Leads are the lifeblood of your real estate business. But many agents hemorrhage money buying leads because they suck at converting them. In my real estate career, I’ve converted hundreds of leads into clients and created a database that continues to produce referrals today. But that wasn’t always the case. I had to learn the art of real estate lead conversion.  

Honestly, converting ice-cold leads is a lot harder than it seems. But, after developing some simple strategies to keep leads from slipping through the cracks—and focusing on some basic sales techniques instead of blaming my lead sources—my conversion rate skyrocketed. 

In this article, I’ll walk you through the basics of lead conversion, explain my conversion strategy for different types of leads that allowed me to close an average of one deal per month as a solo agent, and wrap up with some tips to scale your business. Plus, I’ll link to some of our deep dives and buyer’s guides as resources to keep you moving forward.

What Is Lead Conversion?

Let’s start with the basics. Real estate agents, like you and me, work hard to generate leads to grow our business. But we don’t reap any of the benefits until a lead becomes an actual sale. The art and science of turning a lead into a sale is referred to as conversion. There are many strategies you can deploy to convert leads, but it really comes down to persuading someone to choose you over your competitors. 

Conversion Rate

When people talk about converting leads, they typically mention conversion rate, which is simply how many leads out of the total you generate typically turn into sales. For example, if you generate 100 leads and five of them become clients, that’s a 5% conversion rate. 

The National Association of Realtors (NAR) estimates the average real estate agent converts leads at a rate between 0.4% and 1.2%. If you’re converting at a rate of 0.4%, that means you have to generate 250 leads to make one sale. Yikes! 

So, getting really good at converting leads can catapult your business. Just imagine if you could get back all of the leads you burned through at a 0.4% conversion rate. How much money could you save by converting just a few more leads? If each lead costs you around $30, you can 10x your return by simply improving your conversion rate from 0.4% to 4%. That doesn’t sound like a huge number, but when you look at the monetary value of that, that’s a $300 savings in lead expenditure. And we’re not even talking about the transactions you would close. You just jumped from one closing for 250 leads to ten! How would that impact your bottom line?

Lead Nurturing vs Lead Conversion

Lead nurturing can help immensely to increase your conversion rate. Most savvy agents, including me, use a lead nurturing campaign to help convert their leads. Nurturing leads is different from converting—nurturing is about building a relationship with leads in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey. They’re not quite ready to purchase, but they’re in your sphere and may be ready to buy in the future. Nurturing is the art of establishing and building relationships with these folks so that when it’s time to choose an agent, the choice is clear.

Stages of Lead Conversion: Understanding the Buyer’s Journey

It’s important to understand the way your buyers and sellers think when they’re making any kind of purchasing decision. When you understand the psychology and the process that every person’s brain travels, it helps you understand your role in that decision-making process. 

I mentioned the buyer’s journey previously, so let me elaborate on what that is. I like to use this infographic when I explain the buyer’s journey, also known as the sales funnel.

Infographic showing the 4 stages of the buyer's journey

The buyer’s journey is usually represented as a funnel. It’s also known as your pipeline. When you first encounter a lead, they most likely will not be looking for you or your services. So they enter at the top of the funnel, the widest part, to begin working their way through this process. 

Awareness: In this first awareness stage, your lead learns about you and the services you provide, but may not be in the market for your services at this time. 

Consideration: If you continue building a relationship with that lead, they will eventually enter into the consideration phase, where they will weigh whether or not they need your services. 

Decision: Once your lead has considered all their options, they will enter the decision phase, where they will determine whether your services are right for them. 

Loyalty: Finally, there’s the phase where many agents fall off—to their detriment. The loyalty phase is where satisfied past clients share you with all of their sphere. They become your evangelists, telling everyone they know how amazing you are. These people end up being a huge source of referrals that can sustain your business for years. You can’t neglect this phase if you want your business to boom.

Every single person who ever makes any kind of purchase goes through the buyer’s journey. From choosing that tube of lipstick to investing in real estate, the length of time may be different, but the mind mapping is the same.

Conversion Strategies for Common Lead Types

Let’s get the quiet part out of our heads and on the page–not all leads were created equal. And if all leads are not equal, then there is no one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to converting them. You will need to tailor your approach to each lead type to get the most bang for your buck.

