Consider this: If you were given a choice between a hundred names on a spreadsheet who you have to call or ten prospects eager to talk with you – who are genuinely interested in you and in a position to list – what would you prefer?

Unethical marketers prey on this desire for quick results, promising instant lists with so-called leads. Be cautious – these lists often contain inaccurate information or uninterested contacts.

Remember, the best leads are the ones who have a problem you can solve. By focusing on your reputation and creating fans, real business relationships will follow.

Success comes from attracting the right people at the right time, not just a bigger list.

Why do we obsess over names in a spreadsheet?

Whatever type of real estate business you run, generating leads (or warming up prospects) is going to be important for your success. I genuinely get it; it’s the same deal for me as running a digital marketing agency. However, focusing solely on names on a spreadsheet always strikes me as missing the bigger picture.

Just like your clients shouldn’t expect you to know the exact price of their future property transaction, it’s ludicrous to expect me or any other marketer to tell you how many leads you’ll get ahead of running your marketing campaign.

Marketers are not Mystic Megs. We don’t have crystal balls, yet I am repeatedly asked, “Melanie, how many leads will you get for me?”

Let’s consider where these misconceptions were born.

You’re no longer the source of property information

There’s a play called The Death of a Salesman, which addresses the loss of identity and a man’s inability to accept change within himself and society. We could say the same about marketing and sales. Prospects no longer need to be educated by a salesperson; marketing now plays a bigger role in convincing someone that you are the man or woman for the job.

Instead, let’s explore how to attract qualified prospects who are genuinely interested in working with you. This shift in focus results in more meaningful connections and, ultimately, a far easier and more enjoyable conversation that converts when they get in touch with you.

Let’s turn the tables on real estate lead generation

In real estate, we are not selling a product with a fixed price that you can purchase off the shelf. We won’t know the result or outcome at the start of the process. Marketers can tell you about what we’ve seen happen or achieved for other clients in the past. But the past is not the future, and you, your business, and the market in which you operate are not the same.

We are all in the services industry, and it’s our skills and experience that will yield results.

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The moment my brain 🤯 explodes

I’ve spent 25 years working with digital media, 20 of which have been in the real estate industry. Every week, I spend hours educating real estate professionals (in sales roles, who are buyer’s agents or property managers) on the virtues of marketing.

I find many ways to explain the benefits of branding and building business awareness. I also set aside time to speak with prospects and clients one-on-one. Just when I feel we’ve reached that pivotal light bulb 💡 moment when they finally get it, I am asked, “Melanie, I just want to know one last thing … How many leads will I get?”

This is where I take a momentary pause while my brain explodes 🤯 (there’s even an emoji for it).

I take a breath and calmly explain that …

  1. I can get your name and services in front of 100% of your target audience.
  2. I can show you how many times your prospects have seen you online.
  3. We’ll be able to track who in your contact database is showing the most interest in you.
  4. And we’ll know who is currently in research mode and preparing to make their next move.
  5. We’ll be able to append a score to your hottest, most interested leads, and they will bubble to the top of your prospecting list.
  6. Before calling them, you can see what pages they’ve perused out on your website, what articles they’ve read, what videos they’ve watched, and which reports they’ve downloaded – giving you an indication of how keen they are to take action.
  7. You’ll have these amazing insights whether that person decides to contact you directly or not.
  8. You don’t wait for prospects to fill out a form or add themselves to a list. You can call them now!

Hence, asking me how many leads you will get is irrelevant.

What you want is not always what you need

The reason we have this obsession with leads is because;

  • We are talking to salespeople, and salespeople focus on having people to talk to. Many think that the only way to make a sale in real estate is to have a verbal conversation on a one-to-one basis. Many people in sales do not believe that someone can read their blogs or watch their videos and then decide they are the best person to hire. They believe they have to speak to every person and convince them to hire them.
  • Secondly, we’ve seen an increase in the number of real estate marketers in recent years. These so-called marketing experts promise that their campaigns will generate lots of leads per day/week/year, giving the false impression that a single campaign can yield a long list of names and numbers to call. Be wary beause many of these marketers are not qualified or experienced, so they are taking your money and learning using your budgets and time.
  • Thirdly, lead generation has eclipsed the conversation about brand building. Many sales professionals want to skip the steps needed to build a brand, grow fans and followers, and warm up prospects. All they want to do is talk to prospects. But if you need to talk to everyone on a one-to-one basis to convince them that you are the man or woman for the job, you are going to be limited in the number of people who get to know you and ultimately hire you.

