As I write this I’m looking outside my window – amazed at how our wet Washington winters and springs, followed by a burst of warm weather, have created landscaping in my yard in what almost seems “overnight”.
The reality, of course, is that it didn’t happen overnight. I began planning my landscaping project about 18 months ago. It started with a vision of where I wanted my yard to be … and from there I worked backwards to figure out what I needed to do then to end up with the landscaping that I have today.
One thing is for sure. If I hadn’t “planted” 18 months ago, then fertilized, watered, and weeded consistently, I would be looking at bare dirt (or a patch of scabby weeds!) today.
Lead generation is no different.
Trust your business to the equivalent of seeds blowing in the wind, praying for rain, and hoping that someone will come along to help you cull the “good” possibilities from the ‘bad” and you’ll end up with the business equivalent of a patch of bare dirt – few or no clients. And that means little or no income, and lots of stress. About 99% of the agents who come to me for help are struggling because they aren’t actively and consciously involved in lead generation.
In the years from 2002 through 2006, most parts of the country went through an extraordinary period in terms of real estate. Fog a mirror and you could get a loan. Put a house on the market, and the chances were pretty good you would get multiple offers. Buyers and sellers wanted to take advantage of good times, and most of them wanted to use a real estate agent. It was a heyday for our industry, and it made us lazy.
Yes, lazy! We got out of the habit of generating leads, and into the habit of taking orders for our customers. The pace of the market was such that business dropped in our laps. Lead generation? You’ve got to be kidding! Who had the time?
I track activity in many different fields, and at that time our industry was almost unique in this lack of need to generate leads. Think about it – in what other industry could you be a “salesperson” without putting time into prospecting and closing? Although you may prefer to think of yourself as a consultant (many of us hate the “sales” word), the fact is that your daily work life must have a “sales” component.
Do you want to stay in the business? Better yet, do you want to have a business that thrives … not just survives? If so, you must spend some significant time on lead generation. Today, lead generation is a non-negotiable activity.
What I love about lead generation is the wide variety of options available. You can generate leads in person, on the phone, in print, or online. Because everyone is a little different in their personality, their pace of work, their budget, and the time they are willing to devote to it, no one lead generation activity is “the best”. And many types of lead generation simply aren’t a fit for some agents. Stop fighting your natural and authentic self, and instead stop working with what you have.
But whether you choose to generate leads at a networking group, an open house, by geographical farming, or by using your MLS to uncover opportunities in the market, you must start lead generation now … and continue it on a consistent basis.
Still not sure why I’m making such a big deal about lead generation? Sometimes when an agent questions my point of view on this topic, I’ll explain it this way: lead generation is to real estate what an “open” sign and a menu is to a restaurant. Without a sign and a menu at the door (or an online menu), customers don’t know if the restaurant can serve them, or whether it offers what they’re hungry for. Yes, some people will walk in and investigate the place. They may even order a meal. But the restaurant owner is missing lots of opportunities by not taking a few simple steps.
Same thing in real estate. If you’re not letting people know about your services (that you’re open and what you’re “serving”) you’re going to substantially decrease the likelihood of working with that “hungry” client. A potential client is far more likely to reach out if they know who you are, what you offer, and how you can help them solve their problem.
Make the commitment today to take the frustration and uncertainty out of your business. Look at your strengths, your natural style, and resources at your disposal. Determine which lead generation activity is right for you. And here’s a tip: the “right” lead generation for you is one that suits your natural style, and the one you’ll do consistently – so it waters and fertilizes your business.