#119: Mail Right Show We interview Dave Lawrence Head of Growth at Follow Up Boss
In Episode #119 of The Mail-Right Podcast We interview Dave Lawrence Head of Growth at Follow Up Boss. This is a company that focuses on your sales results through a powerful CRM (contact management system) designed to link your email, lead sources and outgoing campaigns into a consistent and automated system.
It eliminates data entry when it comes to calling and texting through Follow Up Boss. It organizes your New Leads, Active Leads, Schedules Appointments and Reengages Inactive Leads!
“We make real estate lead conversion and sales follow up more efficient and automated resulting in our clients making more sales and having the capacity to grow their business in a calm and organized way. Follow Up Boss enables agents to deliver an incredible customer experience, at the speed and volume that today’s real estate businesses require.” Follow Up Boss
Dave Lawrence not only gives us the 10,000 foot view of this powerful tool, but he actually drops some serious business antidotes and philosophies on us that would empower any entrepreneur who’s listening! What impressed us most, was how laser focused Follow Up Boss is on who they serve and how. This is a real estate focused, team based tool. They know who they serve, why they serve them and how best to accomplish great results through Follow Up Boss.
You do not need to be in the market for a CRM to get some gold nuggets of knowledge for your business in this episode! Listen or watch now!
Here’s a Full Transcription of Our Interview With Dave
Thomas: Welcome back my friends to the Mail-Right Real Estate Agent Podcast show. This is episode 119. And today, we’re going to interview Dave Lawrence who is the Head of Growth at Follow Up Boss. Now if you’re not familiar with Follow Up Boss, in summary, it’s a lead conversion and sales follow up tool that makes you more efficient and automated. And for more than that, I’m going to jump over to Dave and have Dave introduce himself and then we’ll dive into some questions. Dave, welcome to the show and thanks for being here.
Dave: Yeah. Thanks for having me guys. So, yeah. Again, my name is Dave, Head of Growth at Follow Up Boss. Not everybody knows exactly what that means. So basically, my role at Follow Up Boss is to look for, as it relates to Follow Up Boss, our biggest area of growth is our referrals. And that’s really where most of our new business comes from. So what we do is we’re constantly in search of the areas where we can improve the customer experience. And so, that’s my job. So everything from product to sales, to customer service. We look for all those different opportunities. And Follow Up Boss itself is, the way we’ve been describing it is just it’s simple sales software for real estate teams. So our job, as you mentioned Thomas, is to help you follow up faster more often and with the leads most likely to convert into deals. And we do that with a number of different ways which I’m sure we’ll touch on at different points.
Thomas: Yes. We’re going to dive into some questions in a minute. I want to let our co-host Jonathan here introduce himself.
Jonathan: Oh, hi there folks. I’m the founder of Mail-Right. We’re a marketing package that helps you get more leads by using Facebook.
Thomas: And I’m Thomas J. Nelson. I’m a Residential Realtor and networker here in San Diego, California where I’m never too busy for your referrals. You can find me on my website conveniently named thomasjnelsonrealtor.com. All right Dave. I want to dive into this. Jonathan has brought up your company more than once on this show in past, especially when we’re talking to techies. I know he thinks highly of it and he’s peaked my interest in it. So I have done a little bit of research on it. But I wanted to find out first of all, we gave a very marketing description of what you do. But what is the nuts and bolts of Follow Up Boss? What are people hiring you to do for them?
Dave: Yeah. That’s a great way to ask that question too. I guess you must be a fan of the jobs to be done framework, right? So what are people hiring us for? So it really boils down to three core things that we really help real estate agents and teams with. Number one. You’re getting leads from a lot of different places and you need a central spot. You just feel like it’s just chaotic, right? That there’s no system or process in place to help you manage those and follow up. So that’s a big one because we plug into a lot of different lead sources, over 200 of them in the Real Estate industry specifically. And then, once you’ve got your leads flowing into one place, teams, the biggest challenge around converting those leads is usually boiled down to accountability with their agents.
