Recently, I’ve undertaken a huge task. I’ve been updating all of my training materials and my online sales counselor training program. From the way it flows, to the way it’s presented – it’s undergone a complete refresh. But most importantly the content is the most up to date and progressive online sales training program I can possibly put out there in the world.
The first online sales counselor program I ever created was 14 years ago when I started working as an OSC for the first time for a large local new home builder. This was way back before social media existed, before digital marketing was a huge thing, and our websites were just a billboard on the internet. Back then CRM’s were optional…seriously stop laughing…and mine was put together with bubble gum and duct tape. That program served me well and I achieved 32% of overall sales at a time when we said 20-25% was the industry norm.
My next online sales program was created 11 years ago when I started working as a subcontractor to builders as an independent lead manager. This was when Blue Gypsy Inc. was born and I was swimming in a brand new ocean of remote OSC work. I did this for 4 year until the opportunity arose to start training OSCs in the industry. So 7 years ago I wrote down my process, my procedures, and my passion for this role and put rolled it all up into a quick start, a manual, and a workbook. I wrote training schedules, and created tracking sheets, I did analysis and looked at analytics. And for each builder I customize, tweak and change some aspects of my program to fit their business, verses trying to shoe horn them into a one size fits all program. And each year there was a little bit of an update here and there to the main materials.
But not enough.
Soon I realized that what I taught live, far outweighed the written words in a manual. It all needed a change. Change is hard, especially when you are in the middle of hitting nearly max capacity with your clients. But because I am attracting more and more builders around the country who see the value in my customized training, I owed it to them to give them something more. Something that isn’t just rote repetition and unbend-able platitudes.
While the pillars of an online sales program remain mostly the same, new attitudes, new technology, and new responsibilities dictate that this role evolve and change. But mostly it’s the attitudes and the understanding among leadership that needs to change when it comes to the Online Sales Program, and OSCs.
Yes over the years new innovative names have been developed to try to capture the actual role of this unique lead nurturer within the company. Online Sales has never quite been the right logic, but it’s an industry standard that most people are now starting to recognize after almost 20 years. But really this role has always been lead development. It’s about being the crossroads between marketing and sales.
OSCs are not members of the marketing department. Nor are they sales support as we used to believe. They certainly aren’t receptionists, no, they are their own autonomous department. While in the past, for most builders they’ve been a team of one person, this is no longer possible.
OSCs Aren’t Your Sales B*tch
We really need to dispel the myth that OSCs are agents’ assistants. They are not there to just recite a script get the lead’s information and pass them off to the agent. Agents need to understand that an OSC should know everything they know, and be able to cultivate that lead, build rapport and build a relationship that can take hours, days, weeks, or years. What they do is getting the lead to another stage in the buyers journey, and site agents should revel in the fact that they are getting warm leads. Not cold tire kickers walking in off the street. Most OSCs probably need their own assistants.
You Probably Need More Than One OSC
This idea that an OSC is on 24/7 is one of the many things that has changed over the years. No longer can an OSC work long days, late nights, and weekends. It used to be that I could be strolling through the hardware store on a Saturday – my phone would ring, I’d cultivate the lead, set the appointment, call the agent with all the details and continue on my day. Maybe 5-10 interruptions punctuated my otherwise quiet weekend. But that is no longer the case for OSCs. They need relief. They need a break, and it’s no longer a solo job within the company unless the builder is generating less than 80 leads per month. Then perhaps an old school approach is still possible.
OSC’s Are Tech Savvy
Online sales counselors are the leading edge of technology within the building company. They are the ones that are expert users of the CRM, interactive floor plans, texting platforms, video emailing, calling systems, chat bots, and live chat. They need to be easily adaptable to digital change, and in most cases act as trainers training in new sales members to these tools. It’s important for time to be built into their schedule where they can continue to explore new tools and look at the things that keep the whole company moving forward when it comes to the customer journey.
OSCs Need to Be Mobile With Flexible Hours
It’s time for OSCs to be given the freedom they need. Their jobs have never been well served at desks from 9-5, 5 days a week. This position should be seen as one where once they get their feet on the ground and learn all the things they need to be successful, they are given the freedom to work from different locations. From home office, to work office, to visiting sites and spending time there – an OSC who can prove their numbers and meet and exceed their goals doesn’t need to be chained to an office desk.
I remember trying to tell this to my first builder, but the idea of me not being in my cubicle at 8:30am and there until 6pm angered other office workers. It’s a shame that others within the office who didn’t understand what I did, dictated my schedule. Even in the early years of training this position, I had a hard time convincing builders that this position is a hybrid and not an office position.
Pay Your OSCs and Treat Them Like Gold
Online sales counselors need to be paid what they deserve. Within the new home building environment onsite sales agents tend to make twice as much or more than an online sales counselor. For far too long this has been seen as some sort of low level admin position for many builders across the country. They try to keep their overhead on OSCs as low as possible. Reluctant to give high bonuses or high salaries. Here’s some news. OSCs should have an earning potential in the 6 figures. Just like your sales agents. If they work hard and convert leads, then they should be rewarded. And now. Now that they are managing interest lists, coming soon lists, VIP lists, and waiting lists… there needs to be some sort of compensation for that. These are things that are adding to the volume of work they do every day, and if you aren’t going to bonus them and reward them properly you are going to burn them out like a roman candle.
There is a constantly changing landscape to the online sales counselor program. It’s imperative to change our old thought processes and open up to new ideas. Change isn’t easy, but it’s an important part of growth.