What Is Circle Prospecting in Real Estate and How to Do It Right

overhead shot of neighborhood

What Is Circle Prospecting in Real Estate and How to Do It Right

overhead shot of neighborhood

In its simplest form, real estate circle prospecting involves calling people within a particular geographic area and asking them whether they are thinking of moving or whether they know someone who is thinking of moving. In other words, you’re calling people up and asking them for business.

The way it usually works in real estate is for agents to call homeowners who live nearby your recently listed or closed home. Circle prospecting in real estate is built on the idea that homeowners in a given area would be interested in hearing about a home near them that has recently sold. As a part of the surrounding community, nearby owners have a direct interest in houses selling around them, how much they are selling for, etc.

Why Do Real Estate Agents Use Circle Prospecting?

The thing with circle prospecting is that your objective is not necessarily to create an immediate transaction. Your goal is to develop a long term relationship so that people in that area think of you first when it comes time for them to sell their home. With that said, you always want to ask for their business first, but your job isn’t done if they say they say they are not ready to buy or sell in the near future. But more on that point later.

The way circle prospecting is often understood or visualized in real estate is as a farm or growing crops. By calling homeowners in a given area, you are “planting the seeds” of future business.

You’re accomplishing several things through real estate circle prospecting. First, you’re asking for business right now. Second, you’re putting yourself on their radar if they want to buy or sell in the near future. And third, by calling up surrounding homeowners and letting them know you just listed or sold a home in their area, they know you are capable of doing your job.

Taken together, those three aspects of circle prospecting work for you to win new business right now or in the future.

Circle Prospecting vs. Other Real Estate Cold Calling

Cold calling in real estate or any other industry is never easy. However, calling FSBOs (for sale by owners) and expired listings make the task feel almost impossible. That’s because there is a large number of other agents and ISAs all calling the lead at about the same time. As soon as that listing expires or they put their house up as FSBO, every agent starts circling.

You might be the best agent for the job, but it’s hard to get anyone’s business if you’re the 20th caller saying you can help them sell their home.

Circle prospecting, on the other hand, is calling people whose homes most likely aren’t listed and haven’t been recently listed. So you still have the challenges of cold calling, but at least there should be a lot less competition involved from other agents. These homeowners aren’t getting hammered from every direction by real estate professionals, so they might actually be happy to talk to you.

How to Do Circle Prospecting Right

At its core, circle prospecting is just letting people know you buy and sell homes in their area. Putting up signs on current clients’ yards and stuffing flyers into mailboxes also all technically qualify as circle prospecting. But more often than not, when people say circle prospecting, they are referring to cold calling the surrounding homeowners.

There are several things that go into successfully circle prospecting:

  1. Finding phone numbers
  2. Having the right mindset
  3. Using the most effective script
  4. Following up
  5. Following up
  6. Following up

Finding Phone Numbers for Circle Prospecting

Step one is probably the simplest part of the process. In 2021 there are many companies that will provide you with phone numbers of people in a given geographic area. The important thing to remember here though is to always check “Do Not Call” lists. If people have taken the time to put their numbers on a list, then they are not going to be happy to hear from you and it will most likely be a complete waste of your time.

Having the Right Mindset

Having the right mindset is crucial for any type of cold calling. Really, it’s critical for any type of sales. That’s why I like to hammer this home to the agents in my training program. The only way you’re going to be able to keep up the motivation for calling number after number is if you are telling yourself a good story in your head about why you’re doing it.

  • You’re working for yourself and your family. You’re building the life you want to live. You’re working hard to increase your GCI so you can work less and spend more time with your family.
  • On the client side, you’re making the process simpler for them when it comes time for them to buy or sell a house. You’re building a relationship with them so they don’t have to worry about searching for and sifting through a bunch of agents when they need one. When it comes time to buy or sell, you’ll get it done for them better than most other agents would.

Tell yourself positive stories, and it will help you build positive outcomes.

Using the Most Effective Script

Here’s where I might deviate from other agents and teams. I think the key idea with scripts is to use them for support, but not to rely on them completely. One of the worst things you can do is sound like a robot and seem unable to spontaneously answer questions or respond naturally. The most critical thing to do is have a real conversation.

  1. Answer the phone using the lead’s name, tell them you just recently listed or sold a house near them.
  2. Ask them if they would also be interested in selling.
  3. If no, ask them how long they plan to live in their current home for.
  4. Ask them why they picked their current home.
  5. See what they would look for in a new home.

