Telemarketers vs Inside Sales Agents: Who Should You Hire?

telemarketer or inside sales agent ISA training
telemarketer or inside sales agent ISA training

Telemarketer vs Inside Sales Agent: Who Should You Hire?

Telemarker vs. Inside Sales Agent

Let’s face it, we all hate telemarketers. They seem to call us at the most inopportune times (like during family dinner), they try to sell us things we have no interest in, and their scripts often scream sleazy salesman. On the surface, the job of a telemarketer and an inside sales agent can seem similar. But aside from both using the telephone to connect with potential leads, they don’t really have too much in common.

Telemarketers

When thinking about a telemarketer vs. inside sales agent, it helps to first understand the distinction between the two. A telemarketer is typically more like a hired hand. The necessary qualifications include being alive, being able to talk on the phone, and being able to dial quickly to make it through their lists. They don’t necessarily have any sales skills or experience, and are definitely not sales professionals. That being true, they don’t generally have a very intimate knowledge of the product they are selling. They just call, read from their script, hang up, and call again. Speed is the key.

More often than not, telemarketers deal with single call close deals, selling business to consumer goods. The nature of the job means that they are predominantly selling small-ticket, impulse buy goods. There is no warming up of leads and no building a relationship with potential customers. The job of a telemarketer is to take an unqualified prospect and turn them directly into a customer.

This is an extremely difficult task to accomplish, which is why telemarketers focus on volume rather than strategy. A telemarketer can probably only expect to close 3 or 4 out of a list of 100 prospects. This forces them to act in the salesly, aggressive manner that has become so intimately associated with them.

Inside Sales Agent

An inside sales agent (ISA) on the other hand, is a sales professional who happens to conduct their business over the phone, rather than in person. They typically deal with big ticket, larger investment products.

Their goal is 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.

The biggest distinction when considering a telemarketer vs inside sales agent is that inside sales aims to build rapport and develop a relationship, while telemarketers are looking for the quick, single call sale. Whereas a telemarketer reads from a script, an ISA listens to specific problems and works with the lead to find a solution.   

Inside Sales Real Estate Agent

In terms of the real estate industry, the role of an inside sales agents goes beyond the general view of appointment setters or lead scrubbers—they 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.

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.

Telemarketer vs Inside Sales Agent, Which Is the Better Option for You? 

Cold calling unqualified prospects is quickly going by the wayside. According to a study done by Insidesales.com, only 5%-10% of people answer their phones for unknown numbers. A study by Retailing Today showed that 81% of people research online before buying a product, and 61% read reviews before buying a product.

These findings don’t bode well for cold-calling telemarketers. Inside sales agents in the real estate industry are professionals who work to find qualified leads who are interested in buying or selling a property.

They are stepping in to fulfill a need and to work with the lead to solve a problem they are actively trying to solve on their own. This is far more than simply moving down a list of random phone numbers hoping someone bites.

Telemarketers vs inside sales agents? If you truly want to grow your real estate business, you know which choice is correct. 

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.

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.

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?

What Are the Best Tips for Developing a Strong Real Estate Sales Force?

real estate inside sales team training

What Are the Best Tips for Developing a Strong Real Estate Sales Force?

If you’re developing your real estate sales force, you know that that can be a daunting task. Especially if you’re just starting out, the jump from zero to a successful real estate sales force can sometimes seem out of reach.

But don’t worry! There are several simple, common sense tips you can follow to help you develop the best real estate sales force for your company.

Hire the “Teachable”

As you carefully choose your sales force, the most important thing to consider is whether the person you’re considering hiring is teachable and willing to learn.

If the person you’re interviewing seems too arrogant or stubborn to listen and learn from your training process, don’t hire them — no matter how good of a sales rep they seem to be.

The same goes from your current employees. As a team leader you must motivate your current employees to continue learning and innovating (regardless of how well they are performing).

Train, Train, Train

The people you hire probably have a lot of talent and maybe even a lot of experience. However, never underestimate the importance of proper training.

Unless your sales force gets regular and understandable coaching, you can’t reasonably expect them to follow your specific company sales processes.

The right training methods will help your team understand your processes inside and out while evolving with the market, making them amazing additions to your team!

Cultivate a Culture of Collaboration

After you’ve hired and trained the right people, your next step is to create the perfect company culture to inspire the best teamwork possible.

If your sales reps don’t feel like they’re members of a unified team, that will most likely reflect in your company numbers. Instead of leaving your sales force to their own team building, try to actively encourage teamwork through goal setting and reward setting.

Goal Setting

Besides cultivating a culture of teamwork by giving your team something to strive for, smart goal setting also gives your sales force the focus they need to work toward an objective.

If you want to have a certain number of leads closed by the end of the fiscal year (or even just by the end of the month), let your sales force know! If your team has a time-sensitive goal with KPIs (key performance indicators) in place to keep them accountable, it is less likely that anyone will waste time.

Rewards

Remember, your sales force is made up of people who have their own lives, interests, and desires outside of work. Some might be motivated to do the best they can all the time, but others might not even know their limits because they’ve never had incentive to push themselves.

