Can Onsite Sales Agents or Realtors Be Effective OSCs?

We often call OSCs unicorns. The number of onsite sales agents or realtors that can shift from their role as community manager or resale agent to the role of an OSC are unicorns basking on a rainbow, balancing a leprechaun’s lucky gold piece on the tip of their horn.

The transition from an onsite sales agent or realtor to an Online Sales Counselor (OSC) involves more than just a shift in workplace or title; it necessitates a profound adaptation in approach and mindset. This shift is often underestimated by builders who assume that experience in traditional real estate roles directly translates to proficiency as an OSC. However, the skills and intuition required for an OSC are distinct and nuanced, making the perfect fit rare and valuable.

Most onsite sales agents and realtors may struggle to adapt to the role of an Online Sales Counselor due to significant differences in required skill sets, mindsets, and operational focuses.

Here are the key reasons why these differences can make the transition challenging:


Skill Sets and Communication:

  • Digital Communication: OSCs primarily interact with clients through digital means such as emails, online chats, and phone calls, which require a distinct set of communication skills. Real estate agents and onsite sales agents are accustomed to face-to-face interactions where non-verbal cues play a significant role. They may find it challenging to convey empathy, build rapport, and gauge client reactions without visual feedback.
  • Technical Proficiency: OSCs need to be adept with various digital tools and platforms to manage leads, follow up with clients, and maintain detailed records. Onsite agents, whose tasks are more directly interpersonal and less tech-centric, might not have the level of technical proficiency initially required for an OSC role.

Mindset and Pace:

  • Long-Term Nurturing: The OSC role involves a longer lead nurturing process, where success is measured over extended interactions and gradual relationship building. Onsite agents are often driven by the immediate goal of closing sales and moving to the next opportunity, which can be at odds with the patience required in an OSC’s lead management.
  • Strategic vs. Tactical: OSCs need to think strategically about lead management, considering the long-term potential of each prospect. In contrast, realtors and onsite agents are typically more focused on tactical execution, aiming to convert each interaction into a sale as efficiently as possible.

Hunter Mentality:

  • Immediate Results vs. Future Opportunities: Onsite sales agents and realtors often exhibit a ‘hunter mentality,’ seeking to secure a deal from every interaction. This approach can lead to a focus on immediate results rather than cultivating potential future sales, which is a critical aspect of the OSC role.
  • Adaptability to Sales Cycle Length: The sales cycle in an OSC role can be significantly longer and more complex compared to traditional real estate sales. Agents used to quick turnovers might find it frustrating to adapt to a process where conversions do not materialize as swiftly.

These differences underscore why not all onsite sales agents and realtors are automatically suited to transition into OSC roles. Success as an OSC requires not only different skills but also a fundamental shift in approach and expectations. Training and a willingness to adapt are essential for those transitioning from onsite sales or real estate to an OSC position, highlighting the need for tailored development programs to bridge these gaps effectively.

55/38/7 Formula

Unlike onsite agents whose interactions are significantly guided by non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions, OSCs rely entirely on digital communication forms—phone calls, emails, texting, and instant messaging. This mode of communication demands a high level of empathy and the ability to read nuances in tone and language to understand a client’s needs and emotions effectively. An OSC must excel in creating a rapport without the benefit of face-to-face interactions, which can make discerning subtle shifts in a client’s mood or intentions more challenging.

It’s been said that 90% of communication is nonverbal. This traces back to Albert Mehrabian, a body language researcher. He delineated a breakdown of face-to-face conversation, attributing 55% to nonverbal cues, 38% to vocal elements, and a mere 7% to words alone.

Yet, does this mean spoken words convey less than 10% of information? Not exactly. Verbal communication remains significant, but in face-to-face interactions, body language and facial expressions profoundly shape interpretation.  Onsite sales agents are much better at assessing meaning when they have all forms of communication because they have been programed with a speed to close. Online sale counselors are able to dig deeper into that 45% that does not come across in non-verbal cues.

In “The Definitive Book of Body Language,” Allan and Barbara Pease delved into recorded sales negotiations, discovering that body language wielded considerable influence, particularly during face-to-face encounters. They observed that while the strength of arguments often prevails in phone negotiations, it doesn’t consistently hold true in personal interactions.  This is why OSCs are more consultative and get part of the picture for the onsite sales agents so that they can move quicker and with more information to make sales more smoothly from the discovery process learned over the phone.

OSCs are Dream Weavers Not Salespeople

OSCs play a crucial role as dream weavers and problem solvers. They need to envision what buyers are dreaming of and align these visions with what is actually feasible for the builder to construct. This often means maintaining a delicate balance between managing expectations and keeping potential buyers engaged and optimistic about future possibilities. An OSC’s job is akin to that of a matchmaker, requiring patience and creativity to align the dreams of buyers with the realities of construction and market availability.

This specialized role also demands a strong strategic sense to manage ongoing relationships over time, recognizing that a sale might not materialize immediately but could develop with nurturing and careful follow-up. Persistence and a deep understanding of the builder’s capabilities and upcoming projects are critical, enabling the OSC to effectively match future inventory with current prospective buyers.

In essence, an OSC must possess a unique blend of skills: digital communication expertise, empathetic customer engagement, strategic long-term planning, and a visionary approach to setting strong appointments for the onsite sales agents so they can carry it through to close. Can a realtor or a site agent do this role and do it well? I’ve personally seen one or two that can balance that coin on their magical horn, but it’s a true exception to the rule.