Is your real estate firm growing so rapidly that lead follow-up is increasingly challenging to fit in? Are you getting in as many prospecting activities as you’d like? Having an effective follow-up system is a vital concern for any firm, so if the phones are often getting missed, it might be time for you to hire an Inside Sales Agent (ISA).
What Is An Inside Sales Agent?
Telemarketer, telephone salesperson, phone crusher, you get the idea; an ISA is an agent who not only takes care of your lead follow-up, but prospects for new leads on the phone and online.
The person you hire should be comfortable spending the majority of their time on the phone as they will be;
- Taking phone calls from leads.
- Making prospecting calls.
- Following up with any other type of lead (such as emails or leads from your website) assigned to them.
- Making appointments for leads.
On a small team, you’d probably have one ISA who does all of these tasks, but on larger teams sometimes the ISA role is split into inbound and outbound. This way your best “cold callers” can focus on outbound while your people who are more comfortable with relationship-building focus on the inbound work.
If you’re looking at inbound and outbound ISAs, here are some of the tasks they can be doing;
Inbound – respond to incoming leads from phone and internet, follow up with leads over time, make appointments.
Outbound – prospect For Sale By Owner sales (FSBOs), past clients, those who have just listed or just sold.
Why Hire An ISA?
Are you struggling to reach out to all the leads you could? Is prospecting for new leads becoming a distant afterthought as you struggle to keep up with all of the other demands of your busy firm? Sometimes your team is spread too thinly and you’re not meeting your standards for follow up times, or even missing out on clients because you’re unable to follow up in a timely fashion.
Brian Moses for NAEA stated that if you meet the following criteria, you need an ISA; “you are doing somewhere between 80 and 160 transactions. You’re generating leads on a consistent basis, your biggest problem is reaching those people. You want to make sure that you have core capital in place ($25,000-$50,000.)”
There are obviously costs associated with any new hire, which you need to be prepared for. On the other hand, an ISA frees up more time for the rest of your team to be focusing on their core roles. ISAs naturally handle a lot of the “admin” type activities which would have otherwise tied up other team members, such as updating your CRM and making appointments.
If the cost is a concern for you, take note of this statistic from The Real Estate Trainer: “Real estate teams utilizing ISAs have found the income they produce to be at least five times the cost of employing ISAs, which amounts to a 5 to 1 return on investment.”
You probably have some very specific goals laid out for your firm (if not, get on it!). If you’re simply not going to meet those goals in your current state because you’re falling off the wagon when it comes to reaching leads, then an ISA is probably your next hire.
To make effective use of an ISA, you should create goals for that position before hiring. For example:
- What are your expectations for their output?
- What targets will you set for deliverables?
- What kind of return on investment do you need if you hire them?
Having some clearly established goals will not only help you make a better hiring decision, it will help potential hires to better self-assess if they’re right for the role. (Though if everyone seems to think your targets are outrageous, you might need to reassess).
Brian Moses further points out to expect that it might take several months to see results from your ISA hire as they settle into their role, but most real estate firms see good ROI after this period. Remember to manage your own expectations as well!
**Note: Preston said the same thing – it’s a big investment but one that has been a huge ROI generator for their team. Click here to get the full replay of the training we did with him.
Make better use of data
With the development of technology and the increase in the number of tools to aid you with your work, there is more opportunity for real estate firms to make use of data. An ISA can also be a data specialist – someone who is able to understand data trends and apply that knowledge to bring in more leads.
Just check this out from REAU;
The potential for growth by correctly interpreting and acting on analytics is huge, but many real estate teams are limited by time or ability to make the best use of data. So perhaps “data analyst” should be part of your description for the next section?
What To Look For In An ISA
You could follow any number of opinions on what makes a good ISA (here’s a job description from The Real Estate Trainer), but think about the specific needs of your team. Who will be a good fit for your company culture and values? What are the exact duties you need covered?
This role will almost always be covered by someone who is comfortable making cold calls and having sales targets, so perhaps your ideal candidates should have experience in a rigorous sales environment. They should also be able to voice the value brought to the client by your team.
You might find that it takes a bit of trial and error to make the right hiring decision. You will want to test candidates on how well they handle a cold-call situation, how they deal with objections and their manner with customers. This could be done by setting up simple role-plays, even as part of the initial interview. Outside of that, it’s always good to use role-playing for practice.
If one person is covering both outbound and inbound, they need to master all skills. Traditionally, if outbound and inbound are separated then the real sales-driven, (possibly more aggressive) types would usually be for outbound, while relationship-builders with a customer-service orientation would take inbound. It is often argued that people are either one or the other, so your challenge is finding someone who will do both well.
Any ISA should be comfortable with their activity being tracked and conversions monitored against goals. They should also be technologically savvy and prepared to interpret and take action on data.
Here are some further tips from REAU:
An Inside Sales Agent (ISA) just might be your next most important hire. How much more productive could the rest of your team be if prospecting, lead follow-up and admin tasks like CRM updates were taken off their hands?
Besides that, there is evidence that hiring an ISA can produce excellent return on investment for real estate firms. If leads are followed up with promptly and there is a good system in place for prospecting for new leads, your business is in for a boost.