Be prepared for the New Year with this expert advice
To help you achieve your new year’s business resolutions, we have asked the industry’s top sales consultants, marketers and analysts for their best advice for 2018. To be successful in the new year, it’s all about understanding your buyer, working smarter not harder, and leveraging your digital resources. Read on for the complete list of 2018 tips from the experts!
Jen Barkan, Do You Convert
Make Prospecting Manageable
You need to develop a plan for consistent prospecting! Choose the fifth of the month to email prospects who haven’t responded or set an appointment yet. Don’t overthink it; remember, this is a simple email or video to stay in front of your leads once a month.
Then, spend the rest of your month calling those prospects on the list with phone numbers. Start with your responded prospects then move on to your non-responsive prospects. If you break it up into more manageable chunks, it won’t be so overwhelming. Dedicate one to two hours each day doing this and you WILL create more appointments!
Myers Barnes, Builder Designs
Mind Your Business
MYOB. Mind Your Own Business. These words can be an admonition to keep your opinions to yourself, or you can take them at face value: Mind. Your. Own. Business.
Success is a mindset. To succeed, you have to be in the right mind. And that mind needs to be focused on the big picture of your business success. Look down the road. Where do you want to lead your company and its employees? What does your vision look like? Now, break it down and ask yourself what you need to do in order to navigate your business to reach that spot on the horizon. Stay focused. Ignore the bright, shiny objects that twinkle and shine. They are mere distractions that guide you farther away from your achievements. Stop looking back at what has happened and look ahead at what can be.
When your mind improves, your business will undoubtedly follow suit. Use “MYOB” as a constant reminder to stay focused on your goals.
Jason Forrest, Forrest Performance Group
Do the Things You Sometimes Do All the Time
The best way to turn around a slump, or to keep up a string of successes, is to be intentional. We all have things we know we should be doing 100% of the time but just don’t. That can be anything from following up with a potential client to generally not being as thorough as we could be on a daily basis. The best way to turn a professional into a warrior professional is to get them performing tasks they should be doing at a high level 100% of the time, and the best way to do that is to model that behavior in ourselves. In 2018, make a commitment to being intentional about doing the things you sometimes do all the time. You’ll be amazed at the results.
Mike Lyon, Do You Convert
Perfect the Prospect Hand-off
This year I challenge sales teams to revisit how they handle appointments from their Online Sales Specialist. The hand-off, done right, will contribute to higher appointment to sales conversions. But don’t just go through the motions, take ownership of that prospect the second you get the info from the Online Sales Specialist. This happens right away! Don’t wait until the prospect responds or walks in the door. Leverage the momentum created by connecting and engaging immediately. This builds familiarity and trust which leads to more sales from the appointments you receive.
Jane Meagher, Success Strategies
Frontload Inspiration: Re-Imagine the Customer Journey
Leading retailers in every category are talking about fragmented purchasing processes, mashops, and omni-channel marketing. Customers experience digital, physical, and even virtual shopping in any order they please, and often simultaneously. The historical linear pathway of traditional home buying is no longer valid today. If the buyers’ dream is a uniquely personalized home that reflects their individual lifestyle needs and their personal design style, then why do we usually wait to give them proof of our ability to provide that until AFTER they buy? Why would we invest in creating an amazing, customer-focused design studio and save it for a surprise until after they decide to buy from us? What if they buy from our competition, without ever getting to see the environment and be aware of the amazing design experience we’ve crafted so that they CAN easily achieve their dream home?
It’s time to re-think the customer journey to replace the archaic linear pathway that doesn’t serve us or them anymore. This probably includes taking a fresh look at your staffing, improving the alignment between your sales, design, and marketing teams, remapping the pathway with policies and procedures that align with this new mashed up experience, possibly reconsidering the physical layout of your design studio store, and giving todays customers the more transparent, more supportive, more goal-focused sales experience that they crave. Let’s give them a more transparent buying experience focused on a deeper connection to the finished end product they’re yearning for.
Kerry Mulcrone, Kerry & Co.
Build from the Inside Out
We have heard the cliché “Build it and they will come” although not necessarily 100% true it does have relevance in your company culture for sure! Build a company on “ The Best Experience Ever” and they will come!! Ask Disney! People save and pay lots of money from many savings accounts to share in their “Magical Experience” to have the Best Day Ever! So I ask you…in 2018 what is simply magical about Who you are? What you do? And How you do it? Build that from the inside out and they will come…and pay for that.
