“Today I will do what others won’t, so tomorrow I can accomplish what others can’t.”
– Jerry Rice
You’ve probably heard the saying, “You’re not a real estate investor, you’re a real estate marketer.” It’s easy to gloss over the deeper implications of idioms like these in our profession, as they are usually washed away in an endless sea of investing advice.
On this series of posts, we’re going to break down the three things that need to occur properly in order for you to put money in your bank account. This post will cover the first pillar: Lead Generation. In particular, lead generation for motivated sellers.
We’re also going to give you actual steps on how to execute and structure these elements in your business today…because life’s too short to wait ’til tomorrow. The Three Pillars are as follows:
The barriers to entry for real estate investing are inherently pretty low. If you can afford to buy a targeted mail list, some paper, stamps, and envelopes, then you can get the phone ringing, which means you’re pretty much in business! Congrats!
The problem is that hundreds and hundreds of fly-by-night operations are watering down the effectiveness of these low-barrier-to-entry marketing channels like direct mail. It’s easy, cheap(ish), and you can hire third parties to do it for you.
However, if you get the other two pillars right, you shouldn’t rule out these “easier” methods, as they definitely work.
Additionally, we’ll discuss some of the HIGHER barriers to entry, or the lead generation tactics that require more work.
The key is to diversify your lead gen across different levels of barriers to entry. For instance, don’t put ALL your marketing dollar eggs into the direct mail basket.
Understanding this will put you in the position to rise above the rest. Focusing on the things that most people aren’t willing to do because it’s slightly harder to execute will win you exponentially more deals.
We will discuss each type of real estate lead generation in order of barrier to entry, starting with the lowest/easiest and moving toward the highest/hardest.
Lead Generation can be broken down into 2 different types: Inbound Marketing and Prospecting.
Inbound marketing are the messages that you put out into the world to attract potential sellers or buyers, instructing them to reach out to you. It is “passive”, meaning the messages simply sit there, existing in different mediums, waiting for someone to see them and take action.
Rather than dive into the “what” of each method, I will give you a specific set of “how” instructions for you to get started immediately. If you can execute on 5 of these channels consistently for 6 months, you WILL close deals.
Step 1: Sign up at zBuyer for your area, and they will send you leads that they generate. Keep in mind the quality isn’t guaranteed and lots of other people may be seeing and calling on the same leads. It’s better than nothing, and also isn’t free.
Step 1: Purchase a list
Step 2: If you don’t have a phone system, signup for Callrail.com and purchase a tracking number. It will ask you where you’d like to forward the calls. Enter in the cell phone of whoever will be taking the leads. This can be changed whenever.
Step 3: Mail fulfillment
Step 2: Write “Sell Your House As-Is. Cash. [Your Tracking Number]” and “Buying Houses Now. Cash. Fast. [Your Tracking Number]” on these signs. Put the H-Stakes into the flutes, and put them in your car.
Step 3: Every Friday at 2PM, go around and put these signs up at busy intersections in your target areas. Make sure to put them up around Walmarts…it works. You can use the app SimpleCrew to track where these signs are.
SimpleCrew in Action
Step 4: Take them down on Monday morning so you can re-use them and not violate your city ordinances! You paid good money for these little assets, so you might as well keep them in play.
Recommended: Hire someone on Craigslist to do this for you. If you use SimpleCrew, you can track their work and pay them $2 per sign to write them, place them, and take them down. Pay half when they place them, half when they return them.
The longer you do this, the more success you’ll have. If you only put them up once, don’t expect to get a deal.
PPC stands for “Pay-Per-Click” and refers to paid advertising online, whether it be from Facebook or Google. I recommend Google Adwords (you know, those annoying ads that show up when you are Googling things). These leads are quality, as they are from people that are actively seeking you out.
*You want to make sure you can get in front of these people when they are in that mode, so make sure to call them back as soon as they submit their information!*
Caveat: It takes a few months for you to dial in your Google Adwords campaigns. It also costs money. Aim to pay Google 1K/month + another $500-1000 for a PPC manager to pay for clicks and gather data. Depending on your market, people are searching for different things, and you need to make sure you are optimizing how your ads show up based on what people are searching for and, more importantly, what they are clicking on.
Don’t worry, you don’t need to learn how to do this.
Here’s the easiest and fastest way to get up and running with online lead generation via PPC.
Step 1: Get a website. Use InvestorCarrot to have a professional site up in minutes.
Step 2: Reach out to Dan Barrett, who specializes in PPC for real estate investors, at Two Friendly Nerds. He’s worth every penny to manage your campaigns and drive hot leads into your business. He already knows what to do and how to drive traffic to your new website.
You’ll have motivated sellers submitting their info on your site in a matter of a few days in most cases.
