As an online sales trainer I’ve shopped builders’ websites who indicate that they have an Online Sales Counselor (OSC) and I’m often surprised at the results. I provide information on what I’m interested in, an email and a phone number hoping to take a look at their follow up. You know what I get instead? Crickets.

In the majority of these shops I do not get a call in 5 minutes or less, and I don’t get a personalized email addressing my question in my inquiry. Sometimes an email will roll in an hour later, 4 hours later, or even a day later. And believe it or not, sometimes they never arrive in my inbox.

As far as the phone goes, it doesn’t ring right away, and if I’m lucky I might get one call in a 30-day period. Often, I don’t get calls at all.  Video emails? Text messages? Same thing. I got nothin’.  I’m surprised because these are builders that actually have pictures of OSC’s on their website. They have chat boxes and calls to action for me to fill out a form on their website.  I don’t utilize their chat features. I want to see how they respond to a good old-fashioned lead.

These are my theories on why these programs aren’t working:

  1. There is no Accountability – I can only imagine that the OSC’s who do not respond, and do not make an effort must not have anyone tracking their progress or keeping tabs on their productivity.
  2. There is too much reliance on chat – Chat is the low hanging fruit. These are people who utilize the program for immediate response and they either just want a single question answered or they may be ready for a visit. But if the OSC isn’t following up with leads coming in through the website, it’s not likely that once a chat ends, and they don’t set an appointment that they are making an effort for further follow up.
  3. There was a disconnect in setting up the OSC program to begin with – What do I mean by this? My guess is expectations, benchmarks and goals were never set. Training may have consisted of some YouTube videos, blogs, and articles on online sales, but there was no trainer brought in to provide the framework and structure for the program.
  4. The wrong person was hired for the job – This is a big issue in the online sales arena. With the word Sales in the title, sometimes we look too much for someone with a sales background and less of someone with a customer service background. You truly need an OSC that has different qualities than a salesperson.
  5. The position has been offloaded onto someone as another hat to wear – Worse than hiring the wrong person, the role of online sales has been piled on the shoulders of someone who has multiple responsibilities. This is a recipe for failure.

With the fast-paced instant gratification world we live in, the role of an online sales counselor is becoming more and more important for the new home building industry. While the role has been around since the early 2000’s many builders are still not implementing and training that person properly for maximum return on investment.  It’s time to make sure your online sales program is functioning at optimum levels.