Earlier this month, at NAHB’s 2017 Nationals Awards Gala in Orlando, Shari Morton with Dorn Homes received the Gold Award for Online Sales Counselor of the Year. In 2016, her team contributed nearly 47 percent to Dorn Homes’ annual sales, totaling over $35 million in revenue. Shari uses Lasso CRM to manage approximately 2,500 prospects at any given time. Using follow-up processes, in 2016 she converted 21 percent of leads to appointment, and of those appointments, nearly 34 percent went to contract. That’s about 10 percent higher than the industry standard!
Lasso’s Thais Cuffy sat down with Shari to learn a little more about her, and how she manages such an impressive workload.
How long have you worked in new home sales?
I have been with Dorn Homes for a little over three years, and the Online Home Advisor for two years.
What was your career path to becoming an Online Home Advisor?
I was initially working as the sales and marketing coordinator for Dorn Homes, but was encouraged by my supervisor to pursue my real estate license. He saw that I had a talent for relationship building, especially with difficult customers. It was a stroke of luck that at the same time, our marketing director wanted to launch the Online Sales Counselor position. She thought I would be great for the role, and we have been hard at work building this program ever since.
How many online leads do you manage monthly?
I manage anywhere from 150-200 new leads a month.
How have you seen online home sales change in the last few years?
I have seen a dramatic change from just two years ago. When I first started, I looked everywhere for books, online resources, and surrounding builders to get ideas on how to build our sales process. There wasn’t much to go on. I was only able to locate a handful of fellow online sales consultants to bounce ideas off of. Now, our numbers are growing. We have more and more resources to help us improve our process.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? What do you do to overcome that challenge?
I have a unique challenge with distance. Not only are most of our prospects from out-of-state (primarily retirees hoping to relocate to Prescott) but I, myself, do not reside in Arizona. A little over a year ago, my husband landed his dream job in Kansas. I was able to keep my position remotely working from Kansas. As you can imagine, the daily challenges of staying in the loop, connected with our onsite sales agents and the rest of the office, is quite a challenge. It’s easy to become disconnected and feel isolated.
Our marketing team overcame this by having regular Skype meetings once a week. I stay in the loop and connected to our sales team by calling them frequently. Even if I have no appointments or sales to follow up on, I make sure to call each sales manager at least once a week to see how traffic is going and ask them if I can assist them in anyway. This effectively keeps me connected to them and reminds them that I am here to make their lives easier. Finally, to stay up-to-date on our policies and products, I make an effort to visit our corporate office and all of our model homes once every 2-3 months.
What is the most useful technology tool to your job?
iCloud has been my saving grace. I currently have two iPhones, a MacBook, and a tablet. Through the cloud I am able to connect all of these devices together. So when I get a chat, regardless of where I am in the house, I can easily reach one of my devices and engage. I can write notes, update Lasso, add pictures and videos to one device and easily access the content on all of my other devices.
This has not only made my work process more efficient but has also released me from the chains of my work desk. I can make myself available to prospects from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. without having to be stationed in one location all day long.
What is your “go to” closing technique to get an appointment?
I don’t have a quick and easy technique. Most of our prospects have to drive several hours or book a flight to visit our models, so my reasons for encouraging them to make that kind of effort has to be compelling. My first and primary approach is to get potential customers to learn about and love Prescott. I get them excited about the city, then the community, and then their specific home. I remind them that I can only give them so much information over the phone/online, but that once they start picturing what their views will look like or how a certain color will look, they have no choice but to come and see for themselves. After all, seeing is believing…
Any tips or advice for fellow online salespeople and marketers?
With so many potential buyers coming in, it’s often easy to forget there are real people behind the leads, who have saved up all their lives to finally be able to build their dream home. I get so many prospects who come to me, irritated and wary because they’ve been treated like just another possible sale from another real estate agent before they visited our website.
Before every phone call, video message, or personalized email, I remind myself that these leads are people who are about to embark on one of the biggest investments of their lives. It can be a scary process when you have no idea what your options are. I come to them as an expert in our product, but also as another human being trying to figure out how I can best use this information to help them get one step closer to their dream home.
So my advice is to be efficient, but always be caring.
Congratulations from the Lasso Team, Shari!
To learn more about how to implement an Online Sales Counselor program, download this free Lasso guide – No Lead Left Behind: Launching an Online Sales Program.