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My Usual Suspects Moment- Real Estate Lead Generation

Hand could no longer hold the Kobayashi coffee mug that smashed into pieces all over the office floor. Eyes paced back and forth piecing together snippets of information that had appeared unrelated just seconds ago. Keyzer Soze.


At the dusk of my real estate career, I was thoroughly confused at the apparently inverse relationship between effort and results. At first, it was all effort, no results: you sent letters, mailers and postcards and made endless phone calls. Crickets. In a few months, it seemed like deals were falling on your lucky lap even though you had already stopped all that inefficient marketing. A few months later, pipeline fresh on empty, back to square one. Made absolutely no sense to me.


Russell Shaw was speaking to a roomful of Phoenix Realtors – as always, candid and funny. Then came this:

Every commission dollar you make today

can be traced back to something you did to earn it 60 days ago

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My mind started doing backflips when I heard that. It explained everything – the lagtime between marketing and checks, the later “luck” as well as the drop off after the slack off. HVCC induced longer close times may have pushed the sixty days closer to ninety, but  the principle holds as true as ever today. Understanding it single handedly transformed our business – it made us clench our teeth and push forward even when it felt like we were wasting our time and taught us to not let today’s celebration ruin tomorrow’s harvest.


So what’s this to ya and why should you care? How about this: You can devise a plan today to crush it in the next three months and every quarter after that. First, divide your pipeline into three sections: Our CRM calls them Leads (90days), Opportunities (60days) and Customers (30days). When a prospect contacts you via your website (or other marketing efforts) and parts with their contact information, they’re in your lead section. (Quick digression: Please don’t start with me about the negative connotation of the term lead – you know what I mean and I don’t have the time). When you make contact with that prospect and either a representation agreement is signed or you start showing properties, move the prospect to the opportunities section. Once a deal is in escrow, they’re in the customers section. With me still? Good. Your 30, 60 and 90 day pipelines are the food, water and air for your business. In other words, if either one is neglected and becomes scarce, your business’ future prospects aren’t looking too good. If your customers section is vibrant and deals are closing, but your opportunities pipeline is weak, you’re headed for a drought in a few weeks. If your leads pipeline is not being fed, the whole system comes to a screeching halt. And if you can get them to escrow but can’t close them, what’s the point?

Now for the most important step: Watch each of these three sections like a hawk. If your leads pipeline is looking like an open house during Christmas, you need to attack it . Whatever you do to generate leads, you must double your normal efforts. If you are generating leads but you can’t get them to commit, you might want to refine your skills — Think: Why should they work with  you? Finally, if your exclusive clients aren’t buying, it could be that you are not showing them the right properties (or showing too many) etc etc. The point is: Do something about it before the inevitable happens. You aren’t closing deals today because sixty days ago you didn’t take the necessary action to bring those closings about. There are no accidents.

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Written By

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...



  1. Joe Loomer

    October 17, 2009 at 8:07 am


    Awesome post – made me look over my shoulder to see if you where in my head!

    When I joined my wife in the trade in September of 2003, it was not an easy transition. Twenty-one years in the Navy makes one focused on immediate and tangible results, be it – a) your enemy is dead, you’re not, move on to next enemy – or b) the mountain of paperwork is done, move on to the next one. The apparent inefficiency and dog-eat-dog world of the traditional employee-broker model had me astounded at the lack of help agents gave one another (visions of convicts protecting their meal with one arm wrapped around their tray and the other shovelling food).

    When I realized “if it is to be, it’s up to me,” things got a lot better.

    “He who has so little knowledge of human nature as to seek happiness by changing anything but his own disposition will waste his life in fruitless efforts and multiply the grief which he purposes to remove” – Samuel Johnson

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride

  2. Atlanta Real Estate

    October 17, 2009 at 11:12 am


    Good post and creatively done.

    In all my years at this, I’ve only had a few transactions that occurred on a time frame much shorter than the one you described.

    If you are doing nothing today, you will probably be doing nothing in 3 months from now.

    But, it’s never too late to change it!


  3. Missy Caulk

    October 18, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Excellent post, that pipeline is critical to our future closings. Nice advice on if you aren’t getting them in the car, change up what you are saying to convert.
    LOL at calling them leads…I’m sick of the debate too.

  4. Paula Henry

    October 18, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Erion – I haven’t had the good fortune to actually see Russell speak, but caught the very same statement from one of his blogs once and it was an Ah – Ha moment. The shuffle between six closings one month and none three months later was directly related to our activity when we were busy. If I ignore contacts when I am busy, I’ll suffer later. Great summary!!

  5. bficker

    October 18, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    This may be a question for Russell, but what do you do for seller lead follow up? I was passed a bunch (about 300) names, phones, some emails) of people who do not qualify to receive a loan modification. I am trying to figure out the best way of attacking this. How long would I keep them in my DB, what type of follow up, etc. Obviously, the newer names are a little more hot but I don’t just want to toss the 200 or so names that inquired before July. Any ideas?

  6. Ken Brand

    October 18, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    That was an awesome movie! Truer words….etc.


  7. Doug Francis

    October 19, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Actions certainly result in reactions… and real estate is a contact sport.

    Having a blog and using Facebook are all good ways to add an additional “touches” to my peeps, and opens up additional topics for conversations.

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