First, a Word About Mindset

As a trainer, one thing I’ve noticed with the agents I have worked with is a mindset issue. So many of them feel like they have to be a pushy salesperson to find success. You will need to change your mindset around closing—you’re not trying to sell someone a used car that you know will fall apart five miles down the road. You know you can deliver the best experience buying or selling a home—that’s what you’re selling. 

With this mindset, you’re not actually selling—you’re persuading someone to see what you already know. So, change the way you think about closing. Get comfortable asking for what you want: to help people find their dream home or sell their biggest financial asset because you know you can do it better than your competitors. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, how will anyone else be able to put their trust in you?

Now that we’ve covered the importance of your mindset, let’s go over each lead type and the exact strategies I use to convert them.

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Internet Leads

These are prospects who come to you via your attraction marketing efforts. Using social media and paid advertising, you can build your brand, create engagement, and eventually attract leads who know, like, and trust you. 

They take a lot longer to convert and will probably spend a lot of time going through the nurturing process. But because they spend so much time in your funnel before they’re ready to actually buy or sell a house, they’re relatively easy to convert.

Tips to Convert Internet Leads

  1. Maintain a consistent presence on your social media, blog, YouTube, etc. 
  2. Encourage engagement with polls, quizzes, and questions for your audience to answer.
  3. Make sure you understand that the goal is to build your relationship, not just talk about real estate. Make them like you by sharing your everyday life.
  4. Anticipate and answer their questions.
  5. Always include a call to action (CTA) in your online content.
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21 Proven Real Estate Social Media Marketing Techniques That Actually Generate Leads

Paid Leads

There are many sources of paid leads, perhaps the best known being sites such as Zillow and realtor.com. Typically, whenever you pay for leads, they should be higher quality and closer to a buying decision. But that doesn’t mean they will be easier to convert. You will have to work to build a relationship with them to become their agent. Not to mention, you might be getting that lead at the same time as several other agents, depending on the lead source. Hence, the ubiquitous speed-to-lead mantra.

When a fresh lead comes in, you need to have a systematic approach for contacting them immediately while they’re in the homebuying or selling mindset. Think about it: If you were looking at homes online and really interested in one of them, you’d want the answers to your questions right then, not two hours later when you’re in the middle of making dinner for your family, right? So, the sooner you can make that connection while the lead is still in the home shopping mindset, the easier it will be to convert that lead.

Tips to Convert Paid Leads

  1. Make sure your system immediately sets the lead up on an appropriate lead nurturing campaign.
  2. Use chatbots to ask and answer questions on your behalf and prequalify the leads when you can’t answer your phone.
  3. Try to reach out via phone, text, and email. Your lead will most likely respond to text messages and engage with a chatbot.  
  4. Don’t stop reaching out to the lead. It will likely take multiple attempts before they will make a buying decision. If you stop too soon, you will lose the lead to another agent.

If you’re new to the paid lead generation game, you might want to check out Market Leader. They make lead generation simple. A powerful all-in-one platform, Market Leader makes you look super professional with websites, landing pages, and exclusive leads to power your real estate business in months, not years.

Visit Market Leader

Looking for more paid leads? Check out our guide to the best places to buy real estate leads below.

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The 9 Best Places to Buy Real Estate Leads in 2024

Sphere of Influence 

This is your honey pot. These are the people you know IRL. And this is where your conversion efforts should be the most fruitful. Maintaining relationships is one of the easiest ways to boost your business. But that doesn’t mean you should take them for granted.

I didn’t have a large sphere of influence (SOI) when I started real estate because I’d recently moved to the area. So, I had to spend a lot of time upfront networking and generating leads to build my sphere. But when I tell you that work pays off in spades, believe me. Those people will come back around in a few years to become your clients again, and they will continuously refer people to you. 

Tips to Convert Sphere of Influence Leads

  1. Make sure they’re on a consistent contact rotation. Communicate with them via email, texts, or even picking up the phone for a short check-in conversation.
  2. Invite them to networking events and seasonal celebrations.
  3. Offer to meet up for coffee to catch up. The key is to let them know they’re appreciated.
  4. Subtly mention how much you would love to work with any referrals they have.
  5. Make sure they’re following you on social media so they have continuous reminders that you are the real estate expert they know.

Most agents don’t start off with a huge SOI. If you need some help filling your customer relationship manager (CRM) with fresh leads to nurture, check out this article on how to build your SOI even if you’re not great at networking.

