First-to-contact strategies are paramount for real estate teams to win business as evidenced by the stats in NAR’s report on Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends. Many teams are winning the game with the Inside Sales Agent (ISA) team model.
With a role dedicated to contacting new leads and nurturing them until they’re ready to talk to an agent, it ensures no one slips through the cracks and can dramatically improve conversion rates. Whether you’re re-evaluating your own ISA role or considering implementing someone into your team, there are a few things to consider about the hire itself. One of the biggest issues is whether or not the ISA should be licensed. Since this tends to be a bit of a gray area, we looked to some of our most successful clients utilizing the ISA model, to get their take on licensing your ISA.
Licensing your ISA
ISAs are typically licensed. Most BoomTown teams who use this model feel the ISA’s role should encompass contacting, qualifying, then transferring pre-qualified leads to agents. This way, agents are able to focus their time on their core business: showing homes and writing offers. Being licensed gives the ISA a helpful advantage when qualifying leads, as they will be better able (and legally compliant) to “talk shop” and know exactly what they are talking about.
One ISA noted that prospects don’t seem to care about titles. For example they don’t differentiate much between speaking to an ISA vs. a buyer’s agent so long as they are connected with a knowledgeable person who can answer their questions and provide guidance. In this particular ISA’s state, one is required to be licensed before they can legally answer certain questions. (Whether or not an ISA needs to be licensed to discuss real estate specifics will vary from state to state.)
Why You Might Not Need a Licensed ISA
It is worth noting that some teams prefer their ISAs to be unlicensed. They look at the role more as the receptionist to the agents. This role is simply there to answer the phone, and answer basic, information-gathering questions from consumers just making initial contact. (The types of calls that might just be a waste of time for an agent). These teams want an actual agent to do the qualifying.
One broker shared that he felt that agents qualifying prospects made it more likely for the consumer to step into the physical office, where the agent has a better opportunity to “sell” their company, and in turn, to sell homes.
Another thought is that some teams want the hand-off to an agent to occur very early in the relationship. If the ISA is not licensed, they have a good reason for transferring the lead to a buyer’s agent who is better qualified to not only answer their question, but also to steer the conversation toward closing a deal.
Some ISAs feel the role is better suited to more objective, customer engagement, and that being licensed isn’t an asset. They felt that leads responded better to them because they weren’t licensed or talking shop. These potential buyers are often bombarded with calls from aggressive agents from however many real estate websites they have registered on, so they tend to be guarded even before any contact is made. They may have an adverse reaction if first contacted by an agent.
However, they may loosen up and let their guard down with a good ISA who is not trying to make a hard sell, and is not licensed to even have the ability to do so. To that potential buyer, the ISA is just there to help navigate the website and offer some guidance, and is likely to be more trusting of the recommended agent once the ISA does transfer them over.
Hiring for Culture
BoomTown users are pretty evenly split on this issue, with a little more that 50% in support of licensed ISAs. Having an ISA pass the lead quickly to an agent has its pros and cons. It can be a good way for a neutral “middleman” (who is not trying to sell them anything) to introduce the lead to the agent. However, on the flip side, it may come off as if the ISA is not knowledgeable.
No matter which side you feel is best for your own team, remember, the most important factor is finding the person with the right personality and skill set. While most ISAs will need to be licensed, and it’s certainly handy to hire someone who has already checked this off the list, don’t let the convenience of that blind you to the bigger issues at stake when hiring someone (personality, drive, fitting in with your team, etc.)
Getting the right hire licensed is a small price to pay when compared to the alternative with hiring a person who lacks drive and personality fit with your team.