Chris Linsell TheClose.com

How Lead Generation Has Changed For Real Estate Agents in 2023 • Close-ing Time • Chris Linsell

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Welcome to our monthly feature, Close-ing Time – in partnership with TheClose.com.

Chris Linsell from TheClose.com as a real estate coach discusses strategies for the real estate agents to use. Chris discusses how new agents, especially the ones with low transactions per year, need to use lead generation and social media to start conversations with their clients. Chris also emphasizes the importance of using “boom times” as an opportunity to change the angle on how the relationships will start and the fact that the need for housing doesn’t change.

If you’d prefer to watch this interview, click here to view on YouTube!

Chris Linsell can be reached at chris@theclose.com.

This episode is brought to you by Real Geeks.


D.J. Paris 0:00
We know the market has shifted in 2023. And we know it’s going to be a tough year for realtors. So what are the cornerstone activities that you need to be focused on right now? We’re going to talk about that today. Stay tuned. This episode of Keeping it real is brought to you by real geeks. How many homes are you going to sell this year? Do you have the right tools? Is your website turning soft leads and interested buyers? Are you spending money on leads that aren’t converting? Well real geeks is your solution. Find out why agents across the country choose real geeks as their technology partner. Real geeks was created by an agent for agents. They pride themselves on delivering a sales and marketing solution so that you can easily generate more business. Their agent websites are fast and built for lead conversion with a smooth search experience for your visitors. Real geeks also includes an easy to use agent CRM. So once a lead signs up on your website, you can track their interest and have great follow up conversations. Real geeks is loaded with a ton of marketing tools to nurture your leads and increase brand awareness visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod and find out why Realtors come to real geeks to generate more business again, visit real geeks.com forward slash keeping it real pod. And now on to our show.

Welcome to get real the largest podcast made by real estate agents and for real estate agents. My name is DJ Parris and your guide and host through the show today is our monthly series called closing time with Chris Lin sell from the close. This is a partnership between keeping it real and the closed.com. Let me tell you more about the clothes. The clothes.com is the kind of real estate website designed to give agents teams and brokerages actionable strategic insight from industry professionals, they cover real estate marketing, lead gen technology team building strategies, and many other things from the perspective of working agents and brokers who want to take their business or their brokerage to the next level, please visit the closed.com That’s th e c l o s e.com. Just like it’s just like you would assume and check out some of their articles. I highly encourage everybody right now go to the clothes.com. And at the very least subscribe to their newsletter because if you’re like me, sometimes you forget to check websites that you check regularly. Maybe you’ll forget. But what’s great about the clothes is when they publish articles, they send out these digests emails that are incredible. Every article they they produces I’m I’m just such a big fan of their writing style. So go there, subscribe to their newsletter, so you’ll get their regular communication with us as always as crystallin cell. He’s the staff writer, he is a staff writer at sorry, senior staff writer and real estate coach. He’s actually Head of Content creation for the whole site. I always forget to that he is he is the big kahuna over there. Chris is the closes also, he’s the closest resident expert on real estate topics, ranging from marketing lead gen transactional best practices and everything in between. But what what what else is Chris all about? Well, he’s also a licensed real estate agent in Michigan. He’s been part of hundreds of sales transactions from modest role starter homes to massive waterside compounds. And when he’s not writing or coaching, he you can find him fly fishing or I don’t know, maybe not this time of year, but he is into fishing. And also he performs on the stage of his community theaters, local local production. So Chris, glad to have you back on keeping it real and excited to speak with you.

Chris Linsell 3:41
DJ, thanks for having me. That might be the longest intro. I stumbled over places I speak so I’m not complaining about it. I like hearing about but you’re definitely putting in putting in the word the word count there. I like it.

D.J. Paris 3:58
Yeah, well, it’s it You deserve it. Because not only are your gracious enough to come on our show, but you speak all over the country. You’ve spoken at the NAR annual conference, you’ve spoken at local, more regional and even state level. You know conferences, you are a sought after speaker. And so we’re just excited to have you so I probably aren’t. I’m not saying enough things about enough nice things about how how lucky we are to have this.

