April 01, 2022
Why Home Builders Need Online Sales Consultants In All Market Conditions
When the housing market is down, does it make sense for home builders to reduce their online sales department? Our answer is a resounding no! Whether the market is hot or otherwise, home builders should always prioritize their online customer experience – and there’s no better role to help manage that than an Online Sales Consultant (OSC).
Even when the market is hot or home builders have low inventory, etc., the need for an OSC and the benefits that accompany having one in place never disappear. With an OSC in place, home builders can consistently manage all of their leads and inquiries professionally and pleasantly.
An OSC provides a valuable first line of contact for new leads that help set high expectations for their customer experience. There are several incredible advantages gained by having an OSC that impact growth, sales, referrals and reputation. Rather than asking if you really need an OSC, home builders should be asking themselves why shouldn’t they make this critical investment?
Throughout this blog, we’ll discuss common incorrect assumptions about OSCs and the benefits of including this role on your team no matter the state of the market. We’ll also share insights and expertise from Leah Kaiz Fellows, a national online sales trainer for the new home sales industry with Blue Gypsy Inc.
Hiring an OSC
An online sales counselor will always create a positive return on investment for a new home builder. Not only is an OSC necessary for maintaining an effective sales process, but it also delivers unmatched advantages. The position truly pays for itself with a high ROI by helping home builders garner strong sales.
When the market slows down once again, home builders without OSCs will likely face significant sales challenges when facilitating the sales process for potential homebuyers. Having a set OSC in place at all times, however, sets your business up for success no matter what is going on within the housing market.
Leah says, “After working in online sales for 16 years, there is never going to be a market where it makes sense to reduce your online sales department, or not have one at all. Customers dictate that need by doing almost 100% of their new home shopping online.”
Let’s debunk common excuses that we’ve seen from builders about why they don’t believe they need an OSC on their sales team and delve into why they’re wrong.
The Market is Hot
In the past two years, we’ve experienced a hot market saturated with incredibly high demand and critically low inventory. Persistent supply chain issues led to increased material costs and severe construction delays. For many home builders, sales were moving faster than they were able to deliver new homes.
As a result of these circumstances, home builders turned buyers away or neglected their customer experience simply because they had no immediate homes to offer. Many expressed that their sales team already had enough on their plate. Homes were practically selling themselves, so some home builders mistakenly believed there was no need to hire an OSC to help facilitate those sales and communicate with leads. But that’s where they were wrong.
“We’ve seen the market ebb and flow within the last 16 years, and well-trained OSCs will deal with the downturns and the speed no matter the circumstances. They know how to do long-term lead nurturing to set customer expectations, and they know how to quickly and strongly qualify leads to get only the readiest, willing and able buyers into the sales teams’ hands. These skill sets are invaluable in the everchanging market of new home sales.”
Even in a hot market, OSCs are vital for their ability to quickly qualify leads and nurture potential buyers for future new home sales. Why should home builders disregard this crucial opportunity to improve both their sales and customer relationships?
When inventory is low, many home builders go on auto-pilot. Why maintain an active sales or marketing plan if there’s nothing tangible to promote right now? Why should they focus on bringing in more leads if there is nothing to offer those potential buyers right now?
The key phrase within these questions is right now. The housing market won’t always be hot, and inventory won’t always be low – so why should home builders act as if it will be?
“When there’s nothing to sell because we are on waitlists, lottery systems, and throttled sales an online sales counselor’s role doesn’t go away, it pivots. We can’t stop caring for our clients just because we have nothing to sell. This is when the empathy an OSC naturally has comes through, this is where they shine at setting buyers’ expectations and working with them to think about the builder for the future, even if it’s not possible to convert them in the moment.”
Even when there are no more homes to be sold, the value of potential leads does not dissipate. Ignoring those buyers’ calls for attention and communication is only a missed opportunity to make future sales. By establishing relationships with these leads, OSCs ensure that buyers feel heard and continue to consider the builder for their new home, even if that means they have to wait.
