What Lead Sources Should My ISA Work?

inside sales agent real estate leads
inside sales agent real estate leads

What Lead Sources Should My ISA Work?

You’ve hired an inside sales agent! Maybe you’ve even got a whole team of real estate ISAs. You might be asking yourself, “Okay, what do I do now?” How do I best use this person or this whole team to ensure that I am getting an awesome return on my investment?

Part of this question are some other questions. What lead sources should my ISA or ISA team be working? Should my ISA work my database of past clients and sphere?

These days, your real estate team is—hopefully—getting leads from a variety of sources with varying levels of interest and who are at different stages of the buying or selling process. So how do you determine which leads should be worked, when they should be worked, and by which of your inside sales agents?

Work ‘Em All

The short answer is this: work all of your lead sources. This includes inbound leads, inbound referral leads, expireds and withdrawns, for sale by owners, and even past clients and sphere leads. Although there are definitely more and less valuable lead sources, each source is a potential for business, and it is smart not to avoid any of them. 

Don’t get me wrong, I realize that this isn’t always practical. Depending on the size of your team and stream of leads from certain sources versus others, you may have to focus on the most productive sources at the expense of less productive ones.

If you have a real estate team with multiple inside sales agents, then the critical thing to do is prioritize lead sources for your different ISAs, depending on their skill and experience level. This is where having a larger team starts to exponentially work to your advantage. You can have your newer inside sales agents work the less productive or less valuable lead sources, while your more experienced ones work the more valuable sources.

What this does is twofold. This allows you to work all of your lead sources (because even those “less valuable” sources can still generate a lot of business for you) and also allows your newer ISAs to gain experience and hone their skills so they can graduate to also working the more productive sources.

All Lead Sources Are Not Created Equal

Like we already established, all lead sources are not the same. And as such, they should be worked in a specific order, depending on different factors like the size of your real estate team, and how much bandwidth your team has.

These lead sources should be worked in the following order, from top to bottom:

  • All inbound leads
  • Inbound referral leads
  • Expireds, withdrawns, FSBO leads
  • Past client sphere leads
  • Circle prospecting (If this is in support of a farming strategy or if the ISA has NO ONE ELSE to call)

Inbound Leads

Inbound leads is the key lead source for your real estate team. The reason they are so important is in the name itself. Inbound. These leads are people who have followed the trail of bread crumbs you have laid for them. Through going on your website, signing up on a lead form, responding to an email, responding to direct mail, looking on Zillow, or whatever the avenue may be, they have expressed interest in your company and what your company offers.

They have exerted at least some effort in finding you, and have expressed enough interest in order to drive them to your website and give you their contact information. At a minimum, these leads are somewhat active and most likely have some problem they are trying to solve. That is what makes them so valuable to you and your team.

These are the leads that your inside sales agents should be targeting and contacting first. They are looking to solve a problem and your business can step in and be the solution they are looking for.

Inbound Referral Leads

Inbound referral leads are similarly valuable. For some types of referrals, the concept is essentially the same as for other inbound leads. People actively trying to solve a problem and so are going on websites like Dave Ramsey, Agent Machine, or Upnest in order to look for a real estate agent who can help them solve it. They are primed and ready for you.

Traditional referrals can also be tremendously valuable to you. These leads may not have come directly to you via a website or advertising response, but were brought to you by a friend or family member they trust enough to listen to.

The Rest of the Leads

The key is to work all of your lead sources if your ISA team has the ability to. There are three common mistakes that ISA teams often make:  

  1. Only putting the ISA on working cold outbound leads (which are much more difficult to convert and don’t typically provide enough contracts and closings to make the ISA position profitable.
  2. Ignoring outbound altogether and only having the ISA work low quality inbound.
  3. And the WORST mistake: hiring an ISA to solely do circle prospecting, which is randomly calling every phone number in a neighborhood looking for a potential lead.

There is a lot of business to be found in expired listings, withdrawn listings, for sale by owners, past client sphere, and circle prospecting.

These aren’t necessarily the low-hanging fruit that inbound leads can sometimes be, but if your inside sales agents know how to get to the heart of the desire of leads and prospects who fall into this category, then there is ample business here that a lot of other teams will not be taking proper advantage of.

Like I describe in my article, Cold Call the Right Way, the way your ISA should deal with any objection on a call is to understand the prospect’s perspective, process, and desired outcome. Most prospects who have an expired or withdrawn listing, or who are trying to sell their property themselves have a specific plan and desired result in mind. Your job is to understand what that is and then show how you can help them fulfill their desire easier than they can with their existing plan or process.

If you can train your team to be able to do this consistently, then these so-called “less valuable” lead sources will be what sets your ISA team apart from your competition.

Conclusion

The point is that all lead sources can be valuable to your real estate team. The seemingly less valuable sources can be valuable to you if your inside sales agents know how to properly work them. The key is to correctly prioritize the lead sources and determine which ISAs should be cross-trained to work all lead sources. Start the less experienced on the lower end of the list and then progress their skills up to working the most valuable leads.

There are plenty of lead sources out there, and you can take advantage of them all!

