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Smiling successful businesswoman working on laptopIf you want to build a successful and profitable real estate business, then you need leads, and lots of them. Online leads can add to your bottom line and be a tremendous source of income, but most real estate professionals haven’t put the right systems into place to really monetize these opportunities.

Before you spend money on an ad campaign or lead-buy program, there are three steps you need to take to ensure that your investment is going to result in the desired return.

Step 1: Have proper tracking in place
A client relationship management (CRM) tool is critical. If your CRM tool is your email inbox, then you will fail. You need a system that will keep track of incoming leads, and you need to be committed to using that system. Successful agents document every interaction with a lead and utilize the CRM functionality to schedule follow-ups.

People often ask me, “What is the best CRM to use?” My answer is the one that you’re going to commit to using. I have a favorite CRM tool, but the reality is that it doesn’t matter. Committing to using the system is where the real key to success lies.

Step 2: Have a proper lead conversion plan
Internet lead gurus convert online leads because their lead conversion plan is the right combination of response time and ongoing follow-up.

MIT recently performed a sales study that determined that you’re 100 times more likely to reach a lead if you call within the first five minutes of registration. Are you contacting your leads as soon as they register?

Not only is call-response time critical to your success, so is proper follow up and lead nurturing. Drip campaigns, e-alerts and monitoring tools are all components of successful follow-up.

Step 3: Understand where your leads are coming from. Are they shared or exclusive leads?
For a smaller cost per lead, you can purchase leads that are considered “shared leads.” Shared leads are leads that have been given to you and at least one other agent at the time of registration.

If you’re buying shared leads, response time is critical, so you should plan ahead. If a lead comes in, you’ll want to be the first to respond.

On the other hand, leads coming from a pay-per-click campaign will be exclusive, meaning only coming to you; however, they usually cost more and may or may not be a better lead.

Success with online leads comes from developing a system and working that system. If you’re interested in more information on this topic, send me an email and request our white paper, “How Successful Agents Capture, Convert, and Cash-In With Online Leads.”

Wendy Forsythe is the executive vice president and head of global operations at Carrington Real Estate Services, where she is responsible for the operations and growth of the national brokerage with offices in 22 states and 1,500 agents. You can email her at

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