I have recently gotten to know a real estate professional named Michael Pannell that has made a big mark on Dallas real estate through the use of the Internet.  His team generates 220+ deals per year and 97% of it comes from organic search engine clicks.  He has now expanded into San Antonio and Houston and there is no sign of him slowing down as long as he can keep generating solid internet leads.  When I learned about this I became incredibly interested to learn more about his business and I sat him down for a little Q&A to find out how he created this monster business.

Q. – What made you focus your business so heavily on the internet?

A. – I noticed that the trends were leaning towards the internet.  I had a website up but was not getting very much traffic to it.  Everything in the market was changing and I had to change my ways of advertising to get business.

Q. – What did it look like before? 

A. – Before focusing on the internet, our business was all local advertising.  We once a week (over the weekend), put out bandit signs all over the metroplex and just sat at the office the next few days and took phone calls.  This was back when lending was much more lax and almost anyone could get approved.  We were advertising for new homes.  So we basically took phone calls, drove the clients around to the different builders and then once the client decided on the perfect home, the builder rep signed them up!

Q. – I see that you have a rebate aspect to your business.  Do other agents in your market ever get upset with you about that?

A. – I wouldn’t say that the get upset, but I can say that we get many deals because we do have the rebate.  When we tell someone that we are going to pay them to buy a house with us, it is a no brainer!

Q. – Why have you chosen to make this a part of your business model. 

A. – Offering the rebate keeps our clients loyal.  There are not very many other agents in our area that do it.  When we say that we are going to be giving our clients money at closing, they are hooked!  It helps keeps our clients loyal and helps us gain market advantage.  We are an independent broker and do not have the big name such as Keller Williams or Century 21.  The rebate helps to show clients that we are the real thing.

Q. – In your opinion, how many leads can one agent effectively handle per day.

A.  – I like to keep my agents with 3-5 leads per day.  The hard work is not now but when it is time to follow up.  In 30 days when it is time to follow up with these leads, it is very difficult to keep up with them all.  With only getting 3-5 leads per day, it is a very manageable number to handle both today and farther down the line for follow up.

Q. – What is the single most effective link building strategy that you are willing to share with our community that you can trace back to noticeable results?

A. – Blogging.

Q. – In your experience, what does that sales cycle look like with internet leads? 

A. – 70% of internet leads are 180.5 days out.  Most interent leads are not now buyers and take some work.  The sales cycle begins with making contact with the client and then touching base as often as necessary until they are ready.  We use both a drip email system and also a home search function that emails the clients when properties that match their criteria as properties are added or changed. Then once the client is ready to look and buy, we are back to a normal real estate sales cycle.

Q. – Is that sales cycle different for one keyword type vs another? 

A. – Long tail keyword terms are more likely to close sooner than main key keyword terms.  People who are searching with long tail keywords know what they are looking for and are typically now buyers.  The buyers know what they want.  People who search with main keywords are usually out of town relocations or people who are just starting to look and have lots of time.  These type of clients are the ones that you just have to stick with follow up and stay in touch until they are ready.

Q. – What do you see in near to mid term future for real estate as it relates to the internet?  In other words, where is our industry heading?

A. – The internet is only getting stronger.  I feel that the internet is where it is at and only going to get better.  90% of all home buyers look to the internet to find their home.  The internet is where it is at!