Prepare questions and responses, but don’t lean on a script too much. Let the conversation flow, match their intensity and speaking speed, and just be friendly and find out about their current situation. Keep it simple. Even if they are not interested in selling in the near future, ask them if you can send them emails once in a while about real estate conditions and homes being bought and sold in their area. Get them in your funnel.

Follow Up, Follow Up, Follow Up

Following up is key to successful circle prospecting and building your sphere. One of the primary purposes of circle prospecting is developing future business. That means nurturing leads who may not want to sell now but will want to buy or sell in the future. Keep sending them valuable information (everyone likes hearing about what homes in their area go for), keep them updated on market conditions, especially if it becomes more advantageous for them to sell, and just generally be their real estate resource.

I would also recommend calling those leads every six months or so to check in with them. Ask them how they are doing, see how they are liking their current home, and tell them that if they are thinking about selling, you are ready for them. Following up via email and phone will help keep you top of mind.


Circle prospecting is an excellent way to develop and build new business. In today’s crazy real estate market, you have to use every tool at your disposal. Follow the tips we laid out above to do it successfully and make it worth your time.


The Best Real Estate Cold Calling Strategies in 2021

real estate agent cold calling
real estate agent cold calling

The Best Real Estate Cold Calling Strategies in 2021

Real estate cold calling is probably one of the toughest parts of the job and, if we’re being honest, not one that most of us like to do very often. Afterall, we’re calling people who are not expecting us, who are busy going about their day, and who will most likely offer a good deal of resistance if they do answer the phone.

With that said, real estate cold calling is still a very important part of any lead generation and conversion strategy. What’s more is that with the craziness of the current real estate market, you need to cultivate every advantage possible for your team or business. That’s why we’ve gathered some insider tips and best practices for cold calling in real estate in 2021.

  • Mindset
  • Enter your calls in an interesting way
  • Have a real conversation
  • Sales discovery
  • Objection handling
  • Closing logically

Real Estate Cold Calling: It’s All about the Mindset

This might seem obvious or not like an actual solid tip, but the truth is that few things are more important than your mindset when it comes to cold calling. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how many scripts you study, how many objections you practice handling, or how much research you do on your leads. If you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t be successful on your calls.

By “right mindset” I mean thinking positively about your role as a real estate agent or ISA, the value you’re bringing to each lead, and your faith that the interaction will be successful for you both. Here are three things you can do to help cultivate a positive mindset and enter calls confidently:

  1. Know and understand the benefits you bring to every person BEFORE you dial them. Know what you are offering them and how it is going to palpably improve their lives.
  2. Live and breathe mantras like “they are waiting for my call” or “they need my help”. Repeat these between each dial to keep your energy up on your entire list of leads.
  3. When you feel yourself becoming negative, take a break and focus on your commitment to helping others. Remember, they are benefitting from your call because what you are offering is valuable to them.

Enter Your Calls in an Interesting Way

Let’s face it, people do not answer the phone for numbers they don’t recognize nearly as much as they used to. That means that when you’re lucky enough to have a prospect actually pick up, you need to make the most of it. When they first answer you have precious few seconds to convince them that you are relevant to something they need or want.

How can you do that? By tailoring your opening statement to the specific person you are speaking to.

First off, assume the person who answered the phone is the person you were calling. Commit to their name; they’ll correct you quickly if it’s not right. Start your first sentence with “Hi Steve…” or “Hi Nicole…”. Then add a statement that lets them know that you know at least something about their situation. Something like, “Hi Mike, I saw you were looking for homes in Downtown Savannah”. By tailoring your message to the interests and behavior of your leads, you increase your chances of a positive sale.

Have a Real Conversation When Cold Calling in Real Estate

Real estate scripts can be very valuable when cold calling. They give you something to fall back on if the conversation gets away from you, they can help you have tried and tested responses to common objections, and they can give you a greater sense of confidence on the call. However, scripts alone are not enough.

Prospects can tell when you are just mindlessly repeating something you memorized. Instead, use the script as a starting point but then have a real conversation. Respond to what the lead is telling you in a way that is tailored to and makes sense for their specific situation.

Real Estate Sales Discovery

When it comes to cold calling, many agents and ISAs are too quick to close. More specifically, they try to close before they’ve put in the work to actually understand what the lead’s goals are—what their motivation behind buying or selling a home is (I’ll give you a hint, it’s not just “to buy or sell my house”).

You need to ask the right questions to dig down and understand what the lead is trying to accomplish through buying or selling, as well as additional information that will help you close later like:

  • 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

There are probably hundreds of discovery questions and variations you can ask when cold calling in real estate, but here are a few of the most common and effective ones:

  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?

