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The definitive guide to generating leads as a real estate agent

Complete with stick figure drawings.

You know the question is on your mind 🧠. It's on every agent's mind, and for good reason: Leads drive sales 🏷., which drives revenue 💵. which sustains your business 📊.

But what happens if the leads stop coming in? Or they never came in the first place?

Things get bad fast without them - and it can be tough to survive. The worst part is that for 87% of real estate agents, it means that they're toast 🍞 in the first 5 years and are off to a new career and feel like they just wasted an opportunity.

Should we ask other agents on Facebook?

With the advent of social media, more and more people are using Facebook groups to ask questions about real estate. But, if you've ever tried to ask a question, you know how this goes... you ask a Facebook group full of real estate agents and get 450 comments that include 3 decent suggestions, an overwhelming majority tell you to " work your sphere," a whole section bemoaning Zillow, and a TON of snarky comments about you being the problem, not the leads.

But, the truth is that not all leads re created equal... and while we don't like to admit it, well, sometimes the leads suck. But WHY?!

Where do leads come from?

Well, leads don't just magically appear one day. They have to come from somewhere. And, most of them start with something called a "Lead Magnet."

It's the thing that generally tricks a consumer into providing their information with the promise of receiving something in return - and that's where most lead gen companies get you.

The leads suck...

As the fight for customer attention has become greater and the competition to set two online ads apart becomes more ferocious, lead gen companies have to pull out all the stops. That means that the old "find your home value" leads have now become "Get a CASH OFFER for you home." And when that lead gets to you, you've got to think on your feet and figure out a way to turn it into a conversation that doesn't rely on you bringing a cash buyer.

The pretense of the conversation is setting you up for a pretty difficult road getting that lead to trust you. So, go ahead and say it. "The leads suck."

How do we get better leads?

Leads don't just magically appear one day. They are the results of conversations that you have and your marketing efforts (people you know and people you don't know). And the truth is that the more marketing and conversations you engage in, the more leads you get.

1. People you know (Your sphere):

Pros: Easiest people to get in touch with - you already have their info and have likely built rapport.

Cons: You're going to run out of them quickly and the more you drip on them the closer you get to a restraining order or having an awkward Thanksgiving dinner.

2. People you don't know (Everyone else):

Pros: There are an endless supply of buyers and sellers

Cons: You don't know them and they don't know you. You don't have their contact information and you have to build rapport. It takes TIME.

So, how do you get the people you don't know into your sphere (or your CRM)?

Well, most people fall back on pay-per-click PPC leads (paid leads from portals and other vendors). You know, the ones that suck.

PPC leads come from web traffic (Facebook and Google) that get directed to lead magnets and portals and services that contain "Lead Forms" to capture information. The services that you pay for leads (Zillow, ZBuyer, Boldleads, Trulia, Etc.) have to pay for the traffic to drive people to their site, so that's where your marketing budget ends up going.

I don't want to spend money on other people's leads

If you don't want to spend money on PPC ads, then you need to do it the old-fashioned way and start finding your own (mailers, events, geo-farming, presentations, social media, cold-calls, door-knocking, open-houses, networking, etc.). This is what the pros call "Building Your Sphere" and it's the best way to find clients, by far!

If you've made it this far and you're brave enough to start your outreach, you've got a few choices to make your own.

Seeds, Nets, & Spears

Seeds: Seeds are one of the best sources of leads for real estate agents. They are organic, and have the potential to create a long-term, sustainable relationship with clients, but take the longest to close.

Seeds are what you plant when you provide excellent customer service, advice, and support. This is how you can create referrals and generate leads through word of mouth. They're called seeds, because they need to take time to grow. You have to nurture them constantly.

While there are many advantages to having seeds as a source of leads, there are also some drawbacks that need to be addressed.

Growing seeds requires a lot of effort and requires you to foster relationships with partners and clients. It can also be difficult to scale if your customer service or touchpoints are not up to par.

To make the most of these leads, you need to invest in your influence network. Reach out to people in your network, host events, and share your expertise.

By nurturing your relationships with clients and your network, you can create a steady stream of high-quality leads. In the long run, this will help you to build a profitable business.

Examples of ways to grow Seeds:

  1. Friends and family

  2. Community events

  3. Networking

  4. Past client referrals

  5. Chance encounters

Nets: Nets can be a great way to get leads quickly and start building your business, but can be expensive and also the most process-intensive.

Inbound marketing, such as social media, blogging, video, webinars, and events are all great ways to cast a wide net and grow your customer base.

The Benefits of Nets are that the scalability of inbound marketing can help your business grow quickly. When done right, the leads you get will already be interested in your firm, and open to buying.

However, if you don’t understand your ideal client, and aren’t specific with your solution for them, you may end up attracting leads that are not ideal for your business (like offering them a cash offer that you can't deliver on).

TIP: To make the most of your inbound marketing, you need to have a strategy behind it. You should know who your ideal clients are, understand their fears, frustrations, and wants and aspirations. You should also be consistent with your inbound marketing, and make sure you capture people’s contact details so you can nurture them with a “seed” program, such as email marketing and excellent customer service.

Examples of ways to cast Nets:

  1. PPC Marketing

  2. Social Media & Advertising

  3. SEM and website optimization

  4. Open Houses

  5. Blogging & Newsletters

  6. Partnerships and presentations

  7. Mailers

Spears: Spears are sales methods that focus on quality over quantity, where you directly contact specific and targeted prospects. They are often the most effective way to get to the closing table.

This approach can be beneficial if you know your ideal clients and are able to reach out to them. LinkedIn is often a great platform to find prospects to Spear because it's easy to filter for businesses to filter for customers. However, using other channels for Spears can often be difficult to reach consumers as it takes a lot of data to narrow down who your customer is, contact information is highly gated, and outreach channels can sometimes take time or be a little uncomfortable.

Platforms like Scout can help you acquire valuable information to build your lists, can take care of the outreach for you to make throwing Spears much easier to master.

Examples of ways to throw Spears:

  1. Cold-calling

  2. Expired & FSBO leads

  3. Handwritten notes

  4. Email-based prospecting

  5. Door knocking


These 3 types of revenue-generating activities are complementary.

  • Seeds provide great leads, but take the longest to generate predictable revenue or allow for fast growth

  • Nets are excellent sources of leads that take longer to yield results, but may require a robust marketing strategy or investment

  • Spears prioritize quality leads over quantity and can often be the fastest line to closing, but usually require a unique set of skills or tools

The highest-producing agents will do all three well, but those that rely on Seeds alone will often spend their time waiting for deals to materialize. Those that rely on Nets often encounter cash-flow problems. The agents that start off with Spears are generally the ones that build enough runway to master the others.

If you're in the real estate industry, you know how important it is to know how to generate leads. Try these tactics and see how they help you think about growing your business.


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