Inside Sales Agent ( ISA ) , In-House or Virtual ?
Hiring an Inside Sales Agent ( ISA ) is an important step in the growth of your business.
Make the right decision and it changes the trajectory of your business forever.
Make the wrong one and it could cost you a lot of time and money.
Virtual ISAs get a bad rap because a lot of agents have the wrong expectations of what an external ISA can and should be able to do for their businesses.
In-house ISAs are scary to a lot of agents because of the cost and the fact that it can be intimidating to hire a full-time employee.
In the end, the whole process can be overwhelming. What I’ve learned, however, is that both types of ISAs can have a place in your real estate business. How and when either one fits is based on where you are in your production at the time and what your goals are now and for the future.
To help you get a clear picture of what solution, if any, is best for you, let’s take a look at the merits and drawbacks of each type of ISA.
From there, I’ll breakdown who fits where.
In-house Inside Sales Agent ( ISA ) vs. Virtual ISA...that is the question
First, let’s unpack the pluses and minuses of each type of ISA.
In-house ISAs can have a huge impact on your business in a relatively short period of time.
Between being on the phone 6 to 7 hours per day and being able to call expireds, withdrawns, FSBOs, home evaluation leads and circle prospecting data, they can start building your database of nurtures and setting appointments the first week they work with you.
Plus, having them in your office allows you to:
- Train them and make adjustments on a daily basis to get better results, faster
- Target specific data sets and areas to impact your sales price
- Have someone handle the full cycle of the conversion process from first contact to nurture and nurture to appointment (you only have go go on appointments)
- Become an extension of you in your ongoing contact strategy with prospects, clients and even past clients and sphere
- Groom someone to either become an agent for your team and even a sale trainer or manager as your team grows
Yes, it requires a larger investment of time and money. No question.
The on-target earnings for a full-time, in-house ISA are about $45,000 to $65,000 per year (and more in higher-priced areas of the country.
The good news is you’re likely only going to be responsible for about half of that in salary. The rest will come from commissions on sales the ISA helps you make.
The best news is that a good ISA is going to get you a 5x to 7x return on your investment.
The challenges the come with hiring an in-house ISA need to be taken into consideration before you take the plunge:
- Bigger initial time commitment to get the ISA hired, onboarded and trained
- Bigger ongoing time commitment for management and training
- Bigger financial commitment on an ongoing basis
- Must deal with lost time due to sickness, vacations, wasted time at the office
As with everything in business and life there’s a trade-off.
And, with the right systems and processes in place, an in-house ISA can make complete sense for you in your business.
Virtual ISAs absolutely have their place in today’s real estate organizations.
The quality of the ISA, the training and the technology they use have all improved dramatically over the last couple of years. Plus, with some companies moving their pool of ISAs to the United States and Canada the overall quality of the calls being made has improved, too.
That said, one of the bigger mistakes agents have made with virtual ISAs in the past is that they’ve had them work and act like in-house ISAs.
Unfortunately, the skill sets of virtual ISAs are often better geared to doing Sales Development Representative ( SDR ) duties.
More specifically, virtual ISAs are much better at identifying potential seller leads, converting them into nurtures and then setting them up for future contact by you, the agent.
In addition to that, despite the fact that the investment is less for a virtual ISA, the cost can get to the point where it’s better to hire an in-house ISA if you have the virtual ISA call your leads for you as regularly.
That said, there’s no hiring, onboarding and 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.
It’s a good solution 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.
When to hire which type of ISA
While there’s no real formula as to when you would hire which type of ISA, there are some guidelines.
And to that point, there’s no saying you can’t have a virtual ISA calling and identifying sales opportunities for you on a consistent basis...even if you already have a full-time ISA.
Here’s how it breaks down:
Ultimately, you’d like to have a full-time, In-house ISA working with you and even have an in-house or virtual ISA doing SDR work to tee up listing opportunities for your ISA. That way, you can have the best of both worlds with a predictable pipeline of seller leads that can be converted on a day-over-day basis.
No matter what solution you choose, make sure it fits into your budget and meets your needs based upon the level of production at which you are currently.
Most importantly, make sure you keep your expectations in check based upon the type of ISA you hire and the results you are seeking. If you do that, you are virtually guaranteed to succeed.
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