Lead Generation for New Real Estate Agents


In the middle of our recent New Jersey real estate license class one person asked, “Should I join a broker who makes me sit floor time, or not?” The question came from a person who had just interviewed with a broker who told him how taking six three-hour floor-time shifts each month would be the road to success in his new real estate career.


What is “floor time”?

The traditional brokers used to make it appear almost mandatory for their agents to sit at the front desk for hours on end each month, answering the phone and acting as an unpaid receptionist—all with the illusory promise that any leads that came into the main office phones would be theirs.

Of course, most real estate agents are independent contractors, and as such, the manager has no right to demand they attend any meetings or work in a directed way. But many of them made the agents feel they were not team players if they refused to sit their assigned floor time shifts.

Back before cell phones, there was at least a chance that a person would call a brokerage office to inquire about listing or buying a property. But today, every real estate’s website, for sale sign, business card and social media advertisement contains their cell phone number. Even though the New Jersey Real Estate Commission requires the main office number to also be shown, people want immediate attention today. So they know that if they call the agent’s cell phone, they will likely get them much faster than calling an office and leaving a message.

That leaves the poor agent on floor time even less likely to earn leads from each shift. You didn’t spend all that time, money and effort to earn a New Jersey real estate license to become an unpaid secretary.

The Dependency Attitude.

I spent many years with a large regional real estate firm—one which still uses floor time. I remember one day walking through the lobby and hearing one of the agents harshly criticizing the company because she had sat the last four floor shifts without getting a single lead. “They are just not doing enough to get leads for us,” she said.

And there is the problem.

She started her new real estate career with a dependency attitude. She expected (and the office manager probably did nothing to dissuade her when he recruited her) that Big Daddy would send her umpteen leads, so all she had to do would be to go out and sell houses. Within a month she had quit the real estate business, and I can probably think of a hundred more like her who did the same thing.

Successful Realtors® take responsibility for creating their own leads.

When you earn you real estate license, you may affiliate with ABC or XYZ Realty, but you are in every respect starting your own business. You are responsible for your own success—from lead generation to post-closing follow-up. Successful agents have an independency attitude.

In my book, Sales Superstars, I wrote the key to success in sales is a 10-word phrase, each word having just two letters and one syllable. I’ll save you from having to buy the book to discover this powerful secret! It is: “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

Life coach Allanah Hunt says, “It is only when you take responsibility for your life that you discover how powerful you truly are.” I sometimes wonder whether all those people who once passed their real estate licensing exams and then watched their nascent real estate careers crash and burn ever really understood why their dreams were crushed. Do they still blame their brokers? A quote from the movie Requiem for a Dream says it all: “Eventually we all have to accept full and total responsibility for our actions, everything we have done, and have not done.”

Lead Generation 101.

Successful Realtors® commit from Day 1 to creating a database—and then to feeding it every day. On the first day of our real estate pre-licensing class, we urge our aspiring real estate agents to start creating their database. Begin with you cell phone contacts, and simply create a four-column Excel (or similar) list with first name, last name, email address and cell phone number.

We challenge them to have 100 names in their database by the time they graduate from our NJ real estate licensing class 75 hours later. Then commit to adding at least 5 names every day. If they did this for the 10-day class and then each day thereafter, they would have over 1,800 prospects in their database in a year.

“Whom should you add?” we ask. Everybody you meet. Your accountant, neighbors, school friends, family, hairdresser, contractor who did work on your house, exterminator, auto salesperson or mechanic, etc.

As your career picks up speed, segregate your database into genres, such as “Open house guests,” “Previous clients,” “Friends & Family,” “Future sellers,” etc. That way, it will be easy to send focused marketing messages to each group of prospects. For example, if you have 30 names of school friends and you are in your mid-20s, that group would be the perfect audience to send updates on first-time homebuyer tips.

If you are newly licensed and can sit an open house for one of your office colleagues, print some flyers and use what I call my 10-10-20 Plan. A few days before the open house (I used Wednesday or Thursday), knock on the doors of 10 homes to the left of your open house and 10 doors to the right, plus 20 across the street. Give them a special “invitation only” to attend the open house 30 minutes before the public time. Everybody wants to be a nosy neighbor, and this private invitation will make them feel special. When you meet them, offer to email them something useful, such as “10 tips for preparing your garden for spring.”

One of my most popular newsletters had “10 Best Places for Breakfast in Burlington County.” People loved it—and all those breakfasts were business research, which made them tax-deductible!  You now have fed your database by adding people with whom you can stay in touch, this creating “top of mind” recognition as the neighborhood real estate expert.

Ready to start YOUR real estate career? Have questions about getting started? Garden State Real Estate Academy is New Jersey’s top-ranked real estate school, according to Google. You can numerous helpful free articles—and you can register for our day or evening pre-licensing classes, now taught by live instructors and available anywhere in New Jersey by Zoom—at www.GSREA.com.

David C. Forward is a licensed real estate broker and instructor and was first licensed as a Realtor® 33 years ago. During his career, David and his business partner sold more than 500 homes in South Jersey.  He is now School Director of Garden Real Estate Academy, has won numerous awards for real estate sales, is a much-requested public speaker who has addressed audiences on six continents and is the author of 19 books.

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