Creating a rewards system will help your real estate sales force stay motivated and even excited to reach goals and work hard!

Ask for Advice If You Need It

Finally, if all that sounds great, but you’re too busy to create a strong development strategy from the ground up, we have a solution for you!

I am now offering a free lead conversion training in which you’ll learn exactly how you can create an amazing real estate sales team by utilizing our sales force development resources!

How to Scale Your Real Estate Business

real estate isa team training

How to Scale Your Real Estate Business

Continually Grow Your Business

Thinking strategically about how to grow your business is one of the first things to get thrown to the wayside when things get crazy. This is a problem because you need to continually grow your business beyond your existing clientele for it to be healthy. But sometimes we get too caught in the trenches of running our business, and we forget to work on our business.

This is especially difficult for people who are heavily and intimately involved in the day to day operation of their businesses. People who feel that they themselves are the best salesperson on their team, and the most motivated, driven team member at the company. And at some level this kind of makes sense—why shouldn’t you be the best person on your own team? It is your company after all.

The problem that arises, however, is that there is only a limited amount of time in each day. Day in and day out, if you are knocking down doors, leaving no stone unturned, and asking for business from anyone and everyone, you will have no time to focus on overall direction and strategy, let alone spend time with your family or take a vacation.

This is why it can be extremely valuable—indeed, absolutely necessary—to hire and train awesome people to assist you. And if your interest lies in growing your business, then the most critical area to hire good people for is lead generation. These people are called inside sales agents (ISAs). A good inside sales agent is a highly effective and accountable salesperson who prospects, follows up with leads, nurtures leads, and sets appointments.

Hire Masters of Lead Generation

Put simply, these are the people who turn cold-called prospects, into warm, likely clients. They are masters of lead generation and will help you grow your business.

So let’s say you are going to do it. You carve out the time to recruit, network, screen, and hire your dream agent or ISA. Then day one rolls around and you suddenly realize that you have a massive amount of training on your hands. So you say, “Hey, start calling all these leads I have, or start generating your own.” All they need to do is have conversations with people and the business will follow from there.

That should take care of it, right? But now things get complicated. You’ll begin to hear the following:

• I don’t know who to call.

• I don’t know what to say.

• I’m better in person than on the phone.

• I’m too busy to lead generate.

• These leads suck!

These reactions can occur even with good, smart people. They are overwhelmingly the result of the ISA having a negative story or narrative that they tell themselves, a lack of understanding of the sales funnel, and an overall lack of confidence. These factors will lead to call reluctance, an inability to turn a “no” to a “yes”, and a general lack of comfort throughout the sales process. 

So how do you get these good, smart people coupled with the skills and discipline they need to help your business?

It’s All About the Story

A critical step to turning your ISA into a lead generation master is dealing with the garbage that people already have in their minds. False ideas and perceptions with regards to what it means to do lead generation, make phone calls, and close sales.

If your sales person has good stories in their head—if doing those activities that lead to production have a positive connotation—they will be unstoppable. If they have negative stories in their head about lead generation, setting appointments, and what those things mean about them as a sales person, then no matter what you do or say, they won’t lead generate.

This will more or less fall down to your company values. You need to emphasize that being productive, being creative, and connecting people with products that help them are nothing short of heroic acts. This is how your employees build value for your company—by understanding that their productivity and success create value for themselves and get them closer to the life they want to live, in addition to creating value for clients.

Understanding the Sales Funnel

Once you have built up that positive narrative, the next step is to ensure that any ISA you hire to help you out understands the sales funnel.

Learn all about the sales funnel and get everything you need to start converting! Click the image above.

The key areas are:

• Who are you selling to?

• Where do the leads come from?

• What perspective do those leads have when they get to you?

Understanding this portion of the sales funnel is crucial. A misunderstanding at this stage is the most common cause of your agents’ complaint, “These leads suck!”

Instill the fact that LEADS ARE LEADS. They may all have different time and follow-up requirements in order to become sales, but a lead is a lead. We all want the hot-and-ready leads, but those are few and far between. The money is made in the follow-up.

Properly teaching your agents how to work a database and lead pile while setting the right expectations for understanding each type of lead is the key to keeping your agent’s head and energy in the lead follow up game.

Turn a “No” to a “Yes”

The next critical step is to make sure they have the confidence to take objections, and to turn a “no” to a “yes”.

Objection handling often stops agents in their tracks. They are afraid that they won’t know exactly what to say when the lead objects to them or objects to an appointment. The old school way of handling objections with snarky scripts is so 1990.

These days we handle objections in a much more sophisticated and conversational way. Teach your agents to ask questions to get to the bottom of a lead’s objection. Offering leads a different solution to reach an even bigger and better outcome is the best way to handle a negative response.

 

What This Means for You

Alright, so let’s bring this all back home. Even if you are killing it, if you are the best person at your business or too critical to the daily grind, you are going to hit a ceiling. You can only do so much! And as the owner and leader of the company, you need to have time to look at and consider the big picture. That’s how you will grow your business.

