Why an Inside Sales Agent (ISA) Could be the Best Thing for your Real Estate Business
Call crushers, phone animals, “seekers and cultivators,” the Inside Sales Agent (ISA) has many nicknames. Whatever you call them, some of the top producing real estate teams point to this crucial hire as the catalyst for record numbers. The ISA team model is a popular way to structure your team for lead follow-up, and if you’re wondering what the position involves and if it’s a good fit for your business, look no further. We’ll show you exactly how to leverage an ISA to generate more leads, more appointments, and help you focus on your core business.
What is an ISA?
The ISA is a highly skilled salesperson who is both comfortable and productive spending 80-90% of their time on the phone. All incoming leads are assigned to this person for immediate follow-up and scrubbing. ISAs are generally responsible for:
- prospecting for new leads
- servicing inbound leads from sign calls and other internet sources
- converting leads to appointments for a team’s sales agents
Worth noting: Some team models break the ISA role into Outbound ISAs and Inbound ISAs as their team grows. The thinking is that certain personality types are better suited to each role (i.e. Outbound ISAs should be more driven to make cold calls, and Inbound ISAs should be more customer-service-oriented and skilled at building relationships.)
- Outbound ISAs generate new leads by prospecting for FSBOs, expired listings, just listed/sold, COI, past clients, geographic farms, etc.
- Inbound ISAs respond to incoming leads from internet sources and sign calls and nurture them into qualified appointments.
Is the ISA model right for your business?
As your business grows you can quickly begin to feel stretched. You and your team may have difficulties finding time to prospect or responding fast enough to leads, so your pipeline and conversion rates can suffer. Hiring an ISA ensures a dedicated person is generating and converting leads in the office while you and your agents are running the rest of your business.
This hire allows you and your team members to focus on your core roles, and they are typically charged with uploading all of the contact information and conversation notes into your database. This frees your team up from most admin tasks, so for example, buyers agents don’t have to worry with anything administrative other than writing up a contract.
The biggest downside to hiring an ISA is just that: it’s a hire. And of course, as with any hire, there are additional expenses like salary, commission, etc. Real estate teams using ISAs successfully, however, have found the income they produce to be at least five times the cost of employing them. You’ll probably want to have anyone in this position licensed so they can “talk shop” and provide effective guidance, and some states require folks to be licensed in order to discuss certain real estate specifics.
Also, as the ISA is tasked with nurturing leads into appointments, relationships are formed between them and the lead. There needs to be a clear process in place to make the transition to an agent super smooth, so your leads don’t feel like they’re being passed along abruptly.
How to Hire an ISA
There’s a lot of noise about what personality types work best for ISAs, but it’s critical to make your search specific to your team’s unique needs and your company’s culture. A good rule of thumb for the position is to find out who’s jazzed about prospecting and lead generating. You need candidates that are comfortable with the rigors of cold calling and skilled at communicating your team’s value. While there may be some trial and error in the search, as Tom Ferry says, “Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your team. This is a learning process. You will quickly learn what and who works best for you.” Here’s a sample ISA job description to get you started:
How to Train an ISA
Successful ISAs should train on a regular basis with things like daily scripting, objection handling, and role-play sessions. Tracking activities and determining conversion ratios for key metrics like contacts-to-appointments are good ways to motivate your ISA and help them hone their skills. On the nurturing side, response times, follow-up attempts and conversations must be tracked, with notes, in the CRM for future use. All the activities you’re tracking should be compared to preset goals, so you can maintain accountability and address any issues.
A (very basic) day-in-the life of an ISA:
- Good morning! 8:00-11:00 am outbound calls, just looking for seller leads. Calling expired listings and FSBOs
- 11:00 check-in meeting (one-on-one or sales meeting)
- 12:30 Work the “10 days of pain” guide for buyer leads
- Later that afternoon…shift to nurturing/lead follow-up
- 3:00-5:00 pm another two hour outbound call session, looking for seller leads.
How to Retain an ISA
While ISA compensation is as varied as the teams that employ them, the pay structure tends to revolve around a low salary plus 5-15% commission. This may seem high at first pass, but only a small percentage of the appointments they set will land at the closing table. Some feel, however, that commission-based ISAs may cherry-pick the “now” buyers, so they pay an hourly rate, plus a flat dollar amount per pre-qualified appointment instead.
Remember to make your expectations for success clear. Define what exactly an appointment means, and set goals to keep an ISA motivated around how many they should be capturing. Successful ISAs can achieve well beyond a 5x ROI by their first year.
For more tips on structuring your team for lead followup and a handy rundown of the ISA model, download our guide on team models.