Inside Sales Agents: Who To Hire to Grow Your Business

real estate inside sales agent coaching
real estate inside sales agent coaching

Inside Sales Agents: Who to Hire to Grow Your Business

How to hire inside sales agents

Hiring good people is one of the most difficult aspects of running a team or a business. Hiring inside sales agents is especially critical.

To start, it can be hard to feel comfortable passing off some of the responsibility that you have been shouldering. This is your business or your team—something that you have poured hours of work, sweat and tears into. This produces a bit of reservation when it comes time to let someone else track down and follow up on leads in your name.

In addition to that, how do you even find the right people to hire? And then once you’ve hired them, how do you train them to treat your business as if they were you? The key to both of these questions is to hire motivated doers, and then focus completely on the second question and train the heck out of them.

Inside sales agents are a must for growing your real estate business

But, despite these difficulties, you’ll have to hire ISAs (inside sales agents) if you are looking to scale your business, or even if you are just ensuring that it is sustainable. As you and your real estate agents get busier and busier, lead generation and acquisition are the first two things to go by the wayside. As this Follow Up Boss article points out, effective ISAs will bring you a 5 to 1 return on investment.

And this makes sense, why shouldn’t they go by the wayside? You and your agents are busy going to appointments, showing houses, closing deals and doing all the mountains of paperwork that go along with every step in the real estate process. But having a consistent system to find and nurture new leads, as well as to continuously set appointments for you and your agents, is something you have to have.

The Art & Science of Lead Conversion

Want to train your ISAs to be lead conversion masters? Try Conversion University risk free.

You’re going have no shows, you’re going to lose clients, you’re going to have sales fall through. This is the nature of the business and is unavoidable. Having a solid and successful inside sales team is how you mitigate the inevitable losses. They are the ones who keep a steady stream of new business coming through the door. And it all starts with hiring the right people.

It’s all about the mindset

Once you have made the decision to grow your business and hire one or more inside sales agent(s), the biggest fear typically becomes, “what if I hire the wrong person?!?”. Hiring the wrong person can cost countless hours and thousands of dollars—time and money you don’t have. So the key is to hire the right person, the first time around. According to insidesales.com, there are seven critical attributes that salespeople have to have. Of the seven, only three have directly to do with sales. The other four are as follows:
  • A good attitude

  • A desire to get better and learn

  • A desire to be better than the competition

  • The highest degree of integrity (i.e. they don’t lie or mislead clients or potential clients)

So four of these seven critical attributes all have to do with personality and mindset. What this means is that you don’t have to stress over finding the “perfect” sales person. You need to find someone who has a track record of producing tangible value for themselves and their employers (ideally, this would be something quantitative they can show you in an interview), someone who has a “show, don’t tell” attitude, and someone whose favorite words are “if I don’t know, I will figure it out”.

Let’s talk specifics

So you find a person with a solid go-getter attitude who doesn’t have a propensity towards lying and stealing. That’s the most important part when hiring an inside sales agent. But in addition to that, there are certain skills or qualities that they should possess.

First off, they have to be relatively extroverted or, at least, be able to talk on the phone with people. If they enjoy talking to people on the phone then that is a plus. This includes being effective at reading people over the phone and being able to react in real time to they pick up.

Second, they should feel comfortable being fairly assertive and forward. Not to the point of making anyone feel uncomfortable (this is where being able to read people comes in), but whether listening or speaking, your inside sales agent should be in control of the conversation.

Third, inside sales agents have to be okay with doing repetitive tasks and have to pay close attention to detail. Handling CRMs, setting appointments, and generally moving prospects through the sales funnel requires precision and documentation. Making sure all the information is correctly recorded is a must.

ISA Department In A Box

Save yourself hours of headache and thousands of hard earned dollars in wasted salary by studying the ISA implementation and management best practices of top teams and brokerages across the country. 

Your inside sales agents will be rock stars

If you are going to scale or sustain your real estate business or team, then you need great inside sales agents providing you with a constant stream of new leads. The most important thing is finding someone who wants to grow and produce value for the company and themselves (if you find someone who understands that producing value for one produces value for the other, you’ve struck gold). Then just make sure they are good at talking on the phone and train the heck out of them.

You’ll have more time and your business will grow by leaps and bounds. What are you waiting for?

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What Is Real Estate Sales Discovery and Why Is It Important?

real estate sales discovery
real estate sales discovery

What Is Real Estate Sales Discovery and Why Is It Important?

When you think about phone sales and talking to leads, what are you mostly imagining? For most real estate ISAs and agents, they mostly think of one thing when it comes to making the sale: closing. If you do a Google search about selling over the phone, you’re probably going to see endless articles, training, tips, etc. all related to closing.

When you think about it, it makes a lot of sense—closing sales is sexy and what actually moves the deal across the finish line. But the question is, how do you even get to the point on the call where you can successfully close? Even more important, how to know exactly how and when to shoot for the close? The simple answer is: sales discovery.

What Is Real Estate Sales Discovery?

Closing the deal with real estate clients is only possible once you have discovered key information about them and their situation. You have to understand how you can help them achieve their goal, which means you first have to understand what their goal is. And no, that goal is not just “to buy or sell my house.” To be successful on your calls, you have to dig deeper than that and find out what their motivation for buying or selling is—what they are trying to accomplish through buying or selling their home.