So making sure that their team is following the processes that the team leader knows works to convert those leads. So what we do is we provide systems for accountability, but also give you transparency into what’s happening across your team. The activity that they’re doing to follow up and engage these leads and make sure that they’re doing it right so you can coach them to increase those conversion rates. And then the third sort of pillar or piece that we really help people with is that this challenge of, “I’ve got all these wonderful past clients. I know I’m not doing enough to engage with them and follow up”. So we’re able to give you some simple systems to help stay on top of which of your past clients would be most relevant to engage with.
Thomas: Okay. So this is specifically designed for real estate agents. In other words, the focus is the Real Estate industry. You don’t serve any other industry?
Dave: Yeah. That’s right. Yeah. We’re a 100 percent focused, sorry, I’m just going to plug in a headset here. I think I’m getting some background noise. Yeah. 100 percent focused on the Real Estate industry. I mean, inadvertently being an Internet business, we’ve come in contact with other businesses who signed up and used our product. But, yeah. Our 100 percent focus is real estate and more specifically real estate teams or solo agents who are planning to ultimately build a team or grow their business.
Thomas: Okay. That was my next question. Because I noticed that your platform begins with really five users or more. So it’s really not for the solo agent planning to stay solo as much as for the solo agent that’s building a team or already has a team.
Dave: Yeah. I mean, we have lots of solo agents who signed up for Follow Up Boss years ago and continue to use it this day as solo agents and find it a very effective tool. But as far as how we communicate it and how we prioritize future development, it really is around that team concept. Our sweet spot ends up being between teams between 3 and 10 users total is really where we hit grand slams.
Thomas: How did this come to be? Is somebody at Follow Up Boss one of the founders from the Real Estate industry? How did you target real estate?
Dave: I mean, I don’t know how they specifically landed on real estate. I think it was an early mentor of theirs also had technology products in the real estate space. So there was some interesting conversations that they were able to get access to. So neither of them are actually from a real estate specific background. They’re both from sales and marketing backgrounds. Obviously, one of them being very much on the technical side. And so the way that they narrowed in on this concept is, which I think put them at a great advantage was that they didn’t have any preconceived notions as to how the real estate business should be carried out.
What they were able to do is do deep dive interviews and really get under the hood of a number of different real estate businesses to figure out what their most pressing problems were. What was keeping them up at night? What were the challenges that were facing them that prevented them from growing? And as a result of that, they were able to build a product that didn’t have bloat. That didn’t have all these other related things and keyed straight in on those core pains that their early customers were having and just focus exclusively on solving those. So as a result, obviously, they found a lot of other people that had the same pains, had the same problems.
And what’s interesting about having taken that direction is it’s very rare that you hear of a tech company who their very first ever paying customer is still a customer today 6 plus years later. And so, it’s because they keyed in on those very specific pains that really were hurting that particular individual in a big way in their business, solve them and allow them him to achieve some very substantial growth to where he’s built his entire business around Follow Up Boss.
Thomas: Wow. So you guys have been around for about 6 years which means that over those 6 years, I’m sure that this is gone from probably a beta form to what you launched with and then from what you launched with to today. Has there been a lot of changes to it?
Dave: Yes. So the nature of the real estate business is it changes frequently, right? So you can actually go to updates.followupboss.com to see for yourself the transparency we have around everything we’re fixing and you’ll see every day or every other day or multiple times a day stuff being posted about stuff we’re improving and adding to the product. Some of those small. Some of those very big. It was actually about 2 years ago we started to beta release the new version of our products. That we built something for 4 years. You add on to it over time and eventually, it’s like, same thing with a house.
Dave: You add on enough times, eventually, it kind of gets to this point where in order to really go to the next phase of growth, you need to rebuild. And so, that’s what we did. We started from the ground up with everything we’d learned over 4 years and re-architected the system that was built in such a way it allows us to not only deliver on the things we’re solving today but gives us the platform that allows us to build into the future as well.
Thomas: And I know that what you touched on earlier is a huge problem for any agent generating a lot of leads. And it’s just keeping up with, organizing those leads and then what am I doing with them? And as Jonathan’s pointed out in the episodes past, not targeting everyone with a generic message. Because some are buyers, some are sellers, some are investors, some are new, some are seasoned. Is that something that Follow Up Boss can help tailor the message to the particular audience?