Real Estate Objection Handling Strategy

There are a lot of strategies out there for overcoming real estate objections on your cold calls. We’ve found that the most effective one is known as the PPO process. PPO stands for Perspective, Process, Outcome. It’s important to note that we’re referring to the lead’s perspective, the lead’s process, and the lead’s desired outcome. These are the three parts of every objection.

  • The prospect’s perspective is their past experience, knowledge and speculation. Examples of perspectives that may lead to objections are “I’ve sold my home myself before”, “I’ve already met with an agent”, and “I can do what an agent does, you guys don’t do much.”
  • The prospect’s process is their own plan that they have for their situation. Examples of a process is “I’m going to sell my home myself”, “I’ll just use the agent I used before”, and “I am just going to wait until spring to sell my home and get a better deal”. 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. Examples of these are “not wasting time”, “avoiding disappointment”, and “proving to my neighbors or real estate agents or to the world that I am right”. Once you understand these three parts of your lead’s objection, then you follow these steps to overcome 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.

And Finally, Close Logically

Closing on your cold calls should be natural and bring all the above strategies together. If you are working with the lead to get an understanding of the outcome they desire, and you are powering through any objections they present, then the time to close is going to naturally arise once you can tell they are satisfied with your answers to their objections. Just follow the conversation.

If the lead says they are starting to interview new agents and get their home back on the market in a few weeks, then the logical time and way to close would be to say “Oh great! I am excited to show you how our team sells homes in less time and for more money than other agents. I am available on Wednesday or Thursday to meet. Which day works best for you?” That would not be the logical close if the lead said, “We’re not interested in selling. We took it off the market and are going to wait until the market improves.”

You see the difference?


Real estate cold calling in 2021 is difficult, but definitely not impossible. The biggest hurdle is low answer rates. But if you can get someone on the phone, then follow the strategies we outlined above, and you’ll to start to convert more leads and grow your business like never before.

If you’re an agent or ISA struggling to convert your leads, then Smart Inside Sales has a training program that will help called Conversion University. 


How to Find Houses for Real Estate Buyers: Emergency Real Estate Strategies

two real estate buyers
two real estate buyers

How to Find Houses for Real Estate Buyers: Emergency Real Estate Strategies

These are unprecedented times in the real estate world. In almost all markets across the country there aren’t enough sellers, an overflow of buyers, and just simply too few houses to satisfy the massive demand. What does this mean for agents working with buyers? Your clients are coming up against some stiff competition with every home they put an offer in on.

In some markets it’s just mildly annoying with a few other offers here and there, in others it’s more annoying with multiple offers on every property you make an offer on, and then there are the crazy markets where the expectation is that there are going to be 30-40 offers. Those last ones are the markets where the sales are going 10-15% over the asking price and, in some situations, if you are not an all cash offer then you have no chance of winning the deal.

For real estate agents who work mostly with buyers and for buyer heavy teams, this situation can only be described as an emergency. Your livelihood is based on your ability to successfully get your buyers into the homes they want. And right now, your livelihood is at stake, which means you need some emergency real estate strategies to work with.

So, what can you do about it? In this article, we’re going over several emergency real estate strategies to keep your business moving during these tough times without spending large amounts of money on paid leads and marketing.

  • Calling expired listings, even from previous years
  • Look through withdrawn for sale by owners (FSBOs)
  • Get out and go door knocking

What’s the Problem?

Compared to seller agents, buyer agents are always constrained by the fact that they are physically showing houses to their clients and taking the time to research and find the best houses that meet their clients’ needs and wants. They also have to take the time to write offers. So, if you’re writing 10-15 offers without one going through, then you’ve got a large strain on your time with nothing to show for it.

In other words, how do buyer teams and agents keep their businesses afloat and thriving in the current crazy market? That’s the problem we’re trying to solve with these emergency real estate strategies.

Emergency Real Estate Strategies: Call Expired Listings

Because it is such a strong seller’s market right now, one of the best ways to successfully make deals for your buyers is to find homes that aren’t yet listed. There are several ways you can do this, but it’s important to remember to make clear to the seller that you represent the buyer and have a responsibility to them not the seller. The first strategy for cold real estate prospecting is contacting expired listings.

There may not be many expireds in your market right now because homes are selling so easily. With that said, it’s worth checking out. It’s also a good idea to call past expired listings from previous years. Contact listings that expired in 2017, 2018, or 2019 and ask if they would still like to sell their home. There’s a good possibility that some people don’t even realize what is happening in the market right now.

