This is the second portion of a two-part series that covers the integration of sales and internal operations to maximize success. Click here for Part I.
It may sound contradictory to the name of the industry, but builders aren’t in the home-building business; they’re in the customer business. And how builders initiate and manage these customer relationships are the keys to a successful business.
Attendees at The Customer Experience Funnel: Best Practices for Profitability
master session during the 2019 International Builders' Show learned the ins and outs of this process from speakers Will Duderstadt
of M/I Homes, Inc.; Chris Hartley
of Dunhill Homes & Nathan Carlisle Homes; and Kimberly Mackey
of New Homes Solutions Consulting.
Marketing helps to generate leads
, but builders also need to give these leads somewhere to go: a website. As the first interaction many prospective buyers have with a company, today's home building websites should be viewed as investments, and include features to make it simple and convenient for leads to take the next step.
"How many people here have a model home worth at least $500,000?" Hartley posited to the audience. "You didn’t think anything of it, did you? But you’re not going to spend $50,000 on your website?"
Components such as virtual tours are a great start
from a visual standpoint. Chatbots also are an up-and-coming feature with which Hartley has had notable success. They can engage with customers immediately — a critical component in today’s ever-connected world — and interact with existing systems to determine appropriate follow-up by the sales team. Examples include texting customers within five minutes of leaving a sales center to rank their experience and following up 45 days later to re-engage.
These chatbots should be complemented by a human online sales counselor to set up appointments and work with the onsite sales team to prepare for a great customer experience. Email reminders leading up to appointment and video introductions so customers understand exactly whom they will be meeting are a few tools that Hartley's team employs.
A strong sales team is essential to ensuring a quality customer experience. Builders should survey customers, prospects and local real-estate agents, as well as mystery shop their own company and their competitors, to make sure their team members are representing the company well.
Managing the Sales Process
To manage a good sales team requires a strong, well-communicated set of expectations. Start by planning ahead to give sales teams the tools they need to get results:
- Outline positions with job descriptions
- Set expectations and goals
- Provide policies and procedures for consistency
- Hold people accountable
These steps are important not just for the sales team, Mackey noted, but the entire organization. Tracking documents — from monthly sales goals to construction timelines — go a long way toward helping teams see their progress and where there is room for improvement.
Examples of sales team expectations include the following:
- Team members should generate 50% of their own leads through real-estate agents, referrals and community involvement.
- Work hours are not just limited to operating a model home. It should also include relationship building when they’re not on the floor.
- Work attire should reflect the company’s policies and procedures (e.g., no flip flops or shorts).
- Regular meetings provide opportunities to discuss their numbers from the previous week and what they need to make things happen.
Expect some pushback initially, but push teams through the initial challenges to help establish good habits.
"People want to be part of a winning team," Mackey noted. "When they start seeing success, it becomes motivational."
This motivation, in turn, will reap stronger results. By nurturing leads throughout the process, and providing a quality, consistent experience for prospects at each step, builders can help increase their sales and grow their business.
Visit NAHB’s 2019 IBS Education On-Demand Library to purchase a video
download of the entire session. Additional handouts from the presentation, including sample position descriptions and tracking worksheets, are also available online