In the modern game of real estate, there is no list of names in a Rolodex.
In the past ten years alone, social media and the internet have dramatically transformed the real estate landscape. Real estate professionals can now generate leads in more ways than they ever imagined.
But with the old limitations out of the picture, how can you make the most of the vast pools of prospects at your fingertips?
Three words: Real estate ISA
We’ve come a long way from inside sales agents (ISAs) that only answer phones. While a real estate ISA can certainly take some of the less important prospecting work off your agents’ hands, the role of the modern real estate ISA has evolved into so much more.
Table of contents
- What is an ISA in real estate?
- What tasks is a real estate ISA responsible for?
- Elevate the client experience
- Keep every lead engaged
- Handle hot leads with greater care (and urgency)
- Use your data to increase your conversion rates
- Hold agents accountable
What is an ISA in real estate?
A real estate inside sales agent (ISA), is a sales specialist who prospects for new leads, takes care of lead follow up, and makes sure every new lead is immediately contacted.
According to experts like Dale Archdekin, founder of Smart Sales Coaching, when you hire an ISA, you’re essentially, “dedicating a sales position to someone who specializes in making contacts, following up, and setting appointments.”
For 94% of buyers, responsiveness is a key quality when choosing a real estate agent. If your goal is to be the team of choice in your area, bringing on an ISA is one of the best decisions you can make. But what if you already have an ISA?
Many team leaders struggle to get the most out of their existing ISA teams — either because they don’t have the right systems in place, or because they simply aren’t aware of the ISA’s full potential.
Real estate inside sales agent (ISA) vs. real estate virtual assistant (VA)
Although some teams use their real estate VAs to assist with prospecting tasks, the roles of the ISA and VA are actually quite different.
An ISA’s core focus is to set more appointments and work seamlessly with your agents to increase lead conversions. A VA, on the other hand, can take on a variety of tasks including sales tasks, such as inbound and outbound calling, as well as other business tasks, like graphic design, SEO updates, and bookkeeping.
What tasks is a real estate ISA responsible for?
An ISA is completely dedicated to lead generation, follow up, and appointment setting.
Here’s an overview of the core tasks a real estate ISA can cover:
- Outbound and inbound calls
- Lead research
- Lead generation
- Follow up
- Database management
- Lead nurture
- Appointment setting
- Contact management
- Lead tracking
- Calling campaigns
While there is obvious value in having a high-performing member of the team exclusively focused on these tasks, the real potential of a rockstar ISA goes even deeper.
Here are just some of the amazing things an ISA can do that go above and beyond the “traditional” definition of their role.
5 things you never knew an ISA could do
1. Elevate the client experience
In his former role at CRG Companies, team leader Preston Guyton decided to scale back on automated lead nurturing.
Together with CRG’s former Client Care Coordinator and current Broker-In-Charge Rainbow Russell, he built out a dedicated Client Care Team made up entirely of real estate ISAs.
Led by Rainbow, CRG’s ISAs increased the team’s conversions by 3X.
“Everything we do at CRG is about client service,” said Rainbow. “We make sure we connect them with the right agent, that they find everything they need. We help them with anything when it comes to searching for homes, we answer any questions. We’re being a resource for our clients — they like that.”
Rather than over-relying on a faceless automated process that sends the same generic emails to everyone, CRG focuses on quality touch points, including calls from real people to establish a genuine connection.
“They build a relationship with people,” explained Preston. In his current role at EZ Home Search, he leverages the same human-first approach to replicate the success he’s seen with the CRG Client Care Team.
"Our ISA team uses the Follow Up Boss Dialer to make 200-300 calls per day. Calls, appointments, etc… all managed within Follow Up Boss.” — Preston Guyton, Founder, EZHomeSearch.com
2. Keep every lead engaged
A productive real estate ISA is so much more than a human call center — they’re a pivotal part of a well-oiled real estate business.
“They’re in charge of going through the database we have of 100,000 people and making sure that we’re not having them fall behind in any way,” he explained in an episode of Bosses In Action.
If you’re using the Real Estate Team OS, make sure your lead categories and tags are set and ready to go before onboarding your first ISA. This will help ensure that as soon as your ISA puts a prospect into a particular lead stage, the right Automation is triggered.
From there, your ISA will have everything they need to deliver value-driven follow up — including detailed lead profiles, past call recordings, and even internal conversations with agents — without having to leave your CRM.
“You are managing tons of leads. If you need to follow up after two weeks, there’s a good chance you forgot what you talked about. Before I make a call, I listen to the recording so I know I’m up to date with the lead” explained expert ISA at Virtudesk, Nino Aines, in the same sit-down with Tristan.
Real estate ISAs do their best work when your systems are clear, automated, and working exactly like they should be.