In addition to learning the wants, needs, and desires of a potential client, real estate sales discovery helps you determine all the factors you should know about before deciding whether to work with a particular person or not. Among other things, discovery allows you to learn the following:

  • The prospect’s financial situation
  • Their budget for buying a home
  • Who is involved in the decision to move forward working with you
  • What the prospect’s ideal timeframe is
  • Potential objections the prospect might throw at you later in the conversation

The Importance of Real Estate Discovery  

The answers you receive during discovery both present you the full picture of the lead’s home buying or selling situation, as well as give you the ammunition you need to close the deal.

Essentially, discovery questions are asked when you want to get to know a customer. Although it works in any type of sale, it’s most necessary in personal sales with a high price tag, like real estate or even insurance. You ask them these types of questions because you want to learn their wants and needs, so you can pitch your product as a solution.

But what are the best real estate discovery questions to ask? Here are some common examples.

Common Discovery Questions

There are endless amounts and variations of real estate discovery questions that you can ask prospects, but here are some key ones that will help you learn what you need to know about the lead.

  1. Where are you guys moving from? Great! Are you from there originally?
  2. Who are you moving with?
  3. Why are you guys looking to move out of your current home?
  4. How long have you been looking for a new home? What have you liked about the homes you’ve seen? What kept you from buying that particular home?
  5. Is this your first time buying a home?
  6. How long has your current home been on the market?
  7. Where are you planning on moving to?
  8. When would you like to be in your new home?

Sell, Don’t Tell

Key to successful real estate sales discovery is knowing how to let the prospect do most of the talking. You have to sell, not tell. And the two are rarely the same. It’s natural for a salesperson or real estate ISA to get on the phone and immediately want to start explaining who they are, talk about their team’s track record, and start trying to close too early by telling the prospect how their team’s strategy and process work great every time and will work perfect for them too.

The problem with blurting all this information out and essentially talking at the prospect instead of to them is that you have no idea what their particular situation is like. You explained your company’s process, but if you don’t have an understanding of the prospect’s process and an idea of what goal they are trying to accomplish, then you’re in trouble. You have to have an idea of how or if you can actually benefit them if they choose to work with you.

In other words, unless you have an understanding of what they are trying to accomplish and how, you can’t begin to convince the prospect that your team will work for them because you can’t even know that yourself. This is where discovery plays a big role.

Take Full Advantage of Discovery by Asking Good Questions

The key to discovery is asking good questions. What great salespeople do is use good, relevant questions to lead prospects to their own conclusions. Furthermore, great salespeople know that what they are hearing from prospects on the phone isn’t all there is to the story. They know that there are layers to every conversation they have with a prospect and that the outer layer is just a small fraction of what the prospect’s overall situation looks like.

As a real estate ISA, during discovery you have to read between the lines and be able to hear what’s being said “behind” what’s being said. That’s the only way to get enough information to decide whether this lead is worth working with, and the only way to be able to sufficiently convey the value you can create for them. This means listening very carefully to what the prospect is saying and then asking lots of good follow up questions. The better the questions and the deeper you go, the better the quality of the appointment you are able to set.

As an ISA, just as important as asking great questions is having real and natural conversations. It’s okay to have a script in front of you or a list of questions you know you want to hit, but it’s not okay to just blindly read off of the script or just go down the list of questions checking them off as you go. This is how you sound salesy and distant and not how you are going to understand what the lead is after in order to give yourself the ammunition to close.

Putting Discovery in Perspective

As a real estate agent or inside sales agent, your job is to try to produce the best possible outcome for your client. To do this, you first have to get to the heart of what their desired outcome is. Once you understand that, you then have to determine yourself if you think it would make sense for them to continue on their current path or if you can offer them a better one, given their desired outcome.

You have to understand the lead to the best of your ability, and the only way to accomplish that is through effective sales discovery.

Should Real Estate Agents Work with Buyers or Sellers?

real estate buyer's agent
real estate buyer's agent

Should Real Estate Agents Work with Buyers or Sellers?

Should real estate agents work with buyers or sellers? Almost every agent or industry expert will tell you that, as an agent, you should be working with sellers as much as possible. The conventional wisdom pretty goes as follows: if you want to make real money as a real estate agent or company, then you should be focusing on sellers and gaining listings.

Although this wisdom isn’t necessarily wrong, there are some serious benefits to working with buyers. This is especially true if you are just starting out as a new real estate agent or if you are trying to grow your sphere. Before we dive into that, however, let’s go over what exactly the difference is between a seller’s or listing agent and a buyer’s agent.

Listing Agent vs. Buyer’s Agent

As a real estate or inside sales agent reading this, you are probably well aware of the difference between these two types of agents. But just for any newbies out there, the difference is pretty simple. Basically, a listing agent represents the owner of the property, helps them develop strategic plans for selling it, markets it, gets buyers in the door and to the table, and negotiates with the buyer or buyer’s agent to get the best deal possible for person or party selling the property.

A buyer’s agent, on the other hand, is a representative for the person buying the home or property. They assist the buyer with finding the right house that checks all (or most) of their boxes, shows them houses, and helps negotiate the final deal. Basically, they help the people purchasing the property throughout the entire process and have a fiduciary responsibility to represent and support their interests.

As a quick side note for agents and ISAs wanting to convert more on their calls with buyers, the term fiduciary responsibility is huge here. You might hear a buyer tell you that they are just going to work with the agent listing the property. When they say this, it’s a great opportunity for you to point out that the listing agent has a fiduciary responsibility to get the best deal possible for the seller and has their best interests at heart, not the buyer’s.

Why Everyone Wants to Be Listing Agents

Put simply, most real estate agents want to work with listings because it is much easier to scale. Because you don’t have to show houses and drive all around town with your clients, there is a lot less physical labor involved. A listing agent can have 30, 40, even 50 active listings at any given time, whereas a buyer’s agent could most likely never handle that many clients at once.

