Lasso’s July OSC of the Month is Wendi Leatherwood, Online Sales Counselor for Neal Communities in Florida. In this interview, Wendi shares with us how she sees the role evolving in the next few years, her “go-to” closing technique, and tips for fellow new home sales and marketing professionals.
What is your company and location?
I am one of four Online Sales Consultants for Neal Communities and I am based in Bonita Springs, Florida. We are a privately held, locally owned home builder with over 35 communities in Southwest Florida.
How long have you been in your role/or working in new home sales?
I have been an OSC for 3.5 years.
How many online leads do you manage monthly?
I manage just about 500 leads per month.
What was your career path to becoming an OSC?
I graduated from Florida Gulf Coast University with a bachelor’s degree in Communications and minor in Marketing. Before I graduated from college, I decided to get my Real Estate license. When the real estate decline came, I had to move into something more profitable. I started working with a web developer and online marketer. They showed me the ins and outs of social media marketing, and eventually, I started my own social media/online marketing business. When the market started turning, I decided to join Neal Communities, where I found the new home construction industry a great match for my skills and abilities.
How have you seen online home sales change in the last few years?
Online is the first place where real estate agents and home buyers find their information. It’s typically the MLS, Zillow, or our website. Keeping all of this information up to date is key. Real estate agents and new home shoppers use OSCs as a tool to help save them time and quickly identify communities and homes that work best for them or their clients. We make the new home buying process easier.
How do you see your role/or the OSC role evolving over the next few years?
I see the home buying process becoming more and more digital. Due to COVID-19, I see usage of video platforms like FaceTime and Zoom increasing as they make the home buying process easier, because no one has to leave the house! This is just one new and innovative process that home buyers and real estate agents are using, and I see video platforms changing the way we buy homes in the future.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your job? What do you do to overcome that challenge?
I have a unique position for our region. I am not only an OSC, I also participate in marketing projects, and in-person at community sales offices from time to time. To handle all this, I stay on top of being organized and have my daily/weekly to-do lists.
What is the most useful technology tool to your job?
My cell phone; it’s my lifeline. It’s always attached.
What is your “go to” closing technique to get an appointment?
I always ask for the appointment, each and every time. I understand they might not be in the area but always recommend options to get them on a virtual tour or something that allows them to take a closer look at the homes and community. At the start of the pandemic, we made tours of our model homes available by appointment only. This ensured home buyers and our staff were protected and was very well received by all.
What/Who are your “go-to” resources for training and/or support?
The management team at Neal Communities is extremely supportive and always available for coaching, guidance, and helping us move more people toward appointments and sales. My team and I also work extremely closely with the Neal marketing team, who are always finding ways for us to grow our business and introducing us to new and innovative tools, like the new chat bot that we recently introduced to assist us in connecting with more customers.
Do you have any specific successes you’d like to highlight?
I received an email from a gentleman who lived out of state, in Michigan, and wanted to retire down in sunny southwest Florida. Unfortunately, because of the travel restrictions, he couldn’t travel down. I suggested we have a FaceTime to tour one of our quick move-in homes at Windsong, a community in Fort Myers. The sales agent was off, so I decided to do the video walk-through for him. He was comparing us to several builders, including those that are nationally recognized. He found that our homes were well built with great quality construction and our reputation far exceeded our competitors. He decided to move forward with us and lives in Windsong today.
Any tips or advice for fellow online salespeople and marketers?
I believe in having a fun and a personable attitude while being knowledgeable will get you a better result every time. Also, doing what you say you’re going to do: Following up, sending emails, and returning phone calls is important, as it helps the home buyer to have all information needed to move forward with a decision.
Favorite thing to do outside of work?
When I’m not at work, I love to spend my time outdoors in any way I can, whether I’m on the beach or playing with my kids. I also enjoying cooking and find it very stress relieving. I love living in Florida and truly enjoy the lifestyle that I share with our customers.