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The Crappy World of Leads

From Brian’s most recent post at 1000Watt:

This week I sat in a conference room with a bunch of really smart people who showed me a future without online real estate leads.

It was a transcendent experience.

The “online lead” has been dangled over the head of the real estate industry like a talisman since the early 2000s. It has held us in its thrall even as we saw its falsehood : 2% conversion rates, scattershot lead forms, the brutal verbs – capture, route, drip, close.

The modern lead is the product of an online real estate world based on IDX, listing portals and Google Adwords. It feeds people who fill out forms on listing pages or landing pages to buy-side agents who then mostly don’t respond.

Maybe these responding agents don’t suck.

Maybe the customer acquisition paradigm they’ve been sold for the past 15 years sucks.

The paradigm is showing signs of strain. Would Zillow be forced to hire “first responders” to jump on inquiries from its site and apps on behalf of agent advertisers if they were generating something other than what we have become resigned to accept as a lead? Would all the portals be hustling to generate seller inquiries if buyer leads were a big, sustainable business?

I was not in that same conference room as Brian, but it’s a topic I’ve been thinking about as well. On a long enough timeline, the consumer always wins when it comes to consumer technology.

What does the consumer want? Definitely NOT the current slate of lead forms they face today.

Who is going to give them what they want, on their terms?

That’s the question. (here’s a related idea to ponder)

But I am increasingly impressed by the idea that the future belongs to agents who leverage technology to farm their own clients and keep them forever. A small group of companies are forming around this paradigm.

Me, too. That’s good old fashioned community building; the best play in the playbook, but also the hardest. The best things in life are never easy.

About Drew Meyers

Founder of Geek Estate Blog. Zillow Alum. Travel addict & co-founder of Horizon. Product & Marketing for 360modern. Social entrepreneurship & microfinance advocate. Fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and Kiva.

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  • I think the leads are considered crappy because Realtors try to force the leads to do things they do not want to do.

    We generate a lot of leads daily. We force none of them to do anything. We try to help them in every way we can. When they are ready to buy or sell some reach out to us and they are great to work with.

  • Agents call me every week for advice when they’re building a new website, and often say that they want to “do what I do”. I tell most of them they’d be better off building a solid website and then focusing on sales basics.

    If you’re a good sales person on the phone, in person, etc, you’re probably better off just meeting more people IRL and building your sphere. Lead gen/nurture/conversion is for someone more inclined to set up automated systems and spend a lot of time nurturing the process. Leads are “crappy” for those who’d rather just sell to people. They’re great for those of us who work them as a priority.

  • Daniel Ahmadizadeh

    A lot of time is wasted in my opinion for agents who need to stop whatever it is that they’re doing to interact with someone who 1. they do not know 2. may be unqualified

    • Daniel Ahmadizadeh

      especially given that those conversion rates! 98% of their time could be saved if they passed off the online leads to an assistant.

  • I find Brian’s post ironic but somewhat true. He says, “But I am increasingly impressed by the idea that the future belongs to agents who leverage technology to farm their own clients and keep them forever. A small group of companies are forming around this paradigm.”

    What I find ironic is the future belongs to those who have mastered what agents have done in the past, before they received online leads. They worked their sphere of influence, there own clients, and focused on keeping them forever.

    So essentially, the “future belongs” to agents who have mastered what we did in the past.

  • Jan Claasen

    I personally believe in moving away from working as an individual and rather working as a team/group where each specialises in a small section of the process of selling and acquiring that property. The key at the end of the day is specialisation.

  • John Myers

    Our website generates a ton of leads and most of them are crappy leads with bad phone numbers, wrong names, wrong email address. As we all know it is a numbers game. Even though we dig through a lot of bad leads. We get some great leads as well.

    I don’t advertise on the aggregators. Their whole business model bothers me. The use our listings to create a site, then sell us advertising. Does not seem fair

    Thanks for the article

    • John, we require a valid email. If not they will not receive their registration code via a return email.

      Also, we do not use a form. We have them email us, then we take that email address and reply to that. This way they can’t enter a fake email. It is all automated still of course.

      That might not be the right solution for you, but for us I like it because I know when I put them on my email list it is a valid email I will be sending to.

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