September 4, 2020


Hassan Riggs

How To Hire The Right ISA For Your Real Estate Business: A Complete Hiring Kit for Recruiting, Selecting and Training

Download The Ultimate Checklist for Hiring a Real Estate ISA

You’ve set up your real estate business and it’s booming. 

Your firm is growing at such a fast rate that following up with leads is becoming more challenging to fit into your schedule, and you’re becoming increasingly overwhelmed. 

You now realize that you need some help to convert those leads into appointments, but hiring an Inside Sales Agent (ISA) is hard and can cost a fortune. 

 As days go by without any help, you’re missing leads and losing money.

 You need to hire a real estate ISA.

 Having an effective follow-up system is vital for your real estate business, so if you don’t have time to consistently follow up with leads then it’s time to hire someone who can schedule 15-minute phone appointments on your calendar.

 Not sure where to start? This hiring kit will give you the guidance needed to hire the right real estate ISA, the first time. 

 This hiring guide includes:

  • Why Hire a Virtual Real Estate ISA
  • Organizational Chart
  • Outlining Needs & Expectations
  • Recruiting a Real Estate ISA
  • Interviewing a Real Estate ISA
  • Paying a Real Estate ISA
  • Training a Real Estate ISA
  • Retaining and Incentivizing a Real Estate ISA

Why Hire a Virtual Real Estate ISA

No doubt, the right inside sales agent (ISA) can be a game changer for your business. 

 (We strongly recommend hiring a virtual ISA. Read Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Real Estate Inside Sales Agents to learn why it’s the best choice for most real estate teams.)

 When you’re busy running a team (or if you’re a solo agent) it’s important for your leads to be converted into appointments so you can turn them into buyers.

 Online leads expect you to respond within 2 minutes, buyers and sellers need your attention and team members rely on you for support and training. 

You clearly know how to convert leads because your results have delivered you to this crossroad in life.  

 And this is why hiring the right ISA or company is critical.  

When you make this transition you’ll be able to focus on what you really do best...

...converting phone appointments into close deals. 

A good real estate ISA will follow up with leads even when you’re busy showing homes, attending listing appointments, playing with the kids and even sleeping.

However, lead follow-up is often the task that gets put off first when you’re busy and trying to do everything yourself.  

Sometimes leads don’t get followed up on because you can’t respond to every single lead within 5 minutes. 

And it takes hours for you to reach out to leads who come in in the middle of the night.  

The problem is that there is a 10x decrease in your contact rate when your response time is slower than 5 minutes.  

Lead conversion is a full-time, around-the-clock job, so if you want your business to leapfrog to the next level, you need to hire an experienced real estate ISA to respond to leads, and schedule 15-minute phone appointments for you.

Organization Chart (Team Structure)

If you’re running a growing team at a brokerage, it’s important to let your ISA know what they’re responsible for doing, and who’s giving them the work. 

Your organizational chart will depend on the size of your real estate team, and the temperament, talent, and experience of your team members (among other things), but the configuration below is a solid starting point for many teams. 

Remember, “your fortune is in your follow up”, so your follow up system is the foundation for success. 

Your real estate ISA sets the tone for how and when you follow up with new, online leads. 

To get massive ROI from your lead generation program, you need your buyer agents and listing agents to spend time focusing on the highest revenue producing activities possible.

Simply put, you need them talking to buyers and sellers who are ready to transact. You need them working with clients and showing homes rather than following up with online leads.

Your real estate ISA sets those appointments so your agents can spend time closing deals and making you money.

[NOTE: want The Ultimate Checklist for Hiring a Real Estate ISA as a downloadable PDF? Swipe it here and we’ll send it right over.]

Outline Needs & Expectations

You’re hiring someone to follow-up with the leads and set appointments so you can do what you do best and convert those leads into your buyers and sellers. What will your real estate ISA do each day? 

  • Will they make calls at set times during the day or within minutes of the lead coming in? 
  • Will they only make calls or send text messages too? 
  • Have they ever implemented a successful text message marketing strategy?

 More online leads respond to text messages because it’s easier and more convenient than having a phone conversation or replying to an email.  

So you’ll want to have a text message marketing strategy for your real estate ISA.  

Continuing to follow up with the leads will also be critical for those leads that aren’t ready and  don’t respond immediately.  

  • Can your real estate ISA be consistent with long-term follow up and following up a script? 
  • Will they be part-time or full-time?  

