Little known fact, I started out in the new home sales world onsite in 2006. One of the first things my company did was put me through a sales training program and in 18 years I’ve seen a variety of sales models used for new home sales, most of which follow the critical path. I’ve seen this path anywhere from 5, 7, or even 10 steps as below.
- Meet & Greet
- Presentation & Overview
- Overcoming Objections
- Follow Up
- Follow Through
I was taught this sales path long before I was ever in the OSC world. And then as I began taking leads as an OSC, I saw that many of these steps actually happen before a buyer ever walks through the door of a model home. That’s increasingly true nearly 2 decades later when people do not want to spend their time onsite being “taught” about a new home. They want to do their research and know as much as possible before every walking through a model door. As much as we think it’s a path, it’s truly a series of on-ramps and clover leafs that homebuyers take as the maneuver through our website and offering to try to educate themselves to the point where they want to finally reach out.
Old Style New Home Sales Techniques:
- Face-to-Face Focus: Traditionally, the emphasis was on in-person interactions, with a strong reliance on model visits, open houses, and face-to-face meetings.
- Gated Content: In the early years of my journey in online sales builders gated their content and thought that people needed to give them personal information to view floor plans online.
- Price Withholding: Through the ages home builders have been reluctant to include pricing online. For some reason they fear this will drive people away from their homes vs help people understand what they are buying.
- Print Advertising: Marketing efforts were heavily reliant on print media, including newspaper ads, billboards, and flyers.
- Standard Sales Pitches: Sales approaches were often generic, with a one-size-fits-all pitch used for all potential buyers.
- Reactive Communication: Communication with clients was more reactive, often waiting for potential buyers to initiate contact once an initial attempt was made. Even today many sales people still are very reactive in their communication and do adhere to a process.
- Limited Use of Technology: There was minimal use of technology in the sales process. Digital tools, if used, were basic and not integrated into the core sales strategy. There’s no excuse in this day and age not to use digital tools and CRMs for customer engagement.
- Local Market Focus: Sales strategies were generally localized, focusing on buyers within a specific geographic area.
Things Have Changed
New home shoppers want to be in control. They don’t want to wait for a visit to find out all their information. We need to get on board or we will be left behind as their choices are endless and they are going to go with the best user experience. The critical path doesn’t start when someone walks through the door of your model. It starts online. It starts with your website. It often starts on a smart phone. We have to give the right tools and information to homebuyers so they can properly investigate on their own terms. They will do this with or without our path. We need to give them different information highways to choose from.
Selling to the Digital Savvy Homebuyer:
- Digital Presence and Online Marketing: A robust online presence is essential. This includes a user-friendly website, active social media channels, and online advertising.
- Virtual Tours & Interactive Floor Plans: Offer virtual tours, 3-D tours, interactive floorplans, video and photography of both the homes you sell and the neighborhoods are no longer options but a standard for every buyer looking to capture homebuyers.
- Personalized Marketing: Utilize data analytics to tailor marketing efforts and communications to individual preferences and behaviors.
- Proactive and Immediate Communication: Leverage OSCs with strong CRM systems for prompt, proactive communication is key. Responsiveness must be fast. When a buyer finally reaches out to ask a question they may have been on your website for days, weeks or months researching your offerings. They expect quick replies to inquiries.
- Integration of Technology: Incorporate advanced technology like VR for virtual staging, mobile apps for viewing properties, and online contract management systems are all part of making sure your tech is interconnected.
- Wider Geographic Reach: With virtual positions on the rise and work from home becoming more and more common, this widens the potential market. Utilize your digital marketing efforts to reach buyers who are not limited by geographic constraints.
- Educational Content: Provide value through educational content like blogs, buying guides, and market analysis, which is particularly appealing to information-hungry digital buyers.
- Don’t Gate Your Content: It’s important to make sure that with a content rich site you are not gating the content in order to receive information. They will provide their information when they are ready. You can create areas to save content on your website or download virtual brochures, white papers, or checklists. Don’t gate important information like floor plans and pricing. This is counterproductive to the digital savvy buyer and they will go elsewhere.
- Social Proof and Online Reviews: Manage and highlight customer reviews and testimonials online to build trust and credibility.
- Interactive and Engaging Experiences: Create interactive experiences online, such as live Q&A sessions, webinars, or online community events.
While old-style sales techniques still have relevance, we have to better understand what a new home buyer wants, and where they want to find it. Give them options, make it easy to find the answers, and meet your buyers where they are. The digital savvy homebuyer requires a more nuanced approach that blends technology with personalization. This new approach emphasizes online engagement, timely and tailored communication, and the use of advanced digital tools to meet the needs of a more informed and tech-savvy clientele.