Real Estate Investing | How To & Education
What if you had a secret weapon that could free up your time, allow you to focus on growing your business, take care of the day-to-day lead generation efforts, and level the playing field while giving you a competitive edge?
Think you have to be the one to do it all? From sales, to lead generation, to actually running your business?
Enter your secret weapon: Virtual assistants.
These superheroes of the digital age can help you generate leads, keep your pipeline full, and close more deals than ever before.
In this blog, we'll explore how to harness the power of virtual assistants for your real estate business and to scale your lead generation strategy.
What to know about outsourced assistants vs. AI assistants
What to look for in a real estate virtual assistant
Pros of using a real estate virtual assistant
Challenges of using a real estate virtual assistant
How real estate professionals can use virtual assistants in their lead generation
Choosing the right real estate virtual assistant provider
Best practices for working with a real estate virtual assistant
How virtual assistants can harness the power of PropertyRadar
What is a virtual assistant?
Definition of a virtual assistant
When it comes to lead generation in the real estate industry, it can be a real challenge to manage all the different tasks involved in finding and nurturing potential clients.
That's where virtual assistants come in - they can help take on some of the workload and free up your time to focus on other important aspects of your business, like negotiating and closing deals.
So, what exactly is a virtual assistant? A virtual assistant (or "VA" for short) is a professional who provides administrative, technical, or creative assistance to clients from a remote location.
They typically work freelance or contract and use communication tools such as email, video conferencing, and instant messaging to collaborate with their clients.
Explanation of the difference between a virtual assistant and a traditional assistant
Now, you might wonder how a virtual assistant differs from a traditional one. Well, there are a few key differences.
Firstly, a virtual assistant is typically based in a different location than their client, whereas a traditional assistant is usually physically present in the same office.
Additionally, a virtual assistant is usually self-employed and works on a project-by-project basis, while a traditional assistant is typically an employee of their company. However, as we'll see later, some companies offer a full range of virtual assistant services, usually employing 10s or hundreds of virtual assistants.
Types of virtual assistants (general, specialized, AI-powered)
When it comes to the types of virtual assistants available, there are a few different options.
Firstly, some general virtual assistants can handle a wide variety of tasks such as data entry, email management, and appointment scheduling.
These VAs are great for real estate professionals who need help with various administrative tasks, like tracking deals or following up with clients.
However, if you need assistance with more specialized tasks, other virtual assistants specialize in specific areas, such as social media management, graphic design, or bookkeeping.
These specialized VAs have in-depth knowledge and expertise in their respective fields and can provide high-quality support.
Finally, there are also AI-powered virtual assistants that use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to assist. These types of VAs are still relatively new, but they can potentially revolutionize how we work with virtual assistants in the future.
What to know about outsourced vs. AI virtual assistants
India and the Phillippines are some of the most popular countries for outsourced virtual assistants
For real estate professionals, outsourcing virtual assistant services to countries like the Philippines and India has become an increasingly popular way to streamline their workflow and grow their business.
These countries have a large pool of highly skilled and English-speaking professionals who offer services at a lower cost than their counterparts in Western countries.
In the Philippines, for example, the outsourcing industry generated $26.3 billion in revenue in 2019, with a significant portion coming from virtual assistant services.
Many Filipinos are highly educated and have experience working in many different industries, making them well-suited for real estate tasks such as lead generation, data entry, and appointment scheduling.
Similarly, India has a large pool of highly skilled professionals who offer virtual assistant services at a competitive rate.
According to a report by NASSCOM, India's outsourcing industry generated $190 billion in revenue in 2019, with virtual assistant services playing a significant role.
No matter where you source your real estate virtual assistant, it's important to know what to look for to ensure you're developing the most successful relationship with your VA that you possibly can.
What to look for in a virtual assistant
Working with a virtual assistant can be a highly effective solution if you're a real estate professional looking to streamline your workflow and generate more leads.
However, not all virtual assistants are created equal, and it's essential to carefully consider a few key factors before choosing the right one for your needs.
Skillset and experience relevant to real estate marketing
Skillset and experience are crucial for virtual assistants in real estate marketing. Ideally, you want to work with a virtual assistant with experience in lead generation, data entry, appointment scheduling, and other relevant tasks.