Dave: Yeah. So there’s actually two sides to that too. It’s also being able to make sure that you personalize the messaging on behalf of the agent that’s going to be servicing that prospective client too, right?
Dave: With the lead sources, there’s lots of different ways that you can, you know, our system with a lot of the lead sources that we get already automatically recognizes the difference between a buyer and seller and allows you to trigger follow up campaigns specifically based on that. But there are lots of ways to make it more granular. Stuff we do at large with a lot of our inquiries like tagging zip code and town allows you to segment how you follow up with those leads individually. But also, like I mentioned, allows you to decide which of your agents gets those leads. So if it’s agents that are servicing a particular area, agents that are specializing or more experienced should be getting a higher price point lead. All these different kinds of factors allow you to decide with how you follow up and who’s going to be the person servicing that prospect.
Thomas: It struck me as a great tool for a Brokerage. Do you have brokers using this? Or is this really down a notch to the team level?
Dave: So we do have Brokers using it. But it’s absolutely not a tool that you’re going to want to buy as a Brokerage and roll out to 500 agents and hope that they all use it for their individual businesses. Where this shines for a Brokerage, there’s this trend that’s been happening the last few years where Brokerages have eLeads teams within the Brokerage. So a lot of the office leads or leads that maybe the Broker’s buying individually from Zillow and Realtor.com separate from what’s coming listing leads or anything like that. They’re sending those into their eLeads team. And with that eLeads team, if it’s going to run well, should have a Sales Director who’s actually overseeing the process, holding the agents accountable and managing the client experience on the way through.
Thomas: Okay. Well, I like that you’re focused. What some of my questions have revealed is there’s a huge market out there that you probably could be going after but you’re very focused. And I think that will help improve the product for the people that are using it because you’re not distracted by multiple industries or a huge variety even within this industry. Sounds like this is very laser-focused on the team model. I like the sound.
Dave: You hear it shouted about all the time, right? You do have to focus your marketing. If you want your marketing to be effective, you have to focus your sales, if you want it to be effective. And the same thing really boils down to a technology product. If you’re not focused what it leads to is a lot bloat, a lot of things you don’t need and ultimately a lot of things that get in the way of your daily operations. When we focused in on the salesperson as our primary target for who was going to be using this product and not the admins in a Brokerage or the admins on a real estate team, we focused on the salesperson first, that allowed us to eliminate 95 percent of what most of the other CRMs were trying to accomplish in one system. By removing that bloat, it removes the layers. So it takes 2 clicks to log a phone call instead of 10.
Dave: And when a salesperson’s trying to do that 50 times a day, that adds up in a big way. And so, yeah. That efficiency is what we really went for. And it’s been like that since day 1 of the product. And you see that all the way through everything else that we do. The way we support customers. The way we market it.
Thomas: Yeah. Because it makes sense that if you’re trying to make your business more efficient, you want an efficient CRM or whatever the tool is to improve it, not to sit there and have to take a whole course on how to run it. And that’s kind of leading me to my question. So it’s day1. I just subscribed to Follow Up Boss. What are the first couple tasks at hand to get me set up?
Dave: Yeah. So it’s different for everybody. Most of our clients are using Google as their primary email platform.
Dave: And so, we’re able to do some pretty advanced stuff with that, the Google connection that you do when you sign up to Follow Up Boss. We’re able to start pulling in your leads automatically. So any leads that, real estate leads that you’re getting, that come to your email account, we’re actually able to pull those in automatically, start showing them inside your account for you right away. And then, that allows us to flip the switch on some automated follow ups. We’ve got great campaigns if you’re getting portal leads, all that kind of stuff right out of the box. So we can flip the switch on those. And at the same time, we can start getting the leads distributed automatically. A lot of people are still sitting there manually forwarding every single email notification they get about leads to them. We can completely automate that process for you. And the reality is, if you’re a DIY or if you’re working with one of us to help you get that implemented, we can have that done in 15 minutes from when you start a free trial. Most people get it done within the first day or 2. But, yeah. If we’re on the phone with you, we can get that stuff started immediately. So a lot of these initial pains, the pre-requisites to starting to really grow your business, we can solve those for you very very quickly.
