You can’t build a real estate business without clients. That’s why it’s so important to have a purposeful, structured lead generation plan that keeps your team fed and your business growing.
But unfortunately, generating a lead isn’t always the same as generating a client. And while most of us know that instinctively, the fact remains that only 0.4% to 1.2% of leads convert to closed transactions.
That’s only 1-2 closings for every 200 leads.
And when you’re paying for them, a poor conversion rate could send your ROI down the drain.
So how do you make sure you’re turning as many leads as possible into closed deals? It all comes down to understanding and optimizing your real estate funnel.
In this article, we’ll show you how a real estate funnel can give you a clear picture of your business, plus four expert strategies (and tools) to help you convert more leads, more consistently.
Before we dive into the details, let’s get clear on what a funnel is — and what it isn’t.
Call it a real estate marketing funnel or call it a sales funnel. Either way you’re talking about the same thing: how you turn total strangers into totally satisfied clients…and ultimately, raving fans and reliable referral sources!
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
Real estate funnels are powerful tools because they can help you clearly visualize your clients’ journey, from the moment they first hear your name or visit your website to the day they close on a property. Once you can clearly see how a lead progresses through your funnel, you can optimize the path, step by step.
So how do you actually visualize that journey? First, you need to know the distinct stages of a real estate funnel.
Often, you’ll see the customer journey broken into stages like these:
The reason it’s called a ‘funnel’ is because the pool of people progressing to each next stage grows gradually smaller. Because let’s be honest, as awesome as it would be, not every website visitor will eventually choose to buy or list a home with you.
(The one exception is stage six — your engaged SOI of past clients who hopefully keep growing in number. At that point, your funnel starts to look a little more like an hourglass.)
But while each stage naturally grows smaller than the previous one, you still want to do everything you can to help people (a.k.a. leads) progress forward from one stage to the next, rather than leaking out of your funnel.
To help you achieve that, we’ve collected some surefire sales funnel strategies to help you drive authentic conversions more consistently.
We’ll be honest, these strategies aren’t for the laissez-faire agent or team leader.
If you really want to make a difference in your conversion rates, you’ve got to be hands on — or at least willing to get systems in place that can help you consistently nurture leads through your funnel, without cutting corners.
Here are some of the core functions every high-performing real estate funnel has in common.
“The thing that excites most agents is when somebody says, ‘Yeah, right now. I want to buy a house right now,’” Taylor says. Those are definitely hot prospects, but from Taylor’s perspective, they shouldn’t actually be your top priority. Because even though they look like they’re at the bottom of the funnel…it’s not always clear whose funnel they’re at the bottom of.
Might be yours…but it also might be Zillow’s.
So instead of spending your effort competing for those leads with the Zillionaires et. al., Taylor recommends a different approach that helps you focus on the people who are most likely to deliver results time and time again. Here’s how he does it:
These are the referrers, also known on Taylor’s team as “Hack&Co. Heroes.” They’re the people he wants to talk to the most, because they’ve already proven to be an asset to his team. (And at Hack&Co., no client gets on the A-list without an agent nomination.)
“They’re going to have their own exclusive touchpoint system and things like that because we want to continue to deposit into those relationship equity accounts,” Taylor says.
Other teams might refer to these as past clients, but even though they’ve previously done business together, Taylor doesn’t like to think that way.
“That’s like saying, ‘Yeah, she’s my ex-wife,’” he says. Instead, he prefers to identify them as current clients — people who already know, like, and trust you, and will do business with you again if you keep the relationship strong.
Clients in this group are active buyers and active sellers. Since they’re in the middle of finding or listing a home, they’re obviously a high priority.
Finally come the hot prospects — the ‘ready right now’ or ‘hot seat’ contacts. Taylor estimates that a high-performing agent typically has 10 hot seats at any given time. These are the people he wants to be following up with every three days.
At this point, Taylor begins to categorize people based on their timeline. Prospects who are 30 to 90 days out from actively buying or selling should be contacted once a week.
Prospects who are 90 to 180 days out need to be contacted once a month.
Gary Ashton, leader of the #1 RE/MAX team in the world, compares leads and client relationships to a spinning plate act:
“You have a pole with a plate on it and you have to keep it spinning. So if the leads represent that plate, you have to keep it spinning at 75 miles per hour, and if you do, it just sits there, it’s spinning, it doesn’t wobble, it’s perfect,” he explains. “You’re really focusing on keeping that speed up — which is attention, showing homes, all that good stuff.”
When you only have a handful of leads to work, it’s pretty easy to keep them all spinning. But when you start getting to 10, 15, 25, 50, or 100?
“There comes a point where you don’t have the time to dedicate to that lead or that client,” he says. “You’re not giving them the service that they need.”
To build successful client relationships and deliver the best service possible, most people can’t keep all their plates spinning (and not falling) without some help.
Fortunately, automated follow up — what we like to call Action Plans — enable agents to juggle a large volume of client relationships successfully. You can put your lower-priority nurturing on autopilot while giving your best time and effort to the highest priority relationships.
Ever wish you could get inside a prospect’s head and see what they’re thinking about?
When moving your prospects from one stage of the funnel to the next, you need to know exactly which questions, pain points and motivations are top-of-mind at every step.
You could send a survey, audit your conversation history, or do a little lurking online — but if you don’t have the time to play desktop detective, smart tracking tools like the Pixel are here to help.
“The Pixel is a little bit of magic,” explains Emily Smith of The Wemert Group. “We had a website strategy, we could see where leads were coming from…but all of a sudden [with the Pixel], we could see a deeper look at what folks were actually looking at.”
Unfortunately, it won’t give you mind reading powers. But tools like this can give you valuable insight into your prospects’ activities and interests.
In a nutshell, the Follow Up Boss Pixel is a snippet of code on your website that opens up the ability to track activities from leads on your site. That means you can see where they’re coming from, what types of homes they’re looking at, how often they’re visiting, whether they’re reading blog posts, and more.
“This [the Pixel] is a peek behind the curtain that we never had before,” Emily explains. “It allows you to tailor your conversation around what you’re seeing and their actual actions, rather than just what they’re telling you.”
Being able to see what site visitors and prospects are doing in real time makes it possible to have better, more effective conversations with clients.
But there’s an even better way to capitalize on all this knowledge. Because there’s no better time to connect with a prospect than when they’re already thinking about you (and their real estate problem).
Of course, you can’t be watching your screen and waiting for updates day in and day out — you’d never have time to keep the rest of your client relationships moving forward.
That’s why you automate it.
With a tool like Automations, you can use behavior data from the Pixel to trigger smarter follow up strategies.
For example, if a cold lead suddenly pops up on your site and starts viewing and saving properties, you know it’s time to make a big move. But you might have a different strategy for a lead who’s been warm (but not hot) for several months — for them, you might shoot over a text or initiate a drip campaign.
There are dozens of ways you can apply these tools, but the most important part is that they help you connect with the right people, in the right way, at the right moment. Because at the end of the day, that’s what an effective real estate funnel is really all about.