How to Pay an Inside Sales Agent

pay an inside sales agent
pay an inside sales agent

How to Pay an Inside Sales Agent

We will jump into pay structures, but first What Are Inside Sales Agents (for those who don’t know)?

Inside sales agents are the backbone of a successful real estate business. The vast majority of real estate transactions begin on the phone. This means that all the effort and skill that goes into nailing listing appointments, finding properties for buyers, and actually selling homes is all for nothing, if you don’t have effective people successfully setting up appointments on the phone.

This is why inside sales agents are so critical. They allow your agents to do what they do best, and allow you to grow your business without constantly being in the trenches every day. But for this to work, you need good people. And to get good people, you have to have a competitive compensation model that provides incentives, motivation, and opportunities for your inside sales agents.

Inside sales agents are sales professionals whose job it is to reach out to leads, introduce them to your company’s brand and the value you offer to clients, and, finally, to set appointments for your real estate agents. They are the front line of your real estate company and it is their responsibility to keep a steady flow of new business coming in through the door.

What Not to Do

Before we get to the most effective way to compensate your inside sales agent, let’s discuss the way that is less effective and that you should avoid.

This less effective way is a commission only pay structure. It is very difficult to develop a successful, long-term inside sales agent if they are paid solely on commission. While commission might make sense for real estate agents, for inside sales agents to make a decent living based only on commission they would have to be involved in a lot more sales.

They would also need to earn a substantially larger amount of the commission, which is not profitable for the team and would take away commission (and, consequently, incentive) from your real estate agents.

This system generally means longer periods of time between smaller paychecks for the ISAs. You run the risk of them favoring the “now” buyers or setting up appointments with less qualified leads because they are getting desperate and will try anything hoping it gets them paid.

You also run the risk of a high turn-over rate, which is bad news for you as a business owner or team leader because it drains a considerable amount of money. An Inside sales agent that you took the time to hire and train will cost you thousands or tens of thousands of dollars if they leave your company, forcing you to hire someone to replace them.

 

Compensation-only pay models tend to lead to stress and desperation for the inside sales agent and for you. Needless to say, businesses run better with less stress and less desperation. So let’s take a look at a better option.

How to Pay Your Inside Sales Agent

As in most areas of life, the key to an effective compensation model is compromise. The exact make up of how your particular pay structure will look depends on your specific business. But generally, the most popular and effective way to pay an inside sales agent tends to be a low salary with a 5%-15% commission at closing. This allows the ISA to have a base pay, but also be motivated to set quality appointments because they are rewarded when the property has reached closing.

This pay model typically works the best because it gives your inside sales agents a sense of security, but also rewards quality talent and provides a strong incentive (a significant bonus) to set quality and productive appointments. Remember, they are only getting their bonus if the appointment they set leads all the way to a closing.

It is key to ensure that you are compensating your employees based on the value they are adding to the business, and this model allows you to do just that. Having a strong commission model also limits your exposure if you hire an ISA that underperforms.

Average Compensation For Inside Sales Agents

An inside sales agent with little to no experience will normally make between $40,000 and $65,000 a year. More experienced ISAs will usually make between $60,000 and $80,000 a year. Both of these ranges include a base salary of between $24,000 and $30,000 a year.

The difference in the ranges between experienced and non-experienced ISAs is due to more experienced agents achieving increased commissions because they are more proficient in setting quality appointments. Simply put, the longer you are in this business, the more appointments and closings you are able to bring in.

Bonuses are compensated on 5% of gross commission income (GCI) after closing, with some real estate teams paying up to 10% of GCI. You may also go a different route and pay flat rate bonuses for appointments that actually took place—usually between $50 and $150 per conducted appointment.

However, with the latter you run the risk of your inside sales agents having an incentive to set lower quality appointments because they are paid based on appointments conducted, not as a result of a property closing.

Tie It All Together

If you are growing a real estate business you are going to hit a point where you need to hire an inside sales agent in order to continue to grow and be viable. When that day comes, the most important thing you can do is make the right hire.

Once you find that go-getter, cold calling ninja, the next most important thing is that you compensate them in a way that incentivizes them to both work with you, and set the highest number of quality appointments that they can. All while not breaking your bank.

But if you can do that, if you can find the right person and devise the right compensation package, then you will see a 5 to 1 ROI for your new inside sales agent. It’s all about incentives and putting them in the position to succeed.

Texting in Real Estate: How Not to Annoy Your Clients

annoying texting in real estate
annoying texting in real estate

Texting in Real Estate: How Not to Annoy Your Clients

How do you keep your clients in the know without seeming annoying or underwhelming?

Toeing the line between necessary communication and annoyance with your real estate clients can be a tricky business. More than anything else, it requires that you find a delicate balance between the two extremes.

Keep Your Clients in the Know

To start off, you have to keep your client in the know. There is nothing worse than your client missing out on an opportunity because you weren’t keeping them adequately informed. Or than a seller client being angry because they had to leave their home at the last minute because you didn’t (or weren’t able to) inform them that a buyer was coming to look at their house. A lack of communication can cause friction and will make you look like you don’t know what you are doing in your client’s eyes.