Jeff Shore, Shore Consulting
Get Yourself Un-Commoditized
2018 will bring about a more competitive pricing environment than we’ve seen in North America over the past five years. The affordability gap will get wider, so while the sales pace should remain healthy (due to low inventory), price increases will be more moderate than in recent history.
That means savvy sales professionals will have to win on something besides price, and that something will be called “experiences.” The companies that succeed will not rely on providing greater incentives but on providing greater moments for their customers. Otherwise they will be nothing more than expensive commodities.
The key to avoiding the commodity trap? Personalization. Look at what you can do to provide personalized service to each and every customer.
Ralph Williams, Sales Solve Everything
Protect Your Prospecting Time
Prospecting is often the activity that gets blown off for other things because we fool ourselves into thinking we will get it done later. What happens though? We get distracted and before you know it, days go by nd pipelines dry up.
Want 2018 to be your best sales year ever? The #1 action you can take is to schedule and protect your prospecting time. Treat it as the most important appointment you have daily. Just one hour a day will reap big rewards and keep your pipeline flowing and your bank account full.
Sara Williams, Lasso CRM
Run the Day so the Day Does Not Run You
You are in the driver seat for running your own day, but as sales people our days seem to get away from us. If we leverage the organizational tools we have and invest in the ones we need, we can become more organized, stay focused, and get more accomplished. Technology keeps improving, and if we allocate time to learn how to use a CRM, organize our emails, create email templates, and start time blocking we will be prepared for the busiest of days. When you run your own day, you are more empowered, productive, and organized, which will allow you to spend more time doing what you love.
Lucy Wohltman, Zillow Group
Eliminate Stress, Improve the Experience
“Today’s home buyers expect an abundance of information and an easy experience — and they want it right now. As an industry, we need to reduce the stress they experience during their search. Technology has eased buyers’ pain by removing uncertainty and empowering them with information. But builders can do even more: When buyers reach out to you online, reply immediately — within the hour — before they move on! More than 76% of new construction shoppers expect a response within a day or less, and nearly half expect a response within just a few hours. Also, make sure consumers can see all your available inventory online — with the most detailed information you have — so they can make an educated decision on the best home for them.”
Will Duderstadt, M/I Homes
Tell Your Story
We are entering a new era. When it comes to publishing content online, it’s no longer enough to just be “there”, whether that’s Facebook, Zillow or our own website. Publishing literal content for our communities, plans and listings isn’t enough. Customers crave more! Done right, content tells a story. It builds an emotional bond between builder and prospect.
Complete and high-quality content (photography, videos and the written word) is now the standard. Those who go above and beyond, embracing full online transparency, will stand out. Transparency not just on what we are selling; but how we sell it, our builder story, our happy homeowners, and our construction process. You will still “wow” your customers with state of the art construction methods, luxurious amenities, and innovative designs. In 2018, make sure you are sharing that story online, not just in your sales offices.
Mollie Elkman, Group Two Advertising
Step Back to Move Forward
A new year is a perfect time for self-reflection, personally and in business. Just as we contemplate how to grow and improve in our personal lives, we should also look at ways to grow and improve professionally.
Despite the overall positive outlook for 2018, this is not the time to take the housing market for granted. We all know shifts come, and 2018 is the ideal moment to make sure your company’s foundation is strong for the years to come.
I recommend that builders get back to basics by taking a deep view of their buyers, their market, and their messaging. Take a step back from doing business as usual, and look at what’s working or not working. Are your projects on track? Do you have the right message? Have you clearly defined who you are? Is your team on the same page? Are you able to take advantage of new opportunities for success?
In order to move forward, you might have to go backward and hit re-set. Figure out what building blocks you still need, and then take the necessary steps. From there, you’ll be able to build on a stronger foundation. There are so many opportunities when it comes to marketing, from SEO to social media to augmented reality. The easiest way to make the best decisions for your company, your communities and your brand, is to get back to basics in 2018.
Chip Johnson, Builder Designs
For 2018 one of the primary questions on the mind of every marketing director needs to be your digital strategy. Start by defining the areas you’re weak and work up from there. Talk to your peers in the industry and see what’s working for them. Don’t get too caught up in what’s next/new/different, rather focus on finding solutions and implementation. Iteration is key – the days of set it and forget it are gone. Digital supremacy means constant attention and if you don’t have the bandwidth to do that, work with someone who can show you how to streamline the process.