Chris Linsell 4:25
Well, that’s nice of you to say, Yeah, happy to connect with folks wherever I get a chance to share a little bit of conversation, maybe hop on a stage and impart some some knowledge and some maybe some ideas for how we can build better businesses and actually I kind of came with a bee in my bonnet today. I hope it’s okay. That I hijack things a little bit but I let’s do it. I had some conversations over the weekend with some real estate professionals in my local market. I’m in Michigan, Northern Michigan and And, you know, up here in the northern, the northern reaches of the Lower Peninsula, it is not uncommon to real estate for real estate as a business to really be a tale of two cities, you have the agents who are like, crushing it seeing you see their signs in every other yard. They’re doing 40 5060 transactions a year, really staying busy. And then you also have the agents who are maybe clearing 10 transactions a year that are maybe working for smaller, less aggressive brokerages. And then I had some conversations around that latter group of agents that were interested in this weekend, I’d love to chat with you a little bit about it, specifically, some of the things I was talking about and hearing from agents who, you know, aren’t they, they don’t have their name up in lights, they do real estate full time, like this is their job. But they’re, they’re not clear on more than 10 or 15 transactions a year. This is going to be an interesting year for those folks, especially if they are not adequately preparing themselves.

D.J. Paris 6:08
Yeah, I agree. So the top producers I know and the ones I feature on the show when I asked them, hey, you know, sort of behind the scenes, like what do you think about 2023, they’re like, well, it’s definitely going to be most of the agents I’ve spoken to say I believe it’s going to be, you know, I’ll definitely not be hitting the number of transactions I did. 2021 2022 was also first three quarters were fine. But last quarter was was pretty tough for most people. But these top producers don’t seem to be too worried. You know, their business may take a small hit, but they have so much that their sphere is so big, and their previous client list is so vast that they tend to do just fine. It’s your right, and our brokerage in particular, the vast majority of our agents are in that lower producing category. That’s just kind of our model. And we love those agents. But we also those are very vulnerable agents when the market shifts and so I love to talk about this because it will help our agents as well. Yeah, I

Chris Linsell 7:02
mean, I mean, think about it, like if you make a million dollars GCI you’re crushing it in any just about any market. And if you take a 30% hit on your business, and that’s that’s nothing to sneeze at, but you’re gonna have to subsist on $700,000 GCI this year, which you know, I’m sure you’re going to be able to figure figure your way through. If you make $50,000 a year, and you take a 30% bath, all of a sudden you’re making $35,000 GCI is difficult to pay the rent and the mortgage and the daycare bills on 35k. So yeah, but I want to talk more more than just GCI here. I wanted to bring up the first the first kind of interesting question that I had was an agent I was chatting with said, Should I be worried about my brokerage this year, like they work in a mom and pop brokerage. They’re one of six agents. Everybody’s kind of in the same boat here. They don’t have like a big marquee. They’re not buying billboards, they’re running a pretty small business. Do they need to be worried about their brokerage right now? And I said in no uncertain terms, you don’t need to be worried. But you do need to be actively asking the right questions. It is not out of line to my will to your managing broker and say, Hey, listen, I just want to make sure we’re set up for the for the for the year for the future here. Just want to check and see how things are going. You’re gonna find some interesting conversations are gonna come from that for sure.

D.J. Paris 8:39
We found 1000 brokerages here locally that when we looked at their production, we looked at their numbers, the number of agents, number of transactions, and we said, oh, wow, we we don’t see, we see. We see challenges for these 1000 firms. And so I sent out 1000 emails to these companies and saying, Hey, if you’re nervous about this year, if you’re, if you’re worried about, you know, whether you I didn’t say stay in business, but that was the assumption. If you’re nervous about this year, you know, we may want to merge with you, or we can absorb some of your costs. And we can figure out some sort of structure that works. And so we sent out 1000 individual emails and what was really interesting, whether were the results about 30 brokerages wrote back and said, You know what, we are pretty nervous. And we would like to talk and see if there’s a way we can go join forces, awesome for us, you know, great opportunity to pick up a bunch of agents and, you know, merge and whatever. But what was really interesting was I got about a hunt, man, maybe not 100 Maybe I got another 50 responses from brokers that I can see their numbers and I’m like, I don’t know how they’re paying the bills now. But whatever, they’re somehow surviving, and they were like, this is going to be a great year. Yeah, I don’t need you like almost even a little offended and we did very polite about it. But now got offended, but just sort of like, yeah, no, I’m good. So we’re like, Okay, those are the 50 that I’ve got my eye on, because I don’t see a path forward for them. That’s, that’s easy, unless they pick up a bunch of more realtors. So that would be a concern. Now, the agent who the agents who work at these firms, I am sure that is not on their mind, they don’t think about the health of the business. They’re focused on their own production, their own business. But if it was me, I would want be wanting to have a quick conversation with whoever owns the business and say, Hey, just wanted to check in and see how are things going, you know, what do you think was gonna happen this year? How’s the business doing? Is there anything I can do to help, you know, sort of being of service of that sense, and also, hopefully getting some information?

Chris Linsell 10:47
Yeah, I completely I that’s absolutely the right approach. And I would go, as far as telling agents, if you are working in a brokerage, like this, like that is, you know, that you don’t feel has a 100% chance of of survive and thrive in 2023. I would go as far as saying, if you are in that place, you need to do some internal reflection on your own business and the health of your own business, as it applies to, you know, Surviving and Thriving in 2023. You know, it’s, it’s interesting. I don’t know exactly what the classes look like in Illinois. But in Michigan, when you’re getting a real estate license, there are no personal accounting, there’s no business planning, besides maybe half a chapter in the in the pre license class. There are no requirements for you to have the knowledge and the strategy necessary to plan and evolve a successful business when pivots come. And the reality is DJ, most agents who are currently working in the United States right now have never worked a real estate season with the sort of downturn potential that we are seeing in 2023. Never, ever, if you look at the the tenure of license, the majority of agents have only been licensed during boom times at Nationwide, this truly is uncharted water for the majority of licensed real estate professionals. If that’s you, there’s no shame in saying, hey, this might be something I haven’t experienced before, I need to do a little self reflection to make sure I’m ready for this in addition to my organization.

D.J. Paris 12:36
Yeah, and I think if the phone has stopped ringing for an individual agent, I think that’s normal. And that’s what I’m even hearing from top producers, top producers I speak to either at our firm or on this podcast, have said they have to do a lot more outbound effort. These days, they have to reach out directly to the clients, or prospects, your sphere, whatever you make, call the people in your database, and reach out and check in with them. There’s a lot more outbound effort, let’s face it in in, you know, in 2021, and even some of 2022. For a lot of us, the phone was just ringing. And we were busy. It doesn’t mean it was easy, but we didn’t necessarily have to make as many outbound touches. And now is the time when I talked to top producers, they go, Oh, I’m just doing a lot more outbound touches, that seems to be the consistent message I’m hearing from so I think that’s a great lesson for for the smaller producers.

Chris Linsell 13:36
And I think just generally speaking for the smaller producers, and for those who have not worked through a downturn year. There’s a couple of other specific strategies in addition to and I think that’s, that’s the important one to identify is lead generation. The generation of the top of your funnel during boom times is mostly inbound people are calling you, you are buying ads on Zillow or through bold leads or top producer, you are creating opportunities for people to get in contact with you, because they are already looking for those services. In boom times you are simply activating those needs and giving them a way to reach out and connect with you. during a downturn times the script gets flipped. People are the people are less looking for those services. And instead of waiting for the phone to ring, you have to make it ring for somebody else. But there is something important here that a lot of people miss that I want to make sure I highlight. The fact is, the need for housing doesn’t change. In fact, it’s pretty. It’s pretty well established that the amount of people who need and I say need instead of want who need To housing doesn’t really change much year to year, maybe as the population grows, we’ll see a number of you know, we see the number of transactions move. But there is not this extraordinary jump or dip in the need for housing, this number stays pretty steady. It’s how people approach the kind of activation of that need. Because in boom times, they’re happy to reach out, they’re making all these moves themselves, they’re getting in contact, they’re starting conversations, during slow times or cautious like market retractions, it’s up to the real estate professional to identify where those needs exist, and activate the buyers and sellers who are going to meet those needs. So we are just turning the corner as far as the how the relationships start. And if you take that, and expand that idea out across your entire real estate strategy, think about how that would affect your social media, for instance, your social media is no longer about creating opportunities for someone to reach out to you. It is now about creating media, that gives you a chance to conversation and do the outreach yourself. So like a 10 second strategy you can use here, create content that engenders interaction, we want comments and shares. But this time you want those comments so that you can get that comment and then have maybe a mini personal interaction in the comments. Or you can start a conversation in a direct message. Or you can take it offline, get on the phone get in person. But that that initial social media interaction is not about just exposure for you so that somebody can reach out to you. It is about exposure for them, so that you can reach out to them. The need doesn’t change, but our approach gets flipped.