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The learnings from my own sales conversations

The challenge of sales conversations on a one-to-one basis was very evident to me at AREC. This was the first year that I had a booth in the exhibition hall. Danielle from my team and I stood at the booth for two days and spoke to approximately 100 people over the course of the event.

Very few people we spoke to were ready to take action. Most people were looking for information and to learn what was on offer. It can really only be viewed as a brand-building exercise.

In complete contrast, when I send out an email or run paid ads to the tens of thousands of people in my marketing database, we are able to share what we have learned with thousands of people at a time.

This reminded me that I can spend a day putting together a blog or vlog and educate 10,000+ people at a time. Or I can stand at a booth and talk to 100 people to educate them one-on-one. I know which I prefer. And I know which is the least exhausting. As great as it is to meet people in person (and I am naturally a social being), I was very happy to get back home and re-energise.

At AREC this year, it was great to hear the keynote speakers spearhead brand building and becoming a media machine as the keys to their success. I loved Ryan Serhant’s catchphrase, “Brand and expand!” Not once did I hear him say generate leads and expand – he said BRAND. Haha!

A spreadsheet with names is not the holy grail

It’s evident to me that many salespeople struggle to see value in prospects opening emails or clicking to visit their website to read or listen to their advice. They only see value in a list of names on a spreadsheet that they get to call and convince to work with them. But the convincing happens long before the phone call or filling in a form occurs.

After a while, this lack of appreciation for marketing does start to grate on my nerves. Why is everyone seemingly increasingly obsessed with finding that ‘one thing’ that will cost them very little and result in a whole bunch of names and numbers to call?

Real estate professionals seemingly want to know …

  • How many leads did that email campaign deliver?
  • How many leads did that blog generate?
  • How many leads did that report bring me?
  • How many people did that video convince to call?

Many people want a direct correlation between a single piece of content or a single campaign and a sales conversation – but prospects don’t always travel a direct route or take immediate action after the first promotional message they see.

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Homeowners have free access to property values

What’s even more crazy to me is that many real estate salespeople think homeowners are obsessed with how much their home is worth.

They also seem to think people have to contact a real estate professional to get that information when it has been sitting on the web in plain sight for everyone to access (for free) for many years.

Some real estate professionals even pay data providers like CoreLogic for tools to generate reports on demand when that same company, CoreLogic, provides the information directly to the general public for free. Visit as my case in point. Why would I give a real estate website my details when I can do a Google search and find the information directly?

Marketers are just as guilty

Please don’t feel that I am pointing the finger at salespeople. They are not to blame. Many professionals — marketers included — are looking at marketing and branding the wrong way.

Marketing professionals are just as guilty of this misconception. In fact, we are feeding this obsession with ‘leads’. Salespeople want leads to talk to, so we tell them we can get them a bunch of names on a spreadsheet. However, what they are asking for is completely wrong.

We need to say, “No. Stop. Names on a spreadsheet are not what you need.” And “Why the hell do you want to have to call and convince people to hire you?”

What you actually need is for your prospects to educate themselves. You want your ideal clients to take the time to read and watch your advice and convince themselves that you are the person to hire. Let your prospects do this on their own time, not yours.

Let your brand story do the selling

Homeowners, homebuyers and property investors are information-hungry. They want to do their own research before choosing an agent.

Consumers repeatedly tell us that real estate is the least trusted industry. And I’d say it’s because we tell them to trust us. Many real estate professionals take a catch-and-kill approach to winning business – this was a phrase a real estate agent once told me, and I love it!

You can’t tell people to trust you; trust is something you earn from delivering on your promise and exceeding expectations. And chasing someone does not make them want to hire you. It’s creepy; it’s called stalking. So don’t be the next Baby Reindeer!

So, all I ask is that you take heed of today’s advice and follow it by investing in yourself and hiring me and my team to make you look and sound great. Be smart, and use branding and marketing to become the most sought-after property professional in your area of expertise.

For context, this message took me 3 hours to write. It will be read by thousands of real estate professionals, and I will happily talk to anyone who reads this piece and wants to talk to me about helping them build a brand that makes prospects seek them out.

I could not achieve the same result by ringing real estate people one-on-one, and you can’t grow your business purely through sales calls, either. Just think about that!

If you’d like to grow your business, increase your income and achieve greater freedom, book a free one-hour consultation with me to discuss your personal situation. But please, do not ask me that one stupid question! 😉

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Written by Melanie Hoole

My team and I specialise in helping real estate and property professionals perfect their personal brand, build a first-class digital profile and implement inbound marketing activities to attract leads. If you are unsure which direction to take with your digital marketing contact me for help.

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