It All Starts With Lots of Seller Leads — How Do I Get Them?
WHAT’S IN THIS ARTICLE?
1. BECOMING THE TOP LISTING AGENT IN YOUR MARKET
2. THE MOST IMPORTANT PIECE OF THE LISTING PUZZLE
3. HOW YOU CAN GET HUNDREDS OF LISTING CLIENTS TO COME TO YOU EVERY MONTH
4. HOW LEAD CAPTURE TECHNOLOGY DIFFERS FROM A WEBSITE
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BECOME THE TOP LISTING AGENT IN YOUR MARKET?
What a great question! If you’ve ever asked yourself that question, you’re already on your way! You’ve shown that you’re interested in mastering the listing side of our business. And you’ve acknowledged that you are competitive — very competitive. You’ve shown your desire to become the very best at something, so you’re not interested in mediocrity.
What if I told you that the difference between a struggling agent and a master listing agent is very small? What if I told you that most agents I’ve met have within them the potential to become top agents?
“Okay, Matt,” you’re probably thinking, “if it’s so easy, then why are most agents struggling today?”
I believe they struggle because of fear. Fear of believing that they can be great agents. Fear of trying something that they’ve never tried before. Fear of investing in their own business. Fear of what other agents or their broker might think of them. Fear of going for it. But that can stop today. As you begin to read this six-part series, I want you to consider that, in all likelihood, you already have the ability to become a master listing agent. You simply need some help pointing yourself in the right direction. Well, that and you need to face your own fears.
How do I know? Because I nearly failed in real estate — and I nearly quit the business because I was working very hard and making very little money. Thankfully, I didn’t quit. Instead, I went on to list dozens of properties over the next few months. During my first calendar year I listed 119 homes, and all at 8% commission or more! I did it in a below-average real estate market. And if I can do it, I know that most of you who are reading this can do it too.
In this series I’m going to tell you exactly what I’ve learned to do — the very step-by-step process. If you follow it, and follow it step-by-step, I know it will work for you as well. Before I get into the actual steps, however, I want to share with you an email I got last week from one of our brand new agent partners.
“Dear Favorite Agent Customer Care:
I wanted to send you the listings that I have obtained in the past 2 months at 8% commission. It has been very exciting to obtain the listings because I have not had one commission objection!
$ 59,000 @ 8%
$ 79,000 @ 7%
$ 432,000 @ 8%
$ 349,000 @ 8%
$ 341,000 @ 8%
$ 525,000 @ 8%
$ 489,000 @ 8%
$ 169,000 @ 7%
$ 375,000 @ 8%
Total listings $ 3,497,000 and total commission $ 277,280 — wow!!! Now, what I want to do is to get more listings at 8%! You say it is a numbers game so I know that some of this is going to close and I want to maximize the numbers. Just for your information, of my last 8 listing presentations I have closed 7 of them. So interesting because I have no commission objections! More to come. This is just the start of something HUGE!!!
Sutton Group Lake Front Realty”
Let me ask you a couple of questions. Do you think this agent had any idea that he could be this successful before reading my listing seminar? Did he suddenly get smarter? Did he suddenly work harder? Absolutely not! He did two simple things. First and most importantly, he realized he could do it! Then he took the same exact procedure I used, and he implemented it step-by-step. I know it sounds too good to be true, but go back and re-read his letter. Even he seems surprised! But more significantly, he knows that his business will never be the same again. Read the last line: “This is just the start of something HUGE!!!”
So let me ask you another question: could this be you in two months? I think it could be. In fact, I know it could be. If you truly want it to be you, if you’re reading this and dreaming “What if it could be me?” — let’s make that dream come true. Somebody has to list those houses in your market. Why shouldn’t it be you? I say it should be you! So here’s what we’re going to do.
Over the next week, you’ll receive the entire series by email, one session per day. Every day I’m going to challenge you to take action to become that master listing agent. You too can list two houses every week, always at a premium. You really can. My father used to say, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink.” The same is true with this email seminar! I urge you to take responsibility for your own success.
