Taking the lead

As the market gets tougher, you need the latest tech to stay ahead. Richard Reed meets some clever service providers to help you do just that.

Agents chasing rocket image

It’s getting tough out there. This time last year properties were selling as soon as they hit the market – now prices are falling and it’s not so easy. It’s never been more important to capture those incoming leads, answer every call, and give the best possible presentation to a potential client.

Thankfully, proptech’s ever growing potential is transforming the agent’s office, enabling the sales and lettings teams to focus on what they are good at – selling to people. Give them the tools, and they will do the job. Tools for grabbing and converting that all-important ‘first contact’ range from call diversion services to valuation tools that will automatically ring an email enquiry through to your office. And once you’ve made that contact, others will help you present a package at valuation that will wow your would-be vendor.

Capturing sales calls

Callwell claims to be the largest provider of lead-management software in the UK. It will gather all your incoming email leads in real time from every source, whether it be Rightmove, Zoopla or your own website, and send that information straight to your PC. The service can be customised to prioritise sales and valuation leads and put them straight through to an incoming phone call in your office. Anyone answering the call is given the option to press 1 on the telephone keypad and be connected straight to the potential buyer or vendor.

You are up against other agents in the town, you have to be quick off the draw. It’s no good leaving those valuations until later in the day as often happens, you will just be too late.

Lesley Weatherhead Callwell imageEqually you may decide to vet lettings inquiries and send a text asking for more information. Callwell sales director Lesley Weatherhead says agents who use automatic calls for valuations see a 78 per cent successful call rate, while a further 68 per cent go on to book an appointment. “It’s the moment the person is there, minutes after they have made the initial enquiry – that’s a sweet spot to get them, and the space where seconds really do count,” she explains. “You are up against other agents in the town, you have to be quick off the draw. It’s no good leaving those valuations until later in the day as often happens, you will just be too late. “It’s about making sure you are giving that great level of service – people do make an impression about an agent depending on how they are treated.”

We have a really clever autoresponder that puts a series of questions to the tenant that they then fi ll in, which comes back into Callwell dashboard . Lesley Weatherhead, Callwell.

When it comes to lettings, however, Callwell says agents are often overwhelmed with tenant enquiries. “We have a really clever autoresponder that puts a series of questions to the tenant that they then fill in, which comes back into Callwell dashboard. That allows lettings staff to prioritise tenants that have filled in the additional information, which simply divides their income versus the annual rent they want to pay.”

There are lots of clever bells and whistles, too, such as the ability to ping sales leads from first-time buyers across to your financial services team. “It’s even more important now to make sure that every opportunity coming through,” adds Weatherhead.

Pricing starts at £100 per month per office, which includes all Callwell features. Discounts are available for minimum branch numbers.

Instant valuation tools

Rightval is an instant valuation tool that you can put on your website that does exactly what it says on the tin. A screen will pop up showing both a sales and lettings valuation, together with a small selection of similar properties for sale in the area. There is also a ‘Book appraisal’ button offering a more accurate, personalised valuation, which goes straight through to a unique landing page which the agent can fully customise.

When the agent gets a notification, there are lots of different options – they can enter the result (eg contact made, no contact, valuation booked, etc), they put their name on it and then add a note.

Roy Fever Rightval image“From a manager’s perspective they can assess how staff are getting on and whether there are any training needs for staff dealing with those enquiries,” says Rightval’s Roy Fever. “They can drill down and see what properties they have booked or lost, and they can see by staff member who has been most successful.”

The basic DIY service costs just £29 a month, but many of Fever’s customers opt for the fully managed offering at £199 a month, which creates a Facebook campaign to draw traffic to the valuation tool.

They can assess how staff are getting on. They can see what properties they have booked or lost and see by staff member who has been most successful. Roy Fever, Rightval.

Rightval’s search engine optimisation (SEO) expert Emily Graham knows Facebook’s whims backwards, and will put together an advertising package worth up to £100 per month for your business. The advertising can include a QR code that will take anyone using it straight through to your valuation landing page. “The agent hasn’t got to waste their time doing it, because at the end of the day, agents are very good at being estate agents but not very good at being marketeers,” Fever points out.

Rightval also offers a fully nurtured package, which will keep those captured contacts in touch by providing the latest local property market updates, news about developments such as interest-rate changes, and nudges about getting a valuation.

Rightval image
Rightval in action with an Instant Property Valuation.


A screen pops up showing both a sales and lettings valuation, with a selection of similar properties.

Call overflow systems

mike nettleton proptechAnother highly effective responder package is Agent Response, developed by Mike Nettleton, chairman of Shropshire estate agent Nock Deighton. The call filtering and overflow call handling service was born out of a desire to prequalify lettings inquiries to ease the load on their own staff. “There’s a massive difference between people phoning for a valuation and renters applying to view a house,” says Nettleton. “You have significantly different volumes and they need to be on a different customer journey.

