I recently read an article written by a fellow who claims to get 400 or more leads monthly from his website. Excuse me, but I am skeptical. I’ve talked to many agents who purchased hundreds of leads from a lead aggregator only to find out that only one or two were real leads. I’ve talked to many agents who have never gotten even one good lead from their own websites, and to round out the input, I’ve talked to others who are so uninformed about online marketing services for Realtors® that they think that a page view is a lead: they don’t know anything about the visitor or what that visitor looked at, but, by gum, “My website gets 400 hits a month!” It is extremely rare that any lone agent receives anywhere near that number of leads in a month for good reasons.

The fact is that one person working alone cannot handle 400 leads a month or anything near that. We have many clients who have added multiple buyers’ agents to work with the increase in leads they experience, but that usually is not an overnight thing, ramping up in number in a manageable way as the online marketing takes hold. The other simple fact is that most agents want a balance between the number of leads they get and the number they can comfortably service and that number personally is usually 10-20 good leads a month.

Nothing good is accomplished by setting false expectations and I believe that for the vast majority of agents, expecting anywhere near 400 real leads monthly is tantamount to expecting to win the lottery: someone will win the lottery; it just isn’t going to be you. For realistic expectations, maybe we should all think of what constitutes a real lead-then we might get a feel for how many leads are enough leads.

What constitutes a fake lead?

Here are a few examples:

1. Any purported lead with a fake phone contact, fake e-mail address, or fake name; 2. Any purported lead sold to multiple agents or brokers; 3. Any purported lead lifted from a prospects visit to another website and repackaged (”scrubbed”) and sold to you or anyone else; 4. Any purported lead that comes from a loan site, a credit card application site, a “financial repair” site, a new car purchaser list-you get the idea.

Fake leads are where the person being touted as “the lead” never had any intention of talking to you or any agent about homes in your town. Fake leads are compilations gathered and sold to you as viable prospects.
They are junk.

What constitutes a real lead?

A real lead is one that was generated by a real person viewing materials about what you sell, who desires more information. Even when real, these prospects may or may not be immediate buyers. Nevertheless, you must treat them all as if they are immediate buyers. Some of them are dreaming, planning, scheming how to move to where you are or of living in what you sell, but most are seriously interested in the possibility of purchasing something in your town or market.

They often simply register on your website, where they may leave a comment as to what they are looking for. Maybe they leave no comment, but the one thing that identifies a real lead from a fake one is this:
the real lead always gives you a way to contact them, because they really are interested in what you sell. Others will call you directly to discuss their needs (you would be truly amazed to know the number of agents’ websites that do not have a phone number or address on the homepage for such people who want to call an agent.), and a very few will drop into your office, in this day and age. Nonetheless, they’ll want to know where your office is, believe me. Rarely, and in our happiest moments, we receive a hand-off from a client, friend or acquaintance, the proverbial “Jane is looking for a home and I told her that you are the best and most knowledgeable person to help her.”

Unfortunately, in this marketplace, prospecting skills have had to replace the steady stream of referrals that the best agents routinely received. Doubly unfortunately, many agents have neglected their prospecting skills over the past years of plenty and are starving now because they have no one to call upon, no one to sell to. The ultimate lead-where a person knows you and seeks you out to help them purchase or sell their home-is also affected by this market, in that people who might have “traded up” every few years are hunkered down waiting to get their equity back.

So then, how many leads are enough leads each month? Where should they come from? What percentage of them should you expect to close? Apart from the obvious answer that these are questions that have different answers for every agent and that agent’s skill set, here’s the formula you need to implement in order to always have enough people to call on.

Your formula for success in online marketing

– Build your website traffic to a minimum of 200 unique visitors
monthly- continue to aim for 400 or more. A unique visitor is a new visitor to your site, not a returnee;
– Construct your call-to-action well enough to incent 5-15% of those unique visitors to sign in and register on your site, asking for specialized information about something;
– Contact each person who registers by phone, first, within an hour of their registration, then follow-up with a personalized e-mail referencing their area of interest (no auto-responders!);
– Strict adherence to this procedure should produce at least 10 real leads for you each month; based on what our clients tell us we believe that you can sell at least one person out of ten quality real leads that you receive if you are truly a professional real estate agent. Agents who are highly skilled will have a better ratio of closes than 1 in 10.
As time goes on and your process gets stronger, you’ll receive more leads monthly. You’ll get better at managing your lads and you might consider bringing in an assistant to help you qualify or sell more of these valid prospects once that happens, because we believe that once you have more than 30 active prospects working on becoming homeowners it becomes difficult to juggle all that needs to be juggled to give each of them really good service all by yourself.

If you are a broker or a member of a team, simply multiply the above by the number of members you need to feed. You’ll need at least 10 good leads from your website each month in order to have consistent sales performance for each person counting on it. Your website should provide about 70% or more of your leads monthly based on the fact that 87% of all buyers start online.

Realistic expectations help you succeed

Almost every day it’s possible to read some coach holding forth about what every agent needs to do to succeed. The prestige of the publication has nothing to do with the quality of “advice.” You probably feel the same way, so I’ll let you in on a little secret about the information in this article: this information was not put forth as my opinion, but it is the factual feedback garnered from hundreds of successful Internet Realtors. Four hundred leads a month for a lone agent is unrealistic and unworkable. Ten or more real leads for any skilled agent will guarantee a consistent and rewarding schedule of closings.

Of all the clients we have, there’s only one lone agent that I know of who receives 400 leads monthly from their website, and he refers many of them out to others for a percentage. I know dozens of agents selling 50-100 homes annually from their Internet leads, however, and well over a hundred who sell 10-20 homes annually from their Internet leads. Every one of them shares that formula above. If you want to succeed where 87% of all residential real estate sales happen-online-you should follow that formula, too! A real lead is potentially worth thousands of dollars. Anything that valuable must be treated with care.