According to the National Association of Realtors, over 5 million homes were sold across the US in 2017.
The question is, how do you feel about those numbers?
Because if sales aren’t looking great, it’s not the market that’s to blame. Your real estate sales formula could be missing an important ingredient.
Yep, you guessed it: an ISA.
Most real estate professionals in the industry think an Inside Sales Agent (ISA) only serves to answer phones and take some of the less important prospecting work of your agents’ hands. But you might be surprised to find out this role has evolved into so much more.
First thing’s first, what exactly is an ISA?
An ISA is an agent who takes care of lead follow up, prospects for new leads on the phone and online and makes sure every incoming lead is immediately contacted. And in most businesses, that’s a skill that’s extremely underrated.
Studies show 47% of buyers name responsiveness as the #1 trait they look for in an agent.
Now, in case you’re wondering whether an ISA is truly a necessity for your real estate business, think about how your team’s been doing lately, especially when it comes to following up.
If you answered yes to the above questions, you should probably make a move.
“Inside sales agents and ISA departments can and do work, especially for real estate teams and brokerages who wish their agents were overwhelmed with potential customers or for those who already have leads piling up,” says Dale Archdekin founder of Smart Inside Sales.
The classic role of an ISA as the one person (or team of people) completely dedicated to cold calling, lead generation and follow up should have obvious value. But many real estate team leaders still don’t understand, or fully utilize, an ISA’s full talent.
But for those willing to think outside the box, there are plenty of ways to leverage an ISA’s awesome prospecting skills and reach peak sales volume.
Here are some of the amazing things an ISA can do that go above and beyond the “traditional” definition of their role.
There’s a lot of talk out there about leveraging ISAs in your business, but the main focus is usually on what an ISA can do for the agent and their business.
But what about the impact on leads and clients?
Despite their reputation as human call centers, the main responsibility of an ISA is to spend time with leads.
At CRG Companies, team leader Preston Guyton made a bold statement when he scaled back the automated lead nurturing in favor of having a consistent call program ruled by a Client Care Team made up entirely of rockstar ISAs.
Led by Rainbow Russell, CRG’s Client Care Coordinator, the team of ISAs managed to redesign the lead nurturing process, resulting in 3X the conversions. And according to Rainbow, it all comes back to good old-fashioned relationship-building.
“Everything we do at CRG is about client service. 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.”
Instead of over-relying on a faceless automated process that sends the same generic emails to all leads, CRG focuses on quality touch points where real people call and establish a human connection.“They build a relationship with people”, says Preston.
According to an REAU study, Inside Sales Teams are utilizing big data and analytics in ways most of us couldn’t imagine.
A sharp ISA can use this crucial intel to unlock key insights on which leads are most likely to buy, when they’re most likely to buy and why. A stellar ISA tracks your team’s activities and the related outcomes of those activities, so you know exactly where to focus your efforts.
David Tal is the CEO of Agentology, a 24/7 US-based ISA service. He explains why ISAs rock:
“We actually make the agents’ team look far more professional. All around we just feel like this is a win-win, like this is the way the industry should be handling online leads. We have a tremendous amount of insights and data on what works, what scripts work and what times of day are best to create the best engagement. Packed with the best technology solutions, we created what we call our ‘superhuman ISAs’ who can do so much more by leveraging data and tech.”
David’s experience proves that, 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 convert more leads for your business.
When Justin Seeby, owner at Graham Seeby Group, realized his conversion rates were too low (especially considering the amazing amount of leads they generate), he decided it was time to bring in some backup to help hold his team accountable.
“Another thing that we did to hold agents accountable was hire an ISA. She has access to all the leads and will go through them daily to make sure the agents are doing their follow up. Sometimes she will even call just to check in with the lead and see if there is anything we can do for them,” Justin explains.
Of course, it’s up to you to give your ISA the tools they need to hold your team’s feet to the fire (you know, in a loving way). In Follow Up Boss, we make that part a breeze through our simple reporting tool.
Justin’s ISA can immediately see which agents are in need of extra coaching.
ISAs are lead generation and cultivation gurus. One of their best assets is their ability to engage with even the coldest leads. That takes some serious skill.
That’s also why an ISA will always be a very different role than a back-office assistant.
Many team leaders agree that the best ISAs have rich sales experience, but regardless of their background, every successful ISA will receive constant training to grow their real estate expertise.
From making the first contact to nurturing a lead until they’re ready to be handed over to an agent, ISAs should be armed with intel at every step.
Investing in training for his ISA has definitely paid off for Preston at CRG Companies.
His Client Care Coordinator, Rainbow helped triple conversions and bring in over $27 million in sales volume in 2016 and nearly double that amount each year after to $47 million in 2017 and $80 million in 2018. According to Preston, “having ISAs in place is the difference between a moderately profitable online lead generation operation and something that’s generating three and four times your spend.” Wow.
For Preston, those rapid increases in lead conversions all come down to Rainbow’s commitment to providing smart answers to the client’s biggest questions throughout the entire process, making the buying experience more meaningful from beginning to end.
For CRG, adding an ISA in the role of Client Care Coordinator turned out to be one of the best decisions they made for their business — and for their clients.
Together, Preston and Rainbow regularly brainstorm new ways to show clients they care.
For example, when a Realtor attends a closing, Rainbow joins as well, delivering a basket with goodies and a little thank you card to show the company’s appreciation. All the way along, the Client Care team focuses on value first — before ever asking for anything from their clients.
Because unfortunately, most of us in real estate spend too much time talking about generating leads and not enough time really understanding the lifetime value of a lead. Worse, most agents close a deal and then completely forget about the customer altogether.
But that’s a costly mistake.
Studies show 90% of buyers trust referrals from people they know. Plus, let’s not forget that people move a lot, and for very emotion-driven reasons. If you don’t keep in touch with your past clients, you could be missing out on opportunities you didn’t even realize were there.
That’s yet another golden opportunity for an ISA to step in and bring the customer experience full circle, resulting in way more business for your team.
So, are you ready to help your agents leverage their time while delivering a better experience for customers? If so, resist the urge to label an ISA as something that makes sense for other teams, but not yours. A stellar ISA could be the missing link in your unique sales strategy, however that may look.
We get it. This stuff is tough. Assembling the perfect real estate team definitely isn’t a job for the faint of heart. You have to decide who to hire and when. And of course, you need to do it without ever putting the profitability of your company at risk.
That’s where Follow Up Boss can help. From automated lead nurture to simple ways to instantly track your agents’ activities, you have everything you need to make sure each member of your team is contributing to the bottom line.