’t ready.
When to use round-robin routing:
Round-robin lead distribution is best suited for teams where all agents have a similar level of experience and expertise. For these teams, round-robin routing helps to avoid conflict and ensure everyone gets treated fairly.
Geography-based lead assignment involves distributing incoming leads to agents based on geographic areas of expertise or coverage. This strategy ensures only agents with in-depth knowledge of the local market handle leads.
How it works:
Imagine a real estate brokerage operating in a large metropolitan area with various neighborhoods and suburbs. The agency has a team of agents who specialize in specific geographic areas within the city.
A lead comes in expressing interest in a particular neighborhood and you assign it to one of the agents with expertise in that area. This agent has a deep understanding of the local market, property values and nearby amenities and can provide personalized assistance, helping the lead find the perfect property.
By routing a lead to an agent who specializes in a particular neighborhood, the lead can receive expert guidance and detailed information about the area. For example, the listing agent can take the client’s preferences and budget into account and highlight the benefits of living in that area.
Ultimately, the client and agent build trust and confidence, which in turn increases the chances of conversion and client satisfaction.
Depending on your city or region, the number of opportunities in each area can vary significantly. For example, one ZIP code in your area might have more properties for sale than all the other ones combined. It’s then difficult to distribute leads equally among your team, meaning some agents could feel shortchanged.
When to use geographic routing:
Geography-based lead routing is best for real estate companies serving a large geographic area who need to improve their sales territory management processes. It can also help agents become regional experts while enabling them to provide better service to potential clients.
3. Performance-based routing
Performance-based lead routing assigns leads to agents based on key metrics like conversion rates, sales volume or client satisfaction ratings. This strategy aims to maximize lead conversion by designating leads to agents with a proven track record.
How it works:
Consider a real estate agency with a team of agents who have varying levels of experience. The company tracks its agent’s performance in key areas using a sales lead management system.
When a lead enters the system, the algorithm assigns it to the agent with the highest conversion rate for similar types of properties. If the top agent is unavailable, it’s routed to the next-best agent.
For example, let’s say a lead expresses interest in selling their luxury waterfront property. The performance-based lead routing algorithm identifies the agent with the highest conversion rate for luxury properties. It then routes the lead to them.
Performance-based lead routing ensures the most qualified agents get assigned leads, improving the chances of success. It can also motivate real estate professionals to perform at their best since the better their performance is, the more (and higher quality) leads they’ll get.
Some agents may think performance-based routing is an unfair distribution method since the few top-performing agents receive the lion’s share of leads. When less experienced or underperforming agents don’t receive quality leads, they might feel disheartened and experience a drop in productivity.
When to use performance-based lead routing:
Performance-based lead routing is most effective for teams that specialize in high-end properties where there’s more at stake with a lost lead. In these cases, performance-based routing helps a varied team work toward a shared sales goal.
However, it’s often best leveraged in combination with other routing methods. For example, you could use round-robin lead routing for the majority of leads but performance-based routing for the most important, high-value leads.
Expertise-based lead routing involves designating leads to agents based on specific areas of expertise. For example, your agents might be experts in different property types, market segments or other verticals. This strategy helps ensure agents with the necessary skills and experience handle those leads.
How it works:
Imagine a real estate company selling a diverse range of properties, including residential, commercial and investment properties.
A lead interested in buying a commercial property can speak to an agent who specializes in that branch of real estate.
The agent understands the nuances of this category, including leasing agreements, zoning regulations and other factors. They provide tailored guidance to the lead according to their sales objectives.
Expertise-based lead routing ensures potential clients connect with agents who have the knowledge, experience and qualifications to handle their unique real estate needs. Agents can then anticipate challenges specific to the property type and provide valuable insights into that market segment.
Agents with specific knowledge in more popular areas might take on more leads and have limited availability. The result could be a bottleneck when handling a high volume of leads, potentially affecting conversion rates and customer satisfaction.
Likewise, since particular agents are receiving more leads, you might find other agents dissatisfied with the volume and quality of leads sent their way.
Finally, relying solely on expertise-based routing can limit growth opportunities for other agents, preventing them from expanding their skill sets into different areas of the real estate market.
When to use expertise-based lead routing:
The agencies that will benefit most from expertise-based routing are highly specialized:
Niche markets like luxury properties or vacation rentals
Geographically focused agencies that need solid local knowledge
Investor-oriented agencies that need expertise in fix-and-flip opportunities or development projects
5. First-to-claim routing
A first-to-claim lead routing strategy involves distributing leads based on a first-come, first-served basis. This strategy prioritizes speed and responsiveness, with the primary goal of connecting with each lead as quickly as possible.
How it works:
As soon as new leads are available, all agents get a notification via phone or email. This notification contains all relevant information, including the client’s contact details, property preferences and other requirements. The first agent to claim the lead gets the follow-up.
A first-to-claim lead routing strategy can ensure potential clients receive a near-immediate response from an agent, which can help increase the chances of engagement and conversion.
