I’m Not Just an Online Sales Counselor Trainer, I’m an OSC Advocate

Look. This post COVID climate is crazy. First it was crazy when everything went online and builders FINALLY started to embrace the role of the OSC, and those that had them thanked their lucky stars that they were able to pivot quickly.  And now it’s crazy with the rising cost of materials, interest lists 100’s deep, and sales being limited because we can’t keep up with the backlog as we sell more homes than we can humanly build all at once… well this selling climate is unprecedented. Is that word getting overused? Probably. It’s a lot like the phrase: now more than ever. But anyway. If the shoe fits…

I digress.

I’m writing this late at night on a Friday after:

  • A full week of 8 one-on-one trainings with OSCs
  • Sitting in on marketing and strategy meetings with leadership at various companies
  • Presenting a marketing and sales presentation for one of my builders
  • Launching a new OSC program
  • Working on recruiting a new OSC for another client
  • Revamping a team implementation to suit some odd circumstances
  • Setting up a new program to launch on June 1
  • Attending no less than 4 NAHB council and committee meetings I either chair, co-chair, or…(Wow I should be committed.)
  • And there’s so much more!

(And I’m probably driving my assistant insane! Luckily she knows she’s loved and valued.)

But as I was about to lay down in bed at the end of a long week I got a bug up my butt and had to write this down before I forget.

  • I’m an OSC advocate
  • I will always advocate for the OSC
  • I will not let you under pay, or under value your Online Sales Counselor

Because not only does it not benefit them, it doesn’t benefit you as a builder. You are shooting yourself in the foot.

I’m kind of riled up.

They’ve been through the ringer this year. And as builders all over the country look at lowering what they pay outside brokers, they are also looking at cutting what their OSCs make, because their OSCs made so much money last year. But you know what? They worked their tails off to do that. And they did it because they are so dedicated to their job and their company. Your company, builders, I’m talking to you. Your company.

I teach my OSCs what I learned while working on wooden schooners. I was told once by a captain:

  • If you put the ship first
  • Your shipmates second
  • and your self third

You will always be taken care of because everyone else and the captain will think of you before they think of themselves.

So many OSCs – at least the ones I hire and train – put their company first. Their customers second. And themselves third. They are so focused on taking care of the customer and doing their job, they’ve worked far more hours than you can possibly imagine – when already they worked more than an 8-hour work day pre-pandemic. Well-trained OSCs are trying their damnedest not to let leads slip through the cracks, though some undoubtedly are. And believe me, they feel horrible about that. But there just isn’t enough time in the day. They’ve run themselves ragged over the past year and a half. And now some of them are facing cuts in their pay instead of bonuses to reward a job well done.

Some builders are grumbling that OSCs made money well into the 6 figures with all their bonuses. But no one has ever batted an eye about site sales agents making that much money and so much more. But for some reason because OSCs have been inside offices, or behind desks, in front of computers and – this one is my favorite – handed the leads… for some reason it’s not clear that the reason for a successful online sales program has to do with the dedication, discipline, motivation, and skills instilled into OSCs.

Builders are reluctant to pay a premium for appointments because right now there are few if any houses to sell as some builders throttle their sales, or limit them.   Yet someone has to manage the interest lists. Someone has to make sure people have transparency and proper expectations. Some builders even have OSCs managing deposit lists. So basically they can’t set appointments but they aren’t getting paid more for managing deposit lists, waiting lists, and so much more.

That’s crazy pants!

While this position is focused on building rapport and assisting the customer on their journey towards purchasing a home, don’t mistake them for customer service centers. You know what I mean. OSCs are developing leads – they are inside sales people. Customer service centers handle current customers with problems, issues, and concerns.

This is what I suggest builders: You are paying great money for all the lead generation your marketing is doing. Don’t stop. This is another place where budgets are getting slashed… look I’m going to give you another ship analogy. It takes a long time for a tanker to slow down in the water. But if you throttle back on your power and cut the engine, eventually it will come to a stop. You’ll be dead in the water. You need to continue to keep your leads flowing at a reasonable pace (We may need to have a post specifically on what reasonable paced leads are. But again it’s almost 1am now, and I don’t want to lose you.)

Make sure you are keeping your Online Sales folks well paid, and well trained because eventually, this ship is going to slow down. You need to make sure your OSCs are still motivated and incentivized and educated correctly in order to handle whatever sales climate is thrown at them.

And listen to the advocates. Because sometimes we think much further out ahead. You absolutely need to value the people who are valuable to your company. And those are the OSCs. The good ones have the heart of a volunteer, and the traits of a unicorn. Don’t let them slip through your fingers by under valuing them.

Okay. I’m not sure if I covered everything I wanted to in this post, but it’s time for sleep. Oh wait… an email just came in… (that’s an OSC joke, probably only OSCs will get that.)

Side note: None of my builders are contemplating cutting OSC pay, and that’s because I advocate for my OSCs. But I hear the whispers elsewhere.