When did ‘lead’ become a naughty word in real estate?

Forget about arguing semantics and go out and build your real estate business your way

Is your goal to try to change the terminology, or is your goal to create a scalable business based on happy clients?

Yes, this is another one of my “off my normal topic” posts …

I’m so not into the altruistic idea that if we change the terminology we use — standardized terminology, by the way — that it will inherently change our industry. That it will change our mindset. It won’t. We will always have unethical agents, always have idiot agents, always have greedy agents, always have hobby agents. …

Happy customers image via Shutterstock.
Happy customers image via Shutterstock.

There’s this “passion” that’s been around since the beginning of time — OK, maybe not the beginning of time — but definitely the entire course of my real estate career (spanning over two decades so far) that when we say the word “lead” we are some how demeaning, degrading and/or debasing an individual person.

Oy vey. Seriously?

Someone is a lead, until I get to know them a little bit and they get to know me a little bit. It’s that simple. You have to bring in a lot of “leads” and funnel them through your sales process in order to find the ones you connect well with, the ones who want to work with you. There is nothing wrong with calling those unknown people leads. Really, there isn’t. No matter what anyone tells you.

A lead, by standardized definition (not real estate industry definition), is a person who has expressed interest in your services.

If you’d rather use the words “people who have expressed interest in my services” instead of the word lead, if using those words makes you feel better, fine. In reality, they mean the exact same thing. It’s a single word used to shorten a series of longer words. It’s not an identity.

Since when did the word “lead” become “naughty” in our industry?

And since when does using the word lead define you, the person using the word, as a cold, heartless salesperson, forcing people to do something they don’t want to do, as someone not interested in their needs just the money they bring to the bottom line?

Yeah, since someone got a bee in their bonnet that using the word “lead” is a sin.

I get it that the “consumer” doesn’t like to be called a lead, at least that’s what a video with several consumers on it would have you believe. Of course, if you ask the consumer if they like being called a lead, most will say “no.” In reality, they don’t care. They don’t care what you call them “behind the scenes” — they care only about whether you care about them and can give them what they want. People don’t know what they like and don’t like. The words they say are directly in opposition to the actions they take. And if you don’t believe that, you are not a student of consumer behavioral psychology.

We are so busy trying to prove that our terminology is a mindset that we are wasting our time batting at the symptom, not at the cause.

And what is the cause? It depends on who you are and whom you listen to and follow. I’ve heard, thousands of times, about how real estate is a relationship business. The problem is, who defines this? Who decides what the relationship is? How the relationship starts? What relationship even means?

Step Away From Arguing Semantics And Go Out And Build Your Real Estate Business, Your Way

Does it mean I have to personally know each and every person who decides to use my real estate team’s services? To some people, that’s a yes. In my business, unless the person is a past client or a personal friend, I no longer know the client personally, on any level — although they know me. Honestly, they stay in the “lead” category in a weird way, as I never get to know them.

Does that mean I’m doing it wrong? To some, oh yes I am. To others, I’ve learned how to leverage my business. Again, it depends on who you are and whom you listen to and follow. Do I care what others think? No. Does what others think dictate how I run my business? No.

I’m a passionate advocate of the “you need to do what works for you and your business” philosophy.

You need to not get caught up in peripheral passionate causes; you need to focus on your business, your desires, your dreams. If these conflict with the “trendy wave” in altruism, so be it. It doesn’t matter to your business.

That’s the beauty of real estate. You are self-employed. You are you. You may be a part of the “industry,” but you still run your business your way, and if you want to call an unknown future client a lead (or anything else for that matter), do so.

Just realize that when you are seeking answers you’ll need to know standardized terminology, and not just within the real estate business. Since the word lead is standardized across all sales businesses, it will remain. It doesn’t matter how much we try to change it within the real estate industry — it’s still a standardized term and will remain.

Stop worrying how your use of standardized sales terminology will define you amongst your colleagues. Remember, they are not your clients.

So I say, step beyond this time suck and build your business. Have you gotten caught up in semantical time sucks?

Christina Ethridge is the founder of LeadsAndLeverage.com, helping real estate agents capture, convert and close Facebook leads.


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