With a track record of over 2,500 transactions in 2018, Robert Slack spearheads one of Florida’s top-producing real estate teams — and he does it all on the back of paid leads.
We sat down with Robert to find out how he and his team generated over $20 million in commissions on a $5 million annual investment in leads.
And yes, the story is just as amazing as it sounds.
In 2013, Robert Slack was 65 years old and flat broke.
From selling groceries to used cars, he’d done it all. And after a couple of bad investments, he’d also lost it all. “I was in a fairly dark place,” Robert recalls.
He sat down at his kitchen table and made a list. He needed to see in black and white all the ways a man of his age could get back in the game. “Selling real estate was one of the things on my list.”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Robert took an online course, secured his real estate license and joined a local brokerage. The only problem was, he didn’t have $1,000 to join the MLS. And unfortunately, he didn’t have much of an SOI to speak of either.
Everything changed the day he got a call from Zillow.
“I never saw real estate as local. I looked at it in terms of where can I get ROI for selling homes?”
For Robert, it didn’t matter if a prospect was in his zip code or four hours away, he bought leads wherever he could smell a deal. And there was no doubt about it — he was great at converting them.
“I learned early on it was all about speed to lead,” Robert says. So he kept at it, buying zip codes and converting leads faster and better than anyone.
It wasn’t too long before Robert got tired of splitting commissions with his broker and decided to make the leap to leading his own team. He took four agents with him, each one with only six months of experience in real estate.
“I took one young woman with me who had recently been fired from Dunkin Donuts. Now she’s #1 in lead conversions two years running.” Robert and his team of unlikely Real Estate heroes bought leads on the cheap and converted them as quickly and efficiently as possible.
By the end of his first year, Robert had hired 40 agents — but he had to let 30 of them go because they were not converting at an acceptable rate.
“Three years ago, I was spending $40,000 per month on Zillow leads but then the cost of the leads increased 600% over the course of a year.”
After struggling to pay Zillow every month, Robert realized he could get twice the number of leads for the same price if he switched to Realtor.com. He now has 300 agents all over Florida to service the 12,000 leads he gets monthly with 260,000 leads in nurture and 440 deals pending.
“We don’t call FSBOs, expireds or go to weddings and funerals. Online leads are all we do.”
If the thought of spending $430,000 per month on leads makes you queasy, you’re not alone. But a rock-solid system is what makes the difference between Robert and the rest of us.
“People complain about online leads all the time. They buy them but they have no system for converting them. That’s like buying a Mercedes and not having enough for gas.”
Luckily, Robert was kind enough to give us the complete play-by-play for how to successfully turn those leads into tangible ROI for your real estate business.
The first thing you need to know about winning with paid leads is speed matters.
“The rate at which people fail with paid leads is directly proportional to the time it takes them to get back to a lead.” According to Robert, you need to engage in a dialogue within two seconds. “90% of online leads are going to buy from the person they speak to first,” he says.
Today, Robert has a call center consisting of 16 inside sales agents who are on the clock from 7 am to 10 pm, 365 days a year to connect with leads across 700 zip codes.
There’s no denying it — the phone is still a powerful sales tool.
But unfortunately, it’s not quite as effective as it once was. Due to the number of bogus phone calls people get every day, Robert quickly realized he needed to expand his methods for engaging leads as quickly as possible. We were only connecting with 34% of our leads, but since we instituted a 45-day text campaign with CallAction, that number has risen to 65%
By enhancing the action plans in Follow Up Boss using the integration with CallAction to send additional drip texts, Robert is 100% certain that every new lead is contacted across multiple channels immediately and consistently. But of course, each new prospect comes with their own unique timeline and once you get in front of a lead, you need to stay there.
Robert and his team use Follow Up Boss’ deep integration with Ylopo to serve all of their leads with targeted ad campaigns via social media. Each ad is branded with the assigned agent’s details and specifically targeted to the lead’s homebuying preferences.
“We’re adding roughly 10,000 leads per month into Ylopo and we’ve seen about 10% of them come alive again. Even leads that came in three or four years ago are engaging. It’s like having an extra 1,000 new leads per week.“
According to Robert, Ylopo is bringing his team opportunities they never even knew were there.
“We recently had a lead that we retargeted that originally came in March of 2018, they connected with one of our agents. She was looking for homes in the $500,000 price range. While she was here, we heard a ‘ding’ on her phone. It was a notification for a property worth $750,000. Without blinking, she said, ‘That’s it. That’s the house I want.’ She bought it at full asking price. We never would have shown her that property if it weren’t for Ylopo.”
There’s a common belief that automation and personalization are mutually exclusive — but as we’ve seen time and time again, Real Estate’s best brokers boldly reject that mindset.
“We’ve had Follow Up Boss since day one. It was the best thing that came from my collaboration with Zillow [since they originally referred Robert to Follow Up Boss].” Leads go straight into Follow Up Boss and are distributed automatically to all 300 agents on Robert’s team. “We’re in all of Florida so we can’t do a round robin. We need to distribute by zip code and Follow Up Boss makes that easy.”
Here’s a quick recap of Robert’s winning process:
After that, it’s all about agents getting to know their prospects.
“I say it all the time: make notes! Agents don’t make enough notes about their leads and there’s no way they’re going to remember what matters to them.” For the team at Robert Slack LLC, personalization isn’t just about price range and zip code. Robert and his 12 team leaders coach their agents to take notes on everything from a lead’s family to their kids’ hobbies and the name of their favorite pet.
“If you can remember that a lead has two boys, a girl and a dog called Charlie, you’re going to really score some points. You simply cannot make too many notes on a person.” Agents add their notes straight into a lead’s profile in Follow Up Boss so they always know exactly who they’re reaching out to.
Once you have your team firmly committed to gathering lead intel, the next major challenge is to make sure they apply it.
Every real estate leader knows a great lead management system is only half the battle — getting your team to follow that system is a whole other game.
That’s why Robert and his team leaders are laser-focused on agent conversion ratios. “We need our agents to show a positive return on leads. If we go in and see no notes and no showings, we’re going to sit down and have a chat.”
After ROI, conversion ratio is the team’s most important metric. Robert’s team leaders can easily monitor agent activity from calls made to appointments set all the way through to each agent’s and lead source’s conversion rate inside Follow Up Boss to ensure the team is engaging quickly and consistently.
“We try not to hire agents who have spent more than two years at a big brokerage. These agents tend to want to follow their own system but if that system was working for them, they wouldn’t be coming to us in the first place,” explains Robert.
For Robert, the new game of Real Estate requires a new set of rules.
That’s why agents at Robert Slack LLC never preapprove a lead over the phone. “It’s bad manners to ask someone about money when you haven’t even met them face-to-face. It just doesn’t work in today’s market.” Treating people like people is crucial to their conversion strategy.
For Robert and his rockstar team, there are no signs of stopping.
The team is on track to sell over 5,000 homes and double their numbers to 600 agents in 2019. And as you’d expect, Robert uses his lead-first philosophy to set up shop in new markets. “Realtor.com leads are available in real time and when we reached 500 leads per month in Palm Beach County, we knew it was time to hire a team there. The fact that I could tell them how many leads I was ready to hand over was a wonderful recruiting tool,” he says.
But Robert isn’t just differentiating his zip codes, he’s opening completely new lines of business. His latest endeavour is Florida Funding LLC which covers the lending side of the Real Estate equation to cover his customers’ needs from A to Z.
Only time will tell where Robert’s nose for ROI will lead him next. In the meantime, he has some advice for growing agents and team leaders looking to break into the world of online leads, “Before you buy leads, make sure you have a process to handle them…and quickly.”