How to (Mis)-Manage Internet Real Estate Leads

If you’ve never checked out Chris Pollinger’s blog, you need to.  His insights always impress me, and I’m a regular reader.  One of his most recent posts is about why he is frustrated with the real estate industry, and it really hit home for me.

In case you didn’t know, the Christian Real Estate Network is a lead generation service.  When you strip everything else away, that is what it really boils down to.  We generate real estate buyers and sellers around the country that want to connect with a real estate agent.  We then send out these leads to one of our members which totals around 1,600 currently.

I share Chris’ frustration when he isn’t able to get agents to follow up on leads.  It is truly maddening to get a followup email 2 days later from the client saying that they were tired of waiting, and made an offer with another agent.

Why is that??  In such a tough market, I would think that agents would jump over their own mother’s to get leads, but it just isn’t the case.  In his post, Chris talked about agents becoming jaded with lead generation companies, but I’m becoming jaded about the general service of real estate agents!  I’ve grown up my whole life around the real estate industry, and I’ve seen enough to know that some agents simply get it done, and the other 90% just sit around and wait for deals to fall into their laps.  It’s unfortunate that the 90% even exist, because they simply give the other 10% a bad name.

Here are some basic tips for the 90% of agents that don’t know how to manage real estate leads. (translation: common sense for the rest of us)

1.  Pick up the phone, look at your fax machine, and check your email

Pretty incredible insight huh?  Isn’t it the most amazing advice you’ve ever heard?  I should tour the country as a motivational speaker or something.  Of course I’m being facetious…  or am I?

It is seriously shocking how hard it is to get in touch with some real estate agents.  When we send leads out to our agents, we call, fax, and email the information just to cover all bases.  But it never ceases to amaze me how many clients aren’t contacted.

2.   Email and call the client immediately

Again… I should win a pulitzer for this stuff.  I have a personal theory that 80% of internet based real estate leads are lost in the first 12 hours.  And that is probably a huge understatement.  People on the internet want instant satisfaction.  They don’t want to have to register for something, they don’t want to fill out long complicated forms, and when they are requesting information, they want it now.  Don’t make them wait, or you will probably miss out on the lead.

3.  Be persistent, but don’t harass

Your average person is unlike your average real estate agent.  They will actually return your call if they want to talk to you.  If they don’t want to talk to you, they won’t call back.  Calling them everyday for 2 weeks is not going to help.  Be nice, be persistent, but know when to “take a hint”.

4.   Put buyers into the loop immediately

Don’t wait until after you’ve had the chance to visit with the lead in person.  You need to put them on a listing drip campaign immediately.  This means you will need to get their basic criteria during the first phone call or email.  That way, they will be getting active listings emailed to them right after you first talk which will gain their trust, and may even get you an easy sale if they see something they like.  There is nothing worse then showing 50 properties with gas prices these days.

5.   Long term clients still deserve the same level of service

This is one of my pet peeves.  Just because you get a lead that isn’t ready to do something for 6 months doesn’t mean you should kick them to the curb.  It’s just bad service.  The best agents recognize that they can’t live paycheck to paycheck and will have solid effective ways to stay in touch with people over the long term.  A simple email or phone call every couple months is sometimes all it takes to stay on someone’s radar screen.  I can always tell a good agent… they are the ones that send us a referral fee from someone we sent them 3 years prior.


If you are one of the 90% (you know who you are), please clean up your act.  The simple courtesy of returning phone calls would be a good start.

Ok… my rant for Chris and myself is over.   😉


  1. says

    Hear Hear, There are just too many secret agents out there. Another pet peeve is not countering an offer and what’s worse is not calling the agent to say it wasn’t accepted. Oh the horror stories someone should write a book.

  2. says

    Great articles for new agents and seasoned alike. It is crucial to understand the process of managing internet leads. All of these steps must be followed very careful or the “internet lead” will surf to the next site. I explain the importance of these steps to my agents and reemphasize on a regular basis. Also, a good follow up system is also vital to keeping you pipeline full and sustaining steady income.

  3. says

    I am amazed that some agents don’t check their email for days. Ditto for fax and voice mails. One agent told me she left her cell phone turned off unless her kids were out. This is the same number she had on her card. She might go days without turning it on. I have some leads I meet over 3 years ago that still get daily updates. Someday they will be ready to buy and I will have stayed in touch. You know I think your ideas here are cutting edge 😉

  4. says

    I am all about this “rant”. Agents unfortunately can’t hear advice like this enough. Most agents, as you point out, have no system and no plan for follow-up. To be honest any system would be better than no system at all.

    With follow-up my brother and I always say “You will only offend the non serious non motivated buyer or seller with follow-up if you call or e-mail too much”.

  5. says

    Poor follow-up on Internet leads may be a symptom of a larger marketing illness, in real estate and other service/sales industries. New media, particularly the Internet, has made direct marketing and lead generation a much less arduous task. Not to say that a lead generation campaign now runs iteself, but online efforts have made targeting surgically precise at a much lower cost than, say, a direct mail campaign. In effect, the reliance on the Internet as a quick and easy marketing fix has left a dent on the relationship between the service provider and the consumer. Especially in a down economy, clients are looking for realtors who are trusted and reliable. A timely response to a lead, and all of the interactions that exist with the client after this response, may be more crucial than a great landing page and killer PPC search campaign. At the end of the day, it’s about dealing with a person and not a computer.

  6. Justin Smith says

    Hi Terry,
    I agree. There is something to be said for the transition from an internet lead to a live (real person) relationship. That intersection from 0’s and 1’s to the real life is crucial.