Once seller’s agents have the right process in place along with all the necessary administrative and support staff, the only limit they have on growing their business is how many leads they are able to bring in the door (Coincidentally, that’s what we help you do at Smart Inside Sales). If a listing agent has the right team and processes in place to administer and market the listing, then they can really focus on negotiating and closing deals for their clients and finding new clients to work with.

Don’t Discount Being a Buyer’s Agent, Though

The primary drawback to jumping right into being a listing agent is that it is very difficult to do. Once you get going, being a seller’s agent is far more scalable, however it’s not easy to get to that point. More often than not, seller clients have the following mentality: they are paying the commission and so they expect more from their agent than many home buyers do. For that reason, sellers tend to have higher standards, are pickier about who they choose, and so there is much more competition for listing clients as a result.

Buyer clients, on the other hand, tend to be easier to get. Although it’s not true in every situation, their bar is normally set a bit lower, and so it is easier for newer agents to break into the buyer world than into the seller world.

So, What Does that Mean If You Are a New Agent Who Eventually Wants to Work with Sellers?

It means you use buyer clients as stepping stones to sellers. When done right, working with home buyers will eventually build you the following:

  • A client base
  • Repeat business
  • Referrals
  • A source of listing clients

In other words, working with buyers helps you build up your network and your sphere. More often than not, you’ll develop a deeper relationship with your buyer clients than with seller clients. If you help a family find their dream home or help find a couple their first home, they are going to be extremely grateful to you. Hopefully, that translates into them thinking of you when it is time to move or sell that home. It can also translate into them becoming your advocate when it comes to their friends or family buying or selling a home.

In other words, by working with buyers, it’s typically easier to get clients, you have a better chance at developing long term relationships with those clients, and you’re building up a base of people that you can eventually sell homes for as well. That first time home buyer will move eventually, and when they do, they’ll hopefully think of the person who helped them find the perfect first house.

Conclusion: You Can Be Successful with Buyers or Sellers

At the end of the day, agents and companies are successful working with buyers or sellers. Some start with buyers and move onto sellers, others work with both buyers and sellers, and others choose to specialize in one or the other. Although specialization is often the key to success in real estate, many real estate companies and agents will use buyers as we discussed—to build future seller business.

The bottom line is that before you can become a successful buyer’s or listing agent, you have to develop the skills to consistently bring in new business. That’s where Smart Inside Sales comes in for the save.

Click here to start generating more real estate clients today.

3 Biggest Script Mistakes Real Estate ISAs Make

real estate inside sales mistakes
real estate inside sales mistakes

3 Biggest Script Mistakes Real Estate ISAs Make

Inside sales has become a crucial role for the majority of real estate teams. I explain the role of ISAs to my clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled, and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent.  The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing, and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.

Although it varies from team to team, the basic role of an ISA for real estate includes the following responsibilities:

  • ISAs receive inbound leads and conduct rigorous outbound prospecting to uncover leads.
  • ISAs scrub leads, determine motivation, timing and ability.
  • ISAs set the listing and buyer consultation appointment for an outside agent.
  • ISAs also maintain a nurturing database of leads and work that database to produce future appointments.

Essentially, an inside sales agent takes your leads through the entire sales process, from start to finish. They bring them from prospects to paying customers.

Should Real Estate ISAs Use Scripts?

Real estate scripts are a necessary tool that all real estate ISAs should be using. That’s not to say that there is some magic set of words that will work every time, however. Developing an effective script takes time and constant tweaking and improvement. And you can’t rely on them completely 100% of the time. Real estate scripts  are only useful and effective as part of a wider conversion system and strategy to turn more no’s into yes’s on your calls.

With that said, what are the three biggest mistakes that real estate ISAs make when it comes to their scripts?

If there was a predictable, step-by-step method for learning how to generate a steady surge of leads and naturally move those leads to a “Hell Yeah! I’ll book an appointment with you”…

…would you finally feel confident that you could double your appointments, add 50 deals to your year, and get to the 6-figure Promised Land you dreamed of when you first started this whole real estate thing?

The answer is Conversion University. 

The most insanely comprehensive, ROI-focused ISA and real estate agent training on the planet, engineered to make EVERY aspect of your lead generation, appointment setting and deal closing more profitable from day one.

Learn More about Conversion University. 

Mistake #1: Using the Same Script for Every Lead Source

One of the most critical mistakes that inside sales agents when it comes to real estate scripts is using the same one for all of their calls. If you’re working different types of leads, then you need a different script that is tailored to each specific type. Why is this the case? Because different types of real estate leads generally have different types of problems, goals, requirements, and plans. That means that you are going to hear different types of objections and have to explain different parts of the home buying or selling process.

At a minimum, an effective ISA for real estate needs different scripts for the following lead sources:

  • Inbound leads
  • Expired leads
  • FSBO leads
  • Circle prospecting leads

An inbound lead is at least somewhat warm. They were referred to you, are responding to an ad campaign, etc. They are seeking you, your knowledge, and are curious what you have to offer. This requires a different script than, for example, an FSBO lead who you are seeking out. For FSBO scripts, you should include questions about why the lead is choosing to sell on their own, what they are hoping to gain from it, and what their overall goals for selling their home are.

When it comes to expired listing scripts, you have to dig down to what happened the first time around when the lead tried to sell their home, whether they used an agent, what went wrong with that agent, etc. Then it needs to hammer home the value that you and your team offer. The point is, leads sources vary, and you need the script to match. Do not use the same script for every type of lead.

