How Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com Fueled the Rise of ISAs

By April 18, 2017 Lead Management

When I started in real estate 10 years ago, generating new business and leads from websites like Zillow and Realtor.com was still a pretty new concept.  It wasn’t the main way you grew your business, but rather a way to augment your marketing efforts and show clients you’re a techy agent who’s ahead of their time and using all the newest online sites to advertise their home. In fact, Zillow was only launched a year prior in 2006, and most people had never even heard of it.

The way we got business was through “floor time” working at a retail office with a great location and foot traffic.  Floor time meant you got to stand in the front of the office greeting visitors that were potentially looking to buy or sell in the area, and by greeting them, you had the first chance to give them your business card and hopefully collect their contact information so you could follow up with them.  This is in fact how I got most of my new business for my first few years.  Friends and family could only take me so far, but alas, I was not the only real estate agent they knew either.

They were offering up most of the information that was once only accessible via my MLS, so my buyer clients didn’t need me as much anymore.

Over the next few years, the online search portals like Zillow and Trulia started gaining serious traction, and it became apparent to me very quickly that they were here to stay.  They were offering up most of the information that was once only accessible via my MLS, so my buyer clients didn’t need me as much anymore.  In fact, they really liked doing their own research and where I once used to send them listings that came on the market or that I thought they’d be interested in viewing, the tables quickly turned.  My buyer clients started to send ME the listings they wanted to go see.  This was a game changer.

Within a few years, 90% of all buyers started their search online, and it became clear to me that this was the new way to scale my business.  I began to advertise on many of these websites to generate new leads for myself, but I quickly discovered that this new kind of “lead” was a very different animal.  Online leads were very long term, early researchers who had no particular loyalty to me, and had never even met me. They were using multiple websites and talking to different agents. This was a big change from my days doing floor time and immediately meeting the very buyers I would end up helping, so I knew a new strategy had to be developed to service this new type of lead persona.

Enter the world of the ISAs…

Greeting leads who were generated online is a very different experience than greeting someone that just walked into your real estate office.  These online leads don’t want to be pressured, and many times, they don’t even want to meet anyone for some time and are just early on in their search and research phase.  A real estate inside sales associate, known as an ISA, is tasked with being the first responder to new interested clients like online leads.  ISAs engage, respond, and also filter out the unmotivated leads from the motivated buyers and sellers that you should focus your attention on.  

But the stats show that engaging a lead within 5 minutes increases the chances of converting that cold lead into a client by 21 times!

With agents generating so many online leads these days, they need the help of ISAs to help them engage and convert these cold leads into real clients.  Realtors are one-person businesses and when an agent is out showing homes, negotiating offers or holding open houses, they can’t always drop everything to contact the new leads that come in.  But the stats show that engaging a lead within 5 minutes increases the chances of converting that cold lead into a client by 21 times!!  And 72% of buyers and sellers will work with the first agent they meet with face to face.  So it’s imperative that agents respond to leads within 5 minutes and try to meet them in person as quickly as possible.
Real Estate ISAs, also known as real estate concierges, are super beneficial for any Realtor that’s buying lots of leads online.  They not only engage, and filter, but they also augment and enhance the leads by asking other pertinent questions to gage interest and ability.  

For example, a lead usually comes in with basic contact info and perhaps a property they want to see, but a real estate concierge and ISA will also ask them questions to enhance that lead like:

  • What’s your time frame for buying or selling your home?
  • What’s your motivation for moving?
  • Are you pre-approved yet for a mortgage?
  • Do you have a sell your home before buying a new one?
  • What other neighborhoods or property characteristics are you interested in?
  • Are there any school districts that are important to you?

Large companies in other industries have “inside sales associates” tasked with engaging and qualifying new interest in their products.  For real estate, these ISAs do the same thing, but with online leads.  They help build trust and a pipeline of interested clients for the real estate agent.

Agentology’s vision and purpose is to give every agent the power of having their own inside sales team of ISAs that can respond and qualify all of your leads for you, to make sure no leads ever fall through the cracks, and to give every real estate agent more time to focus on the hottest prospects while making sure they get as high of a return as possible from their marketing spend.