Thomas: Should a team have a certain volume of leads coming in before this is an effective system for them? Or is this designed to help them actually create more leads while they’re setting it up?
Dave: So we don’t do any lead generation whatsoever.
Dave: So we really are about helping you manage and process the sales leads you get in your business today. The distinction I’ll make there with the number of leads. You do want to be getting at least 10 new leads a month because that’s representing at least some form of growth opportunity that you can start to expand on. Obviously, a lot of our clients are seeing a lot more. We have clients sign up and they’re getting 1,000 leads a month. But the thing is, I want you to remember too that those leads aren’t only Internet leads. Those are also referral leads and stuff that you’re getting from your sphere and past clients. And so, a lot of people sign up because they’re not doing enough work with that group today and they can very quickly increase their lead flow from that source as well when you sign up with Follow Up Boss.
Thomas: Okay. I appreciate you clearing that up. We’re going to take a short break. Jonathan, I’m going to toss it over to you so you can take us to commercial.
Jonathan: Oh, hi there Thomas. And I’m really enjoying the conversation. And we’ll be just going for a quick break folks, about 30 seconds and then we’ll be back and we’ll be discussing more about Follow Up Boss with Dave. Be back in a second.
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Jonathan: We’re coming back folks. We’ve had a great chat with Dave so far. Back to you Thomas.
Thomas: Okay. I’m starting to get the picture of this now. So basically, let’s just say I have a team of 4 or 5 agents. We have a method of driving leads in. But our biggest problem right now is organizing and servicing those leads and probably distributing them. We’re also probably suffering from accountability within the team, not sure who’s following up with who. So let’s talk about that aspect of it. So for someone that’s a team leader and they want to see, “All right. Well, I’m giving out equal share of leads, but I’m not getting equal results”. This is a way to kind of measure who’s doing what?
Dave: Absolutely. Yeah. I mean we can track everything right through to deal. We have a feature we released in the last few months called Deals that helps you stay on top of what you’re pipeline looks like. And so getting visibility into that, we’re now able to build reporting that ties back to original lead source, but also agent working with that client, what their performance levels are. And so, when you start there and you kind of understand who’s really producing, who’s truly producing in your business and who’s not, you can start to then dig a layer deeper and understand, well, what are they actually doing that differs from these top producing agents?. What do the top producers have in common? And then how can we tie that back to what the underperformers have in common? So we look at things. Everything from appointments being set with the leads provided and you can understand percentages there. That’s a really good early indicator to under how an agent’s performing with the leads you’re providing. A step ahead of that is conversations. So your contact rate. How often you’re able to get engaged with a lead. Get into a conversation. Start having some kind of two-way communication with them. Because the nature of the real estate sales process, as much as we love automation, we can’t automate ourselves out of this business. We need to start conversations for people. So that’s a big part of what we encourage people to look at. And then, you can almost find that it does boil down to some kind of an activity metric. So how many call attempts the agent’s making with the leads? How quickly they’re trying to reach the leads? How many times they try to reach each lead that you’re providing them? This is the stuff that’s harked on all the time, but speed to lead and number of attempts often does still make the difference between a good and a great salesperson.
Thomas: Let me ask you. I’m sorry to interrupt. You just brought up a question. Is this set up to kind of prompt these agents to take these actions? Or is it more just tracking when they do?
Dave: So it’s a bit of both. So there’s a lot we try to do to strike a balance there. Notifications to agents is a, there’s a very fine balance you have to hit there because if you over notify them about leads and activity, they can’t keep up with all of them and it just turns into noise. And so, they don’t value those notifications as highly as you want them to.
Dave: So that’s where a lot of CRMs rely on task automation. And we have that. We have the ability to automate tasks, to remind agents to do exactly what you want them to do. But on the flip side of that, we also have a feature called smart lists. So what you aim to do, this is basically like a filtered search in your database. So you can create a smart list for, you know, “Show me all the leads that have come in in the last 14 days that have been called less than 6 times”.
Thomas: Oh, okay.