Mistake #2: Sticking to Your Script Too Much

The next big mistake that real estate ISAs make is blindly sticking to the script. Although scripts are very important, they are not enough by themselves. They are useful to keep your calls on track and to make sure you are remembering to ask all the necessary questions and gather all the required information. But at the end of the day, in order to consistently convert leads, an inside sales agent has to have real conversations.

In order to be successful, ISAs have to sound natural, ask questions that get at the heart of the lead’s situation and problem, and then respond in the appropriate way. That means that in addition to your scripts, you have to really focus on and hammer home the following skills:

  • Discovery and qualification – find out what the lead’s situation is, what problem they’re trying to solve, and what their end goal is. Plus, you need to be able to determine if they are worth working with or not.
  • Objection handling – can you turn a “no” to a “yes”? You’re going to be hearing objections or forms of objections you haven’t heard before. You have to be ready to deal with them on the fly, even if it means deviating from your script.
  • Closing skills – no matter how good your script is, you still have to recognize both your path to the close and when it is time to close. If you close too early or too late, even the best script won’t be able to help you.

Mistake #3: Never Changing Your Script

The last major mistake ISAs make when it comes to real estate scripts is not changing, improving, and adapting it as needed. Each of your scripts needs to be highly dynamic. An ineffective script that you continue to use without tweaking or editing will not help you bring in more business. Real estate inside sales agents need to be aware of how leads are responding to certain parts of the script and constantly be testing new ideas.

If leads don’t respond well to something, then change it. If you find you’re hearing similar objections over and over, then add some response ideas to it.

Don’t fall victim to these mistakes! For more information on how to convert more leads on your calls, try Conversion University.

What Is a Real Estate ISA Company?

ISA company real estate
ISA company real estate

What Is a Real Estate ISA Company?

Once your real estate business progresses to a certain point, hiring an ISA for real estate is the only way for you to move forward past that point. Without an inside sales agent (ISA), your company will most likely fail to bring in enough new leads, not be able to properly follow up with and nurture the leads you have, and, generally, fall into stagnation.

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. 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.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What exactly is a real estate ISA and what do they do for your business?

What Is an ISA for Real Estate?

Like we already mentioned, an ISA is an inside sales agent. I explain the role of ISAs to my clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent.  The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.

The ISA’s role is most effective when the scope is limited to tasks that develop the position into a lead generation and conversion machine. The raw materials are leads and lists—the product is viable listing or buyer appointments that result in contracts.

Here is the basic structure of the inside sales role:

  • ISAs receive inbound leads and conduct rigorous outbound prospecting to uncover leads.
  • ISAs scrub leads, determine motivation, timing and ability.
  • ISAs set the listing and buyer consultation appointment for an outside agent.
  • ISAs also maintain a nurturing database of leads and work that database to produce future appointments.

Different teams and agents have varying degrees of difference with this model, like not using the ISA to set appointments or having their ISA conduct marketing and advertising efforts, but the role’s effectiveness is greatest when clients adhere to the above description.

When to Hire a Real Estate ISA?

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. 

You can 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. In other words, before you hire an ISA, you need to have a steady stream of leads coming in. If you don’t, then your inside sales agent won’t have leads to work and they won’t be worth the salary you are paying them.

What Is an ISA Company?

Once you determine that you are ready to hire an inside sales agent, the next question is whether to hire an in house ISA or an ISA company. The difference between the two is that an in house inside sales agent is a direct member of your team, while an ISA company is an organization you pay to make use of their inside sales agents.

An ISA company often focuses on one particular industry, in this case real estate. Once you hire them, an ISA company will take the leads you generate, qualify them, and either set up appointments for your agents or send them live transfers. The third party company handles the initial legwork, then after that it’s up to your real estate agents to take the sale over the finish line.

Benefits of Hiring an ISA Company

Although many companies or team leaders may be hesitant to hire an ISA company because the ISAs are not true members of your team, there are some significant upsides. Benefits of using an ISA company include the following:

  • You don’t have to worry about sick or vacation days
  • You don’t have to go through the tedious interview process
  • You don’t need to spend time or money figuring out ISA employee bonuses
  • You don’t have to think about the entire HR side of having an employee
  • You don’t have to track individual ISA performance
  • There is relatively little training that you’re responsible for (just teaching the ISA company how your business operates)
  • If you hire a reputable company, you know you’re getting a team of sales experts ready to go to work for you on day one

Another benefit of hiring an ISA company is that you only have to worry about paying for the services your business needs. Whereas with an in house ISA you are paying the salary and taxes no matter whether you have leads coming in or not, with a company you are only paying them for specific lead generation campaigns or for a specified time period.

ISAs Require Consistent Training

The advantage with in house ISAs is that you control more of the situation. You’re able to hire the ISA directly, train them directly, and use the process that you developed. Hiring a full time ISA is a large investment, but one that has the potential to pay off big for your business. If you do it right.

The problem that many real estate companies run into, however, is that team leaders or owners don’t have adequate time for training. Successfully training an ISA takes time. In fact, it could take up to between four and six months to effectively coach and evaluate if your ISA is productive or profitable. By hiring an ISA company, that training is done for you; all you have to do is inform them of the specifics of your process and market.

In House or Third Party?

At the end of the day, whether you hire an in house inside sales agent or a company is up to you and your specific goals and constraints. If you have the time and funds to hire a full time agent, then that is probably the route to go, however if you don’t think you’ll be able to devote the necessary resources, then a third party is probably the best way to go.

If you do decide to hire an in house ISA and want them converting leads fast, then give us a call at Smart Inside Sales.