Additionally, they should have a foundational understanding of the real estate industry, the unique challenges of marketing properties, and generating leads.
Availability and responsiveness
Availability and responsiveness are also important considerations when working with virtual assistants.
You'll want to find a virtual assistant who can work during your most convenient hours and is responsive to requests. Whether those requests are work-related coming from you or leads responding to lead gen efforts, you'll want to make sure your VA can promptly follow up.
Sometimes, however, having your assistant working on off-hours is advantageous.
For instance, if you're running a text message marketing campaign, some real estate professionals will consider sending texts after working hours to increase response rates.
If you do this, it's vital to consider responsiveness because the last thing you want is to get several texts back from your leads and no one there to answer them.
Communication skills and language fluency
Communication skills and language fluency are also crucial when working with virtual assistants.
You want to find a virtual assistant who can communicate clearly and effectively in your preferred language, whether English, Spanish, Mandarin, or another language. They should also be able to understand your instructions and ask feel comfortable asking questions when necessary to ensure that they are completing tasks correctly.
However, it's even more critical for your VA to not hesitate to collaborate with you when something comes up in conversation they may not have familiarity with.
Conversational elements or expectations of cultural norms can be easily lost in translation, and it's up to you to encourage your VA to reach out when they may need help understanding the significance of a specific phrase or other colloquialisms.
Familiarity with relevant software and tools
Familiarity with relevant software and tools is another important consideration.
Ideally, you'll want to work with a virtual assistant who's at least somewhat familiar with the software and tools you use in your real estate marketing efforts, whether lead generation software, customer relationship management (CRM) software or social media marketing tools.
We recommend investing in a training program for all your virtual assistants across your tech stack. Sure, your VA may be able to find online courses and teach themselves, but constructing a training program and guiding the VA through it yourself will not only help them develop proficiency; it will also strengthen the rapport between the two of you as you begin your working relationship.
Plus, everyone uses the same marketing tools or CRM software slightly differently. So even if your VA knows how to use a software platform, there may be better ways that work best for your business.
References and testimonials
Finally, checking references and testimonials when working with virtual assistants is a great last step to verify a VA before hiring them.
You want to find a virtual assistant who has a track record of providing high-quality work and who has satisfied clients who can vouch for their skills and professionalism.
Luckily, most freelancer platforms focus on generating customer reviews, so you'll rarely wonder how previous patrons enjoyed their experience with a particular provider.
Pros of using a real estate virtual assistant
Cost-effectiveness compared to hiring a traditional assistant
One of the most significant benefits of working with a virtual assistant is cost savings.
According to a survey by the International Association of Administrative Professionals, hiring a traditional full-time assistant can cost over $39,000 annually. In comparison, working with a virtual assistant can cost a fraction of that, with rates typically ranging from $10 to $30 per hour.
While it may be tempting to negotiate for even lower hourly rates, it may not always be the best idea.
According to George Flansbaum, founder of EWC Virtual Hub, which provides VA services out of the Philipines, "if you try to lowball [VAs] at two or $3 an hour", you'll end up "getting what you pay for."
Increased efficiency and productivity
By delegating administrative tasks to a virtual assistant, you can free up your time and focus on your core competencies, such as selling properties and building client relationships.
Taking tasks not directly related to closing more business off your plate will help increase your efficiency and productivity, allowing you to accomplish more in less time.
Flexibility and scalability
Virtual assistants offer a high degree of flexibility, which can be especially beneficial for real estate professionals who need support on an as-needed basis.
Whether you need a virtual assistant for a few hours a week or full-time support, you can find a solution that meets your needs.
Additionally, virtual assistants can often scale up or down as your needs change, providing the flexibility that most traditional assistants cannot match.
Increased availability and working hours
Given a majority of VAs work overseas, they will often be able to work outside traditional US business hours, which can be a major advantage for real estate professionals who need support during evenings and weekends. This can help you stay on top of urgent tasks and quickly respond to clients.
Reduced overhead costs
Hiring a virtual assistant can also help you reduce overhead costs, such as office space, equipment, and supplies.
Because virtual assistants work remotely, you won't need to provide them with a dedicated workspace or purchase additional equipment.
Access to specialized skills and expertise
Virtual assistants often have specialized skills and expertise that can be difficult to find in a traditional assistant.
