How to Build a Profitable Online lead Business without Amazon or Drop Shipping

How to Build a Profitable Online lead Business without Amazon or Drop Shipping

My name is John McCarthy, and I hail from Auckland, New Zealand. Throughout my life, I have excelled in pitching businesses and sales, and I firmly believe that my successes can be replicated by others. Let me share my story with you, and by the end, I will reveal how I can assist you in building an online lead business, absolutely free.

After returning from my travels, I commenced my career in Real Estate at the age of 20. Following my tenure in Real Estate, I ventured into advertising with my business partner, and we achieved remarkable success. In fact, we became the top ad agency in New Zealand for billings under $20 Million in 2000. After selling my share of the business, I took some time off to reorient myself before embarking on my next challenge.

Despite lacking a scholarly or intellectual background, my innate passion for helping others, harnessing creativity, and making money always burned within me. One day, it struck me that I could utilize my skills to assist businesses in obtaining more leads or customers. This realization marked the birth of

My first client in 2010 happened to be an insurance adviser. Our agreement entailed me providing the adviser with leads in exchange for a half share of the generated commission. However, the commission never arrived. Undeterred, I decided to establish a competitive business, generate leads, and simultaneously sell insurance. Within four years, I achieved incredible success, earning over $450,000 in my second year of selling insurance. Things couldn’t have been better.

While I learned the art of successful lead generation early on, I also nurtured a curiosity for automated email systems and streamlining various aspects of my business processes. Over the next four years, I delved into an automation tool called As I automated my business, a piece of advice from one of the Active Campaign sales team members resonated deeply with me: “be careful drinking from fire hydrants.” Looking back, their words were undeniably wise. Due to the sheer volume of business, I even had to hire three sales representatives. Eventually, I was approached and subsequently sold my business.

Now, you might wonder why I decided to sell when I was experiencing such tremendous success. The answer is simple: I didn’t enjoy selling insurance. Instead, I relished the challenge and satisfaction of generating leads, which propelled me into my next venture.

One afternoon, I had a conversation with a real estate agent about a company charging a 10% commission for properties that converted to sales from their referred leads. Intrigued, I realized that with my understanding of automation, I could generate more referrals and achieve better outcomes with my experience in automation systems. After successfully establishing the Real Estate referral business, I delegated its management to my family members so that I could focus on the aspects I am truly passionate about: marketing and automated lead generation. Over seven years, I built a significant referral business that still remains under my ownership. As a side note, my competitors went out of business two years ago, and I now own their domain names.

After developing the real estate referral business for three years, I received a request to supply insurance leads once again. By that time, the restraint of trade on my previous insurance lead business had expired, granting me the opportunity to reenter the insurance market. To this day, the insurance lead sites and automated systems I established continue to run smoothly, producing nearly 1,000 leads per month, each selling for $80.

Now, let’s do the math!

I am responsible for a real estate referral business that generates over $100 million in Real Estate sales annually. Additionally, I have over 30 insurance advisers purchasing insurance leads. Furthermore, I have created four other sites focused on weight loss and solar power lead generation. My accountant is overwhelmed by the workload and constantly astounded by my ever-expanding ventures.

What do all these sites have in common? 

In essence, they employ the same lead formula and back-end processing. Recognizing this, I had another brilliant idea. What if I offered the 650 Real Estate agents a system that not only provided referrals but also allowed them to purchase leads? In other words, I aimed to transition from a commission-only model to a pay-per-lead model accompanied by a simple online marketing system. At the time, it seemed like a wild idea.

Developing the new system proved to be more intricate than my previous ventures, as it required signing up agents, collecting their credit card details, and initially providing minimal lead information—just enough to arouse their interest while keeping the SMS message within 160 characters. The concept revolved around sending an SMS message simultaneously to all agents, with the first person to click “buy” receiving the lead. The complete contact details would only be shared once the payment was processed, similar to how Shopify operates—you receive the goods only after the payment is made.

To execute my new idea, I divided all the postcodes in New Zealand and created targeted campaigns based on agents’ preferred postcodes. When a lead arrived, I promptly sent the information via SMS to all the agents. At the time, my IT consultant also devised a way to implement this process with insurance leads, making it a repeatable system.

By this point, my accountant was going bonkers, questioning when I would stop. My response remained unchanged: “Not yet!”

After continuously enhancing and updating the system for three years, I now have nearly 986 agents purchasing leads and signing up to use the system every day.

Do my leads work?

I am often asked this question, and my answer is consistent. Over the past 15 years, I have observed a consistent ratio, much like the odds known to a casino. The 10:3:1.5 rule of lead generation always holds true. For instance, out of ten leads priced at $75 each, you can expect to close approximately 1.5 leads to make a sale. To obtain accurate data, I always rely on the rule that 20 leads generate three sales, resulting in 1.5 successful closes.

To provide a more detailed example, let’s assume a gross profit of $4,000 per sale (e.g., a $20,000 item with a $4,000 gross profit). Here’s how the math works out based on 20 leads:

Gross Profit from three sales: $12,000 Marketing cost for the 20 leads: $1,500 Total cost of conversion to sales: 12%

These figures are influenced by factors such as the salesperson’s quality, response time, and noteworthy, high-ticket items like Real Estate commissions result in higher costs but also higher gross profits.

