We are thrilled to be able to bring you a new Online Sales Counselor’s story each month. These ladies and gentlemen are literally changing the home buying game and helping builders reach new, untapped sales potential. Our current OSC of the Month, Natalie Whitener with Mungo Homes, says it best,
More and more companies are going to on-demand services for their product, and home buying is no different. … More people are calling in, texting in, emailing in, and we need to make sure we stay in front of the demand.
Read below to learn how Natalie keeps up with customer demand, divides the workload between a team of three, and balances her personal life in between!
What is your company, role and location?
I work for Mungo Homes as an Online Sales Counselor and we currently build in South Carolina, North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama.
How long have you been in your role/or working in new home sales?
I’ve been an OSC for almost 3 years but was an onsite assistant for 6 months prior.
What was your career path to becoming an OSC?
When I graduated from Clemson University (Go Tigers!) in 2013 I started working for an online monogramming business in Greenville, SC doing Customer Service. In early 2015 I got engaged and my fiancé, now husband, lived in Columbia, SC, about an hour and a half away. I decided I would move to Columbia and needed to find a new job. We had recently stumbled upon Mungo Homes on a Saturday afternoon while looking for a new home and ended up purchasing a home site to build on about a month later.
Since we had such a great experience with Mungo as our homebuilder, and I always loved architecture and design, I applied for an onsite assistant position. I got the job and started working as an onsite assistant in June 2015. Towards the end of 2015 an Internet Marketing Specialist position came available within Mungo. I wanted something full-time, so I applied, got the job, and started the program in January 2016!
How many online leads do you manage monthly?
We have 3 OSCs currently and as a team we average about 450-500 leads a month.
How have you seen online home sales change in the last few years?
Just in the few years I’ve been in the role, we’ve really started seeing more and more buyers choosing an online platform to find their new home. In conjunction with starting to look online more, they are wanting more information readily available online as well, and call in with already a breadth of knowledge about our product and what they are looking for. When I started 3 years ago there was already a need for an online consultant however, now more than ever customers are demanding this position to get quick answers!
How do you see your role/or the OSC role evolving over the next few years?
For Mungo, we are already starting to see a need for growth within the program because of the demand from customers. More people are calling in, texting in, emailing in, and we need to make sure we stay in front of the demand. In the next few years I see more OSCs being added to not only our team, but other builders starting to add the position and more people choosing online to locate a home. More and more companies are going to “on demand” services for their product and home buying is no different. I just saw yesterday that Zaxby’s now has an “order ahead” feature, similar to Starbucks. Customers are wanting quick service, and that is what the OSCs are here to provide.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? What do you do to overcome that challenge?
Like many others who have been featured, the work/life balance always seems to be the hardest. There have been times in the past where I have completely burned myself out. Things got bad, really bad. With the customer demand comes demand on yourself to perform and to always be available when someone reaches out. I became super obsessed with my call rates and my quick response times, so much so that it was interfering with my personal life and my wellbeing.
To overcome, I had to create boundaries, but reasonable boundaries. Blocking out certain times of the day to check emails if I was out of the office or “off,” really taking a vacation rather than taking the “facation” (fake vacation) and disconnecting. Also, having a team has helped tremendously. Before I felt there wasn’t any backup if I was off or out of the office. Now we have 2 other great ladies on the team and I know that when I’m out, they will take care of my leads for me so I don’t have to worry.
What is the most useful technology tool to your job?
My phone for sure! And a close second would be my Bluetooth headset. Before I got my headset I had a bad habit of holding my phone between my ear and my shoulder while trying to look information up with both hands which led to severe displacement of my spine. I woke up one morning and couldn’t move my neck! Now I’m thankful for my headset as well as my chiropractor. 🙂
As far as actual programs we use, I couldn’t do my job without Lasso CRM. Before we got Lasso I was working out of an excel spreadsheet that never ended and it drove me crazy. Also, we use CallRail to track calls and it is so nice to know that the call you get in the car while driving home from work is being recorded so you don’t have to pull over and take notes! Being able to access both CallRail and Lasso from my phone makes a world of difference!
What is your “go to” closing technique to get an appointment?
If I get through all of the qualifying questions, I usually ask the customer if they have been out to the community before or if they’ve been able to see one of our homes in person. At that point I try and say the next step would be to schedule an onsite appointment to really get a feel for what our homes look like, the quality and craftsmanship, and the options we have to offer. If they are serious, they will be willing to meet in person!
What/Who are your resources for training and/or support?
When I first started back in 2016, there wasn’t a path that I could follow before me. I was brand new to the role and Mungo, as a company, was brand new to the role, so I had NO idea what I was doing! Shortly after taking on the position we started working with Do You Convert. Without Mike Lyon, and now Jen Barkan, I don’t know what I’d be doing today with the role and we definitely wouldn’t have the numbers to back us up. Mike has seen me cry way more times than I would like to admit, from all of the stress and growing pains that came with growing a new program. My boss Kim, our VP of Marketing, has backed me up in difficult situations and always made things happen for the program. I wouldn’t be sitting here typing this today without them!
Do you have any specific successes you’d like to highlight?
At the end of 2016, our first full year of having the program, we were at about 4% of an online sales contribution companywide. Today, however, we are on track to hit 20% by the end of this year, which is huge for us!
Any tips or advice for fellow online salespeople and marketers?
Don’t fret over the small things, look at the bigger picture, the end result. You missed 3 calls today that came through every time you tried to go to the bathroom? Don’t worry, you can call them back. You set 4 appointments in one day only to have them all cancel? Don’t worry, you’ll get them rescheduled. I stress over the small stuff all the time, but at the end of the day, if you know you did your best and you are still working towards the end goal, then why do you have to be mad at yourself?
Favorite thing to do outside of work?
Outside of work I love to travel, play with my husky, Riggs, spend time with my husband, cheer on my Clemson Tigers and brainstorm design ideas for my next Mungo home. 🙂
View other OSC of the Month features here.