“Now that I’m ready to set up an OSC (Online Sales Counselor) program, what should I expect to pay the OSC?” This is one of the most common questions I’m asked from home builders about OSC programs and there is no silver bullet. This is a challenging question since compensation packages depend on a wide variety of factors. Geography, your real estate market, cost of living, job responsibilities, number of OSCs on the team, and lead volume should all be considered when creating a compensation package.
Before we get into the numbers, home builders who are looking to implement an OSC program need to understand four important concepts:
- OSC salary is independent of the on-site agent. It is important to understand that an OSC’s salary should not come from the on-site agent’s pocket. If the lead/appointment comes from an OSC, the on-site agent should not make less. The salaries for these two roles need to be viewed as independent or you will risk alienating your on-site agents and your OSC and reduce the effectiveness of your OSC program.
- Incent the behavior you want—appointments and sales. One of the key tasks of the OSC role is to set appointments for on-site agents. Since you want to encourage your OSC to make appointments with qualified buyers, you need to compensate them based on appointments that are held. That is their “close.” In addition, the OSC should also be compensated if that appointment goes to sale. You want to incent your OSC on the sale because it encourages better qualification at the start of the process (which gets a potential home buyer into the right house/community sooner and expedites the sales process). OSCs that participate in a sale will look at that extra “carrot” as a bonus for scheduling a great appointment that sold the home. I knew if I spent the time with someone and was patient with their questions, and they bought, I would get rewarded for that extra time.
- Having an OSC is a great return on your investment. I’ve talked with builders who feel that they can’t afford an OSC. I say, you can’t afford not to have one. On-site agents are busy with appointments, walk-ins, and selling houses. They’re not waiting by the phone or sitting in front of their computer when a lead comes in through your site—so you are missing opportunities. Home buyers expect a call or an email right away and it could be hours before that on-site agent can call them back. By having an OSC on the team they are responding to home buyers fast, answering their questions, and scheduling appointments. They are moving leads through the funnel faster.
- The OSC as an extension of the marketing team. While the OSC works closely with the sales team, some builders have a hard time understanding where it “fits” from a budget perspective. A popular solution is to think of the OSC role as part of the marketing team. Not only do your agents love that someone is helping set appointments for them, your marketing team will love the OSC role because they are following up with leads being generated by their marketing campaigns.
What should I pay my OSC?
The trick is finding a good balance between the base and variable compensation. What is a good package that will give enough of a base salary to attract the right person and at the same time have a variable component that provides the right financial incentive? In order to keep your OSC happy, whatever compensation package you decide on, they should be able to make as much as an on-site agent. This role is not necessarily a stepping stone or entry level, it is a career. The best OSCs I have seen are ones that are fully committed to the role as their career. If you pay the role as an entry level position, you will attract entry level talent. If you pay the role as a high earning sales position, you will attract the talent you want, receive the results you crave, and keep talent on your team (versus lose them to your competition).
Over the years, I’ve seen a number of fixed and variable comp strategies for OSCs. I strongly believe salary plus commission is the way to go. I wanted to give you a variety of options that I have seen and you can decide what is the best for your organization:
- Commission only. No base (a draw if necessary on months if income requirements aren’t met), with a commission based on $100 per appointment made/held, and $500/sale. During training there would be an hourly rate.
- Salary only plus bonus. In addition to a good base, sometimes a quarterly or annual bonus is included if the region hits their quota. For example, base is $60,000/year plus $20,000 bonus.
- Salary plus commission. Base starting at $24k to $58k+, paid anywhere from $50–$100+ per appointment held, and anywhere from a $100–$350+ per sale. In addition, some builders offer quarterly bonuses.
Whatever compensation structure you decide on, it’s important to remember the value and impact this role can have. When I was an OSC, our department accounted for half of all sales. Today, I hear of OSCs accounting for nearly three-quarters of overall sales. If you’re currently at a 10% lead to appointment conversion without an OSC, the impact of implementing an OSC program can have tremendous benefits for your business and more than pays for itself in the long run.
This article originally appeared on LinkedIn.
About the author…
Sara Williams is the Sr. Sales Director at Lasso CRM. Her 10-plus years of new home marketing and sales experience have included roles such as marketing director, marketing coordinator, new home sales manager, and senior new home consultant/online lead specialist. In January 2013, she won the NAHB National Sales and Marketing Council Gold award for Online Sales Counselor of the Year through her work at Heartland Homes.