John Lee, Rendering House
Objects in Your Side-View Mirror Are Closer Than They Appear
As you map out your destinations and milestones for 2018, watch-out for fast-approaching competition. With today’s rapidly changing technology, your competition, like objects in your side-view mirror, may be much closer than they appear. Keep your eyes on the road, but occasionally check your blind spots. But you don’t have to make the drive alone! Find other drivers with similar goals that can help you navigate unfamiliar roads. Carpooling with like-minded partners not only saves resources, but it can make the drive easier – and much more fun!
Carol Morgan, Denim Marketing
Psssssst! Want to get more interaction and engagement on your social media profiles? Or maybe a few leads? Here is a hint, but don’t tell the others, ok? Not only do you need to post regularly, but you need to have some fun with your posts. Don’t just post the same old, same old. Host a contest, launch a promotion and create some fun. Custom graphics always help promotions to gain more traction and get the party started. Consider getting your followers to post selfies as a way to enter. Of course, don’t forget to keep a steady stream of posts about your products, services, staff and partners. Vary your content and have a content plan that reflects your company’s overall strategic marketing plan.
Kevin Oakley, Do You Convert
Invest More in Your Online Program
Generating online “leads” for as little as $5 each is actually pretty easy now. Landing pages, FB lead ads, and other conversion techniques means that grabbing a prospect’s initial contact information is like taking candy from a baby. This is causing a new problem at scale for our industry (and a new way to separate yourself from the competition if you solve it) – online “leads” today are like walk-in traffic to your model homes in 2005-2006. Back in those golden years, on-site sales people had too much traffic to be able to be effective. The sales process changed into how to weed prospects out quickly so you could focus your time on those most likely to buy.
Don’t fall into the trap of doing the same thing with online leads in 2018 now that lead volumes are increasing. Adjust your staffing levels for your online sales department appropriately. Then, use your CRM, marketing strategy, and the latest technology to treat each and every online lead with the same amount of energy and enthusiasm as your best prospect. This might mean spending a bit less this year to get leads, and investing more to convert a larger percentage of them. Don’t go cheap on the largest impact to your sales pipeline in 2018!
Meredith Oliver, Meredith Communications
Stop Marketing, Start Relating
If you want to be successful in 2018, stop marketing. Yep, you read that right. Stop. Marketing. I’m serious. If you want to sell more homes in 2018, stop marketing and start relating. We are bombarded with ads everywhere both online and offline. We are sick to death of being sold to via advertising. It’s why we love our DVR’s and streaming television — no commercials. You fans have zero tolerance for canned sales pitches and irrelevant marketing. What they want is FANtastic Marketing, marketing that is for the fans and about the fans. FANtastic marketing and selling creates fans BEFORE they buy with incredible marketing and sales experiences. It’s time to throw away all of your push advertising and invest in getting to know your fans.
Steve Ormonde, Focus 360
Do first impressions matter? Of course they do! And when it comes to selling homes, your homes’ curb appeal will make or break your buyers’ first impression. Yet, many home builders present their homes online (the “curb”) with line drawings or poorly rendered elevations. Would an auto or appliance company use a design sketch to represent their products online? Of course not! So, let 2018 be the year you improve your website’s curb appeal.
Dennis O’Neil, O’Neil Interactive
We believe that 2018 is the year marketing gets personal for home shoppers. We’re encouraging all builders to make their marketing personal and to use technology to reach shoppers with offers tailored to their individual home shopping behavior.
Opportunities include using what you know about a shopper’s habits and interests to share personalized retargeting ads, personalized content on your website, or personalized emails with updates on their listings of interest. Consumers perceive this marketing as helpful instead of interruptive and it is proven to be more effective in driving leads.
Charles C. Shinn, Jr., PhD, Builder Partnerships
Establish a Profit Rate Target
Once again home sales should be strong during 2018 with a 10 to 15% growth rate. However, there is a lot of pressure on profits with the increasing mortgage interest rates and the deteriorating of housing affordability, limiting the ability to increase sales prices to cover the increasing constructions cost due to the labor shortage, lumber and material cost increases, and the shortage and cost of finished lots.
To protect or increase your profits you should establish a profit rate target for your homes. From your established market sales price you should first deduct your target profit. Then deduct your land cost (at builder retail price), your operating budget allocation which covers your field operations, financing expenses, sales and marketing expenses, allocations for historical variance rates and warranty, and the general and administrative expenses. The remainder is what you have available to build the home. I look at the direct construction costs as the only variable in this model. You need to design, specify, and purchase to this budget. If your cost to construct are greater than the budget, the difference can only come from your profits.
Interested in learning how Lasso CRM can help you accomplish your new home sales and marketing goals for 2018?