You CAN become the dominant listing agent in your market if you do what I did, and I’ll show you how. We have agents using this approach in markets from Florida to Washington. From New York to California. Small markets and large markets. Buyers’ markets and sellers’ markets. Our system works virtually everywhere that the agent has the courage to apply it. In fact, if you have questions, we’ll be happy to help you answer them. At the end of the emails I’ll always include our contact information.
So print out the sessions, and take the time to read and study the material. This process could be the most profitable thing you’ve ever done. At the least, it will open your eyes to a listing approach that you’ve never heard before. This much I promise. And it will help you to list at a premium while our entire industry suffers from a downward trend in commissions due to the advance of discount brokerages and agents who can’t hold the line on discounting.
And there’s one last thing I would like to mention before we dive into the first session:
WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?
I assume that you’re intelligent and therefore naturally suspicious — so you may be wondering why, if I truly have such a great listing seminar, I’m giving it away free on the Internet instead of teaching it across the country and selling our materials. I would certainly ask that question, and I would expect anyone of reasonable intelligence to ask it as well.
Well, the answer is simple. If you like my approach — if it makes sense to you, and you decide you want to implement it for yourself — then you’re going to need to build or purchase some simple technology. My approach is not all about technology, but the technology is critical if you want to have the same kind of success that I’ve had. And my company happens to sell that technology, so we would appreciate your at least considering our solution if you decide that it’s a good approach for you.
Make no mistake: I developed this technology for my own use, not to sell to agents. But as my real estate practice grew and began to receive national attention, I was continually asked if we could provide the same technology to other agents. After saying no for nearly a year, I reluctantly agreed to license it to a limited number of agents, but only if I felt that they would use it to build their businesses.
The fact is that we turn away many more agents than we sell to. So don’t expect a call from our sales department — we don’t have one. If you become interested in our technology, you’ll have to call us. And if you ultimately choose to build or buy this technology from another place, we won’t have any hard feelings.
Finally, aside from our technology, another way that I might benefit is through book sales. Maybe you really like my approach and would like to purchase one of my books to keep or pass on to another agent. We would certainly welcome your purchase on Amazon.com or from your favorite major book retailer. The books are titled LCM: The Secret to Success in the New Age of Real Estate, The Ultimate Listing Presentation, Traffic: How to Sell Fast and Net More, and Becoming a Mega-Producer, and each sells for under $20!
But, okay, enough of what’s in it for me. Let’s get started making you money.
HOUSTON, WE HAVE A PROBLEM.
Recently we surveyed more than 481,000 REALTORS® with an average of 12.1 years in the business. You know what their number-one need was? More listings. You know why? To get more customers. Why more customers? Because experienced agents don’t trust lead vendors for their business. Many of us have tried them and found their leads to be expensive and of poor quality, so most of us have resigned ourselves to getting our own leads. And what’s the best way to get leads? Have listings. But to get listings, you have to have leads. It seems like a vicious cycle, doesn’t it? Which comes first, the listings or the leads? If you have to have listings to get leads, and you need leads to get listings, where does it start?
I SAY IT ALL STARTS WITH GETTING SELLER LEADS! LOTS OF SELLER LEADS!
Anyone who’s been in real estate for any length of time knows that this business is becoming a business of extremes. Either you have more business than you can handle, or you struggle to pay the bills. There is no middle ground. And it’s getting worse every year. Soon you’ll either have a large real estate team, or you’ll work for one. It’s called consolidation, and it’s happening everywhere. All the traditional ways of getting business are becoming less and less effective, and many veteran agents are getting frustrated to the point of wanting to leave the business.
But what if I told you that you could easily get 2 or 3 new inbound listing leads every single day? What if you were able to generate 10-15 new seller leads every week, week in and week out? Leads who were not only interested in selling their homes, but also, in many cases, had begun looking for a replacement home? Would that make it easier to become a top listing agent? Would that make it easier to list two homes every week? Well, I solved my lead problem, and that’s exactly why I listed so many houses. It was very simple.
Let me ask you another question: when you’re “desperate” for that listing, don’t you think the seller can tell? Of course he can. And if you very seldom get any seller leads, you can’t help communicating that sense of need. Often your desperation comes out in reduction of commission, so that if you actually do get the listing, it’s hardly worth the trouble. After you deduct the cost of advertising and all the other listing expenses, the resulting commission doesn’t begin to make you any real money.
