Just a few years ago, real estate was a one-man band. The easiest way for an agent to get a new lead was good ol’ desk duty. Sitting at the desk waiting for the lead to walk in or call and say “I want to look at homes” or “I want to list my home.”
Today it seems like every real estate agent who generates leads wants to hire an ISA (inside sales agent) to call and manage their leads for them. Seems like an easy enough concept, right? Just find someone to call leads and set appointments for you. Unfortunately, as too many agents learn the hard way, it’s not that easy.
To help you avoid the hiring mistakes I made early in my career, here are my five tips for hiring ISAs that can actually convert:
1. Make Sure You’ve Done the Job Yourself
Let’s face it, picking up the phone isn’t fun for most people.
But if you can’t conquer your own fears of the phone or get your own appointments, how can you expect someone to do it for you?
Yes, you can delegate, but understanding exactly how hard the job is (from experience) is crucial to hiring someone to do it for you.
I remember when I first started calling leads. I would look at the profile, the list of homes they viewed, and use multiple excuses to talk myself out of calling them.
My palms used to sweat at the thought of picking up the phone and calling someone I didn’t know. What if they hang up on me? What if I am bothering them? And then there’s the big one: I don’t know what to say.
What does this have to do with hiring an ISA, you may be asking?
Having been through the process yourself helps you calibrate your expectations. After all, you have already been through the objections and overcame them. You have figured out who the most valuable leads are and who to spend your time calling.
I have hired myself and have seen so many teams simply hire to delegate something they didn’t want to do. How can we expect to hire someone to solve our problem for us if we don’t even know how to do it? If you don’t have any experience with keeping track of an overwhelming amount of conversations and developing a process not to lose future opportunities, you will have a much harder time finding and training someone who can solve these problems for you.
2. Hire Slow, Fire Fast
It’s not easy to hire the right person for an ISA position. I am not trying to be a Debbie Downer here. Skilled ISAs are hard to find. When I was hiring my first ISA, we sifted through hundreds of applications, but only four made it through the interview process.
Why only four? Well, we were very specific with our directions of how to respond to the email. What to type in the subject line and how to structure the email. So what happened next?
You guessed it, only four could follow simple directions! We did hire one and she only lasted a couple of months. The term “hire slow, fire fast” is a great rule to follow for this position. Read on to #3 to find out why.
3. Remember That You Can’t Train Someone to Have a Great Personality
When I am looking for an ISA or any hire, talent is exactly what I am looking for. I don’t care about their work history. I care about their goals, their drive, and their reason why. I can spot talent and train skill.
Personality assessments, or DiSC assessments, are a great way to identify a person’s strengths and weaknesses in regard to administrative or sales skills. For the ISA position, it is good to have a mix of organization and people skills, and neither can really be taught.
The fastest way to confirm if a personality is right for the job is to role-play the most common objections with the potential new hire. See if they are solutions-minded. Do they give up at the first sign of an objection, or do they ask more questions to engage the lead in further conversation? If the ISA remains curious and understands the benefit of the lead to work for the company they represent, and genuinely cares about the lead’s experience, you have a winner.
If someone is merely looking for a paycheck, keep interviewing. This position is much more than paycheck.
4. Set Realistic Expectations for Your ISA
Ahhhh, expectations. I think we can all admit that the most difficult challenge to overcome with hiring for any position is finding someone to meet our expectations.
Before you even think of hiring someone, I want you to ask yourself a question right now:
Can you explain your expectations in detail to your new hires? Do you even know your expectations?
Seems simple enough, but if you are honest, you probably just realized why your last hire may not have worked out. Most of us just assume that everyone will treat their job like we do. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The most successful people I know are successful because they are clear on their objectives and know exactly what to do. They set their employees up for the same success by setting up clear expectations for the role before they even start.
5. Hire & Fire Based on Core Values
This may seem a little out of place here, but knowing what you are willing to tolerate and not put up with is truly like a piece of magic in the hiring process. Making sure the new potential ISA is in alignment with your culture and ethics is critical.
I had an ISA one time who would overpromise the leads just to get them to commit to an appointment. When we would meet them at the appointment, they would say, “Well your ISA said it didn’t matter what my credit score was,” or, “Your ISA said it didn’t matter what price I was looking for, she said you would be able to find me a home!”
A great coach once told me that every disagreement is a result of lack of communication. So make sure to communicate those values to your new ISA and fire them if they don’t live up to them.
Bonus Tip: Build Your Business to Be System-dependent, Not People-dependent
Without proper systems in place, your ISA is shooting in the dark. Remember, the system is only as good as the person working it. So keep it simple!
If you don’t think systems are important, think again. Why do you think more people invest into a franchise versus starting their own boutique brokerage? The simple answer? Because the systems and the processes have been proven to generate income.
Business owners and employees can perform at a much higher level when hired with an easily duplicated system. Expectations are clear, the job description is written out, and accountability is present.
Why do you think McDonald’s does so well? Because they have repeatable systems that they hire, train, and fire to. Have you ever received a bag of burned fries from McDonald’s? I will guess no. Yet, I bet you have had unsalted fries from McDonald’s. Why is that? There is a clear system to drop the fries in the fryer, push a button, and when the buzzer goes off, take the fries out. There’s no buzzer to remind a person to salt the fries. That is what happens when a person doesn’t follow the system.
This is the biggest missing component in the real estate industry. It is easy to get caught up in delegating responsibility, but if not properly handled, it can quickly lead to disappointment. Remember, don’t simply throw someone into a position to fulfill a duty with no chance of it being successful. Use these tips to set your new hire and yourself up for success.
In the next article in this series, I’ll share my detailed Buyer ISA Conversion Blueprint.
Over to You
Have a great tip for hiring an ISA that can actually convert? Let us know in the comments.