D.J. Paris 17:07
I have a I have a social media suggestion when I hear you’re very specific. So I was thinking while you were talking. Now this does isn’t exactly your suggestion, but I think it still will get you a similar result. So what I would one of the ideas that came to mind that I would consider and I want to hear if it’s a bad idea, I want you to tell me what I would what I might do is we know that Zillow is the number one, you know, client customer facing, you know, web website that people visit to of course, see home values, search for properties, etc. And people who aren’t looking for making a move might still be on Zillow to see what their own home is worth just looking at the Zestimate and I’m sure there’s a collective groan from our audience because realtors have a particular either affinity or non affinity to more non affinity I think to Zillow, Zestimate. But we know it’s a metric that your consumers do look at. In fact, it’s probably the only metric they look at when they’re trying to figure out what their home is worth, before calling a realtor and saying what’s my home worth? They’re gonna go on Zillow, or they’re gonna go to another, you know, comparable website and see some sort of estimate. If it was me on social media, what I might do is do either a live video, or a regular video, you know, it could be a real it could be whatever, where I literally show a random Zestimate it just pick one, I would not pick one. That’s one of your customers just pick a random one don’t even show the address. And say, here’s what Zillow is showing, I went and did a did a more in depth sort of review. And I actually came back with this number. And this number, I’m pretty confident is more accurate. Demonstrating that kind of value, I think in a video and then you can say, by the way, if anyone else out there is wondering what their home is worth, I am happy to run the same thing. You know, there’s no charge. It’s just what I do. I know that homeowners want to know what their home is worth. Or at least that’s a metric that they’re probably always interested in. So just just a quick thought there.

Chris Linsell 19:05
I think it’s great. Absolutely I love you know, those those who know me know that compare and contrast content is some of my favorite no matter what you’re comparing and contrasting people like holding things side by side and picking out the differences. Whether those differences are good or bad or the other. That’s very engaging social media content. The other thing that I think is important, just generally speaking, is to remember as you are thinking about your overall strategy for 2023, especially those who are operating a smaller business, you do have a little bit smaller margin for error than you did when you are in the big times when when you had the phone won’t stop ringing for you. And it’s important to remember that your brokerage is likely offering or excuse me, operating with a smaller margin of error as well. So what does that mean? Well, it means that the leaders in your brokerage, the ones who are maybe authorizing spend, or the ones that you are negotiating your, your split and cap agreements with, these folks are in protective kind of conservation mode right now. So, plan accordingly, just like everything in real estate negotiate based on what is important for the other party. If you are up for a renewal renegotiation on your cap and split, consider taking cable, I’m gonna say this out loud, consider taking a hit in 2023. Even if it’s minuscule 2% In an effort to maybe create a balloon for yourself in three years, where you get a 10% Bump, kind of thing. Like if you can afford a 2% drop right now in your split. Just just an idea to remind us that our brokers are probably negotiating from a place of protectionism. So be thoughtful about that. Likewise, when it comes to your own business, be conservative and thoughtful and strategic about your own decision making. Right now 2023 is likely a time where you are going to lean on the things that have worked and do a little bit less blind leaning on things that you don’t have an idea of whether that they work in your market, it’s not saying that you don’t want to innovate and take some calculated risk. But this is definitely a time to lean on the things that work. And if you’re new to this business, then it’s time to lean on the things that have worked for others, rather than trying to reinvent the wheel right now.

D.J. Paris 21:45
I agree. And just one last tip, if you predict that your business may be down a certain percentage, and you can, you can, the easiest way, I think to figure that out is talk to your managing broker, have them look at what they think forecasts for your your local market. And the next year, you know, the oh, by the way your association is can help with this too. And in fact, you’re paying them a lot of money, along with whoever the MLS provider is, I would call both and say hey, what do you guys forecast for? And I shouldn’t say guys, but But whoever is doing this, what does your team predict? Or what is your best guess for what you see via data trends? And let’s just say it’s the thing, maybe the whole market is going to be down 15% for your local area? Well, I would assume that that’s going to hit me at that same level. And here’s my here’s what I’m, here’s the action step, make sure that you are reducing your expenses by at least 15%. Because if you don’t, and you just say, Well, I’m just going to grind it out and try to get as much business as I can. Well, we hope that that happens for you. And we hope that that extra effort will result in more business, but you need to take care of your business and you need to be fiscally responsible. So please, please don’t do what some of these brokerages, I think some of these brokerages are struggling to even do this as well, which is why I’m reaching out to every small brokerage in my area, because I suspect a lot of them aren’t adjusting expenses, much less the agents doing their own adjustment of their own expenses. So please talk to your managing broker, make sure that they have a grip on what’s happening. If they’re like, this is going to be an awesome year, I would say well, why do you think that? You know, what data do you do you have that’s causing you to think that and if they don’t have it, I’d be a little concerned, and then look within your own business and say, hey, where am I spending money? Maybe I could, I could, you know, reduce some of the those expenses and just try to get through this year without, you know, being non profitable?