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Buyer Leads

Buyer leads who reach out to you will be hotter than most other leads. I generated a lot of my buyer leads with my own lead magnets and nurturing email campaigns. Some buyer leads will come from your paid lead gen sources. Some of them will come from referrals (I got a lot of those too). No matter where the lead comes from, you want to use those closing skills to convert them fast. 

I worked with a lot of buyers and learned some of the best ways to close the deal. One of my favorite exercises when meeting buyers for the first time is getting them to visualize themselves in their new home, feeling what life will be like and how happy they will be. Let your buyers do most of the talking while you take notes. 

Tips to Convert Buyer Leads

  1. Practice active listening. Really listen to what your buyers are looking for, why they want it, and what their goals are.
  2. Learn to ask great, open-ended questions. When you ask the right questions, you’ll get more nuanced answers that will give you insights into their situation.
  3. Practice visualization techniques to get your buyers to see themselves in their dream home. After listening to them share, you should be able to vocalize their vision to help them see themselves accomplishing their goal.
  4. Don’t make any promises you can’t guarantee.
  5. Be open and honest about the process. But also let them know you’re dedicated to getting them across the finish line.

Need some help filling that lead pipeline? Check out this article with some great strategies for finding fresh buyer leads.

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Seller Leads

Converting these leads into clients is the closest you will come to “pushy” sales, but if you do it the right way, you won’t feel like a car salesperson. The right listing presentation will do most of the heavy lifting for you.

If you want to double your chances of converting your listing appointments, start with SmartZip to narrow your targeting. SmartZip delivers property owners who are most likely to sell based on predictive analytics data. So, by the time you get a foot in the door with one of these leads, you’re more likely to close because SmartZip has stacked the odds in your favor.

Visit SmartZip

7 Real Estate Lead Conversion Strategies

Now that we’ve covered what lead conversion is and the different types of leads you will deal with, let’s get into my best strategies for converting those leads into sales. These strategies generally apply to all leads, regardless of type.

1. Be First & Be Consistent

You may not want to hear this, but the agent who contacts a lead first is often the one who gets the gig. Whether an agent gets a call from a paid ad, responds quickly to an inquiry from Zillow, or reaches out to an FSBO, chances are the agent who makes the first contact is the only agent that lead will interview. 

Many times when you receive an inbound lead, you won’t be the only agent who received it. So, don’t let your phone go to voicemail. Answer it. And if they don’t answer your calls, send a text and then follow up with an email, and keep following up. Never remove a lead from your pipeline unless they actually say, “No.” 

If you happen to be the first agent who contacts a lead, remember the fundamental rule of cold calling: Don’t sell them. Schedule the next interaction. Your first objective is to get the next appointment. 

2. Craft Compelling Real Estate Content to Build Trust

An important step in converting your real estate leads is to build trust with your audience. Creating content helps validate your expertise to those leads who have just entered your funnel. Use your social media, website, blog, and YouTube channel to create value-driven content your audience wants. Deliver entertaining and engaging posts that will encourage your followers to come back again and again.

 Video converts faster than any other form of content because most audiences prefer video. I started my YouTube channel creating videos weekly to generate leads. I continued to create videos every week and my lead generation exploded. The best part was my videos helped give me cred so when my leads were ready, I didn’t have to do a lot to convert them.

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3. Leverage Social Media to Convert Leads

Once you’re posting on your social media platforms consistently, learn to leverage your posts for higher engagement. Social media is driven by algorithms, which means the higher the engagement rate on your posts, the more the platform favors your post and continues to show it in new feeds, expanding your reach. 

So, in order to get in front of more eyeballs, give the algo what it wants: engagement. Use polls, quizzes, virtual tours, and humor in your posts to keep people engaged, commenting, liking, and sharing. 

Need a few tricks to get higher engagement on your Instagram? I’ve got just the thing. Check out this article from Eric Simon, aka The Broke Agent, that offers inspiration from real estate pros who are killing it on social media.

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4. Email Marketing Strategies for the Win

One of my all-time favorite marketing strategies is email. There is so much you can do with email that you can’t do with any other form of marketing. Period. Email is the best way to stir emotions, share personal stories, and have deep conversations with your prospects. To me, it feels more intimate than any other form of communication. 

You won’t convert all of your leads the first time you come into contact with them, but you stand a pretty good chance to capture their email addresses. In this way, you’ll feed tons of leads into your pipeline that aren’t at the buying phase of their journey yet. So, email is how you remind them that you’re there for them when they’re ready. It’s your chance to share those personal and relatable stories, valuable insights, education on the homebuying or selling process, and even the occasional video. The best part is it’s still free to send an email. You can’t beat that.