Another critical element is the fact that you can increase your contact rate by 900% if you respond to the lead within 5 minutes of submitting their information.  

This makes it imperative to have a plan and strategy for new and fresh leads.  

Need a little more guidance on outlining needs and expectations? We’ve included an outline below for you to use in creating the job post.  

Starting to re-think virtual real estate ISA strategy? Stick with me….we’ve got a solution for you in the next section that will give you the time and freedom you’re seeking! 

  1. Position Summary
  2. Roles & Responsibilities
  3. Skill Requirements
  4. Education & Experience
  5. Benefits & Salary
  6. About the Company

Recruiting a Real Estate ISA

You’ve identified what your new real estate ISA will be doing so now it’s time to find them. 

We strongly recommend hiring a virtual real estate ISA. Read Everything You Need To Know About Virtual Real Estate Inside Sales Agents to learn why it’s the best choice for most real estate teams. 

Start here: 

  • Sphere of influence (SOI) - Reach out to friends and colleagues via phone, text, or email letting them know you have this position available.  
  • Social media - Use your online connections like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter to announce your opening.
  • Job board - Facebook Marketplace, Indeed, Monster, ZipRecruiter, local newspaper websites, etc.  
  • College - College students make awesome ISAs because they’re affordable, willing to learn, and hungry for real world experience.

Are you already thinking hiring someone is a lot of work? [it is, btw] Another avenue to consider is a company that already specializes in this skill.  

At Smart Alto, our entire business is turning your leads into 15 minute appointments for you, the busy real estate agent.

We have real people (not A.I. or bots) who respond to your leads within 2 minutes, 24 hours per day. 

That’s right! 

Whether it’s 2am or 2pm, our team of highly qualified real estate ISAs will immediately engage, qualify, and schedule 15 minute phone appointments on your calendar.

 A solution ready for you without posting any job descriptions, interviewing, or training them yourself. 

Interviewing a Real Estate ISA

After receiving and reviewing applications it’s time to interview the top candidates. In the interview it is imperative to set the expectations and test their skills. 

Sure they can have a conversation with you in person or over the phone….but would you hire your best friend just because you have great conversations together? 

Of course not.

There is definitely a level of skill involved in following a script, asking the right questions, and converting the lead to a qualified appointment. 

Send them a script ahead of time and role-play with them to see how comfortable they are in each of these areas. 

How about systems and technology? Are they already comfortable with the ones you use, or can they learn it quickly? 

All of these points will give you clues as to how this person will handle the job itself and integrate into your personal or team culture.  

But the most important thing you want to do is ask behavioral questions to better understand how they’ve performed in the past because it’s a good signal for how they’ll perform in the future.

Interview Questions

Some of the following sample interview questions are intentionally behavioral in that they ask the candidate to describe actual scenarios that reveal their level of experience. These are general questions that we ask our real estate ISA candidates and should be tailored to fit your team.


Tell me about how you handle this objection from a buyer: “I’m just browsing homes right now and don’t want to talk to an agent”.

  • FOLLOW-UP: Why do you use that approach?
  • FOLLOW-UP: What else have you done that has failed?

Tell me about the last great sales/prospecting book you’ve read and what you learned?

  • FOLLOW-UP: How have you implemented lessons learned?
  • FOLLOW-UP: What results have you achieved? 
  • FOLLOW-UP: How did you measure the effectiveness of those strategies?

Tell me about the last time you created a text message marketing strategy that successfully converted leads into phone appointments for agents.

  • FOLLOW-UP: Why do you think that strategy worked?
  • FOLLOW-UP: Looking back, what would you do differently?

Tell me about how you optimize your text messaging strategy over time.

  • FOLLOW-UP: What data is most important for you to keep track of?
  • FOLLOW-UP: Why are those metrics important and others are not?

What have you noticed about changes in response rates for text messages vs emails vs phone calls?

  • FOLLOW-UP: Why do you think buyers and sellers respond differently to those channels?
  • FOLLOW-UP: How has this realization changed how you do your job as an ISA?

Tell me about a time you followed up with a lead who was angry (and used offensive language) at you or the agent.

  • FOLLOW-UP: What tactics did you use to disarm the situation?
  • FOLLOW-UP: Describe how these tactics affected how you approach lead conversion.

Tell me about how you handle sellers who only want a home valuation and don’t want to talk to the agent.

  • FOLLOW-UP: When do you think it’s okay to take “no” for an answer? 
  • FOLLOW-UP: How does your approach change for buyers?

