3 ways to generate (free) leads with one spreadsheet

The Real Estate industry is often a place for second chances. Professionals from various backgrounds flock to the industry for the promise of more independence and a big paycheck. It’s incredibly appealing. But, what many fail to realize is you need to generate your own business.

You aren’t handed a list of leads when you show up at your brokerage. You need to generate them for yourself. Some beginning agents have made the switch to real estate with a comfortable cushion of savings in anticipation of the 4-6 month period where they won’t be making money. These agents have the opportunity to invest in paid leads provided by sites like Zillow or Trulia to give their business a boost. But what if you’re entering this business with no savings and need to make money now? How do you generate free leads with one spreadsheet?

Call your inner circle

Leveraging your existing relationships is the most immediate way to generate leads. Your phone book is the source of leads you’ve been building your whole life. Look through your contact list and…

  • Create a spreadsheet with the following headings: Name, Phone Number, Email, Relationship

  • Input your family members, friends, and connectors (accountants, attorneys, bankers, etc.).

  • Call each number on the list

  • After an initial greeting, inform them you’ve recently begun your career as a real estate agent and you’ve set a goal to help as many people as you can.

  • Keep the conversation casual and kindly ask them to refer you to anyone they know who may be looking to purchase or sell a home.

This exercise has the potential to produce two results: First, you’re taking this opportunity to market yourself to the most loyal (hopefully) and caring people in your life—for free! Second, you’re creating the possibility of generating a lead. Your cousin might be in the market for a rental or their first home. Or maybe your uncle has a friend who’s looking to sell their home. You won’t know until you try.

Open house

Once you’ve established a relationship with your broker and fellow agents, offer to host an open house at one of their listings. Unless they’re hosting open houses frequently, it’s very unlikely they’ll will turn down an opportunity to have their listing marketed.

People that visit open houses are either curious neighbors, serial open housers (maybe it’s their hobby), or buyers actively shopping for a home. All three of these people represent a potential lead. So, what’s the strategy?

  • Print a blank copy of the spreadsheet you created in the previous exercise

  • Host the open house (preferably on a Saturday or Sunday)

  • Engage with every visitor and ask them a series of prequalifying questions to determine their interest in the home (Do you live in the neighborhood? Are you looking for a home?) Your goal is to find buyers who aren’t represented by an agent.

  • If they’re a buyer, offer to assist them in their home search. Request their contact information and ask them what time they prefer to be reached to discuss their ideal home. You just generated a lead.

Hopefully, you’ll get the opportunity to engage with at least a dozen people. Not all will be buyers but those other people still present opportunities. Perhaps one of the curious neighbors who walked through isn’t looking to sell now. No problem. Request their email information and offer to keep them informed with market updates.

You’ll slowly establish yourself as the local expert and remain top of mind with the majority of the neighbors. If you make a good impression and followup, who do you think they’ll call when they’re ready to list? You.

Door Knock

I know you read the words ‘door knock’ and thought, ‘Nope. Not me’. I also know your fear is a result of your perspective. Knocking on someones door can be terrifying. You’re interrupting a complete strangers day to sell a service you provide. Despite that, your job is to make the homeowner realize you’ve come to offer more than the opportunity to sell their home. You come to offer value.

These are perfect reasons to knock on someones door:

  • Just Listed: you’ve come to inform the homeowner about a listing your brokerage just acquired in the neighborhood. Ask the homeowner to refer the home to any interested buyers.

  • Just Sold: you’ve come to inform the homeowner about a home you just sold in their neighborhood. Mention the list price and offer to schedule a listing appointment to discuss the possibility of selling their home.

  • Open House: you’ve come to inform the homeowner about an open house you’ll be hosting this weekend. Let them know you look forward to seeing them there.

Using the same spreadsheet you printed to organize your inner circle and your open house contacts, record the contact information you collect from the homeowners. If they’re hesitant to hand you their phone number, collect their email. You are showing them the diligence and work ethic you’ll be implementing if you were to represent them.

Let the homeowner know you’ll be sending out reports every month to keep them updated on the market health of their neighborhood. Create a followup system and stay top of mind.

All you need is one

If there’s one thing that pushes you through the fear of calling, hosting, or knocking it should be this: All you need is one solid prospect. You only need one person to express actionable interest in your services to make it worth your time. If you successfully help that one prospect complete their goal of buying or selling, you’ll have your first referral source.

Referrals are invaluable sources of business. Clients can become walking marketing machines that will spread the news of the excellent job you did helping them reach their goals to anyone who asks.

Every lead generating strategy we’ve presented will put you in contact with many people. You’ll work on your communication skills, your elevator pitch, and your confidence—three skills that further your success. You don’t need a marketing budget or paid leads. All you need is the persistence to place yourself in front of as many people as possible and create relationships that foster business.