Give Your Business a Boost: Why Use Real Estate CRMs

real estate agent crm
real estate agent crm

RECENT POSTS

Give Your Business a Boost: Why Use Real Estate CRMs

If you’re thinking about becoming a real estate agent or broker, then you need to know what real estate CRMs are. If you’re already in the industry, then I would be surprised if you didn’t know what they are and weren’t already using one. I won’t go as far to say that the right CRM is what makes successful agents successful, but I will venture to say that all successful real estate agents use a CRM effectively.

The question is, how do you use real estate CRMs to benefit your business?

What Are Real Estate CRMs?

Before we dive into why and how to use it, what even is a CRM in the first place? Well, C-R-M stands for “customer relationship management”. As you can guess by the name, your CRM sits at the center and crossroads of your real estate business. From tracking leads and prospects, to lead nurturing, to communicating with leads and current customers, to drip campaigns, to uploading contracts, to booking and managing appointments, and everything in between, customer relationship management (CRM) is critical to your business.

Put in other words, a CRM is the software you use to assist you in running your business and seamlessly managing your leads and clients. Without this software, agents end up spending much more time than they need to on using multiple separate tools, manually updating lead information, and continuously juggling a mountain of data and information.

Benefits of Using a CRM for Real Estate Agents

There are an ample number of reasons why real estate agents use CRMs. Here are just a few of them:

  • Save your time for revenue generation – According to Follow Up Boss, a leading CRM platform, 65% of a sales rep’s time is spent on non-revenue generating activities and only 36% of their time is actually spent on selling. Whether for real estate agents or other types of sales people, that translates into missed opportunities. By using a real estate CRM and keeping everything in a centralized location, you can nurture leads more effectively and boost your sales, all while saving time and effort.
  • Respond to leads faster – As any successful agent knows, how fast you respond to new leads plays a large role on whether or not they’ll become clients. Most leading CRMs will have apps and/or cloud functionality, allowing you to respond to new leads fast. Plus, they’ll allow you to set up automated custom responses, so leads can hear from you immediately.
  • Nurture real estate leads more effectively – According to a report completed by Hubspot, only 27% of leads (across all industries) that come into a company’s sales funnel are actually “sale ready”. Moving those leads closer to the point where you can close the sale requires consistently sending them the right messaging at the right time. Top real estate CRMs make it easy send specific messages to certain leads, based on where they are in the sales process.
  • Stay in contact with leads – Closing the sale should not be the last time you talk to your existing clients. Sending reminders on special occasions and just simply keeping in contact with your past clients will help ensure you get business from them in the future, either a future sale or referral. CRMs help you to avoid losing track of past clients and let you send automated holiday and birthday messages.

How to Effectively Use a Real Estate CRM?

Different CRMs for real estate offer different types of functionality and varying levels of abilities. Most, however, will allow you to integrate it with many of the other apps and tools you’re using every day. Examples of these include your calendar, Google Apps or Outlook, Hubspot, MailChimpk RingCentral, Kixie, and many others. Integrating these should be your first step, so you can centralize activities and make your day to day operation more efficient.

Take the time to train yourself and your team in the software you’re using. Most likely, your CRM will have a lot of capabilities, and the only way you’ll make use of them effectively is if you read the owner’s manual—i.e. complete online tutorials, read guides, and watch videos online.

Be dedicated! Consistently ensure your lead information is updated and current. It’s no use having a bunch of emails and phone numbers that no one ever uses. Regularly check contacts, update and send out communications, and be open to tweaking your processes as you learn better ways of doing things. Furthermore, use your website and forms in other locations to automatically add contact info to your database.

Conclusion: Use a Real Estate CRM

This article barely even scratches the surface on everything you need to know about real estate CRMs. But it’s enough to get you started. The first step is finding one that will work for your business, like Follow Up Boss for example, then take the time and effort to ensure you’re using it effectively.

Tips for Being a Successful Solo Real Estate Agent

solo real estate agent
solo real estate agent

Tips for Being a Successful Solo Real Estate Agent

If you’re a solo real estate agent, then you’ve got guts. Choosing this career path is as daunting as it is challenging. It can be a difficult journey and attrition rates are often very high. In fact, many real estate agents aren’t able to make it through their first year. However, if you can make it through, it has the potential to be one of the most exciting, rewarding, and high earning jobs you could have chosen.

Benefits of Being a Solo Agent

As we lay out in another article of ours, there are many benefits to being a solo real estate agent and building your own business.

  • You get to be your own boss. Being the big man (or woman) that makes decisions means that you are also in charge of building your lead list, maintaining your client’s needs, networking relationships, marketing your business, and managing the day-to-day office needs. This is all in your hands. If you’re a real estate agent and you skimp out on any of these areas, your real estate business is not going to make it very far.
  • You get to set your own schedule. It’s true real estate agents work flexible schedules, but what that also means is that you are going to be working when most other people aren’t. You won’t have the mundane 9-5, which is awesome, but you will most likely have to work and take appointments in the evenings and on weekends. If a client calls and needs something, most likely you’ll have to drop whatever you are doing to assist them.
  • You control your income. Many people are attracted to the real estate industry because there is huge income growth potential. But in the beginning, the direction of your cash flow is going to be out. Making your first sale is going to take some time and work and, depending on your market, you may consistently experience a famine-feast situation.

But how do you beat the odds long enough to actually achieve the level of success you’d like and reap these benefits? Here are some tips for being a solo agent.