Ten per cent of all agents’ sales leads will self-identify as landlords, but people in sales won’t ask that question … just automate it, plug our system in and it will find your landlords. Mike Nettleton, Agent Response.

“It’s still very typical for pretty much any letting agent to have upwards of 100 applications in a single property. You’ve got a significant challenge in your business. We were spending north of £40,000 a year on third-party telephone answering services. Now we’ve automated that we’ve removed that cost at a stroke of a pen, and improved the service because the messages are now from the applicants themselves. You’ve got much more granular detail.”

There are two systems, one for sales and one for lettings. As with Callwell, lettings enquiries are filtered so you only speak to leads that are worth your time and you get all the information you need about a potential tenant. Property maintenance calls can also be diverted directly to Fixflo.

Sales leads are made to feel valued and are offered five different options: book a viewing, book a valuation, make an offer, put a house on the market or leave a message. There is also a VIP sales autoresponder that asks: “If you would like to join the VIP list please answer a few quick questions.” The questionnaire will ascertain whether the individual has a property to sell, and whether they need a mortgage or a conveyancer. It also asks if they are a landlord.

Nettleton explains: “Ten per cent of all agents’ sales leads will self-identify as landlords, but people in sales won’t ask that question. There are a lot of people out there offering to find landlords [for potential rental properties] but the answer is incredibly simple – it’s in your sales database. If you can’t remember to ask, just automate it, plug our system in and it will find your landlords.”

Any sales lead that comes in is converted into a phone call into the office that will create an outbound call within 20 seconds of an email coming in. Clients on the VIP list are sent the latest properties to come to market 24 hours (or a specified period) before they go on Rightmove. Listings on your own website can include a countdown timer showing how much time is left before the details go nationwide.

“By building in this simple automation you are taking power back from the portals and leveraging the best information in the world, because you are promoting local houses to local people,” emphasises Nettleton. “Local people will never unsubscribe from list because we are all fascinated by what our neighbours are doing.”

Pricing starts at £79.99 per month for email lead-handling only, and £199.99 per month for the standard phone and email handling service.

If you are looking for help with the valuation process, then Acaboom offers a fully-fledged market appraisal toolkit aimed at impressing your potential clients. It starts with a discovery call, where the agent is asked about their business, their experience, their testimonials and their USPs. They are allocated a dedicated designer and project manager, who build them a bespoke toolkit. It generally takes about seven weeks to go through different design ideas and come up with a package tailored to their business.

The customer journey starts with a video introducing the valuer before he or she goes to the appointment.

Slick valuation presentation

At the valuation, Acaboom provides a highly visual, interactive demonstration with an in-depth, market report with data such as on-market and sold comparable property, EPC rating, flood-risk assessment, planning permissions, local demographics and nearby schools.

Then Acaboom does a magic trick. Once an email with the full report has been sent to the client after the valuation, the software will flag when the report is being looked at so a call can be put in straight away.

Suzanna Mavity Sales Director, Acaboom image“We tell them when to call the client – when they are looking at their heads of terms, their pricing, their valuation figure, anything to do with them in the proposal or the agreement, we tell the valuer ‘Now is a good time to call, they are thinking about you,” says Acaboom’s sales director Suzanna Mavity.

As with Rightval, a nurturing process follows, with clients emailed regularly about new properties that have come to market, and others that have been sold or let. “It’s a huge opportunity, because most agents do not nurture their database,” adds Mavity. “They typically just do some phone calls after the appointment, after a few weeks they tend to archive the contact.

What we are doing is helping the agent stay in touch for a longer period of time by telling the client about new things that are happening in their area. Suzanna Mavity, Acaboom.

“What we are doing is helping the agent stay in touch for a longer period of time by telling the client about new things that are happening in their area.” Mavity claims the unsubscribe rate is just one per cent. “People like getting them,” she emphasises.

In terms of pricing, Acaboom’s one-off setup package starts at £225, while the monthly subscription is £149 for the main office and £99 for each subsequent branch.

Rightval image
Acaboom tells the agent when the client is reading their messaging.


It’s never been more important to be quick on the ball in dealing with enquiries and to show yourself as the expert for your local property market. Proptech can do that quickly and easily, taking the burden off your staff and allowing them to focus on winning new business.

Perhaps the last word should go to Acaboom’s Mavity. “In a difficult market it’s more essential than ever to be different to win the instruction – if we are just doing the same as everybody else it will come down to fees,” she warns. “In order to avoid that and increase conversions and market share, the ideal thing is to make sure we are demonstrating the difference in all aspects of the market appraisal to be more memorable.

“If you are doing something different and better than your competition at every step of the journey, you are more likely to win that instruction.”

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