But what if you really did get 10-15 listing leads every week? Would you appear much less frantic? Would you convey a totally different message of “I don’t really care if I get this listing or not”? Absolutely! And when you combine that relaxed attitude with an incredibly innovative listing presentation (you’ll see what I mean in the future installments), you’ll find yourself swamped with new listings. I know from experience. You’ll become irresistible! But if the listing leads aren’t there, you’ll not be able to convey that same “take-it-or-leave-it” subliminal message to your sellers. So you absolutely have to solve the listing-lead problem first. That’s the bottom line — it all begins with solving the lead problem.
NO, I’M NOT TALKING ABOUT BUYING LEADS!
Many agents believe that the lead vendors have ruined our industry. I disagree. Don’t get me wrong: they’ve made it very tough to survive, but they’ve really done us a favor. Without them, most agents would’ve never realized that our customers were moving to the Internet. And for those who are unwilling to learn how to capture business effectively from the Internet, the lead vendors serve as a valuable, albeit expensive, safety net and source of business.
It’s not only possible; it’s probable that you can get the majority of your business from the Internet today. Our average agent partner generates 40-50 seller leads every single month. And each of them generates nearly 100 buyer leads as well! They don’t depend on lead vendors for their business. Instead, they make their own leads as they need them, and they do it at a much lower cost and a much higher quality than if they bought leads from a lead vendor. They’ve taken their success into their own hands.
HOW DO YOU CAPTURE A TYPICAL REAL ESTATE CUSTOMER?
Today, as many as 92% of all home buyers and sellers begin their quests on the Internet, and many of them begin by going to a search engine like Google, where they do a search for homes or REALTORS®. They then choose a link to a real estate website and visit the website of that REALTOR®, hoping to find help in their search. The overwhelming majority of these real estate customers are looking for home searches. If they don’t find a good, easy-to-use home search, they will generally move on to another website.
That seems pretty easy, then: just get a website with an IDX home search. Heck, you probably have one already. But here’s where we come to the first problem. If that website is a “typical” real estate website, a very small number of customers will fill out a guest registration form and identify themselves — generally only about 1%. What this means is that, out of every thousand visitors, you, the website owner, will actually capture only about ten leads. The capture is very inefficient because real estate websites are not designed around capture, but rather around giving out information.
So here’s the problem. Real estate traffic costs money. Either through pay-per-click (PPC) advertising or through search engine optimization (SEO), the website owner is able to have his website listed on the search engines in such a way as to be displayed whenever a customer does a real estate search. Pay-per-click advertising often costs several dollars per visitor, while search engine optimization costs several thousand dollars up front and needs to be continually managed in order to keep the site ranking high.
Now, when you take that high cost of traffic and place it with the low capture rate (1%) of real estate websites, the actual cost per lead becomes extremely high, usually well over $100 per lead. This is the reason that many agents, even those with websites, choose to purchase leads from vendors rather than making their own. Lead generation companies often charge $50 and up for leads, and many times they sell the same lead to multiple agents. Some vendors charge as much as 30% of the closed transaction, resulting in lead costs of over $2000. To make matters even worse, not only is the lead expensive, but often the lead quality is poor as well.
This is the very problem that caused me to begin to look for a solution. Ultimately, we developed a technology called the Ultimate Website — equipped with LCM technology (lead capture module). Instead of having the inefficiencies inherent in even the best real estate websites, which are designed around delivering information, this Ultimate Website was designed to do only one thing: to capture Internet traffic. Furthermore, rather than having a capture rate of 1% or less, as with typical websites, the Ultimate Website captures between 30% and 40% of all visitors, thus bringing the cost per lead down to as little as $3. More importantly, the quality of lead is much higher than the quality of the leads supplied by lead vendors.
I can remember buying leads from companies such as HouseValues, HomeGain, and Service Magic. I remember getting the same lead that had been sold to three other agents, and I remember getting some “leads” that had only a name and an email address! I remember a high number of bogus leads. The situation was frustrating, but I was desperate. So I decided to learn how to make my own leads. Now we generate all our own leads using our technology — over two thousand good leads every single month! Is it any wonder that we’ve grown so fast?
