When you were a new real estate agent, you likely spent the majority of your time hunting for leads and responding to new inquiries. Once those leads have been converted to clients, your focus turns to serving your clients’ needs and ensuring that transactions close smoothly.
For a while, you may find a harmonious balance between lead generation and serving clients. As your real estate business picks up steam, however, it may become harder to focus on lead generation because you are busy working with clients.
If the trend continues, the result can result in periods of feast and famine rather than a steady flow of clients through your pipeline.
Successful real estate agents will inevitably find themselves confronted with this challenging situation. Rest assured, however, that a reasonable and effective solution is available.
If you have reached this point in your real estate career, it may be time to hire a real estate inside sales agent.
What Is an ISA in Real Estate?
Inside sales agents are used in a variety of industries to generate and nurture leads. In fact, you may find inside sales agents in everything from financial services and insurance to manufacturing, software tech and more. They often take a heavy load off of outside sales professionals by being the first point of contact.
They may field inbound calls and employ cold-calling techniques, depending on their exact job duties. Generally, they communicate via phone, email and other remote platforms to procure new leads, vet incoming leads and tackle other comparable tasks.
Traditionally, an inside sales agent in real estate is a fully licensed salesperson who works to generate new leads through cold-calling. However, with the ability to easily generate leads via marketing, an ISA is best utilized by nurturing established leads until the client is ready to actively engage in the buying or selling process.
In addition, the ISA may vet leads to determine where a prospective buyer or seller is in the process. This ensures that you or the agents on your team are focusing on leads who are buying or listings within the next 90 days.
Essentially, your inside sales agent will help you to become more effective and productive in your position.
Typical Responsibilities of a Real Estate ISA
The actual responsibilities of your inside sales agent will be tailored specifically to fit your needs. However, responsibilities generally fall into three categories, and these are lead qualification, prospecting and following up.
Lead qualification involves contacting inbound leads that come from a variety of sources. These sources may include everything from open houses and social media marketing to farming postcards, flyers and even your own website.
Through this initial contact, the ISA can qualify leads. Qualified leads will often be input into a customer relationship management platform so that your buyers agents can make the necessary follow-up inquiry.
Inside sales agents are also responsible for all aspects of prospecting. This often begins with identifying potential leads through market research. For example, the inside sales agent may actively research for-sale-by-owner properties in the area to create a list of prospects.
Expired listings may also be researched. The inside sales agent will then cold-call the prospects for qualification.
Both qualified and unqualified leads may require follow-up multiple times before they are converted. The ISA is responsible for staying in touch, answering questions and nurturing leads in other ways.
This may include sending out new listing alerts, dispatching market data reports and making direct inquiries. Follow-up may even extend to previous clients who may be able to offer referrals.
Signs You Need an Inside Sales Agent
The idea of hiring an inside sales agent is understandably appealing, but do you need one at this time? If you believe that your clients are not being properly served because of your need to respond to inquiries, it may be time to find an experienced inside sales agent.
Keep in mind that an important aspect of growing a real estate business involves satisfying your clients’ needs and generating future referrals.
More than that, your attention to your established clients may make the difference between closing a deal or losing a deal. This directly impacts your bottom line and your ability to cover marketing and other expenses.
On the other hand, you may be spending so much time working with existing clients that you fail to give leads their full attention.
For example, you may respond to leads in an untimely manner, and you may let follow-ups slip through the cracks. By doing so, you may be missing out on the opportunity to clinch new clients and to grow your business.
You can see that both of these situations are related to your inability to tackle all of your responsibilities. After all, there is only so much time available each day.
If you believe that you could be more profitable and successful with more hours spent on directing your real estate team or supporting your agents, now be the ideal time to expand your team.
When to Hire an Inside Sales Agent
Busy real estate offices have a full team of professionals working together to produce collectively desired results. For example, a transaction coordinator handles all of the administrative work associated with purchase and sales transactions.
A showing assistant may deliver access to a property for property inspections, appraisals and more. Are you wondering if you should hire an inside sales agent now or one of these other professionals?
There is no right or wrong approach to grow your real estate team. After all, you need a sales assistant to generate more sales, but you need administrative and back-room support to manage existing deals in the pipeline.
By hiring a sales assistant first, however, you can free up time in your schedule to address administrative tasks as they are needed. As more prospects enter your pipeline, you may expand your team with part-time or full-time administrative help. In many cases, professionals may wear several hats in a growing team.
What to Look for in a Real Estate ISA
Your inside sales agent should be a licensed real estate agent, and they should have a slew of additional qualities. As a sales professional, the ideal candidate will be a true people person with excellent verbal and written communication skills.
They should be self-motivated and should always be looking for ways to accomplish the team’s collective goals. Excellent problem-solving and organizational skills are important to this professional’s success in the position as well.
While it is possible to train a desirable candidate to manage CRM activities, run drip campaigns and work with various software programs, the most ideal candidate may already have knowledge in these important areas.
Finally, because of the nature of the position, they will be “on” for most of the day and may deal with numerous rejections throughout a typical workday. The candidate should have ample positive energy to handle these aspects of the job.
How to Find a Qualified Real Estate ISA
You have high expectations for your inside sales agent, so how can you identify the right candidate? First, you need to develop a recruitment strategy. In addition to posting an ad on the typical online job boards, you can expand your search to college job boards.
Often, college students who are searching for a job are energetic, eager to learn and ready to do what it takes to make money. Another idea is to reach out to the hiring team at your brokerage firm.
Some current agents may be struggling with a commission-only position and may be ready to make a transition to a remote role with some level of guaranteed income. Career fairs are also a great starting point for your search.
As you review resumes, keep in mind that it may be more important to find an individual with the right personal skills than real estate experience. After all, individuals can gain real estate experience. Before bringing potential candidates in for an interview, ask them to complete a personality test.
A personality test, such as the DISC Profile, can give you insight about how outgoing, influential and organized they are.
Common Compensation for a Real Estate Inside Sales Agent
There are three common compensation models that real estate agents use for their inside sales agents. The best model for your situation will depend on the preferred compensation method for your ideal candidate and what is most manageable for your specific business.
All business models, however, offer a bonus or commission to compensate the ISA for successful efforts.
One option is a fixed salary or hourly rate plus commission. The commission may be up to 15% of your compensation for a closed transaction. Another structure is to combine the fixed salary or hourly rate with a bonus for each qualified lead produced.
This structure gives the ISA more control over his or her income through direct efforts. The final compensation method that is commonly used with ISAs is a pure commission structure.
However, the biggest pitfall to the pure commission model is it may motivate ISAs to focus on the easy-to-convert leads and to give little attention to nurturing leads that require more time and effort.
Training and Ongoing Evaluation of Your ISA
Your efforts to properly train the right individual will be well-rewarded in the long run. Understandably, your ISA must know how to use your CRM system and any other technologies that are actively used in your activities.
However, you should not overlook the importance of shoring up their sales skills. For example, your ISA should know what tone to use when talking to new leads on the phone and how to effectively convey tone through writing. Phone etiquette is also essential.
A major part of your ISA’s responsibilities involves qualifying leads, so you need to provide him or her with a written checklist for covering all bases.
Several phone and email scripts should be provided as well, and the ISA should know when to use which script and how to tailor it to fit the situation.
Sales is not something that is ever mastered. There is always room to improve. With this in mind, you should regularly provide your ISA with new opportunities to fine-tune skills.
In addition, periodic feedback through an evaluation is important. Focus on key metrics to set expectations, such as attempts per lead, call-to-appointment ratio and average response time.
Hiring a skilled ISA is an important milestone in the growth of your business. While you should not rush into making this move before you are ready, procrastinating can dampen your profits and may negatively impact your ability to serve your clients.
Because it can take time to find a candidate who is a good fit for your business, now could be the right time to start your search.