Real Estate ISAs: In House or Virtual?
As your real estate business continues to grow and expand, new lead acquisition, lead nurturing, and consistent follow up become even more critical—and more difficult. You don’t want your backend falling to the wayside when you start to experience rapid success on the frontend. This is where having a real estate inside sales agent (ISA) becomes not only a smart idea, but something that is critical to your continued success.
Real Estate Inside Sales
Inside sales is a growing phenomenon in nearly every industry, including real estate. In simple terms, this just means that more and more companies are taking advantage of technology to lower costs and conduct the majority of their sales work over the phone and through email.
Today, the combination of social media, websites, email, texting, video conferencing, and cellphones have created a situation conducive to inside sales that was scarcely possible only 15 years ago. Nowadays, many (if not most) companies use either a fully remote inside sales system or a hybrid system composed of reps calling from their company’s home office, then traveling occasionally to client locations.
In real estate, inside sales is conducted by a highly skilled salesperson called an ISA (inside sales agent) who is both comfortable and productive spending 80-90% of their time on the phone. They tackle all incoming leads and are responsible for all the follow-up, lead-qualifying, and scrubbing. Typically, a real estate ISA handles the following:
- Prospecting for new leads
- Servicing inbound leads from sign calls and other internet sources
- Converting leads to appointments for a team’s sales agents
- Outbound ISAs generate new leads by prospecting for FSBOs, expired listings, just listed/sold, COI, past clients, geographic farms, etc.
- Inbound ISAs respond to incoming leads from internet sources and sign calls and nurture them into qualified appointments.
Increasingly, there are two different inside sales paths that real estate businesses can follow: either hire an in house ISA or a virtual ISA.
In House Or Virtual ISA: What’s the Difference?
The difference between an in house and virtual ISA is in the name—one you hire as an employee to work in your office, the other you outsource, typically to an ISA company. Companies go both routes and there is definitely a place for both of these types of ISAs in today’s real estate world.
In House ISA
In house ISAs can be a massive asset to your team. In addition to being on the phone 6 to 7 hours per day talking with leads, calling expireds, withdrawns, FSBOs, home evaluation leads, and circle prospecting, they can also start building your database with nurtures and setting appointments the first week they work with you.
The advantage with in house 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.
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. And it takes a considerable amount of effort and mental investment both on your part and on the new inside sales agent’s part. It’s up to you whether you want to outsource such a critical piece of your business.
The primary advantage of a virtual ISA, on the other hand, is that your overhead costs are going to be significantly less to start out with. There’s no hiring, onboarding, or training to do. No managing of employees. No tracking, sick days, lost time from wasted efforts or anything like that. You can get a couple hours of calling a day by a virtual ISA for less than $2,000 per month.
Virtual ISAs are typically highly skilled at identifying potential seller leads, converting them into nurtures and then setting them up for future contact by an agent. In other words, they are normally geared toward performing Sales Development Representative (SDR) duties.
Despite the fewer overhead costs, however, the overall costs of a virtual ISA can actually add up to more than an in house ISA if you use them too much. If you are having your virtual ISA call your leads regularly then you will probably want to investigate hiring an in house ISA.
Virtual is ideal for an agent who’s looking for help getting back to leads in a quick time frame and to make some inroads with the pool of seller leads in their area to get in front of more prospects, but doesn’t have the bandwidth or money to hire a full time in house sales person.
Conclusion: In House ISA
At the end of the day, if you are able to hire an in house ISA then that is the route you want to go. In the long run, success comes from building a successful team. And building a successful team means developing and controlling a successful training process, having consistent metrics to hold team members accountable, and cultivating a company culture.
To accomplish those things you have to have a team which is invested in your business. That means you need in house ISAs who are representing your real estate business as dedicated team members.