For example, you can find a virtual assistant who has a deep familiarity with a certain software you use, or has a long track record of successfully supporting agents in multiple markets. When you hire a traditional assistant, it may be hard to find that kind of coverage.
Challenges of using a real estate virtual assistants
Lack of physical presence and face-to-face interaction
The lack of physical presence and face-to-face interaction is a significant challenge when working with a virtual assistant in real estate marketing. Real estate transactions involve a lot of information that needs to be conveyed quickly and accurately between multiple parties across a wide range of different platforms.
Misunderstandings or delays in communication can lead to missed deadlines or lost opportunities. In addition, some real estate professionals may feel they have more control over the outcome of a transaction if they can communicate in-person with their team members.
While it may be frustrating, without clear communication, misunderstandings and delays are likely to occur, which is part of the learning process between you and your VA.
To help minimize the impacts, effective communication from the start is key to ensuring productivity when working with a virtual assistant.
Establishing clear communication protocols and expectations upfront, including setting regular check-ins to review progress and discuss any questions or concerns that may arise, will ensure you're working towards the same goal and help mitigate any issues before they happen.
Working with a virtual assistant can also raise security concerns, particularly regarding sensitive client information.
Choosing a reputable virtual assistant agency or freelancer who takes security seriously and has measures to protect your information is one of the most important steps to safeguard your data. This may include using secure communication methods, implementing data encryption, and establishing strict access controls.
Dependence on technology
Working with a virtual assistant in real estate marketing can also present technology-related challenges. Dependence on technology means that technical difficulties, software malfunctions, or internet connectivity issues can disrupt work and create delays.
Unreliability is often cited as a major concern and can be particularly frustrating when time-sensitive tasks are involved, such as responding to a client inquiry or managing a transaction.
Limited control over work environment
One potential challenge of working with a virtual assistant is needing more control over their work environment.
If you're used to direct oversight while working with your staff, a more remote-first, trusting management style can be a major adjustment you'll have to get used to. In addition, when working with a virtual assistant, it's important to set up checks and balances to feel confident work is being effectively carried out by both parties.
How real estate professionals can use virtual assistants in their lead generation efforts
Social media management
A virtual assistant can also help create and curate engaging visual content, such as images and videos, to enhance social media posts. By either presenting the VA with, or working together to come up with, a content calendar, you both will have a single source of truth for upcoming posts, initiatives, etc.
Having a shared calendar is crucial in ensuring content is released consistently, with agreed upon topics, in a way that accurately represents your brand voice.
VAs can also monitor social media analytics to identify areas for improvement and adjust social media strategy accordingly.
Email + phone marketing campaigns
In addition to creating and sending newsletters and managing email lists, a virtual assistant can help with A/B testing of subject lines and email content to improve open and click-through rates. They can also help segment email lists to send targeted messages to specific groups.
While email is one of the most effective ways to build awareness with leads, phone marketing (including call and text message outreach) can have a profound impact on growing your business.
While it's still the best way to reach leads, phone marketing takes a significant amount of time. One of the most effective ways to use a VA for phone marketing is to give them a list of contacts, arm them with a script, and train them on having meaningful conversations.
This way, your VA can handle prospecting while you spend your time focusing on working warm leads.
Lead scoring and nurturing
A virtual assistant can assist with lead scoring, which is when you prioritize leads based on their level of engagement and likelihood of converting. They can also set up automated lead nurturing campaigns based on lead behavior, such as drip or personalized follow-up emails.
A virtual assistant can conduct surveys or focus groups to gather qualitative data on customer preferences and opinions. They can also analyze website traffic data and social media analytics to gain insights into customer behavior.
A virtual assistant can help with administrative tasks such as bookkeeping, invoicing, and expense tracking. They can also help with project management, such as creating timelines and monitoring progress.
Content creation (blogs, videos, etc.)
A virtual assistant can help all aspects in the process of creating captivating content. with keyword research and search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure content is discoverable and relevant to the target audience. They can also assist with creating and managing editorial calendars to ensure a consistent publishing schedule.
Data analysis and reporting
A virtual assistant can help with data visualization, creating charts and graphs to highlight key performance metrics. They can also help interpret data and recommend future marketing strategies.