You may even find expireds who aren’t interested in listing their home but who may be open to having you bring a buyer by the house.

Look through Withdrawn FSBOs

In most markets, for sale by owners (FSBOs) are most likely having an easier than normal time selling their homes. However, similar to expired listings, there still may be some who are having trouble for a number of different reasons. Also, similar to the strategy for expired listings, go through withdrawn FSBO listings from previous years.

Again, you may find people whose home was taken off the market and who may feel reluctant to go through the process again and who don’t understand what’s going on around them in the real estate world. Believe it or not, there are people who don’t watch the news or scroll through social media. They either don’t know about the seller’s market or don’t quite understand what it means for them.

It’s your job to educate them and then tell them that they don’t have to go through the stressful process of selling their home again, because you have a buyer who is very interested in their home right now.

Go Door Knocking

In addition to calling expired listings and FSBOs, you also need to keep your ear to the ground in your market. Contact rental property owners to see if they would rather sell than rent because of the current market. If they seem like reluctant landlords, then they may be open to having your buyer stop by. Look for things like for rent by owner signs, people handling home improvement projects, talk to your network to see if anyone knows anyone who is thinking of selling—pull out all the stops.

If your market allows it, get out there, go door knocking, and start trying to make new contacts. Remember, your goal is to find properties whose owners are willing to sell but who haven’t listed them yet.

Find More Sellers, Too

What’s great about these strategies is that they also give you the potential opportunity to sign seller clients. Even if your first or second buyer doesn’t end up putting in an offer on the house, as you’re bringing buyers by these properties that aren’t even listed, the owner may become open to listing their home. And they see you already bringing buyers by, they recognize your initiative, and they might think that, even if your initial buyers fall through, you’re the person to sign with to get their property sold.

Aren’t these Strategies too Much Work Though?

Getting out and finding sellers before they list can be a lot of work. But so is writing 40 offers and only having one of them go through. These strategies aren’t necessarily more work, they are just different work—and they may have a better chance of bearing fruit than what you are currently doing.

Calling expireds and FSBOs, finding reluctant landlords, and reaching out to your network to find potential sellers are all ways that you can find homes for your buyers without spending large amounts of money purchasing leads. The current market calls for creative strategies that involve thinking outside the box or doing things you wouldn’t normally do.  


4 Things Real Estate Agents Should Do during a Seller’s Market

seller's market real estate
seller's market real estate

4 Things Real Estate Agents Should Do during a Seller's Market

Are we in a seller’s market? Although there are varying definitions for what a seller’s market is, it’s hard to nail down a concrete definition. Generally, it’s when the demand for houses outpaces the supply. And all signs point to us having been in a seller’s market since the end of last year and that we remain in one right now. It’s hard to tell how long the current situation will last, but here are a few tips for real estate agents in a seller’s market.

The Situation in a Seller’s Market

Basically, in a seller’s market, buyers have to deal with a lot more competition. There are simply just way more buyers than there are houses to buy. These conditions make it so that sellers can demand much higher prices for their homes and that buyers don’t have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to negotiations. Due to a lack of supply, bidding wars are often common, further driving up the price.

There are multiple theories as to why we currently find ourselves in a seller’s market. The primary reason seems to be that COVID-19 brought the housing market to a near standstill during the first part of 2020. Once economies began opening back up, all the pent up demand for housing came pouring out, causing the market to explode last fall. That pent up demand combined with continuing low mortgage rates will likely keep the seller’s market going for some time in 2021.

So, as a real estate agent, how can you help your buyers during a seller’s market?

Communicate the Situation to Your Clients

The most important thing as a buyer’s agent in a seller’s market is making sure your clients know what the situation is. They should know that they are at a disadvantage when it comes to making an offer. Now is not the best time to push contingencies, specific closing dates, or concessions. Buyers should determine what’s most important to them and what’s worth potentially losing the property over. You also have to encourage clients to be patient and not get discouraged if they lose several properties they wanted. Not getting frustrated and keeping the eye on the prize is the only way to successfully navigate a seller’s market.

Make Your Best Offer First

The natural motivation of anyone is to spend as little as possible while still getting everything they want. That motivation will cause buyers to wonder if they can get the house for less than the listed price. However, in a seller’s market, you have to help your client understand that they have to make a strong offer to get the seller’s attention.

Make your best offer first to prevent the seller from hesitating and giving a competing buyer a chance to swoop in and make a better offer.