Chris Linsell 23:39
Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. No, one little caveat, I will say is that often, opportunity is is placed in the hands of those who are willing to get off their heels and onto their toes the fastest. So this isn’t to say if you if you see an opportunity for success that you don’t leverage that opportunity, but it is to say, apply a strict and stringent criteria for what opportunity looks like. Basically, it’s not a license to just sit back and let opportunities fly by you. That is, you know, certainly an approach but not the most profitable one. But you have to be really thoughtful about what those opportunities look like. Yeah, I

D.J. Paris 24:23
honestly believe if you do a lot more outbound calling, texting, emailing, staying in touch, letting your sphere know that you care about them, giving them reasons to pick up the phone, hey, I want to I wanted to give you an update on what I think your home is worth. Give me a call back. I’ll have a few quick questions. I’m gonna send it over to you just so you know what’s going on in the market. Those kinds of things are gold. And you can do that all day long and demonstrate value and by the way, people who are renting right now rental prices again, depends on your local market have come down significantly with the concessions going up meaning more amenities, less pay. So if you have somebody who’s sitting on the sideline, because they’re worried about the six and a half percent lending rates to buy a property, maybe it’s better for them to rent right now and you can still help them do that. But having that conversation going, Hey, you’re a renter right now, you know, let’s take a look at some of the other buildings in your area. When’s your lease up? Okay, let’s talk about that. Whether or not you earn a commission from doing that is another issue, but you are demonstrating value and setting yourself up for for future success.

Chris Linsell 25:23
It’s the truth. I couldn’t agree more.

D.J. Paris 25:25
Well, let’s let’s cap it at that. Oh, what a great i, what a great place to end off. want to remind everyone to visit the closed.com. And also, so 90 to 95% or higher of their content. It’s totally free. You can go there. It’s amazing content. And actually, like, I’ve been noticing this if you go I’ll just quick aside for a moment. I’ve been doing some videos about chat GBT just because it’s fun, which is this open AI free piece of software that Microsoft owns that you can go in and ask all sorts of fun questions, and you can get some interesting results. And anyway, I won’t go into chat GBT now. But what’s interesting is I’ll ask Chet GPT writing a persuasive email to recruit a realtor because that’s what I do. And they write it. It’s pretty interesting. But But what I was gonna say is, you’re really it. The information that comes back is pretty generic. So I love chat GBT. But what I really love is great journalism. Even more than just getting you know some some some bot to regurgitate information that finds online. The close does not do that the closes got real journalism, really deep dive articles. It’s not Hey, for your next open house, let’s bake some cookies or it’s it’s really really specific stuff about what can actually drive people to that next open house or help you with your marketing efforts. They have just incredible content guys, I honestly believe that I want everybody to read it. So go to the clothes.com they also have a pro a subscription model as well. So if you want to take that to the next level, you can check out the clothes Pro. Chris, also, are you speaking anywhere anytime soon? Any? Any plugs?

Chris Linsell 27:05
Yeah, um, well, I’m actually going to be in New York City for the Inman Connect conference. I’m not speaking at any of the stages, but I’ve got a couple of little things you can come noodle noodle ramen fire, follow me on Twitter, you can find me there. And for anyone in Canada, that’s listening. Next thing I’m booked at is the realtor quest conference in Toronto this spring. So if you are selling real estate in Canada and are in the Toronto area, you should definitely come. I’ve got a lot of really great stuff planned for that event.

D.J. Paris 27:40
Awesome. Well, that’s a that’ll be a wrap for for this time everyone. Go visit the clothes.com. Consider subscribing to the close Pro as well. Thank you for listening and making it to the end of this episode. Just do us one favor, tell a friend. Think of one other realtor that’s struggling. Almost all realtors are a little bit right now. So this would be a great gift to give to somebody to say, hey, what could I be doing right now to help ensure that I’m building a strong business for this year, send them a link to our website, keeping it real pod.com Or just have them subscribe to our podcast and go get episode updates from whatever app they’re using. So anyway, Chris, great to see you. We will see you next next month. And thank you, of course to our audience and of course to Chris for providing such amazing conversation. Chris, it was great seeing you.

Chris Linsell 28:26
See you guys next time.

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