Dave: That are assigned to Johnny. So when you have a list like that, so what we aim to do and help our customers do is come up with about 3 to 5 of those smart lists that apply to their business and cover everything from new leads to active website leads. People are coming back looking at properties on your site, things like that. Current clients. So helping make sure that none of those slip through the cracks and they’re always being resurfaced on these lists. Past clients. There’s kinds of different scenarios that you can use a list for. And when you have an agent that has between 3 and 5 of these lists to check each step. Come into the office. They block a little time to do their follow up. And they go to list number 1, call everybody on that list. Go to list number 2, call everybody there. And the objective here is not to give agents a list of 200 people to call everybody on that list. You can to try and surface for them between 10 and 20 leads each day that would be the highest value of everything going on in your database for them to reach out to you. I know it’s kind of a long way to answer the question but it’s sort of two parts the way that we look at it. In order to efficiently do it, you want to make sure that the tasks you’re assigning and the notifications you’re sending to agents are high-value opportunities.
Dave: You don’t want to try and notify them on every single subsequent task that they could possibly need to do. Because you take 2 days off, you walk in, you open up your CRM and you see 250 tasks, you quit. You’re like, “I can’t. I can’t even start”. And then what happens, psychologically they delete them all or they mark them all as completed. And every time you do something like that, you care just a little bit less about how much those tasks mean to you, right?
Dave: So whereas smart list, it’s just this hit list. It’s meant to be short. It’s meant to get your highest value stuff done right at the beginning of your day. And then, what it gives the team leader as well is an accountability piece. So if you see an agent that’s getting a backlog and seeing a lot of stuff show up those smart list, you know that there’s something that needs to be addressed there. Either they’re not logging things properly or they’re just not doing the required actions or they’re overwhelmed, too many leads, too many clients, all things that you can start to address and rebalance what your pipeline looks like.
Thomas: That totally makes sense. Because now, all of a sudden, you’ve got smaller task lists with more efficient tasks on them. Because as you were saying, these are the top priority in your database so they’re probably going to yield the biggest results which is going to kind of be a reward for doing the task in the first place and create the motivation to continue to do them. And then you’re also in the background drip marketing the low priority leads. We’ve had lots of guests on the show and it’s arguable. A lot of people to the 18-month sales cycle. So assuming a new lead isn’t going to be as ready to go as a 12-month lead, that totally makes sense what you’re saying. Actually, I’m going to steal some of that for my own single Realtor plan here. But I like that because I can see where that creates momentum.
Dave: To talk about what you’re saying for your solo agent processes. I was a great Conference last week in Austin. I was chatting with a lot of people and what a lot of them, they were struggling with was this transition from being a pure relationship driven real estate agent where you’re getting referrals. So you get this inherent passing on of credibility and trust that you get through them. And don’t know how to extend that to this higher volume lead generation scenario that we’re seeing the real estate business move into.
Dave: But you hear all this crazy stats. I think it was maybe NAR who came out with them. And it’s like, over the 5 million homes, I’m plucking numbers out of thin air. I don’t know the actual stat but it’s something crazy like that. In 2010, there were 5 million leads. And in 2016, for the same number of homes sold, it was like quadruple the number of leads generated, right? And so, what this is forcing a lot of real estate agents into is the need to be able to manage a wider funnel.
Dave: A wider sales pipeline and that’s not natural for someone who came through this business with every relationship being one to one, referral based. So it becomes this question of how do you transfer that? How do you develop trust with people who don’t trust you today?
Dave: A big part of that is through marketing. It’s through what you’re doing, whether it be through direct mail, whether it be through email newsletters, whatever the case is to actually send stuff on a regular basis that’s current and updated and developing the trust of those people. But it also boils down to who you call and when. If you just hammer every single prospect that comes into your database, I mean your results might go up, but you’re also going to piss a lot of people off too, right? If you can key in on the people who are most likely to be responsive, who are most in need for support in their real estate sales cycle, wherever that might be. If they’re very early on, there’s a way that you can nurture and support those people. So identifying the ones that look like, based on their activity, they need to most help is a huge opportunity as well.
Thomas: Well, you’re speaking to me because I am one of those agents. I almost feel like Jonathan might have set me up here.