Set Goals and Hold Yourself Accountable

One of the more difficult aspects of working for yourself and being a solo real estate agent is ensuring that you are setting goals and continuously working towards them. You don’t have a boss or team reminding you to do things, setting deadlines or benchmarks for you, or tracking your performance. Take the time to define specific goals, like how much money you want to earn, for example. Then, set a time frame and work towards it with daily, weekly, and monthly targets.

A great way that solo agents can hold themselves accountable is by posting about their goals and what they’re working on on social media (you don’t have to include specifics about the number you’d like to earn). Doing this allows you to, in effect, be held accountable by the world. You’ll feel bad and your reputation may suffer if you don’t follow through on the things you say you will online.

Stay Motivated and Tell Yourself Good Stories

Why are you in the real estate business? What are you trying to accomplish by being a solo real estate agent? Why is being a solo agent more valuable to you than being on a team? Continuously refreshing and reminding yourself of the answers to these big picture questions is key to keeping yourself motivated, especially through the more difficult times.

Always tell yourself positive stories about your line of work and what your goals are. As a solo real estate agent, your career and life are in your own hands. When you are busting butt making calls and following up on leads, you are building the life you want to live. In doing so, you’re creating value for the client and for yourself. Selling and productivity are noble endeavors that you should be proud of.

Create a Schedule and Stick to It

Again, when you have your own real estate business you don’t have anyone telling you when to do certain things. That means you have to block out time in your day to create ad campaigns and lead generate, to follow up with and qualify current leads, to speak with existing clients, to meet with clients, to show houses, etc. Lead generation will quickly fall by the wayside when things start to get busy. Critical to the future of your solo real estate business is ensuring this does not happen.

It’s also important to value your time and guard it closely, because certain leads are going to want to waste your time. They might want to have weekly open houses, or they decide to rent after you show them a million properties, or they just ghost you after months of speaking back and forth. If this does happen, you can’t let it affect you mentally. You just have to move on. As your lead qualification improves, this will happen less and less.

Hire an ISA at the Right Time

I explain the role of ISAs to my clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled, and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent.  The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing, and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.

Their goal is to nurture the lead from start to finish, from prospect to client. Often, they own the entire sales process. They do their own prospecting, reach out to potential leads, show the lead their intimate understanding of their needs and the product they are selling, and make follow up calls as necessary in order to set up an appointment.

Among other things, you probably need to hire 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.

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.  You can leverage your lead generation while producing more appointments and contracts.

Conclusion: You Can Be a Successful Solo Agent

Take your career into your own hands and build the life you always dreamed of. That’s what it means to be a real estate agent and grow your own real estate business. Take the tough times in stride and have pride in the journey.

What Is the Biggest Fear of Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Teams?

real estate team fear
real estate team fear

What Is the Biggest Fear of Real Estate Agents and Real Estate Teams?

What’s the biggest fear that real estate agents have?

Market downturns? Maybe. Not being able to beat the odds and overcome the extremely high attrition rates that agents face? Probably. The inability to provide for yourself and your family through this career path? Most definitely.

But what do all these fears have in common?

What they all have in common—what the overarching and underlying fear is—is the fear of not being able to generate business when you need it most. This is the fundamental dread in the industry and is shared by real estate agents and businesses alike. The prospect of not being able to consistently bring in business and close sales on demand means that you will get stuck in a feast or famine cycle.

Real Estate Agents Want Control over Their Business

Many people become real estate agents because they want a greater amount of control over their careers and their lives. They are drawn to the industry to have flexibility with their schedule, they want the chance to be their own boss, and they want their income to directly reflect their skills and ability—with no artificial caps or limits imposed by having a non-commission salary.

The problem is, this dream is often not realized for many who start on the real estate agent journey. Tom Ferry claims that 87% of all agents fail in real estate. Even for those who “make it”, they get stuck in a cycle of good times and bad times in which the freedom, flexibility, and control over their income they dreamed of seems illusive or unobtainable.

When times are good and you’re converting leads, setting appointments, and closing sales, your life is great and you feel like you’re on top of the world. But then the famine hits. You struggle just to get by, you call lead after lead with no luck, and you have bills piling up. During these times, your life is filled with stress, worry, and uncertainty.

Even when times are good, for many agents and ISAs there is the voice in the back of their head asking themselves how long the good will last. They’re afraid that, although they are making sales now, will they be able to keep it up? When will the “feast” end? How will their bank account look next month or the month after?

Real Estate Companies Fear This, Too

The fear of the feast or famine cycle is not only confined to solo agents. Real estate companies of all sizes share the same thoughts in the back of their minds. “Times are good now, but will it last?” Smart real estate teams dedicate a large amount of resources towards lead generation and have systems in place to create a steady flow of new business—partially as a result of this fear.

In fact, entire teams of real estate ISAs (inside sales agents) are hired to ensure that business is being generated and that the company has a steady supply of qualified leads to keep them going in great times and not so great times. Having inside sales agents is a good step towards creating a predictable system for converting leads, but it is not necessarily a guarantee.

What Is a Real Estate ISA?

At Smart Inside Sales, we like to explain the role of ISAs to our clients in terms beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—ISAs are skilled real estate professionals who are highly trained, skilled, and dedicated to their craft in the same degree as an outside agent.  The advantage of the ISA is that they specialize in the initial tasks of lead generation, lead nurturing, and setting listing and buyer consultation appointments.

Basically, a real estate inside sales agent is a lead generating and converting ninja who, as opposed to an outside agent, conducts their craft over the phone instead of in person. They are first point of contact with your real estate company and are responsible for getting new business in through the door.