A virtual assistant can assist with lead scoring and management within the CRM, ensuring that leads are correctly categorized and tracked throughout the sales funnel. They can also help with setting up automated workflows to streamline lead management.
A virtual assistant can help manage customer inquiries via phone, email, and social media channels. They can also assist with creating and maintaining a customer service knowledge base to provide quick and efficient responses to common inquiries.
Choosing the right real estate virtual assistant service provider
When choosing the right virtual assistant service provider, several key factors must be considered.
According to Flansbaum, finding the most qualified virtual assistant can be challenging. Choosing someone who can not only do a great job but also has your best interests in mind is important.
Flansbaum suggests including a secret question in the application process to weed out the candidates who are not paying attention.
For example, he suggests asking them to "write in their cover letter or email that they are over 200 years old." While it may seem like a crazy question, Flansbaum says that 95% of applicants will miss it, and the ones who do catch it might be your "diamond in the rough."
There are many providers to choose from, from individual freelancers to larger agencies, so do your due diligence and evaluate each option carefully. Some well-known virtual assistant service providers include:
In addition to evaluating service offerings and pricing models, it's also encouraged to read reviews and testimonials from other clients.
Educating yourself on testimonials can give you a sense of the provider's reputation, the quality of their services, and any potential drawbacks or issues to be aware of.
Some popular sites to review VA services include:
Once you've narrowed down your list of potential providers, requesting references and conducting interviews is a good idea. This can help you better understand the provider's communication skills, responsiveness, and overall fit for your business.
Best practices for working with a real estate virtual assistant
It's time. You've researched hundreds of resumes and spent hours interviewing your top candidates - and now, you feel like you've found the perfect VA!
They're a great candidate and knocked several of your interview questions out of the park, so you're confident they'll be the perfect addition to your business.
However, while this is all great, their success ultimately comes down to the way you approach the relationship and set them up for success.
Let's take a look at some best practices…
Define your objectives and expectations
Before you start working with a virtual assistant, defining your objectives and expectations is key to creating a successful foundation.
Set expectations by establishing clear goals and priorities for your real estate lead generation efforts and determining the specific tasks and responsibilities you want your virtual assistant to handle.
Will they be responsible for just reaching out to leads? Or will they handle all responses? Will they simply be setting appointments or conduct in-depth lead qualification pre-first meetings?
By setting these clear guidelines, you can ensure that you're getting the most out of your virtual assistant and maximizing the value of your relationship.
When agreeing on deliverables and outcomes, establish realistic timelines and results for your marketing campaigns and outline your preferred communication methods with your virtual assistant. By doing so, you can minimize the risk of miscommunication and ensure that your virtual assistant delivers the expected results.
Provide comprehensive training and support
Providing your virtual assistant with comprehensive training and guidance is critical to their success and yours. As a real estate professional, you likely have established processes and tools that are unique to your business. It's important to take the time to train your virtual assistant on these processes and tools to ensure they are set up for success.
According to Flansbaum, when seeking a virtual assistant, it's crucial to consider how you will provide training.
He encourages you to ask yourself, "are you capable of training them yourself, or do you have someone else who can do it for you?"
He mentions that if you're not able to do it yourself, "you could hire from the providers mentioned earlier or opt for a company based in a country like India, the Philippines, or Costa Rica, who can manage and train the assistants for you," finding the most suitable ones for your needs.
One effective training technique is to conduct mock calls and objection-handling training sessions. Hearing objections firsthand can help your virtual assistant become more comfortable and confident in their role and prepare them to handle challenging situations that may arise when working with clients.
Additionally, ensure your virtual assistant has access to all the resources and information they need to succeed. Knowing where to find everything they need can include access to your CRM software, marketing materials, and any other relevant tools or documents.
Encouraging questions, feedback, and collaboration can foster a positive working relationship with your virtual assistant. You can build a strong and productive partnership that benefits you and your business by providing them with the support they need to succeed.
Establish clear communication and protocols
Every great relationship comes down to communication, and it's no different for your relationship with your VAs.
It's important to establish clear communication protocols and expectations upfront. This can include setting regular check-ins, clarifying preferred methods of communication, and establishing clear deadlines and response time expectations.
It is also helpful to use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype to enhance face-to-face interaction and build trust between team members.