Can't Anyone Set Appointments?
In a hot market, many home builders think anyone can set an appointment so why do we need an OSC? However, what builders are failing to consider are the invaluable functions an OSC provides beyond this singular purpose. OSCs are much more than appointment-setters, they’re go-getters that are prepared to elevate your customer experience regardless of the current sales opportunities.
“We must think not just about the appointment, but the customer experience. The online sales role should always be thought out beyond appointments. In this market, anyone can set an appointment. You can’t boil the role down to appointment setting, it’s so much more. Your future clients will love you or hate you depending on how you communicate with them when you don’t need them as a lead right now.”
Builders must see beyond the scope of the current market and consider how the way they communicate with buyers now will affect their position in the future. Even if appointments don’t need to be made and interest lists are easily filled, this doesn’t mean OSCs aren’t still valuable team players to have. Their capabilities and benefits extend much further than this role if home builders know how to leverage them.
Key Benefits of OSCs
Aside from the reasons home builders assume they don’t need an OSC, there are several reasons OSCs can become an effective asset to your sales team.
OSCs are prepared to actively engage your target audience and provide a seamless customer experience. Successful OSCs possess high-performing traits that allow them to create a customer-first foundation. Through phones calls, texts or emails, they deliver personalized messages that acknowledge inquiries and address buyer interests.
Rather than simply supplying information about available homes and allowing buyers to make the next move, OSCs guide buyers and help them navigate your offerings with a clear focus on learning about their needs and expectations. This ensures that their path to buying a home is smooth and the process is as streamlined as possible. OSCs are responsible for sustaining satisfactory lead relationships, while also producing fantastic results and generating outstanding business growth.
“Leadership in building companies need to make sure that they aren’t making decisions based on short-term circumstances that will have long-term effects on their business. Hiring and training the top candidates to grow your online sales team and rewarding them for a job well done will pay off beyond measure as more and more leads are driven by marketing through digital acquisition.”
If buyers feel neglected by your team during a hot market, they’ll continue to remember that when the market goes back down and ultimately choose to buy from another builder. The way you treat potential customers is always important, no matter what the state of the market may be. Ignore them and you lose a future sale but treat them well and you’ll earn greater respect and potentially their business. Conducting business one of these ways can severely degrade your reputation, while the other can significantly build it up and lead to positive word-of-mouth referrals.
The best way to ensure all potential leads receive great impressions and wonderful treatment is by hiring an OSC that is dedicated to providing each with positive, informative interactions that set high standards for your business.
“The online sales role pays for itself. We need to always take the no leads left behind mentality even if it means staging them into future communities they didn’t even think of or making sure to let prospective buyers down gently when there is nothing to sell. Treating people well goes a long way beyond appointment setting and sales, it sets builders up for the future and helps them manage their reputation and online presence.”
It’s crucial not to limit your focus to the present. Would you rather be known as the builder that only prioritizes customer relationships for monetary gain or the builder that always puts their customers first?
Successful home builders think two steps ahead about how the decisions and relationships they’re cultivating today will affect the future of their company.
By creating a positive homebuying journey for your customers, OSCs can quickly and easily improve your overall sales success. The best part is that the results they generate are measurable to determine the success of their efforts.
“The wonderful thing about online sales is that when put together correctly we can really track our ROI better than ever and better than we could with any walk-in traffic to a model. If you can see the direct impact a department has on your sales and revenue generation, why wouldn’t you implement it, and do it right?”
Now is Always the Right Time to Improve Your Home Builder Sales Strategy
Despite common misconceptions, online sales consultants are an essential component of your online sales strategy. No matter the state of the housing market, OSCs play an important role in consistently providing excellent brand experiences for your prospective customers.
At Milesbrand, we’re dedicated to delivering exceptional marketing strategies, creative design and branding campaigns to expand your home builder brand. Contact our team today to learn more about how we can support your online sales and lead nurturing strategies to elevate your customer experience.