After several years of refining and selling my leads to over 1,000 salespeople, I realized I had stumbled upon something with significant growth potential. Then, the second lockdown happened, providing me with an opportunity to contemplate offering my expertise to others in the market, expanding my horizons even further.

From there, I grabbed a massive paper roll and meticulously wrote down all my ideas. Due to my occasional struggle with words due to dyslexia, I utilized diagrams, arrows, and recorded a comprehensive plan using my cell phone. I aptly named it my “introductory overview.” I asked my IT Dev partner, Kev, if he could extract our Intellectual Property and create a system that allows anyone to connect their leads and sell them in real-time, just like we do, but without the associated IT complexities.

Initially, Kev estimated it would take four to six months to build the system. However, it ended up taking two years. Nonetheless, we completed it, and it’s called, the world’s only online “Shopify lead tool” that enables lead distribution and sales.

In November 2022, I was invited to speak at the premier digital marketer’s conference in Sydney. I flew from Auckland and delivered a presentation on generating and selling my leads. During the session, someone asked me, “I love your Zapalead system, but how do you acquire your leads?” Initially, I believed it was a straightforward aspect. However, it turns out that most people are unaware of the methods I use to create brands and sub-brands for lead collection. This realization inspired me to educate people in this area.

If anyone wants to learn how I gather leads, find lead buyers, and sell them, I am more than happy to guide you when using my tools. Allow me to explain…

The systems I have established hold significant value as they provide total control over supply, distribution, and pricing. The best part is that you can generate income even while you sleep. I believe this is the ideal way to generate passive income that can be capitalized upon.

I refer to this process as “lead Sellaration,” and here’s how I do it!

How do I set up a lead Selleration system?  

There are a few moving parts, and it takes time to set these up. But as a basic overview:    

1. You need to work in a market with a product value of $5,000 or more. If you’re not  giving leads to salespeople, you must train them on how leads work and how to convert  leads to sales.  

2. The best market to focus on is a market where people are selling on commission e.g.,  Real Estate agents, Insurance agents or companies selling high-ticket items like Solar,  Weight loss procedures, roofing, renovations, etc. Having people that understand sales  is about numbers will make your job easier.  

3. It is easier if you work in an area you know something about. In my case, it was  insurance. When you understand the process, you gain more respect and find the lead  buyers easier. Once you have quality leads, it’s super easy to sell them, and it’s like  selling ice creams on a hot day at the beach.  

4. You need to develop a sub-brand. This brand can be ‘compare the market ‘and obtain two  quotes for XYZ”, ‘Find your top agent in your location’ or something similar. You can do  this by using a simple one-page website. Nothing fancy. Depending on your niche, you  may have a simple form or, what I prefer, quiz systems that allow you to get more  information on the lead and are worth more to sell.  

5. Use AdWords to look for keyword and search volume figures, ideally, over 300 searches  per month. You can pay $8 to $12 per click for some keywords, which means you can  obtain leads for around $x3 the click cost. But many factors come into this, the landing page, questions, speed of the page optimisation, etc. So, let’s say your lead cost is $35. 

Your sell price should be double, e.g., $70. This is what I use. Some say it should be three  times; I like to keep the costs low and quality high, and I go for volume.  

6. Now, you need to create a webpage. I use a set format for my sites and always use  verification SMS to verify my leads; this way, I know 100% that the number is correct.  There are a few other tools to use as well. The essential tip here is your T&Cs; you need  to have a clear set of T&Cs when people sign up; this is why is so  good, as you can easily add this in. Zapalead is a tool I designed to help you distribute  your leads, collect money in real time, and allow your clients and salespeople to access  their own portals that manage their leads. There are no monthly fees.  

NOTE: Zapalead is like a Shopify for leads. I’m super keen to help you build your  business; the more you make, the more I earn. I get paid a tidy percentage of every lead  sold. So, it’s a perfect win-win. Zapalead also works extremly well with Active  Campaign – this is how I started! 

Regarding distribution, lead distribution is critical. Do you send the lead to clients in its entirety? Or  do you simultaneously send the information to many clients, and the first person to click the lead is  given further information?  

Finally, the selection of your lead distribution method is critical. I would use the send too many’ if  you have many buyers for the same service or product. However, if you have Insurance leads (as an  example), I recommend using round robin; collect the payment, then send the lead.  

So, there you have it, a little snapshot of my life, how I started, where I’ve ended up and how you  can do what I’ve done with my help from me.  

Before I sign off, I want to say this is not a quick set-up, and yes, I’ve hit the jackpot; selling leads can  take around two years to build up until you’re earning a decent income. I have been in lead  generation for 15 years now. I work three days full time in my businesses, with two days being  casual. So, if you’re looking for a new challenge, I can recommend finding and selling leads. It is a  beautiful business that will only continue to develop and grow. 

Barbara Santini

Barbara is a freelance writer and a sex and relationships adviser at Dimepiece LA and Peaches and Screams. Barbara is involved in various educational initiatives aimed at making sex advice more accessible to everyone and breaking stigmas around sex across various cultural communities. In her spare time, Barbara enjoys trawling through vintage markets in Brick Lane, exploring new places, painting and reading.

Latest from Business News