When working with a virtual assistant, it's important to ensure that they understand your communication preferences and can convey information effectively. Providing clear instructions, asking for clarification when needed, and providing feedback will ensure that the virtual assistant understands your expectations.
Use project management tools and software
Project management tools and software can help you stay organized and on track when working with a virtual assistant for real estate marketing.
Using project management tools, you can easily assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress, ensuring that everything moves forward as planned. This can be especially important when working remotely, as it can be easy to lose track of tasks and deadlines without a clear system in place.
Popular project management tools include:
Review and assess performance regularly
Regularly reviewing your virtual assistant's performance is crucial for optimizing your real estate marketing. One of the first steps is to set clear goals and objectives to evaluate their progress. This can include metrics such as increasing website traffic or generating more leads.
Tracking and analyzing data related to your marketing strategy is another critical aspect of assessing your virtual assistant's performance. By monitoring metrics such as website traffic, lead conversion rates, and social media engagement, you can identify trends and patterns that can inform your marketing strategy and help you optimize your efforts.
Offering incentives or bonuses for exceptional performance is an excellent way to motivate your virtual assistant and encourage them to strive for excellence.
If you're looking to take it a step further, Flansbaum suggests that when closing a deal, it's fair to "give the person who helped you close the deal 1% of the total deal value."
He believes this is fair compensation for the person's help and can range from $200 for a smaller deal to thousands for a larger one. By sharing what you have with others wholeheartedly, even if it's just a small percentage, you can get more back and help motivate your virtual assistant to keep delivering results.
How virtual assistants can leverage the power of PropertyRadar
Have your virtual assistant build lists in PropertyRadar
A virtual assistant can be an excellent resource for generating lead lists in PropertyRadar. With over 250+ criteria, a virtual assistant can find exactly the types of leads you're looking for, allowing you to hyperfocus your lead generation efforts.
When setting criteria, you must communicate which factors you're considering, such as location, property type, ownership status, etc., with your virtual assistant. For example, you may want your VA to build lists targeting properties with 5+ bedrooms in your county that are owned outright.
Have your virtual assistant run phone marketing campaigns in PropertyRadar
Another major way you can benefit from utilizing virtual assistants is to execute effective phone marketing campaigns from within PropertyRadar.
PropertyRadar recently announced its partnership with WAVV, allowing you to run phone, text message, and ringless voicemail campaigns directly from PropertyRadar.
When running a phone marketing campaign from within PropertyRadar, VAs can contact leads from your pre-built lists directly via phone call or text and conduct preliminary conversations to qualify them.
The virtual assistant can also record all notes, including when they schedule appointments, find a lead who isn't interested, or any other outcome from their conversations.
Furthermore, virtual assistants can conduct follow-up texts with potential leads to provide them with more information and address any questions or concerns they may have.
By delegating these tasks to a virtual assistant, you can free up your time to focus on other important aspects of their business while maintaining an effective marketing campaign.
Have your virtual assistant stay on top of alerts and automations
Staying on top of alerts and automations in PropertyRadar is crucial for a virtual assistant to ensure that no new opportunity goes unnoticed.
Alerts can help you, and your VA stay informed about new properties that come onto your lists, giving you all the information you need to reach out - fast.
By staying up-to-date with alerts and automations, virtual assistants can help real estate professionals respond quickly to new opportunities.
Staying on top of new opportunities can help you stay ahead of the competition, maintain a competitive edge, and increase your chances of having successful conversations with property owners that fit your criteria.
Training your virtual assistant on how to use these tools effectively, including how to customize alerts, is essential to ensure that they optimize your hyperlocal lead generation strategy.
When used correctly, virtual assistants can be a game-changer for real estate professionals looking to boost their lead generation efforts and streamline their operations.
By understanding the differences between outsourced vs. AI assistants and what to look for in a real estate virtual assistant, you can make informed decisions about choosing the right provider.
While challenges are undoubtedly associated with using virtual assistants in real estate, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. By following best practices for working with a real estate virtual assistant and leveraging the power of tools like PropertyRadar, you can maximize the potential of your VAs and take your real estate business to new heights.
So, if you haven't already, consider partnering with a real estate virtual assistant and start experiencing the benefits today!