“With Follow Up Boss, you don’t need to pull up another application to access contact records. Just load up the lead and all of the messaging history will be there and notes from inside your company…It’s all readily available for you.” — Nino Aines, expert ISA, Virtudesk
3. Handle hot leads with greater care (and urgency)
With the right ISA team trained on the right system, you can put an end to callbacks and connect with hot leads immediately.
Tristan’s ISA team uses live transfer to instantly merge the call whenever they land a hot lead. They simply ask the lead to hold for 20 seconds while they connect them to an agent who specializes in that area. Then, the dialer immediately rings five of his top agents.
“They usually pick up within the first ring so it’s really fast,” explained Tristan. He’s not the only one who uses ISAs for seamless collaboration with agents.
Justin Bringas is the CEO and Founder of the Bringas Home Team in Murrieta, Southwest Riverside County and North San Diego County. His team manages every single communication inside of Follow Up Boss.
“If an ISA comes into an appointment, they’ll fill out a disposition link which is already inside Follow Up Boss. They’re able to assign that to an agent and mark whether or not the lead is qualified,” explained Justin in a conversation with Brian Curtis of Arkansas-based Curtis Realty Group.
Justin pays his ISA bonuses based on qualified appointments. For him, a lead is considered qualified when they’re not already working with another agent, all decision makers are present at the appointment, and they’re looking to transact within the next 90 days.
“I want my agents to only focus on leads that are ready to transact within the next 90 days. Anything outside of the 90 days is an ISA responsibility to nurture those leads.” — Justin Bringas, CEO & Founder, Bringas Home Team
For prospects with a timeline longer than 90 days, Justin uses separate Smart Lists that the agents don’t have access to. ISAs will continue to nurture the leads until they’re ready to transact, at which point they’ll be seamlessly routed back to the agent.
4. Use your data to increase your conversion rates
With a streamlined system for keeping agents and ISAs on the same page, your ISAs will be able to utilize your data to increase conversions.
ISAs can be trained to track everything from response rates to conversion rates, or even customized reporting on their specific tasks. With insights broken down by agents or lead source, response rate, and appointments set, a sharp ISA can use these data insights to understand which leads are ready to convert.
Here are some of the insights ISAs can use to help increase conversions:
- Best time of day for lead engagement
- Most effective real estate scripts
- Call length
- Website activity
- And more
Of course, what you choose to measure depends on your unique team philosophy.
“I want to see people that are active,” said Mike Renick, founder of Sarasota-based Team Renick, “I watch behavior instead of listening to words.”
In a recent interview, Mike told us that in his experience, people who are actively searching on the website are closer to a decision. He monitors that lead behavior, then uses “a very soft touch” check in to acknowledge that they’ve been using the website, and ask if he can help.
As a team leader who also plays the role of ISA, Mike is all about executing a thoughtful approach to the client experience. “I’m not in their face. I’m just offering to help, and that’s worked wonders.”
If you let them, an ISA can go above and beyond a tactical role to act as a true data specialist, someone able to analyze trends and use that know-how to offer more value to prospects in a ways that aligns with your real estate brand.
5. Hold agents accountable
You already know a great ISA will help protect your agents’ motivation by taking the prospecting gruntwork off their plate. But did you know they can also help keep agents accountable for their own follow up tasks?
In our office hours training series with real estate team coach Lee Adkins and April Stevens, former ISA on Preston Guyton’s team, Lee and April dove into the importance of having clear systems of accountability, including tracking for both ISAs and agents.
“I like for it to be very transparent,” said April. “I like for the agents to know who they’ve been given and for the ISA to know who they’ve handed off so that the ISAs can do two things. One, get paid if that’s how they get paid. And two, follow up on the leads they’ve handed off to make sure the agents actually did what they needed to do.”
In her experience, the teams that boast the biggest wins with ISAs use custom fields inside their CRM to specify a handoff date. This way, ISAs can see in a glance the last time a lead was communicated with and by who — making it easy to know which agents they need to follow up with.
April has also noticed that top teams are regularly checking their call logs to see which calls are longer than two minutes (indicating a rockstar ISA), and using that data for ongoing coaching and training.
Give your ISAs superpowers with the Real Estate Team OS
With the right systems in place, you can ensure a seamless handoff between agents and ISAs to help them set more appointments and close more deals.
The Real Estate Team OS empowers your ISAs to make all your calls and send all your texts from right inside your CRM — no 3rd party dialers or switching systems. ISAs can live transfer hot leads to an agent’s cell phone, quickly identify your best leads, and increase response rates with texts after calls.
Learn more about how the Real Estate Team OS can give your ISAs superpowers, or see for yourself with a free 14-day trial.