How a Real Estate Inside Sales Agent (ISA) can Save Time and Drive Growth
If you’re exploring how to maximize your prospecting efforts without cramming more tasks on your plate…this one’s for you. In this post we’ll be covering how a real estate ISA, or Inside Sales Agent, can help unlock time for busy agents. Mastering this process of handling new leads and nurturing them can play a major role in your growth.
But first, what is an ISA in real estate?
ISA stands for Inside Sales Agent and it is a “phone sales” role that’s typically focused on inbound lead nurturing or outbound prospecting with the eventual goal of handing off interested prospects to an experienced real estate agent – this can be by setting an appointment OR transferring the call. While specifics of an ISA’s role within a team can vary, these are the most common sales and prospecting activities that an ISA performs:
- Internet lead follow up: If you are getting leads from Realtor.com, Zillow or one of the many pay at close lead sources you’ll know that “speed to lead” is critical…and that’s where having an ISA ready to make that call can be critical.
- Circle prospecting: Dialing an entire neighborhood is a daunting task especially on a regular cadence…which is why ISAs are a good fit for real estate circle prospecting.
- Targeted cold calling: Similar to circle prospecting, BUT focusing on prospecting for FSBOs, expired listings.
Here’s a video that also covers the key points about what an ISA does for real estate agents:
So, with those use-cases in mind let’s dive into the key topics you need to know to evaluate different ISA options:
- Real Estate ISA Services
- Hiring your own Real Estate ISA
- Quality Considerations for ISAs in Real Estate
Real Estate ISA Services
Buy vs build? If you’re just starting to consider using an ISA, we recommend beginning by evaluating the various ISA services for real estate agents to “buy”.
Below are the most popular ISA services for real estate agents:
- Conversion Monster: A real estate ISA service that nurtures and qualifies leads. Leads are then handed off as warm connections. Their approach includes contact via phone, text, and email, and they provide call recordings with scripts branded to your business.
- PowerISA: Well regarded, especially for long-term follow-up and lead nurturing across whole database. Considered to be very hands-on with their training. Highly spoken of in terms of understanding how to convert several levels of leads.
- AgentAssistant: Offers ISA services that call incoming leads to classify and set appointments. Additionally, they have a lead gen program where they call cold leads and facilitate warm handoffs for converted leads.
- Rokrbox: More than just appointment setting, Rokrbox positions itself as a comprehensive lead nurturing service. They contact and nurture new leads until they are about 90 days from purchasing. Suitable for mid-sized or larger real estate teams looking to outsource lead nurturing.
- Ruby: Originally Ruby Receptionist, Ruby provides a live answering service. They handle and route inbound calls, set appointments, and make outbound calls. Ideal for teams or small offices wanting human receptionists and/or Spanish-speaking services.
- Lead Whisperers: Recommended solution for agents and teams that want dedicated ISAs (as opposed to a pool of potential ISAs) and a less “salesy” and more rapport driven approach.
- CallTend: Highly recommended by some agents for circle prospecting and targeting sellers. Not considered effective for internet lead follow-up or other types of calling.
- Smart Alto: A real estate ISA service integrated with website chat and text messaging. Features live virtual assistants with a 2-minute response time. Offers various integrations, including with Zapier, for seamless integration into existing tech setups.
- Structurely: An AI-driven real estate ISA software to promptly engage new leads and contacts. Features a chatbot named Asia Holmes on websites, and offers both text and live chat services. Supports Spanish and provides various direct integrations.
- Upcall: While many services focus on inbound calls, Upcall is primarily for outbound sales. Offers remote employees to handle prospecting campaigns. Ideal for those wanting to outsource outbound lead generation without hiring a full sales team.
- Verse.io: Previously known as Agentology, Verse.io is an enterprise-level concierge/ISA service that features an conversational AI driven texting solution with a “human in-the-loop” and also has a cold calling component.
- Leadspring: Agents that have had positive experiences but others expressed reservations, stating they were deterred by pricing concerns and lack of transparency.
Wow that’s a lot of options! Nobody said deciphering the ISA puzzle would be easy right? So take a look to see if any of these services are a good fit…and if not read on to see if building your own may be a better path.
DIY ISA Resources for Real Estate Agents
If you’re still not settled on any of the above ISA services, you should then at least consider the DIY approach. You’ll be spending more of your time in the ramp up but you’ll get much more control in the process which may satisfy your internal micro-manager in the short term and, in the long term, could actually help you scale the operation.
The good news is there are many resources on finding a good ISA. Here’s a video that focuses on finding and hiring a remote ISA
Hiring a Real Estate ISA
The best place to start, when finding ISAs are contractor job boards like Upwork. There are thousands of ISAs that are on Upwork and you can use their reviews and listed industry experience to find candidates that’d be the best fit for you. Once you find one good ISA from Upwork, usually you can get them to refer others that are similarly qualified.