The basic structure of a real estate inside sales role is:

  • ISAs receive inbound leads and conduct rigorous outbound prospecting to uncover leads.
  • ISAs scrub leads, determine motivation, timing and ability.
  • ISAs set the listing and buyer consultation appointment for an outside agent.
  • ISAs also maintain a nurturing database of leads and work that database to produce future appointments.

But even if your real estate team has an ISA or multiple ISAs; if they don’t have a tried, tested, and proven system for converting leads, then you can’t be sure of a steady stream of new business.

How to Escape the Fear of Not Being Able to Generate Business on Demand

Whether you’re a team with ISAs or a solo agent, the only way to have total control over your business is to feel confident that you can consistently bring in new sales. This means you need a lead conversion system that is both reliable and predictable. Depending on your situation, you, your agents, or your ISAs need to be the master of scripting, dialog, objection handling, and closing. Plus, you have to know how to receive, manage, categorize, and nurture leads so they don’t get lost forever in your CRM.

You can generate all the new leads you want, but if you don’t know how to effectively and consistently convert them, then the time and money you sunk into getting those leads was for nothing. That means you have to know how to talk to them, how to overcome objections, when and how to close, and how to keep everything organized.

This is where Conversion University comes in.

Conversion University teaches everything we know at Smart Inside Sales. It’s a comprehensive training program for real estate agents and ISAs that gives you the tools to set 20, 30, or even 40 new appointments every single month. What’s more is that the agents and teams who work through this program are able to do this on demand with predictability.

Most real estate agents fear that the good times will end. The skills and training you receive through Conversion University make it so that they won’t ever have to again.

Conclusion

The biggest fear that real estate ISAs and agents have is that they can’t predictably create new business. That every time they pick up the phone it’s a matter of luck whether they can set the appointment or make the sale. That it’s out of their control.

The way to overcome this and gain that control back is to have the right training and put the proper system in place.

Texting vs. Cold Calling in Real Estate

texting in real estate
texting in real estate

Texting vs. Cold Calling in Real Estate

At Smart Inside Sales, we’ve written a lot about cold calling in real estate. It’s one of those activities that most people, even the best salesman, don’t really enjoy doing so much. The leads you’re calling also probably don’t look forward to being called by some stranger trying to set an appointment with them either. Cold calls can be awkward and sometimes uncomfortable for everyone involved.

But the thing is, however scary and uncomfortable, it is sometimes a necessary activity and something real estate ISAs should master. In the end, cold calling successfully in real estate ultimately comes down to your mindset, how you enter the call, and whether or not you are able to handle the objections (sometimes multiple objections) that the leads throw at you.

If you want to learn more about how to cold call the right way, then check out this previous article of ours.

Texting in Real Estate

As you may have guessed by the title of this article, we’re not discussing cold calling. The topic is texting in real estate. Texting has taken off in terms of its use when it comes to marketing and sales. This fact is as true for real estate as it is for a number of other industries. Whether reaching out for the first time or following up with a real estate lead, texting is thought of as more personal, quick and easy to send and receive, and they don’t interrupt whatever the lead happens to be doing at the time.

According to PEW research from a couple years ago, more than 70% of Americans prefer texting or emails over phone calls. And that number will have only gone up in 2020. As Millennials and GEN-Z Zoomers become more and more of the population looking to buy and sell homes, texting will become even more important.

According to another study, 90% of people both open and respond to text messages within five minutes. That number is compared to about 5-10% of leads picking up the phone and about 20% opening an email you send them. 

How Real Estate Agents Use Texting

Calling will always be a necessary activity and skill for real estate agents and inside sales agents. However, they also have to be able to adapt and adjust to changing market conditions. More than many other industries, real estate is extremely dynamic. If you don’t keep up, then you will quickly be left behind in the dust.

They way agents should start using texting is as a part of a multi-channel strategy. Hit leads and prospects from all angles using calling, texting, and emailing. Doing so gives you the greatest chance of actually communicating with them and explaining to them how you can help them achieve their goal.

If you can’t reach a lead through a phone call, then send them a text, an email, or both. The exact number varies, but somewhere between 80% and 90% of people no longer answer phone calls of numbers they don’t recognize or have saved in their phone. So it’s likely that, no matter how much cold calling volume you can do, you probably won’t see as large of a return as you will if you also contact leads through other methods.

Speed to Lead Is Important for Texting, Too

Whether you’re calling or texting or emailing, however, the speed with which you reach out to the lead is everything. A study from MIT about lead response management highlights the 5-minute rule to convert leads: the odds of qualifying a lead is 20 times higher if you contact him or her within the first 5 minutes of outreach versus in 30 minutes. Texting makes accomplishing this tight timeline much more possible.

For example, if you have thirty new leads come in, you can easily send thirty texts in thirty minutes. I challenge you to try having thirty phone calls in the same amount of time.

Other Advantages of Texting

Texting is a fairly low commitment activity that can help you qualify a lead and learn whether they are serious or not about working with someone. People may not answer a phone call for a number of reasons—maybe they are in the middle of doing something else, already on the phone, in a meeting, etc. However, if they don’t text you back then their non-response is a strong indicator that they might not be fully qualified.

Another advantage of texting leads is that you can more easily share information about your company with them. You can send a link to your website, an area report, or past sales to add legitimacy to your brand. When you call someone on the phone, you’re limited to talking about yourself and you’ll end up likely agreeing to follow up via email and share the same information anyway.

Conclusion: Find What Works for Your Real Estate Business

Cold calling and following up with leads via phone calls still has its place in the real estate world and probably will for the foreseeable future. However, it’s important to recognize new trends and new tools that you can put to use. It’s to your benefit to incorporate texting into your repertoire.  

