What You Need More Than an Assistant

If you need some extra hands on deck to grow your business, don’t start with a personal assistant or buyer’s agent. Look to the Web.

December 8, 2014

What has helped shape me as a real estate speaker and coach are my past experiences selling homes as a real estate professional and working as my mother’s “unpaid assistant” in her office for years as a child.

I’ve seen a lot of change in the industry, but I also haven’t seen enough change in many practitioners’ businesses. I believe in resisting Shiny Object Syndrome — a preoccupation with adopting every new piece of technology that comes along — that many agents and brokers suffer from. But I also acknowledge that our ability to change with the industry will determine the level of efficient success we experience going forward.

Notice that I said “efficient success.” Some agents will try to justify the way they do business by saying they sell X number of houses per year, which must mean they are successful. That’s not exactly true: If you sell 40 houses in a year, but you have no freedom because your business is entirely reliant on your 24/7 availability, then I would question how successful you really are.

Last week, my company held our first-ever Annual Advance, a conference focused on the latest strategies and systems to run a 21st century business, at the Connecticut Convention Center. It was attended by agents and brokers from all over North America. There were more takeaways than I can mention here, but there was one that stood out from the rest: Hiring personal assistants or a couple of buyer’s agents is a great step to building business — but not necessarily the best idea up front. First, bring on an ISA, or Internet sales associate.

We can all agree that the Internet has changed the business, and for people buying and selling houses, it’s the first place they start their journey.

According to NAR and InsideSales.com:

  1. The average consumer searches for homes on the Internet for 10 to 14 days before contacting a real estate professional.
  2. Sixty-six percent of people select the agent who contacts them first.
  3. When an agent responds to a lead within five minutes, the chances of conversion increase by 100 times.
  4. On average, agents respond to leads 1.3 times and make the first contact in 15.3 hours.
  5. Forty-three percent of leads never get a response.
  6. Forty-four percent of salespeople give up after one follow-up.
  7. Eighty percent of sales are done after the fifth to twelfth follow-up.

This means you need to follow up with leads quickly, continue following up even if you don’t hear back right away, and be the first to make contact with a prospect.

That sounds easy until you get back to the real world, where clients want you to show them properties, expect to be updated on their open houses, and request that you be at home inspections.

That’s where an ISA comes in. What if you had someone whose job it is to call leads the moment they come in and follow up with those who haven’t responded yet? What if you only worked with “warm leads” who want to see houses or find out what their property is worth?

What if the “what if” could become reality?

It already is for many agents who have started running their businesses like it’s about to be 2015 — and not like it’s still 1992.

This isn’t just theory. At the beginning of our conference, one of the attendees came to me and told me that from the time he got on the plane to the moment he saw me in the lobby, his ISA had scheduled seven listing appointments for his team without him doing anything. He couldn’t have done that on his own. Having someone from his office call the moment a lead came in meant more business for his team.

An ISA is no longer an optional member of your team. It’s as necessary as the car you use to get to your showings, if you want to close more business and stop complaining that “your leads are no good.”

The leads aren’t the problem; our follow-up systems and old business models are.

So unless you live in a world where “Beverly Hills, 90210” is still a hit show, it’s time to wake up and recognize that it’s about to be 2015, and the way we get to the point of conversion in our industry has changed.

Jared James

Jared James is a national speaker and trainer in the real estate industry who has tens of thousands of followers on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Youtube. Subscribe to get his free sales tips and videos at www.jaredjamestoday.com. To connect with Jared, go to www.connectwithjared.com.