To find a solid real estate ISA on Upwork you’ll need to post a job but we recommend including a micro-task in the description so you can easily filter out candidates that are mass-applying to roles (these candidates are the equivalent of recruiting spam).
An example of a micro-task is including this towards the top of the Job Description:
To save you time reading through profiles, you can disqualify anyone who doesn’t complete this task exactly as instructed.
And if you need a job description for a Real Estate ISA, here’s a sample description that you can use:
Inside Sales Agent (ISA) – Job Description
Real Estate ISA Salary Models to Consider
The one factor we haven’t covered is compensation. Compensation can vary wildly and can get very costly if you’re hiring an in-house team member compared to a remote contractor from Upwork. We’ll try and cover the real estate ISA salary models and ranges here:
- Flat hourly or salary: This model isn’t advised since there’s no incentive based compensation which is key to align your goals with your ISA.
- Base + bonus per appointment: the base can range from $5/hour for a remote ISA to $10-20/hour for an in-house ISA. The appointment bonus is usually $50 and $150 per conducted appointment (no-show appointments don’t count).
- Base + bonus based on commission: We recommend this model as it has the best alignment of incentives. You can use the same base as above but instead of a appointment based bonus, give the ISA 5-15% of the commission at closing.
Interviewing for the best Real Estate ISA
After you’ve selected a few candidates that may be a good fit, make sure to run a solid interview process with them. Here’s a mock interview between a hiring manager and a real estate ISA to give you an idea of some of the questions to ask and how to probe and unpack answers to get the info you want:
And keep in mind that training a new hire is going to take time so account for that in your decision on whether to use an ISA service vs hire your own. But if you do go the DIY route, you can use resources like Smart Sales Coaching’s ISA development program to help with the training.
Surprise surprise, there’s a variety of ISA solutions available and, appropriately so, the quality of these options varies wildly. Also as you can expect higher quality options translate into higher cost. So here are some ISA criteria to consider to manage this cost/quality tradeoff:
- Native English vs English not primary language: Sales is about communication and developing rapport so spoken English is usually the largest consideration when finding an ISA. Not surprisingly it’s more expensive to find native English speakers.
- Accents: Along the same lines, like it or not, your ISA’s accent will be a factor. For example there’s a general preference for ISAs with milder mid-western US accents but that comes with a higher cost. One common trend is toward Jamaican ISAs because they have a friendly accent that’s still easily understandable…and they cost significantly less than their counterparts in the US. Strong accents from India and the Philippines is often times a turnoff.
- Dedicated vs shared: Having a dedicated ISA means they’re used to your process and you can track and manage their progress. IF you hire your own full time ISA you know you’re not sharing them with anyone…which is great but also comes with a higher fixed cost vs some of the more usage-based options that many real estate ISA services operate. Across these services there are options where you can use the same ISA for all your prospecting, but in these cases you’ll usually be sharing them with other clients. Then there’s the lowest cost option where your ISA can change from day to day OR even from call to call. This lowers the ISA services own costs and typically these services cost you less too.
- Already trained vs training required: Many services have a training period before an ISA can begin working with a client. These brand new ISAs can cost much less than the seasoned ISAs that may have significant experience in real estate sales.
- Dialing approaches: Some ISA services will use pretty aggressive multiline dialers where the prospect may start out “speaking” to a pre-recorded message. It’s definitely not an ideal experience but services that use this technique may be significantly less expensive AND still have good results.
When evaluating the Real Estate ISA services OR deciding to hire your own ISAs keep these variables in mind so you get the expected results and stay within budget.
Also it’s worth touching on the quality of leads you’re tasking these ISAs with too. Conversion rates for real estate ISAs that are setting appointments are approximately 3-5% conversion rate but those vary on the type of leads too. The saying “garbage in; garbage out” applies here.
Not only should you understand the quality of leads that you’re providing an ISA but you should understand when an ISA is best suited to a specific prospecting type. For example some services like CallTend are designed around circle prospecting and others like Conversion Monster are more suited towards online lead follow up.
Designing the best system by selecting the right ISAs for the leads and prospecting strategy can make the difference between success and failure…and can potentially save you months of headaches in a frustrating ramp up period. We definitely recommend reviewing the quality specific considerations above closely as you develop your real estate ISA process.
A Real estate ISA is a common role on most high throughput real estate teams…and it’s because of a combination of results and time savings. Because of that successful ISA operations can become critical parts of a real estate business but there are a LOT of variables to consider. Whether a real estate ISA is the optimal solution for following up with your leads is the big question. Hopefully the info above provided some easy ways to understand that decision and potentially get started using ISAs to scale your business.