Ensure Your Client Is Preapproved

Again, the name of the game for a buyer in a seller’s market is to not give the seller any reason to doubt you’ll be able to follow through on your offer. You and your client may know that you will be approved for a mortgage loan, but unless they are preapproved, then the seller won’t know for sure. Unless your client is paying cash, then they really need to get preapproved before even beginning the home search and buying process.

Contact the Listing Agent

One thing you can do as a buyer’s agent is contact the listing agent to ask how they would like the offer prepared. If you can save the listing agent some time by preparing the offer exactly how the seller wants it, then they may be more inclined to recommend your client’s offer over a competing offer.

You Can Beat the Seller’s Market

It’s not impossible to help your buyer clients meet their goals and find the home they want in a seller’s market. You just need to keep them informed, make sure they understand that it’s a tougher situation than usual, encourage them to move as quickly as possible (but avoid impulse buying), and, above all else, keep their spirits up if they end up losing several properties they liked.


Why Do Real Estate Agents Fail?

failing real estate agent
failing real estate agent

Why Do Real Estate Agents Fail?

People become real estate agents because they want 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. In other words, if you’re successful you have almost unlimited earning potential.

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 seem illusive or unobtainable.

But, if Tom Ferry is correct, then only 13% of all agents stick with it and build a successful real estate career. The question is, why do so many real estate agents fail?

There are a lot of answers to this question, and we’re only going to cover some of them in this article.

Not Putting in the Work

Being a real estate agent is more of a lifestyle choice than just a job. If you’re building a real estate career, you have to be fully committed to its success. The primary reason for this is that it takes a considerable amount of time of working at it before you start making consistent sales. You have to build your technical knowledge of the industry itself, develop your sales skills, create a network from scratch, and learn how to deal with a lot of rejection.

Many people get into real estate because they think it’s an easy way to have high income potential, and they have completely unrealistic expectations. Once they realize how much work needs to go into it to see even one sale, and that it’s not always easy or convenient, they tend to leave the industry.

Not Thinking Strategically

Not thinking strategically could fall under not putting in the work, but I wanted to pull it out as its own reason. To be successful in real estate, you have to understand your market and the buyers and sellers within it. If you’re not constantly updating yourself on what’s selling, what’s not selling, what people are buying, etc., then you’ll be blind to potential opportunities all around you. Analyze your market, understand it, and recognize your place within it. Agents that don’t do that won’t make it.

Not Marketing Effectively

You have to have a solid, tangible marketing plan in order to be successful in real estate. At the very least you should have a website, a presence on social media, and a profile on both Zillow and Trulia. Yes, this means you need to put in even more work. When agents are starting out, they have to effectively become their own marketing agency, social media agency, and their own advertising manager. You have to figure out how to build your sphere online and learn how to effectively find clients on platforms like Zillow, Trulia, and Facebook.

This isn’t always easy, but marketing is the only way to grow and expand your business. To neglect it will almost certainly end your real estate career prematurely.

Not Knowing or Conveying What Sets You Apart from Other Agents

There is a lot of competition in the real estate world—we’re talking millions of agents in the US alone. One of the main keys to success is figuring out how to stand out from the pack and then communicate that differentiator to your prospects. The way you do that is with a unique value proposition. You have to show how your business delivers a not-so-unique service in a very unique way. Your value proposition needs to separate you from the crowd and showcase the benefits that you can provide.

Agents who can’t do that effectively are toast.

Not Constantly Honing Your Skills

To have a successful real estate career, you have to constantly be improving your skills and knowledge. I’m talking specifically here about your lead generating and conversion skills. Agents who sit back and think they know it all and that they are as good as they need to be, aren’t going to make it in this business for long. You need to be working with a coach and other agents, practicing with role plays, reviewing your phone calls, studying other agents’ methods—anything you can do to continuously increase your chances of winning new clients.

If you want to learn more about how to improve your real estate skillset, click here.

Not Willing to Make Mistakes

Successful agents know that they will make mistakes. It’s impossible not to. Making mistakes doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It means that you’re learning what not to do. Embrace every error as a teachable moment, not an embarrassment. If you aren’t willing to put yourself out there, try out new methods and approaches, embrace new opportunities, then you will never grow as an agent, and you most likely will not be successful over the long term.

Make mistakes to see what works and what doesn’t.

Although many agents fail within their first few years, that doesn’t have to be your story. Stay motivated, find a great coach, constantly put in the work, and keep all the things we mentioned above in mind. You’ve got this!

If you want to kickstart your real estate career, Smart Inside Sales can help.


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 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?

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.

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