And there’s no reason you can’t grow this fast as well. What it comes down to is having the customers. Let me give you an example. In Eagle, Idaho, we have an agent partner named Kyle Wilson. A relatively new agent, Kyle worked for Silverhawk Realty and had closed a very respectable 25 transactions in his second year. Since he began using our LCM gateway technology, though, he has grown to a team of fifteen agents and is looking at expanding to other markets. Kyle will do hundreds of real estate transactions this year, and now he’s one of the biggest producers in Idaho. He lists homes at 8%, and the only thing slowing his growth is his ability to recruit and train more agents. What a success story!
So let me ask you a couple of questions. Did Kyle suddenly get smarter? Did he start working twice as hard? No. The fact is that Kyle is a very sharp and very talented guy. We simply helped point him in the right direction and gave him a few tools to make the process easier. He created the success. And that could just as easily be you. Why not? Do you work hard? Are you smart? If you answered yes to those questions, not only could it be you, it should be you! Why not?!
HERE’S HOW A LEAD CAPTURE GATEWAY WORKS.
As in the example above, a real estate customer goes to a search engine and clicks on a link to find properties. But unlike the previous example, this time the customer is diverted to the lead capture (or LCM) gateway technology. The gateway is designed to capture a maximum number of visitors, so instead of capturing only about one percent of the visitors to your site, you’re now capturing between 30% and 40%. The first time through the gateway, the user has to register to use your website. From then on, he or she can come and go freely without ever re-registering. The procedure is very simple and very effective.
Why does the lead capture gateway work so much better than the registration forms on most real estate websites? Why couldn’t you just put a registration form in the customer path and receive the same results? Well, you would probably receive much better results than you receive now. We’ve seen agents take their site conversion up to the 5% range just by doing that one thing. However, the LCM gateway is specifically designed to maximize lead capture, while web forms are not.
Lead capture is a science. Everything about our gateway continues to be tested and modified in real time, so as to maximize lead capture. As I type this seminar, we’re testing three distinct versions of our Ultimate Website, all in real time. What we continue to learn is that every subtle nuance makes a difference — from font face, to font size, to font colors, to page background, to icons, to server side scripts, to PHP, Java, and CGI client side scripts, to form validation, to everything. What worked well last year is not working as well this year, as Internet shopping habits change with the maturity of the Internet.
For example, several months ago we experimented with changing one phrase on the LCM landing page. We tried several different versions over a period of a month or so, with over 50,000 unique visitors, and we learned that one particular offer consistently pulled nearly 3% better than another. Some of the differences were visible, while others had to do with the processing of the online form. Since we began in 2004, we’ve changed the way the gateway goes about processing mail three times, every time improving conversion and the number of leads captured for our agent partners.
The typical website, even when all the registration forms are enabled, has site capture rate (CR) only in the range of 5%. The very best and most expensive sites capture about 6%-8%, making any real lead capture on the website impractical and expensive, while continuing to get even worse as more and more people are bidding up the cost of Internet advertising. But with the addition of an LCM gateway in the customer path, website lead capture is not only practical; it’s probably the cheapest form of lead capture available. I know that, in our market, we capture some leads for less than $1 per lead, and we produce our most expensive Internet leads for under $5 each! With lead costs that low, we can afford to make more than we will ever use, and having more leads than we can work gives us room to grow. It means recruiting and team building. It means increased market share.
But every agent is different. Some have no interest in building a large team, while others do. We have one partner agent who creates thousands of leads, does the initial follow-up, and then hands off warm leads to other agents in his market for a referral. He no longer works with customers directly but manages his own private relocation company! How you choose to work your business is entirely up to you. The key is that, with lots of customers, you have lots of options.
SO WHAT’S NEXT?
In the next article, we’ll be discussing advertising. Where should you be spending your marketing dollars if you’re to become the top listing agent in your market? What strategies will get you the most bang for your hard-earned buck? Is it possible to be effective in advertising without breaking the bank? How can you know for certain which ads are working and which ones aren’t? All these questions will be answered in the next installment, so you won’t want to miss it. I’ll also be telling you my secret for finding hundreds of new listing leads without ever calling a FSBO or an expired listing! In the meantime, work on getting your technology in place.