While buyers have been clamoring to buy new homes at any cost over the past two years, sales teams got a little rusty and lost much-needed skillsets. Follow-up got tossed to the wayside in a frenzy to write contracts. Of course, mastering the art of follow-up is paramount to the success of any online sales counselor (OSC) or sales professional in this business, and now as the market is cooling a bit, it needs some focus. Sales & Marketing Power Hour recently gave tips for how to Follow-up Like a Boss while reviewing the third Online Homebuyer Mystery Shop conducted by Melinda Brody & Company, Blue Gypsy and Denim Marketing.
Carol Morgan with Denim Marketing and Kimberly Mackey with New Homes Solutions Consulting were joined by Leah Turner with Melinda Brody & Company and Leah Fellows of Blue Gypsy to discuss the benchmark report and review how builders across the country are doing with follow-up since the market shift.
The mystery shop surveyed 50 home builders and their follow-up methods. Home builders were shopped for 30 days focusing on three key things: speed, frequency and diversity. Once a potential homebuyer submitted a contact form, how quickly did the home builder respond via email or phone, and how often are they following up? Based on the results, it is clear that, as an industry, we need to eliminate the one-and-done mentality. Prospective buyers need multiple touchpoints, and buyers enjoy a variety of communication methods, including video email, text messaging, email and phone calls. And the phone is not dead as a communication method!
Online Sales Counselors
In the group of builders surveyed, the percentage of dedicated online sales counselors (OSC) increased from 58% in 2020 to 80% in 2022. Comparing the builders with OSCs to the non-OSC groups, there are significant discrepancies. We know that, for the most part, builders without OSCs are not following up as well as builders with them.
Some of the BIG, Shocking Numbers
- 22% of builders are not following up by email in 2022
- Only 64% followed up via phone.
Leah Fellows says, “Get over the fear of the phone. This is a golden opportunity to turn a lead into an appointment and a sale.”
The use of autoresponder emails is way down. After the initial contact, the autoresponder should go out as a placeholder to let the buyer know that you received their information and will be back in touch. The reality is that home builders have five minutes to follow up on that initial inquiry. Unfortunately, many take 12 to 24 hours to follow up with a person.
Setting expectations is important. You create cohesiveness by following up via email, phone or text and telling the prospect what to expect next.
Consistency and Coordination
Salespeople and OSCs need to be on the same page to avoid duplicating efforts. Having a consistent message is essential. The OSC is a secret sales weapon. This position can help the sales agent with many things in the homebuyers’ journey, from making appointments to keeping them engaged during the process.
How quickly should one respond to a web inquiry? Five minutes or less is preferred. If your leads come in and go to a sales manager to sort them out to the right person, you are too slow.
Your onsite agents focus on who is in front of them, selling to the in-person client. All of your bases are covered with OSC, marketing and onsite. Work together to create a comprehensive program.
What are some hands-on to-dos?
In these turbulent times, today’s buyers seek reassurance that they are doing the right thing by buying a home. Find ways to keep them engaged. Create a BombBomb video with a sign with the person’s name, and share news of promotions, buydowns and incentives with them. Host a revival campaign to re-engage with older (dead) leads. This can be as simple as asking them if they are still in the market. Or ask them to confirm their information to help you update the database.
More than anything, be curious when your prospects come in and ask questions. The 2022 Mystery Shop is downloadable from the Blue Gypsy website.