Prospecting is when you specifically target someone, reach out to them, and qualify that person to determine if they are a potential lead or not. It is “active” and requires consistent, dedicated outreach and research. Below are 3 high-leverage forms of prospecting, in order of difficulty (remember, these are the higher barriers to entry that very few investors are actually doing).
Step 2: They’ll give you a direct line to the landlords some of the time. Call them and ask if they have any real estate in their portfolio they are looking to sell. If so, you’ve got a lead!
Step 1: Get access to the MLS so you can pull expired listings. If you don’t have access to the MLS, you’ll want to befriend a realtor and see if they can open up an “Assistant’s” account for you, that you will pay for, in exchange for having the realtor write all of your offers. Win/win!
Step 2: When you’ve pulled up the expired listings for your particular target area, email the listing agent with the following template:
Step 3: For the leads that may result from these emails, have the realtor write up an offer for you. Fresh deal!
Step 1: Signing up
The first order of business for those of you serious about stepping up your deal prospecting is getting access to a “Skip Trace” program.
This allows you to get the cell phone numbers of potential sellers. HUGE! There’s a bit of a grey area in getting access to information like this, as you legally can and should only use this information for the purpose of “verifying ownership” of real estate…but consult a lawyer, as I’m not one, before proceeding with this method.
You can apply for such a service at TracersInfo.com. Expect to jump through some hoops to get access to this stuff, but once you do, it will open up a world of deals to you:
Step 2: Get a virtual assistant to do the skip tracing for you.
This TeamViewer tool is mandatory if you’re serious about outsourcing your skip tracing without getting your account shut down. It can’t be done otherwise (correct me if I’m wrong in the comments). Most virtual assistants will already be familiar with these types of tools.
I let my VA use my computer while I’m sleeping at night. You simply need to give them your TeamViewer code, log in to your computers “Guest” account so you don’t have to worry about them digging around on your computer, bring up your browser, and let them go nuts in finding contact information for you.
Now it’s time to get busy with your prospecting efforts.
Step 1: Buy a super-targeted vacant, high equity, absentee owner, zip code specific list from Flip This Real Estate List.
Step 2: Give this Excel file to your VA to skip trace at night while you are sleeping. Have them put in all possible cell phones in a new column.
Step 3: Dial for dollars. Basically, you are just finding out if they are interested in selling their property or not. If they are, then that qualifies as a lead. If not, mark it dead.
For a much faster way to reach out to all of these phone numbers at once, you can use SlyBroadcast.com to send out a voicemail directly to the voicemail box of every single cell phone number.
Your message can be something like “Hi there, this is Joe with JoeBuysHouses, I’m actually looking for a home in this area and got your info online. If you or anyone you know were interested in selling their house at this time could you please give me a call back? If not, no worries. Thanks!”
No harm, no foul. The people that respond will be hot leads that you can process in your lead management system, which we’ll talk about on the next post.
Step 1: Drive around your target area looking for distressed properties and write down the addresses. Here’s what you want to look for:
Step 2: Create an army of “Birddogs” who can drive for dollars on your behalf and give you new leads every day. Offer to pay them $2,000 for every lead they find that turns into a deal. You can find plenty of motivated birddogs, or “Property locators” by posting a gig on Craigslist and vetting the people who email you. Just make sure they are good communicators and have a car.
Step 3: Compile these addresses in a simple “Vacant Properties” app on your Podio workspace (or a Google Sheet if you’re not on Podio yet…shame on you!)
Step 4: Send the list to your skip tracing VA.
Step 5: Call them individually to see if they are interested in selling or not.
This is the hardest yet possibly the most valuable avenue, because a few great connections can keep you fed with deals for life. Here are some ideas of people to network with that can refer you leads:
With enough irons in the fire, a few of these sneaky connections can become a goldmine of potential leads for you, especially if you position it as a win/win every time. You can either pay them or refer them business in exchange for the lead opportunities.
Whatever you do, be authentic. We’re all in this thing together, so no need to come across as fake and needy. You’re just a person looking for deals and happy to help out in any way you can in exchange for some leads.
We discussed a lot of sure-fire, time-tested ways to actually get leads into your business today. We hope you will use this guide to take action and create legitimate value for these people who need to sell their homes. Remember, you’re a professional, even if you’ve never done a deal yet!
Don’t forget to do the harder forms of lead generation, as you’ll have less competition.
In time, even the harder forms of prospecting can be systemized and outsourced. When you have 3-5 forms of lead generation all happening simultaneously, you will have plenty of leads to work with, but that’s not the end of the story.
You will also need effective lead management. This is what happens AFTER the lead comes in. How are you taking these leads? Tracking them? Writing offers? Setting appointments? This all needs to be organized and automated for you and your team so you don’t ruin your chance with a lead that you’ve worked so hard to create.
We will discuss this and more on the next post.
Until then, happy deal-finding!