Guide to Real Estate Pipeline Stages
What is a Real Estate Pipeline?
A pipeline is the sequence of stages before, during and after a property is sold. From this very simple idea, the direction and productivity of a real estate business can be finely managed.
Why use a real estate pipeline
The most effective contact management systems in real estate all use pipelines.
Pipelines are an effective way to visualise, motivate, manage and report on the processes of many types of business, and real estate is no exception. Ultimately pipelines will lead to closing more deals in less time and for less money.
Pipelines can be used to reflect most of the processes in your business. Though most commonly used for visualising the sales funnel, the same principles can be applied to real estate marketing processes, transaction management and post sales.
Pipelines are used to ensure consistent quality of service across a real estate organisation, providing the business process framework for quality assurance certification compliance and for process reengineering.
In short, Pipelines are an invaluable tool to understand your real estate business, take control of it and refine it to meet its goals with streamlined and consistent processes.
What moves through a real estate Pipeline?
The popular answer is "Deals" but in a system like Respacio, you can also move "Workflows" through a pipeline. It is important to understand the difference before starting to consider designing a pipeline.
A Pipeline Deal
The Respacio treats any requirement property that a contact has as a Deal. So if a contact wants a 2 bedroom home, that requirement becomes a Deal. That Deal describes the property they want and within the deal the system filters properties and allows you to send them to the client, create short lists and schedule events such as future tasks, viewings, calls etc.
A Workflow is like a deal but does not have a property requirement. You can add a Workflow to a contact and then put that Workflow in a Pipeline. Let’s say you wanted to run a niche marketing campaign to your contacts who play golf. You would select the "Golfer" group that you had set up and add a workflow to all the contacts in this group. You would then add these to your "Golf Campaign" pipeline and these contacts can be processed.
Designing pipelines for real estate
In order to successfully design pipelines for a real estate business, you don’t need to be an expert in business process engineering, but you do need to understand how your company works and work closely with your colleagues to understand what it is they do all day so that you understand in detail.
What Pipelines should you design?
Which and how many pipelines you design has a lot to do with your organisation, its structure and the processes that are actioned. The smaller the company, the fewer the pipelines it is likely to need. We have listed the most important considerations that you need to take into account below.
Pipeline design when Implementing a new Real Estate CRM
An important part of any software implementation is to gain your team’s acceptance and engagement, and the less you change their processes at the beginning, the easier that is to achieve.
Therefore, if you are designing a pipeline because your organisation is implementing new software, design pipelines to describe your current processes and company structure rather than re-inventing the wheel.
An effective real estate pipeline successfully merges the new contact management software and existing business processes.
Design to reflect the company structure
Some real estate pipelines may span across two departments in your organisation. For example a commercial property developer may have an outbound telesales department and another department that takes the lead from there through to a final sale.
In this structure it better to design two separate pipelines as it makes reporting cleaner and creates a transparent division of responsibilities between departments.
Designing Pipelines based on Scores
In some instances, you may want to design separate pipelines based on a quality score given to a lead. This can be as simple as creating a separate pipeline for leads from a particular source.
For example, if you find that Facebook leads are of lower quality than those from your own website, you might put them in a pipeline that includes prequalification.
Design separate pipelines for languages
If your organisation deals with multilingual clients and you correspond with them in their own languages, then it makes sense to create separate pipelines for each language. An example in where this is useful is an email drip campaign, you can use the appropriate templates. Another might simply be that the cultural differences between nationalities require slightly different processes.
Design Pipeline Sharing and Privacy
Not all of your staff necessarily need to see all of the company pipelines, or their colleagues’ deals / workflows within a shared pipeline.
Regional laws, such as GDPR in Europe, may define some of the privacy and sharing rules. For example, if a post sales department deals with sensitive contact financial information through a transaction pipeline, then access to that pipeline should be restricted to certain users that can be added to a privacy team.
A team of sales advisors may use the same sales pipeline but may be restricted to view only their own deals and not those of their peers. Their sales manager may need to see all their deals.
When you design your pipeline, you need to consider who can see the pipeline and then within the pipeline, who can see each other’s deals.
As a deal or a workflow moves through the stages of a pipeline your processed may hit a point where they diverge. In which case, you should create a second pipeline to meet the divergent conditions.
For example, you have a stage of sending an email. If they reply then you will continue to the next stage in the process. If they do not, you might want to move them to another pipeline. Deals can be moved freely by a user between the pipelines they have access to.
Goals are motivating
It is natural for all of us to feel a sense of accomplishment as we move deals and workflows through the stages of a pipeline. Therefore, you should consider the motivational value of this in designing pipelines, particularly in competitive environments. Pipeline stages can be used as effective tools in motivating teams and individuals as they achieve their goals.
The Final Pipeline
In the Respacio system, one pipeline is selected as the final pipeline, and this is the pipeline where a deal is marked as "Won".
Designing pipeline stages
Pipeline stages represent the chronological steps of a deal or workflow moving through the pipeline. At any point in the pipeline a deal can be diverted to another pipeline.
The stages within the pipeline can represent the stage a contact reaches in the sales pipeline, a checklist of tasks or something as simple as an email that needs to be sent.
Each stage is a statistical reporting point in the system. You might, for example, want to know how many deals move from a contact being sent property details to actually arranging to view properties. Therefore, you would create a stage for filtration and a stage for viewing in your sales pipeline.
In a transaction Pipeline a stage might represent a checklist of tasks that need to be performed. This checklist might include such tasks as uploading documents, sending emails, adding data to the system or whatever else needs to be done in this stage of the process.
Example Real Estate Pipelines
Real Estate Sales Pipelines
Your sales pipeline may be a simple, single pipeline or you might break it up. If you have an outbound sales team, then they may have a distinct process, and inbound leads may be handled in a different way or handled differently depending on how you have scored the deal. You might also have different pipelines to deal with languages of your contacts.
- Outbound prospecting
- Inbound leads
- By score
Marketing departments can use pipelines in a few ways. For example, if it is discovered that leads "leak" and are lost in a particular sales pipeline, or stage within it then the associated contacts can be exported to a platform such as Facebook and sent specific branding advertising.
Marketing departments may also have their own pipelines. For example, a portfolio pipeline which might be used attain new portfolio listings from contacts that own properties of the target type in the system. In another case, a marketing campaign could be targeted at old contacts or cold deals, in order to mine out any potential business.
- Cold deals / contacts
- Marketing intervention into existing pipelines
Transaction pipelines vary enormously across different types of businesses. For a property developer receiving payments at different stages of the build and requiring clients to select fixtures and fittings, this can be quite an intricate pipeline. Conversely, an agent that is note involved in the conveyancing process at all may not need one at all, or just have a short pipeline for the post offer stage.
- New developments
- Post offer stage
Post Sales Pipelines
Any good real estate agent will have repeat business as buyers eventually become vendors and then buyers again. Therefore, a post sales pipeline is useful to manage this. Some of your contacts may have bought properties from your competition, and knowledge about this may help in the future when you are looking for listing portfolio in their area.
- Property Owners who you sold to
- Other property owners
If you have set up pipelines well, the data you will see in your pipeline reporting module will give you insights into your business that were previously unattainable.
You will have control of your business, accurate projections of future sales and data for cashflow forecasting. You will be able to drill down to analyse individual user performance, identify areas where training is needed, refine processes, introduce automations, raise sales performance and ultimately increase profits and the sustainability of your business.