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The Lasso Blog

Steve Shoemaker from Ideal Homes share tips and advice

Summer has officially begun, and in some markets, that might mean lower lead volume and sales velocity. There are ways, however, to maintain momentum throughout the slower months without spending more marketing dollars.

In this Lasso Live episode on June 20, we spoke with Steve Shoemaker, VP of Sales & Marketing for Ideal Homes, to learn how his team handles the summer slowdown. Watch below:

Here are the highlights:

Q) What does your summer typically look like at Ideal Homes in terms of lead volume? What major changes do you see this time of year?

A) When we look at our year as a whole and a five year average of our sales, of traffic, of leads that have all come in, the first two quarters are by far where we forecast most of our sales for the year. The third quarter we see fewer sales and then the fourth quarter is typically a smaller forecast. So mid-summer is where we start to forecast fewer sales, but we adjust for it every year.

Q) You’d once asked your sales team if they were interested in purchasing a list of names of people who had expressed specific interest in Ideal Homes. Of course they said, “Yes. We want that list.” Your reaction was priceless. Tell us the rest of the story.

A) At a sales meeting I told the team we had this opportunity to purchase a list of 10,000 people in Oklahoma City that had been in a new home model home in the areas of town that we build in and in the price points that we build in. I asked them what they thought we should be willing to pay for it. Of course they were like, “I want that list. How much of your marketing budget do you have left? That’s priceless.” I said, “Okay. Well the bad news is I’m not going to buy that list. The good news is we already have it. It’s in our CRM. It’s our prospects that we have already seen.” We used that as an illustration to open their eyes to the gold mine that we’re already sitting on.

Q) Why are existing leads in your database so important, even if they registered six months, a year ago, or longer, and they haven’t engaged?

A) To start with, I always draw this picture for new people at our company… If you look at traffic to our model homes over the last decade, you would see a steady decline and then a level-off. But revenue is going the opposite direction. Traffic down, revenue up. Our revenue is up because of higher conversion rates.

If those people have been online and they’ve taken the time to visit a model home, it’s not a matter of if they’re going to buy. It’s a matter of when and from whom they’re going to buy. Those are highly qualified prospects, even more today than they were 10 years ago. Because of that we’ve shifted our follow-up paradigm from “badgering” people until they come back, now to customer service.

People move in and out of the buying market because they’re distracted. Life situations are the biggest indicator of whether or not somebody is going to follow up with you. It has nothing to do with whether they’re actually interested. It’s important to keep that dialogue going.

The second reason why following up with existing leads is so important is because you can get great loss sale data that helps you shape your follow-up, products, neighborhood amenitization, etc. You don’t get that information if you just give up on people.

Q) What are some of the ways that your team has sparked re-engagement?

A) There are a few ways. One thing that you hit on in the blog post “5 Ways to Avoid the Summer Slowdown” is not treating everybody in your database exactly the same. The easiest thing to do is usually the most ineffective. Sending out a mass email to your whole database is very easy, but it’s not effective. Going back to Seth Godin‘s book, Permission Marketing, we really try to focus our follow-up on being anticipated, personal and relevant to spark re-engagement.

Q) How successful can mining your database actually be? What are some of the successes your team has seen in terms of homes sold?

A) That’s an important question because ultimately that’s what it’s about. When we started tracking follow-up, we took a step back and measured it by the years leading up to when we shifted our follow-up strategy, to the years after. The biggest noticeable difference was the percentage of our traffic that was repeat traffic and be-back traffic. At the end of the day, we saw an increase of 30-40 percent in our repeat traffic. That’s a big deal. That’s one tangible measurement.

Q) Are there any other tips that you guys have for avoiding seasonal or a summer slowdown without necessarily spending more marketing dollars?

A) There’s not, in my opinion, a silver bullet based on seasonal adjustment of volume. There’s no lever you can pull based on the season. You have to execute around your process. You have to execute around following up. Whether you have high volume or low volume, trusting the system and the strategy that you have in place. Have a plan. Execute around your plan. Track your plan. Keep doing it.

Words to sell by.

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