So you need to be able to hire good people, and then train them to be ISAs who are masters of your sales process. They will bring in the leads, nurture the leads, and close the leads. You will be amazed (and maybe your pride will even be a little hurt) at how much awesome ISAs will be able to grow your company without you in the trenches each day.

How to Know If You’re Ready to Hire an ISA

hire an ISA
hire an ISA

What is an ISA?

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 am I ready to hire an 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.  You will also need inbound lead sources for the ISA as we will discuss below.  Once you get your ISA, and if they are effective, then you will quickly need to add additional agents to your team.  An effective and efficient ISA can easily serve 4-5 agents.

You must have leads

It sounds obvious, but some agents think that they will create leads by hiring an ISA.  That is possible if your ISA does outbound prospecting—calling expireds, withdrawns, for-sale-by-owners and maybe doing circle prospecting.

In my experience, these outbound sources, by themselves, are not productive enough to make your ISA profitable.  To maximize profitability, you should have inbound leads that you feed to the ISA, supplementing their outbound efforts.  Inquiries on listings or paying for advertising on listing aggregators like Zillow, Trulia and Realtor are often the best leads and will convert the fastest, but they are very expensive.  If you have leads from farming, direct mail, radio or TV, those are great too.

The pursuit of raw internet registrations and home valuation leads can be a source of inbound leads for your ISA, but maintain awareness about the inefficient and time-consuming nature, as well as the low conversion rate, of these type of leads.

A common error I’ve witnessed among agents is signing up for a Commissions Inc. or BoomTown lead generation platform and jumping to this conclusion: “Oh my god! I’ve got hundreds of leads coming in each week.  I need an ISA to work all this business.”  What they don’t realize is that the industry standard for converting these cold internet leads is in the low single digits.  You will gain a volume of leads from these platforms, but between 12 to 18 months of leads are necessary to see any real conversion from them.  Yes, an ISA is the perfect person to work leads from that type of lead capture system, but just know that it’s a longer term play than the faster converting listing inquiry, marketing response or aggregator advertising methods of lead generation.

You must be ready to train the ISA or leverage that training to a third party

Too many agents oversimplify the process of hiring an ISA.  They think, “I’ll just find someone who likes making calls and turn them loose.”  That doesn’t work for outside agents, and it certainly doesn’t work for inside agents.  You must prepare to train your ISA completely.  And what does “completely” look like?  If you wanted to replace yourself with agent, how would you train them?  To what depths would you take that training?  That is the question you need to ask, but more importantly, that question needs to be followed by action.

Although the ISA is only working the initial stages of lead generation and cultivation, they need to have an in-depth understanding of all of the processes before and after their position.

They should understand the process of buying and selling a home just like you do.  They should know and comprehend the mindset, thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of the typical person buying or selling a home.  They should know the circumstances that led to each type of lead source you work.  Every lead source has its own unique mindset and expectations.  Intimate knowledge of buyers and sellers will give your ISA the rapport needed for building a foundation that can develop trust and set appointments.  If you find it overwhelming to fit training into your already hectic schedule, leverage a third party, like my company, Smart Inside Sales, to learn the most efficient and effective methods for recruiting, screening and hiring inside sales agents.

Don’t try to take the cheap way out

The best way to ensure your success is to pay the price it costs to find, train and compensate a skilled salesperson.  If you want to drive sales and GCI, then you can’t get away with a low dollar-per-hour, part-time ISA.  It never works that way.  The best scenario is to hire a full-time, committed ISA to work in your office and alongside your team.  They are a team member.  They are a sales person.  They should operate that way and be treated as such.  Don’t make this position an experiment.  You wouldn’t experiment with hiring an administrative assistant, buyer agents or listing agents.  Likewise, make the ISA role a legitimate and key position in your team.

You must budget for 6 months to one year of pay for your ISA

A brand new ISA can take upwards of 6 months to go from a monthly loss, to a recovered cost and then to profitability.  Don’t get me wrong, you will have appointments and contracts along the way, however the bulk of the ISA’s production will happen in the second 6 months after the ISA has finished climbing the huge learning curve.  They will also be starting from scratch and will have to build a database of nurturing prospects and, as we all know, that takes time.  So before you hire your ISA, commit to the reality that you may be paying this expense for a minimum of 6 months before seeing a return or recovered cost.  Pledge to not second-guessing this expense before that 6 month mark, but do not act blindly.  You will need to measure the progress of your ISA, ensuring they are the right fit and progressing toward the success and profitability you seek.

Ready to hire?

Leveraging an ISA can be rocket fuel for the growth of your business.  Having a dedicated and skilled Jedi master to squeeze every dollar out of your leads is a great way to go.  If you get the right hire, give them the right training and resources, then your ISA can produce 50-60 transactions for you in their first 12 months.  What does the “right training” look like?  Well, if you want more help with how to structure or train your ISA, check out my ISA Sales Department in a Box.  You can access my secrets and strategies in on-demand packages, or we can discuss working one-on-one.

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