• A lead is not a lead until there is engagement.
  • Being able to steward someone from anonymous registration to an actual lead is incredibly hard, but it's one of the most valuable skills you can master.
  • Building a platform to communicate regularly with those within your reach should be your focus this winter.

The ads are everywhere — as are the solicitations. Things like:

  • How I got 15 new listings a month using this one secret!
  • How I went from two deals to 20 deals overnight!
  • Quality leads delivered right to your inbox daily, register here!
  • We are tracking thousands of buyers right now who want to buy in your area.


If you think that a third-party website, service or platform can deliver you names and numbers of people who are vetted, engaged and ready to buy, then you might want to think again.

kazoka / Shutterstock.com

kazoka / Shutterstock.com

Defining a lead

First, lets talk about a what a lead is by talking about what it’s not.

A registration with a fake phone number is not a lead. Someone asking if your $500,000 listing is for rent is not a lead. And the list you just bought from Lists R Us of 1,000 potential sellers is not 1,000 new leads, either.

So what are they selling?

What these companies are really peddling is prospects at best and just names at worst. And this holds true for Zillow, Trulia, realtor.com and all of the other portals, not just the supposed lead generation sites.

When they say lead, what they are really describing is a name or contact exhibiting behaviors consistent with someone likely to be entering the market in the somewhat near future — nothing more. So please stop calling them leads.

Does that information have value? Absolutely.

Should you buy it?  If you understand what you are buying, then go right ahead.

But is it a lead? Far from it.


Engaging leads

When does a prospect become a lead? When there is real engagement with you — that’s when.

Registrants can engage their IDX search, open your latest blog post or the read stats you send them, but until they engage you with open and honest dialogue, they are not a lead.

Designing a process that can reliably steward prospects down the path from anonymous registrant on a website to signing a contract is one of the most crucial processes you can ever hope to develop. Those who do become the elite income earners in our industry.

Creating your system

Well, if creating a system to reach out to future clients is so important, why do so few of us ever seem to get around to putting one in place? Because creating a system that delivers something valuable and engaging on a consistent basis is complex and time consuming.

It requires a current and organized database, a ton of quality (and unique) evergreen content, an aesthetically pleasing graphical format and a reliable delivery system that allows you to track (and hopefully improve) your system’s performance.

At the end of the day, there are no magic tricks or shortcuts to making your phone ring consistently with high-quality opportunities on the other end. It takes time to build your own systems and even longer to see the results.

Those who can make it rain didn’t learn to do so overnight — they tried, failed, practiced, rehearsed, experimented, studied and then tried some more.

EduardSV / Shutterstock

EduardSV / Shutterstock

Taking advantage of now

I have a friend who says that the best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago, and the next best time is today.

Although sometimes an agent in your marketplace appears seemingly out of nowhere and starts dominating a neighborhood, you can bet that they have been building a database and marketing to it correctly for quite some time.

Trust me, their investment is greater than $99 a month, and it took them longer than a few months to establish their presence.

So as the market slows in the fall, and we tend to spend time reflecting on last year’s activities (to try to plan for the next), strongly consider investing the necessary time and energy required to develop systems that keep you in touch with the people within your reach.

Figure it out, and you will take a huge step toward creating a business that is predictable, scalable and most importantly, profitable.

Rick Jarvis is a co-founder of the One South Realty Group in Richmond, Virginia.

Email Rick Jarvis.

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