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Hiring the Wrong Inside Sales Agents Can Cost You Millions in Opportunities

The following is adapted from The Ultimate Real Estate Machine. 

As a real estate broker, have you ever gotten sick and tired of spending hours every day calling leads or getting aggravated that your agents aren’t calling the leads you’ve provided? 

Like you, when my partner and I were starting off years ago, we had to make all of the lead conversion calls ourselves. Then we hired agents. Sometimes they would make the calls; sometimes they would not. The few agents who did make the calls religiously got so busy in the field that they did not have time to make the calls anymore—which was always our goal. 

That’s when we had enough, drew the line in the sand and started utilizing inside sales agents. Inside sales agents (ISAs) are professionally licensed and trained salespeople in the real estate industry, adept at converting leads into sales so you as the agent don’t have to. An inside sales agent can optimize lead conversion and give you a powerful selling point to attract and retain high-quality agents. 

When the ISA machine is built and operating at a high level, it can give you back freedom, increase your quality of life, and optimize your profitability. Many team leaders think they have an ISA, but they really don’t. They have a telemarketer, which is not the same thing. 

On the contrary; if you hire the wrong ISA, or you don’t have the proper onboarding or appropriate lead flow or the appropriate ongoing training, it can be a nightmare and cost you millions in opportunity cost. 

When you start to look at each lead as an opportunity for X amount of revenue rather than Y amount per lead, your mindset changes, your paradigm changes, the game changes. The irrefutable truth is that an ISA without all of the skills, tools and experience will cost you many, many real estate deals and the compound effect equates to extreme amounts of lost commission. 

By hiring the right inside sales agents and training them properly, everything about your real estate business will change. Which makes the hiring and training all the more important when you choose to take on ISAs—here are some pointers on how to do it properly. 

Hiring the Right ISA 

As with any position in your organization, it is important to get the right fit, not just someone to make cold calls. Like Harvey MackKay said in an interview with Jay Abraham, the most important skill that a business leader can learn is to hire the right people. In lead conversion, hiring the wrong people can lose you millions of dollars in opportunities.

Over time, in real estate inside sales, I have found that hiring someone without experience selling or confirming appointments over the phone is a huge mistake. It’s particularly important to hire people with experience in outbound calling, not just inbound calls. Hiring someone without outbound calling experience is quite often a recipe for disaster with your marketing dollars. You need them to be comfortable approaching the unknown. 

You also want your ISA to align with your core values of excellence and be oriented toward client experience. You want people who are not pushy but also aren’t afraid to go in and ask for the point. You need to find ISAs who share your company’s values of excellence and superiority, who also understand that a client needs to be heard, understood and cared for, whether they’re ready to work with you today or in five years. The right ISA will respect their position and keep their information for when the right time comes. 

Onboarding and Ongoing Training for ISAs 

One of the worst things you can do unintentionally is find a great hire (or worse, a not-so-great hire) and put them on the phones with no training. This expectation to set quality appointments is not fair to you, your agents, your budget, or your company. Professionally training your ISAs for success is crucial for your company’s success. Many times, ISAs are given a phone and 

some leads, and are told to set appointments without having that knowledge. 

Not arming your ISAs with the right training is setting you and them up for failure. They need to be trained on their routine, the scripts they need to utilize, your expectations, and what truly is a qualified appointment so that your agents aren’t running all over town on bogus appointments. 

You must show them how to utilize the CRM (customer relationship management) with follow-up reminders, the proper way to leave notes and tag leads to segment the database properly, and how to use the dialing and messaging system. If they aren’t trained properly from the outset, I can guarantee they are going to cost your company in lost or mishandled opportunities. 

Multiple times a week, even the most experienced ISAs should role-play their scripts to keep their proverbial swords sharpened. It is equally important to have ongoing training, not just onboarding training. Without it, ISAs tend to get off-script, their conversion rates fall, and your agents’ appointments get weaker and weaker, resulting in lower appointment closing rates. 

Set Your ISAs Loose to Nurture Your Leads 

A reminder: the average internet lead purchases or sells a home fifteen to eighteen months after they start looking online. So if you want these kinds of “cold-call” conversions, let your ISAs do what you trained them to do: convert. 

Jim Rohn said “There’s pennies in a sale and a fortune in the follow up.” Our ISAs have converted nurtured prospects into face-to-face appointments on leads that have been in the database for years.

For this to work, though, your ISAs should be trained for the superior kind of agency you’re working to create. That means understanding and having empathy for every type of client, which will create a feeling of nurturing among your business, something your clients are in desperate search of. When your ISAs become great nurturers, they can take a completely cold internet lead and turn it into an inbound phone call with a client who is ready to do business with you. 

This nurturing will extend beyond the benefit of your clients. As a result of the care and empathy your ISAs show, you and your team will feel less stress, gain more clients, and get to enjoy more time outside the office, which is what an ISA is meant to do. 

For more advice on finding the right inside sales agents, you can find The Ultimate Real Estate Machine on Amazon. 

Jason Williford is a serial entrepreneur, author, speaker, inventor, and consultant for high-producing real estate agents. He is a master in business strategy, strategic marketing, innovation, differentiation, agent production, selling systems, and referral generating systems, as well as training, recruiting, and mentoring real estate agents and inside sales agents. After years in the trenches of real estate, he set himself and his team apart with strategies and techniques that were learned in other industries and applied to real estate. His unique talents and knowledge fill industry voids for high-performing real estate agents and team leaders.

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