Four Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your First ISA

Garrett Lenderman | August 14, 2020

Welcome to the second column by KellerInk – these monthly articles are aimed at helping you achieve greater success by highlighting the groundbreaking research that informs our award-winning books and drives Keller Williams’ industry-leading coaching and training.  

KellerInk is dedicated to inspiring readers with research-driven models and educating them with best-in-class content that provides frameworks for turning that inspiration into growth. We hope that these columns inspire you to think BIG and provide you with the practical tools and growth-oriented mindset you need to succeed and transform your business, life, and community.

Many agents have difficulty deciding whether they should take on an ISA (Inside Sales Agent). However, the high volume of leads from online sources and increased competition in traditional prospecting channels can test an agent’s ability to keep up. How quickly you respond to a lead and how frequently you keep up with existing relationships is the difference between success and failure.

Take quarterly phone calls. Our research says they are likely the most effective form of follow-up with an agent’s database. If each call takes five minutes and an agent has a database of 3,000 contacts, they would be looking at over 1,000 hours spent talking to contacts four times each year. Add in unanswered calls and voicemails, responding to incoming leads, and prospecting for new ones – that’s time a high-producing agent doesn’t have!

To continue growing, you’ll need best practices and you’ll need help. But, before you start posting on Indeed for a new ISA, consider:

1. Is this the right time for me and my business?

According to the time-tested Leverage Model in the Millionaire Real Estate Agent, the first hires an agent makes should be administrative. If your operations department isn’t humming along, this probably isn’t the right time for you to bring on an ISA.

There are two reasons for this:

  • Admins will document your lead generation and follow-up systems.

Your administrative assistant should be documenting what you do that drives your success and putting it into a manual. Without a book of effective scripts, tactics, and practices, your ISA isn’t set up for the same successes.

  • Admins set up the systems an ISA needs to do their job effectively. 

Payroll systems, database entry, lead routing, and communication are just a few of the things you want figured out.

Even if you have administrative staff, other aspects of your business need to be considered. Are there one or two activities you do exceedingly well that could be transferred to the ISA? Will hiring an ISA require you to build a new strategy for generating and following up with leads?

Related Reading: Five Ways to Achieve More With Your Assistant

Administrative work will help your operations run smoothly, but it doesn’t always fill the pipeline with future clients. When you’re ready, that’s what ISAs are for.

2. What type of ISA am I looking to hire?

It might look like there’s only one type of ISA, but there are two – inbound and outbound.  


An inbound-focused ISA’s primary job is receiving incoming leads and following up with existing leads within your database.

This is the most common type of ISA in real estate sales. People who are successful in this role likely have a warm demeanor and sociable skillset. Think of a customer service representative – not an aggressive telemarketer.


Outbound-focused ISAs generally focus on prospecting for new leads. Their primary job might be to comb through lists of expired listings or to contact FSBOs looking to set appointments with potential clients.

To do their job well for the long haul, they’ll need to be comfortable with rejection. And, even then, you should expect to support them so they keep from burning out.

Most importantly, outbound ISAs require rigorous training. They should be aware of and follow all state and federal laws regarding telemarketing. Additionally, they should be well-trained to meet your standards of conduct. They’ll be reaching out to unsolicited leads … if they don’t follow the rules and meet your standards, there’s a big chance you’ll find yourself in legal trouble, or at the very least, responding to angry Yelp reviews.

Getting a Twofer

If you’re lucky, you might find an ISA who is well-equipped to handle both inbound and outbound activities. However, it’s our observation that those who excel at one, don’t always excel at the other. Try and keep it simple. Narrow your focus on your existing needs.

Knowing which type of ISA will fill that void will go a long way to helping you write a more accurate job description and make a better hire.

3. Am I ready to make an upfront investment?

ISAs are generally licensed employees. That being said, the most common compensation package for an ISA involves a base salary and a split of the gross commission income that’s generated from a transaction they helped out with. This package gives your business control of what the ISA does and how they do it (salary = employee) while also providing performance incentives.

One piece of wisdom we hear from agents with ISAs is “you get what you pay for.” Before making the hire, run the investment through your economic model, and see if it makes sense. What impact will they have on conversion rates? What benchmarks do they need to hit to make the investment worth it? When do you expect them to hit those performance marks?

It’s not a bad idea to put money in reserves to cover the ISA’s initial salary, especially while they ramp up. You might also prepare to invest in their training to get licensed, as well as software and equipment they might need to do their job well.

4. Can I provide the ISA ongoing support?  

ISAs aren’t a “set it and forget it” position. They require attention, ongoing training, and comradery to retain and maintain productivity. 

Many ISAs burn out simply because they have no one to lean on when they have a bad call. You’re likely out serving clients. The admin staff is busy managing marketing and transactions. Where’s your ISA?

They’re likely alone.

One of our top agents realized that in order to get the ISA model to work, she actually needed to hire two from the get-go. This way there would be someone to share in their successes and bring context to their failures.

You don’t have to hire two people right off the bat. However, you should be able to address the issue: Who will be supporting your future ISA?

Leverage is an incredible tool that, when planned and executed correctly, can grow your business exponentially. The right models and the right people can take your life and business to the next level. 

Curious to learn more?

Look for the hashtag #KellerInklings and follow KellerINK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for updates, resources, and additional insights. 

Share This: