When you try to think of two things that naturally go together for some reason peanut butter and jelly come to mind. Okay maybe it’s just my mind. Maybe it’s because there was a long streak in 5th grade where all my mom sent to school with me was peanut butter and jelly. Maybe it’s because to this day it’s one of my favorite comfort foods, or maybe it’s because they complement each other so well (especially if you slap them on puffy white Wonder Bread.)
As a new home builder, you probably spend lots of marketing dollars trying to engage buyers and generate leads. We create great websites, strong content, calls to action, even pay money for SEO and to generate third party leads from places like Zillow and Realtor.com just to name a few. But if you don’t have the right person to manage those leads, qualify them, and create great relationships then that’s a lot of wasted money and time.
A good chunk of our marketing dollars should be spent online because that’s where our buyers begin their shopping experience. This is true whether they are buying frying pans or new homes. So if we are going to drive traffic to our websites the way signage used to drive traffic to our model homes, why wouldn’t we have a qualified concierge available to answer questions, find out their wants needs and desires and be there when buyer are ready for more?
This is naturally where online sales counselors come in. People will shop your website and if it’s good they will spend lots of time engaging with your website, your interactive floor plans, your virtual tours, your videos, and images. They will do this with other websites as well while they shop around. They may not ever ask a question until they are ready to move closer to the idea of making a purchase.
It is here where we can begin to build rapport and create trust. A buyer may not yet be ready to visit a community, but they may have questions. So, if they reach out and no one responds, guess what? They may very easily move on to your competitor who will answer the phone, the email, the live chat, or the digital inquiry.
If you’ve been directing all your digital leads to your onsite agents, they may not respond in a timely manner. When your buyer reaches out, they want a fast response. They’ve probably been shopping your website for weeks if not months. If their inquiry goes unanswered or takes time for a reply they will shop elsewhere. They will shop with the first person who really gives them the attention they need and deserve as they shop for one of the largest purchases of their lives.
A well trained online sales counselor is the person who will field all these leads, create those relationships and understand where and how to help people by identifying the right community, home, and area to fit their needs. This is not an entry level position, or a way for site sales agents to get their foot in the door. This is a very important role that is not for the faint of heart. Through industry metrics it’s proven that when done right the online sales department will be the starting point for 30-50% or more of your overall sales in the home building industry. That means ONE or maybe THREE or FIVE people if you are a small local to mid-size builder (Building 50-1500 homes or more a year) will be engaging more than half your buyers. Don’t you want them to be experts in the industry? They are not the same as sales people.
It’s important that there is an open line of communication between the OSCs and the Marketing department. They need to work together to provide the best customer experience possible. Marketing and online sales have the unique ability to work together to share metrics, strategy, and give insights. An OSC can share information with Marketing about what buyers are asking for so that they can provide those assets, that copy. The more feedback marketing can get from OSCs and the more they listen the less friction your buyers have in the new home buying process. This is a win-win all the way around. Marketing needs to let OSC’s know the strategy, the marketing campaigns that are coming down the pike, the new communities that are coming on line, and strategically plan how and when to gather interest lists and how to nurture them.
This is one of the many reasons I’m excited that this year’s Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit, held in downtown Denver, will also have an OSC Education Track. We understand that marketing and OSCs go together like peanut butter and jelly, and it’s important for marketers to understand what OSCs can do to develop the leads they so painstakingly generate!
For more information on the Home Builder Digital Marketing Summit hosted by Blue Tangerine and Outhouse Featuring an OSC Education Track presented by yours truly – Blue Gypsy Inc. Please check out the website. Mark your calendars for October 18 – 19th and come out to Denver for a not to be missed event. SOOOO many great speakers, ideas, and networking opportunities. Don’t miss out!