Set up a solid drip campaign for each type of lead you generate. This may take some time, but many CRMs come with ready-made campaigns you can customize to cut down some of the setup. 

You can also include text messages in your drip campaigns. If you have the ability to use SMS, do it. It increases your email open rate when you send a text message alongside your emails. 

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5. The Secret Sauce: Create a Conversion Plan

As you know, it takes several contacts with your leads who are in the top of the funnel before they will convert. And no matter how good you get, you won’t convert all of them, so you need to make the most of your efforts. That means you’re going to have to keep touching them through email, handwritten letters, phone calls, and the occasional text message. So, invest some time into setting up a nurturing campaign that will keep your leads moving through the funnel.

Create a solid drip email campaign for all of your lead types. Then, couple it with a consistent phone call check-in no less than quarterly. Consider recording a short video that shows your face asking how things are going. I love using a service like BombBomb for this because they compress the videos so you can easily send them through text or email. 

You might also think about starting a monthly email newsletter with fun and educational content that drives your subscribers back to your website. Create useful lead magnets that your people can download and use while they’re still in the decision-making process. Anything you can do to give your leads more of the information they need to get to make a decision will keep that conversion rate high. 

The follow-up is where most real estate agents lose money. They make a few attempts to connect with a new lead, but drop off way before they have a chance to convert. If you don’t create a campaign to stay in touch and continue nurturing the leads you’ve captured all the way to the decision phase, you’ll just be wasting your money.

You’ll probably hear a lot of agents complain about “bad leads,” but the reality is the leads most likely just weren’t ready and the agent quit on them way too soon. And that’s when paying for leads becomes prohibitively expensive. 

The best way to keep your leads from falling through the cracks is by using a CRM to manage them. You can add your leads to your CRM and let the platform do the work for you. Wise Agent is one of my favorite CRMs for real estate agents. You can use Wise Agent’s landing pages to capture leads, set them up on drip campaigns, and automate a huge part of your marketing.

Visit Wise Agent

6. Leverage Testimonials to Create Closings

One thing I haven’t talked about yet is social proof. We all like to know that we’re making a smart decision, especially when it comes to spending money. Think about how often you are on the fence when it comes to making a purchase and you pop over to Amazon to find some product reviews. We need affirmation. And glowing testimonials are the 5-star rating for real estate professionals.

When you’re working with leads, both buyers and sellers, they need to be reassured that you can get the job done for them. Your testimonials will help them feel at ease enough to finally say “yes” and sign on the bottom line of your buyer or listing agreement.

Set up a process to automate your testimonials. The reason you need to do this is most people, no matter how much they loved working with you, will not give you a testimonial after just one ask. In my experience, it’s typically taken at least three times to finally push them to share their experience. Everyone is busy and your nudging will be the gentle reminder they need. 

I have discovered a secret that takes the obstacle out of getting testimonials: Use your smartphone camera to take a video testimonial with your clients at closing. Catch them in the moment when they are most willing to share positive thoughts on how awesome you are to work with. Get permission to post those video testimonials to your website.

The best part about video testimonials is their authenticity. They actually make a much bigger impact for people who are deciding whether or not to work with you. Just like you prefer to see videos of people using products on Amazon, your leads will love seeing people genuinely, in their own words, talk about how fun and professional you are. 

Want to see some examples of video testimonials? Check out this article for inspiration.

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7. Always Include a Call to Action

After all of this work with a lead, the last thing you want is for them to not know what to do next. Hockey phenom Wayne Gretsky said it best: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” 

Don’t let all your hard work fizzle out by not asking for the business. Always end your emails, social posts, texts, phone calls, and videos with a simple call to action, like, “Call or text me if you have any questions about real estate” or “If you’re ready to see a few listings, let me know by replying to this email.” It doesn’t have to be  pushy. But you do need to be a little assertive. You want their business, right? You need to let them know that.

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Lead Nurturing: Tools & Strategies for Conversion (+ Scripts)

Your Take

Real estate lead conversion is a real attainable skill. Anyone can learn to be good at converting. But it takes practice and confidence. 

Did I miss anything? Have a few real estate conversion tips you want to share? I would love to hear them! Share them in the comment section.

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