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When Should You Hire An ISA?

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by JP Wells, CEO of Phone Animal

Inconsistent and unpredictable pipelines are the most common pain point we hear from our customers and from real estate agents all over the country. How do you solve it? How do you get off the wild pipeline rollercoaster that we have all encountered? There are several things to dissect there, but it all starts upfront with your lead generation plan

One way to bring consistent and quality leads and appointments to your pipeline is by leveraging the top-of-the-funnel activities such as cold calling, converting leads, and following up with nurtures, to a dedicated Inside Sales Agent. However, when is the right time to hire an Inside Sales Agent? Can I afford it? Should I just be calling myself? How much do I need to be calling? What can I expect from an ISA? All of these are good questions that we address below.

Four primary drivers should make you consider hiring a real estate Inside Sales Agent (ISA):

  1. Your lead generation is inconsistent
  2. New inbound leads are not being worked effectively
  3. You are working too much!
  4. Your 2021 goals don’t match your lead generation strategy

Let’s dive into what each of these categories mean in more detail.

Your lead generation is inconsistent.

The good news is that this likely means your business is in a good position today. Your lead generation is inconsistent because you are currently spending your time out in front of clients, whether that means showing homes, marketing your listings, or negotiating contracts. However, this often will come back to bite you because 3 months down the road, you will be back to searching for new leads, quickly putting you back in the dip of the rollercoaster pipeline.

What does your lead generation being inconsistent mean? Let’s break it into two categories, (1) new lead generation, and (2) lead follow-up.

  1. New lead generation is working entirely new leads that you have not spoken to yet. Our rule of thumb is that you need to be spending 3+ hours per day, 5 days a week, on new lead generation. These are usually not the leads that are going to lead to closings in the same month, but these are the leads that are going to turn into listings 3 and 4 months down the road. If you are not able to consistently do this day in and day out, then your pipeline will suffer! 
  2. Nurture follow-up is working with prospects that you have already identified as a potential seller and / or buyer and have already spoken to in the past. You have agreed to follow up with them on a certain date in the future. It is critical that you actually follow up with them when you say you are going to follow up with them. If you are missing these follow-up dates, you are missing out on closings.

Essentially, if you are not able to focus on generating new leads every day for at least 3 hours, or if you are missing follow-up dates for nurtures that you told you would call back because you don’t have time, then it’s time that you consider hiring an Inside Sales Agent.

Your new inbound leads are not being worked effectively.

The two most important things that you must execute on to convert your inbound leads at the highest level are (1) speed to lead and (2) contact attempts. 

  1. Speed to lead is critical for converting inbound leads at a high level. Why? Your lead is most likely going to several places to request more information, so it’s highly likely that you are not the only realtor getting this prospect as a lead.

    The NAR states that the first realtor that meets with a potential seller / buyer is going to represent that client roughly 80% of the time. This statistic is astronomical and shows you how important it is to get back to your inbound leads quickly. We recommend that you call or make contact with your inbound lead within 5 minutes of their request. If you can do better, then even better! We talk with teams all over the nation that are getting to their leads within 60 seconds. 
  2. Contact attempts mean the number of times that you reach out to a prospect throughout their buying / selling process. Unfortunately, prospects usually don’t pick up the first time you call. Think about it… do you pick up most of the time when you see a number you don’t recognize? Well, maybe you do because you are a realtor and it could be your next sale, but most people don’t. You must attempt to make contact with your prospects multiple times through calls, texts, and emails. We find that most connections happen between your 6th – 12th contact attempt. Frankly, that is a lot and takes a lot of time and effort, but it’s what it takes to get that prospect to be your client!

In addition, we suggest that 1 full-time Inside Sales Agent can handle 250-300 new inbound leads per month. If you have 200 – 300 leads coming in and you don’t have someone specialized in lead conversion on your team, then you are missing out on opportunities because you are unable to do #1 and #2 effectively. We are happy to share our 10-day touch system to help you convert these inbound leads!

To sum up driver #2, if you don’t have the time to respond to your inbound leads within 5 minutes or you are not able to reach out to your inbound leads 6+ times over the course of the first 10 days of the lead coming in, then it’s time to consider hiring an Inside Sales Agent. 

You are working too much!

Maybe you are actually able to handle all of the components of your business effectively from new lead generation, to follow-up, to converting appointments, to showing homes, to closing the transaction. But if you are, then I guarantee you are working 80+ hours a week! Unless you want to keep that lifestyle up in perpetuity, then it’s time you specialize. Specialize in converting appointments to clients taken and negotiating the contracts. Specialize in becoming a CEO and building your team by recruiting the right people.

Lead generation is a full-time job and, frankly, I know you would rather be focused more on the bottom of the funnel and being in front of your clients because that’s where the more strategic (and fun) work comes in. Your time is valuable. Spend it on the areas of your business that matter most, and leverage tools such as ISAs to tackle the rest.

If you find yourself working too dang much, then it’s time to consider hiring a specialist in an Inside Sales Agent!

Your 2021 sales goals are not aligned with your lead generation strategy.

We hear from agents all the time who have goals to sell 50 homes this year or 100 homes this year, but they have no real strategy to reach that goal. They are spending $0 on lead generation and “hoping” that their sphere of influence is going to come through. “Hope” is not a good strategy. Gary Keller recommends that you spend 10% of your revenue or gross commissionable income on lead generation. There are several areas in your business where you can be cost-effective, but don’t short your lead generation or you will never get out of the real estate roller coaster pipeline.

Still not sure?

Maybe some of these drivers resonate with you, but you aren’t convinced you need an ISA on your team yet. Maybe you’re still asking, but what results can I expect from an ISA? 

Let me share a story from a fellow agent and what his investment in Inside Sales Agents did for his business. In 2020, Dustin realized it was time for him to increase his investment in his lead generation and brought on 6 ISAs to his team. Within just 6 months, Dustin’s team had $11.7 million in total volume that was either on the market or under contract. This volume was specifically from the nurtures generated from his new ISAs. This resulted in roughly $350k in GCI! This is a real example of the potential upside of investing in your lead generation. 

What can I expect from an ISA? You can expect them to professionally manage the top of your sales funnel. Leverage your ISA to cold call, convert leads and follow up with nurtures on your behalf. With an ISA working on creating a consistent pipeline in the background, your time frees up to focus on closing more deals. But it all starts upfront with your lead generation plan. 

So, is now the right time for you to hire an ISA?

 

JP Wells is the CEO of Phone Animal, a company that provides real estate professionals with consistent seller leads via prospecting for their clients. They have an extensive team of ISAs that help give real estate professionals more time doing what they really want to do – anything but cold calling.