Tell me about a time you followed up with a lead for one month or more and finally converted them into an appointment. 

  • FOLLOW-UP: How many follow up attempts did you have during that time?
  • FOLLOW-UP: How did you change the text messages you sent to get the best response? 

Paying a Real Estate ISA

How will you be paying this person?  Hourly? Per appointment set? Will there be bonuses for completed appointments and closed transactions? 

Creating the perfect compensation structure is a little art and a little science. You’re trying to hedge the risk of hiring a good ISA and compensating them well.  

The average real estate ISA will want to earn $35,000 to $45,000 annually. 

This may be different in your local market so you’ll also want to do a little research to make sure the compensation matches up to expectation and your budget.  

At Smart Alto, the real estate ISAs we hire are paid an attractive hourly rate and incentivized for maximizing the number of quality appointments they schedule for real estate agents. 

But when you become a Smart Alto customer, you only pay us one small, monthly fee. You benefit from economies of scale and the years of experience we have recruiting, hiring, training and retaining ISAs.

Training a Real Estate ISA

You’ve hired someone.  And now the real work begins for everyone.  

Your main job focus has shifted now from following up and setting appointments to training your new Virtual ISA. 

Their main job is to set appointments for you and your team. 

Because they’re not in your office you’ll be spending some time on Zoom training and reviewing call recordings (did you remember to get a call recording tool for monitoring and feedback?) 

Your new Virtual ISA is making hundreds of calls and sending thousands of text messages and emails.  

But they’re not overcoming objections or setting enough appointments.

You invest more time and money into training.

They try harder, but still miss the mark.

So you keep training them.

And yet, their performance only marginally improves. 

You’re getting frustrated as you see opportunities slipping through the cracks.

They’re getting frustrated because they’re not meeting expectations. 

It doesn’t work out.  

So you repeat the cycle of finding another ISA for the job. This cycle can be repeated multiple times before finding the right person. 

Time, money, and potential clients are all slipping through the cracks.  

But if you decide to allow Smart Alto to follow up with your online leads to schedule appointments, then you can be up and running within one business day.  

However, if you still want to train your own real estate ISA, then here are a few things to keep in mind.

  • Help them memorize the scripts you want them to use
  • Teach conversations and call tonality
  • Teach how to ask questions without being annoying 
  • Train them on how to use your lead qualification checklist (if you don’t have one, learn more about our BANTAR method)
  • Teach them how to use the CRM system

You also want to establish a few key performance indicators (KPIs) to track and ensure everyone knows what success looks like.

  • Number of Attempts (Dials or Texts sent)
  • Number of Contacts
  • Number of qualified leads
  • Number of Appointments Set
  • Number of Appointments Kept

Remember, if it’s important enough for your ISA to do, then it’s important to track and measure success. 

Retaining and Incentivizing a Real Estate ISA

You’ve found a real estate ISA, after several rounds, who is a good fit. 

They’re setting appointments and you’re happy with their level of success. Now you must shift your attention to keeping them onboard and retaining your new hire.

This usually means time invested in continued training, collaboration and incentivizing them for a job well done. More time and money.  

Here’s a brief comparison of hiring, and retaining an ISA for you (or your team) vs using Smart Alto:

In the End....

Sounds like a lot of work? It is. And if you’re a solo agent or small team/brokerage, the cost of doing this yourself will be high both financially and time wise. 

That’s why hundreds of real estate agents, teams and brokers around the US and Canada use Smart Alto to follow up and schedule appointments with online leads. 

Our virtual real estate ISAs are trained and ready to contact your leads within 2 minutes, 24/7.

Our goal is to schedule 15 minute phone appointments so you can convert them into buyers and sellers. 

If a lead isn’t responsive at first, we’ll continue reaching out to the lead for up to 36 months after the lead comes in.  

This is all done by text message which is more effective than phone calls these days.

This means that you, as a busy real estate agent, don’t have to change your focus to hiring, training and retaining the right real estate ISA. 

You can keep more money in the bank, have more time for clients, friends and family, and continue building your business to the next level.  

The right virtual real estate ISA will change your business for the better.  Using these tips will help you go into this new venture with a clear picture and foundation of what will benefit your business the most.  

Ready to skip the hassle and hire Smart Alto? Click here to schedule a demo with Smart Alto now! 

Hassan Riggs

Founder at Smart Alto and former real estate ISA who has set 10,000 appointments.

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