Move Your Real Estate Business Forward after Lockdowns

real estate online leads
real estate online leads

Move Your Real Estate Business Forward after Lockdowns

I wrote in my article last week that we are finally seeing some light at the end of the coronavirus pandemic tunnel. The majority of real estate agents can go back to work showing houses, and most markets are starting to pick back up again. I also wrote that I thought now is the time to surge forward and reclaim the business you may have lost over the past few months.

All the work you put in reaching out to your network, becoming a community connector, and offering to help people in your sphere any way you could should finally be paying off. Basically, now is the time to get off of the lockdown couch (if you were ever on it) and completely throw yourself into growing your real estate business.

But what’s the best way to go about doing that?

  • Put more effort into your marketing
  • Maintain or increase your ad spend on effective marketing channels
  • Remember we’re still in the middle of a pandemic
  • When talking to leads, focus more than ever on helping them solve a problem

Should I Invest in Leads and Marketing?

During the COVID-19 lockdowns and even now as they end, many companies have cut marketing budgets or are hesitant to invest more. However, slow downs are when you should be putting even more effort into your marketing channels. I’ll qualify that statement by adding that you should be putting more effort and possibly dollars into your effective marketing channels.

It’s important to remember that effective, data driven, measurable marketing is an investment, not an expense. When done correctly, you should be able to draw a clear line from money put in to the return you receive. Despite any potential downturn in the economy or real estate markets, right now is one of the best times to grow your market share.

Why?

One reason is that over the past couple of months, the cost of ads across many different online platforms has dropped. Mostly because businesses across every industry cut their ad spends and marketing dollars when the pandemic picked up and lockdowns began. Although, as people return to work, many businesses will probably pick their marketing back up, there may still be time to take advantage of this opportunity.

The other reason is that, within the real estate industry itself (and probably within your specific market), many other agents are advertising less, marketing less, and posting less on social media. Again, this follows from the false mentality that when things slow down you and your business should slow down too.

Don’t fall into that trap.

Quarantines Forced More People Online…Even More  

Here’s the next point: as you probably know from your own lockdown experience, social media use reached levels not seen before. Tens of millions of people were sitting at home with not much to do. According to one study from a few weeks back, consumption of the Facebook News Feed was up a whopping 82%.

And although many things are beginning to open back up, there are still millions and millions of people who are sitting or working at home and who have way more time than usual on their hands. How are they passing that time? By scrolling Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tik Tok.

So, let’s recap: people are spending way more time than usual on social media, ad costs may still be down, and many of your competitors are not taking advantage of the situation. You have the opportunity to have more attention of prospects and potential clients than ever before, with probably less competition than normal.

How to Make Social Media Marketing Work for Real Estate

As always, the key to a successful content and social media strategy is making sure you’re offering useful, relevant information. In our current situation, that means being the expert of new or changing policies or rules in your market, making potential customers feel safe and secure when restarting the buying or selling process, and, generally, being helpful at every turn.

Remember that, despite re-openings, many people are still going through one of the hardest times in their lives. Continue to be empathetic when you speak with or contact leads (whether on Facebook Messenger or text or on the phone) and avoid any “hard selling”.

Speak with Online Real Estate Leads the Right Way

Once you’re actually speaking with your new online real estate leads, it’s important to have real conversations. In other words, don’t stick blindly to your script. You may still be facing more resistance than normal and maybe some people angry that you are calling them during this difficult time. People are going to want to talk and meet with you even less than normal.

That’s why it’s even more critical in our post COVID-19 lockdown world to underscore the value that you offer them. Leads care less about your past success or stats than they do about how you are going to solve their specific problem right now. What do you bring to the table and why should they care?

I’ll keep returning to our Smart Inside Sales PPO process time and time again because it works. And now more than ever, you have to take advantage of every lead who will let you talk to them on the phone.

Use the PPO Process to Overcome Objections and Close More Sales

The lead’s perspective is their past experience, knowledge and speculation.

The prospect’s process is their own plan that they have for their situation. The process is typically what will lead to an objection. They have their plan and you are not a part of it in their mind, so they turn you down.

And finally, the outcome. This is the unique result or benefit the prospect believes their process will deliver for them.

Perspective, process, and outcome are the three things that make up any objection. The key here is to understand these three parts of the objection from the lead’s point of view, not just from your own. Below are the five most critical aspects of dealing with an objection once they tell you it:

  1. Acknowledge – Listen to what they say and let them know that you understand it.
  2. Paraphrase – Restate what they said without leading and without interpretation.
  3. Inquire into their perspective, process, and outcome – This is where you dig into their thought process how they see it. Get them to walk you through their knowledge, plan, and the unique thing they hope to accomplish. These are the three things you need to know in order to counter their objection, so ask questions that get you the answers.
  4. Determine the unique benefit or result they hope to achieve – this is their sought after outcome.
  5. Close if appropriate – Close if the lead does not bring up another objection as a result of the PPO process or if it becomes obvious that meeting is the next logical step in your conversation.

Conclusion: Move Your Real Estate Business Forward with Confidence

Now is the time to put the effort into your marketing channels. In particular, measurable, data-driven online advertising methods. Think of marketing as an investment where you can easily see your ROI for every dollar spent. If you can’t see that clearly, then it might not be the best method to use at this time.

People are on social media more than ever before and probably will continue to be in the coming months. Take advantage of a wider audience with both ads and organic posts. Once you make contact with leads, remember that the situation is still very tough. Be empathetic, helpful, and focus on how the value you bring will help solve their current problem.