The flip side, however, is that you don’t want to be constantly contacting them to the point of annoying the crap out of them either. At best, the constant calling might cause the client to become slightly aggravated with you. At worst, it may cause them to think you are uninformed or unprepared and so have to constantly contact them to tell them things you forgot to remind them of before. Maybe they even stop picking up your phone calls all the time because they think your call is inconsequential or they just don’t feel like talking to you…yet again.

So where is the sweet spot? How do we strike this balance?

Empathy is Key

The most important thing to remember is that your client is probably not all that different from you. So empathize and put yourself in their shoes. When you think about it, it is not super difficult to know the difference between informing them of what they need to know when you think they need to hear it, and coming off as either overbearing or not caring. How would you feel if you were the client and your agent was acting the same way you are? If you feel like you’d be satisfied, then your current client most likely is too.

Texting is the Present and the Future

But aside from using common sense, the wonderful modern world we live in is constantly providing solutions to our problems. In this case, I am referring to texting. Yep, texting. That practice, once derided by parents and embraced by the youth, has become increasingly critical to the real estate industry. And it is the key to achieving a balance between being annoying and being negligent.

This is primarily because the vast majority of people do not find texts to be a nuisance. This is in contrast to, say, phone calls, which more and more people see as an interruption or intrusion into their lives. I heard it once put like this, you should only call someone if whatever you need to discuss would warrant meeting with that person unannounced. If whatever you have to tell your client is not so urgent that you would show up unannounced, then send a text message.

Don’t Be Passive or Intrusive

People are on their phones all the time and a text does not get in the way of whatever your client is currently doing. This means you are likely to get immediate feedback on whatever you need to discuss and you get it in a frictionless way. This is not the true for voicemail or email.

Voicemail requires too much effort on the part of the client. Again, they have to take time out of whatever they are doing to return your call. Unless it is something very important, you don’t want to create work for them. Whereas calls can sometimes be too aggressive, emails are often too passive. As you probably know, we are all inundated with email—work, personal, and endless promotional messages. It’s all too easy for your email containing important info to get lost in the bunch.  

Texts have yet to become like emails—they are still thought of as things you have to read, not things you choose to read or not. A 2017 report from National Association of Realtors found that 62% of all home buyers prefer their agent to send property info via text message. According to Pew Research Center, text messages lead to higher response rates than email alone. About 45% on average. Emails, on the other hand, have an 11% response rate according to MailChimp.

Texting in Real Estate Is a Massive Opportunity

However, the California Association of Realtors found that only 5% of realtors communicate by text. This means that in addition to helping you toe the line between annoying your clients and keeping them informed, using text messages as part of your marketing, follow-ups, and client relationships gives you a considerable competitive advantage.

So how not to annoy your clients? It starts with using common sense and empathizing with your them. If you would find something annoying, overly aggressive, or just not enough, most likely your client feels the same way. It ends with communicating with them in the way they’d most prefer. And increasingly, that is the non-intrusive, easy-to-respond-to world of texting. 

How Many Transactions Will My ISA Produce?​

ISA producing transactions
ISA producing transactions

How Many Transactions Will My ISA Produce?

Hiring an ISA is one of the smartest things you can do when it comes time to scale your business. Having an ISA (or multiple) allows you and your agents to focus on your existing clients and existing income-generating activities while they focus on prospecting and capturing new leads. 

Hiring and training an ISA is the only way to get you and your business in front of more qualified leads and listing opportunities while continuing to give your existing client base the necessary attention. 

When are you ready to hire an ISA?

Hiring an ISA is a big step and a large investment. So how do you know if it is the right time
 
Well, if you are already bringing in around 150,000+ in annual GCI, and you already have a solid and well-trained assistant handling your transactions for you, then you are ready for an ISA.  At this point you are able to scale and do more business.  

This will allow you to leverage your lead generation while producing more appointments and contracts.  The other requirement is that you must have some type of lead generation platform or farm in place, or well-established online profiles where you can run advertising. You need to have leads coming in that your ISA can follow up with and set appointments with.

Among other things, you probably need an ISA if you meet the following conditions:

  • You have too many leads to deal with and are unable to follow up with them all.
  • You are so focused on existing clients and income-generating activity that you have no time for prospecting. 
  • You have too little time available to properly prepare for listing appointments.
  • Once a client is finished with the inspection and appraisal process, they often don’t hear from you until right before closing.

How Valuable Will An ISA Be To My Business?

Once hired and properly trained, leveraging an ISA will allow your business to grow by leaps and bounds. Within their first 12 month, you can expect your ISA to produce between 50 and 60 transactions.

Though it varies, on average ISAs are compensated by a low salary and between 5%-15% commission. This may seem like a lot, but a well-trained ISA is more than worth it. According to a statistic from the Real Estate Trainer, real estate teams which utilize ISAs have found the income they produce to be at least five times the cost of employing them, amounting to a 5 to 1 return on investment. 

ISAs will do this by establishing for you a consistent and predictable stream of seller and buyer leads. The key is to establish an effective training program, and clear expectations of what the ISA is supposed to accomplish.

If you do that, hiring an ISA may well be the most important new hire you make for growing your real estate business.