Jonathan: I just couldn’t believe it. I actually paid Dave to say that. But Thomas is a real Buffini agent and it’s great. I’ve got absolute regard for the Buffini ideology, agent. There literally has to be two sides of an agent nowadays and you put in beautifully Dave. I’ve got a quick question. There’s a lot going on in Follow Up Boss. It’s a powerful system. Where’s that decision-making between added functionality and a lot of onboarding needed? There’s a sweet area. How has the company found that internal process decision-making process? We’re going to add additional functionality but this adds to complexity.
Dave: So the way we look at it is that, I mean we’re constantly going to be adding in both buckets. I’m trying to think of the best way to sort of talk about what we do. Internally, we’ve gone through a fairly evolved process to try and determine how we make those decisions internally. How we stay on top of that? And how do we continue to stay true to what made us successful in the first place while staying ahead of what’s being built in the real estate space? The true answer to that question is making sure number 1 that when we get future requests, that we tie it back to understanding if this is coming from someone that we see as being truly in our target market. We really are focusing and narrowing down that future feedback to understand if it’s in our sweet spot.
The second piece is making sure that it’s salesperson driven. We always want to be finding ways to surface more information for team leaders. But if that’s ever at the detriment to the salesperson that’s using us 50 times a day versus the team leader checking us once or twice a day, that’s where we’re going to find a lot of where, some of these feature requests get maybe put for a later date or sidelines a little bit until we have other things in place that are going to ensure that the sales agent is protected on the way through. That their usability and their speed for carrying out their work day is maintained. We learned about some great advice that was given to another tech founder from Jeff Bezos. He gave this to the guys who run base camp. And he said, “Always look for the things that your customers will value 10 years from the same way they do today. An investment in that stuff today will continue to yield you dividends a decade or 2 from now”.
And so when we look at those things, you ask the questions. Is anybody going to ever wish Follow Up Boss was slower? Like never ever ever in a million years, right? So we double down on that. We look at our infrastructure. We try to make it faster. We woke up one day and our CTO, you shared a message in our team meeting and just said, “Well. We did some improvements. We’ve been working on them for the last couple of weeks. They released and Follow Up Boss basically got 30 percent faster”. So those are the kinds of things, those are the wins that we look for. And that’s how we prioritize. If it’s something that’s going to have that kind of an impact on your daily, we’re going to double down on that. The other one, I know I’m going on a rant here. I’m pretty passionate about this stuff. But the other piece is simplicity. So speed and simplicity are the two things that are never ever ever going to change as far as desires go from our customer base. So if the feature helps with either of those or both of those, it goes to the top of the list.
Jonathan: Oh, that’s great. I think that we’re going to wrap up the Podcast part of the show. The 30 minutes plus have gone quite quick. But we’re going to continue the discussion with Dave on our bonus content which you’ll be able to find on the Mail-Right website. Basically Dave, how can people get a hold of you or find out more about Follow Up Boss?
Dave: Yeah. Absolutely. Our website is a wealth of information. You can actually get all our training resources there on how we onboard new customers. So you get a window into what that looks like and how it differs from other CRMs. But me personally, I’m always able to be contacted by email to email@example.com or my direct line at work is 628-600-2880. So anybody wants to chat about business in general or specifically about Follow Up Boss, you can reach out any time.
Jonathan: That’s great Dave. And Thomas, how can people get a hold of you and find out more about your services?
Thomas: Well, I’m easy to find. I’m all over social media, but you’ll find me mostly on Facebook and LinkedIn as well as my website thomasjnelsonrealtor.com. Or you can do the old school thing and just pick up the phone and call me at 858-232-8722 because here in San Diego, I’m never too busy for your referrals.
Jonathan: And if you want to find more about me folks, it’s quite easy. Go to the Mail-Right website. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or you go to my Twitter feed @jonathandenwood and you’ll find out what I’m into this week. I think it’s been a great show. I really enjoyed it. Thanks Dave for coming on. We’ll have another person giving you advice, information next week on the Mail-Right Real Estate show. We’ll see you next week folks. But remember, there’ll be bonus content also on the website. See you next week folks