Likewise, since each agent has an equal opportunity to claim each lead, there’s no bias or favoritism in lead distribution.
It also provides a positive sense of competition between agents, encouraging responsiveness and proactive engagement.
Using a first-to-claim strategy can pose challenges, especially when your agents are unavailable or overwhelmed by leads. This bottleneck can negatively affect response times and cause missed opportunities.
Similarly, if there are too many agents to compete with for leads, some agents might find they’re lacking leads or getting worse-quality leads because they can’t claim them quickly enough. To mitigate this, use tactics to prevent one agent from claiming a disproportionate number of leads.
When to use first-to-claim lead routing:
This strategy is most effective for smaller teams who work in highly competitive markets where clients have numerous options and properties sell quickly. By prioritizing response times, agencies can gain a competitive advantage in securing leads and closing deals.
Real estate agencies should be on the lookout for ways to optimize and improve their lead routing practices. From ongoing training to powerful workflow automation tools, here are five things you can do to ensure you use the most effective lead-routing strategies:
1. Use automation software to streamline lead routing
Automation software for lead routing can help agencies allocate leads efficiently, speed up response times and focus on key leads.
With Pipedrive, you can input assignment rules that distribute leads to the best-matched agents automatically based on predefined criteria like location, lead scoring and other relevant factors.
Pipedrive’s lead routing software can help you get:
Instant lead distribution. Automation software eliminates the need for manual allocation and ensures leads get attention as quickly as possible.
Intelligent lead routing. With intelligent algorithms, it’s possible to match leads to the best agents without extensive manual work.
Lead prioritization. Pipedrive can help realtors prioritize leads based on lead scores, meaning the most valuable and time-sensitive leads receive immediate attention.
Access to a real estate CRM (customer relationship management) system. Pipedrive ensures agents can see all relevant lead information and communication history so they have everything they need to close the deal.
Integrate with your favorite tools. Combine workflows and streamline processes by linking CRM software to the rest of your tech stack. Pipedrive offers over 400 integrations to optimize your customer support, lead generation, marketing and more.
2. Mix and match rules to meet your organization’s needs
By combining multiple tactics, real estate agencies can create a lead routing strategy that works best for specific agents, real estate sales processes and clients.
Here are two examples:
A real estate agency has a large team split up according to territories. Each territory has multiple agents who get notified when a new lead comes in. The first agent to claim the lead gets the follow-up.
Another real estate agency focuses mostly on mid-tier residential properties. When they get a lead for a high-end property, it’s routed to the top-performing agent. Other agents receive leads in a round-robin style.
In these examples, lead flow helps create a tailored strategy and streamline lead distribution according to the needs of each team member.
3. Qualify and segment your leads
Real estate companies need to rank leads based on their level of interest, how urgent the lead is and how likely they are to convert. We’ve touched on this throughout the article, but it’s a topic worth stressing.
By segmenting leads into different categories, like hot, warm and cold, it’s possible to pinpoint the opportunities most likely to close. It also helps route the most important leads to the most capable agents.
For example, if a lead indicates they want to buy soon and have visited multiple properties on your website, they would be a hot lead for a top-performing agent who has experience with similar clients.
On the other hand, if a lead isn’t indicating they’re ready to buy, you can categorize them as a cold lead. You can then use marketing tactics to warm up the cold leads over time and reach out to them when they’re ready to buy.
Lead routing software is a powerful tool for real estate agencies since it can automate (and help optimize) lead qualification and segmentation processes.
4. Track and report on the outcomes of your leads
Analyzing successes and failures is vital for agencies to improve their conversion rates. To achieve this, implement systems to track lead distribution and monitor the progress and outcome of all leads.
The team can then evaluate performance and identify bottlenecks in the lead routing process. With this information on hand, it’s possible to make data-driven adjustments and improve overall efficiency.
For example, a real estate organization can use analytics tools built into their CRM system to track key sales metrics like:
Response time for leads
Conversion rates for different agents or teams
The overall success of different lead routing strategies
5. Evaluate and adjust your lead routing rules regularly
It’s highly likely a team’s needs, or the market itself, will change over time. That’s why it’s important to evaluate how effective your lead routing process is and make adjustments as needed.
To do so, you should:
Set aside time to review your rules. Decide what timing works best for your organization and choose an interval to review your routing rules. For example, if you work in a fast-paced industry, you might want to review your rules every three months.
Analyze lead source and volume. Work out where your leads are coming from and how many are originating from each source. With this information, you can find patterns and trends that help you improve your routing rules.
Seek feedback from your agents. Talk to your team members and ask how they feel about the current lead routing process. Try to identify any challenges they have and ask for suggestions to improve the routing method.
The trick is to keep improving your rules by testing different iterations. Adjust one thing, then measure the impact of the change. Over time, you’ll be able to fine-tune your rules and optimize lead distribution.