What a year 2020 has been! Sales & Marketing professionals experienced an unexpected hot market as well as new tech requirements for marketing and selling new homes. Given all that happened in 2020, we asked some of the top industry experts for their thoughts and advice on how to tackle 2021.
We hope you get inspired to try something new and start planning how to up your sales game in the New Year!
Looking for marketing tips for 2021? Check out the article, Top New Home Marketing Tips for 2021.
Jen Barkan, Do You Convert
Consistency and Authenticity to Earn Your Buyer’s Trust
This year has definitely been one that we won’t forget. It’s challenged us on both fronts, professionally and personally. Out of necessity, our industry had to evolve. Our processes changed, our numbers exploded, our work environment was displaced, our ability to be responsive was challenged, and we might have even found ourselves with or without a new team member. Through this evolution, there has been a constant—customers wanting a seamless experience they can trust. We earn trust by being consistent, authentic, and transparent. So for 2021, that’s what we focus on: consistency through process, authenticity through personalization, and transparency through setting the right expectation. If we can do those things, we can conquer whatever shift comes our way next year!
Myers Barnes, Myers Barnes Associates
What Should I Not Do?
There are two types of people in this world: The List Maker and the List Hater. There’s no sense talking to the second one (at least, not in this post). Are you someone focused on your goals, so you use lists to keep you on target? If you truly want to succeed, you need more than a list of things to do. Forget “To Do.” Make a “To Don’t” list.
Success isn’t necessarily about what you do. It’s also a result of the choices you make to NOT do something. Ask yourself, “What am I willing to do to get there? Then ask, “What should I not do?”
Leah Fellows, Blue Gypsy, Inc
Meet Your Buyers Where They Start
Jason Forrest, FPG
Become a Sales Warrior
People are buying in today’s market. The only question is, whom are they buying from? They are buying from the sales warriors who separate themselves from the rest by believing, thinking, feeling, acting, and executing their sales process differently. 2021 is the year of choosing to be impeccable.
Becoming a sales warrior means:
- Removing the stories, self-image, reluctance, and rules that hold us back from earning what we are truly worth.
- Creating a step-by-step set of strategies that move the prospect forward with speed and flexibility towards resolution.
- Using specific words and phrases that give the prospect confidence, motivation, hope, and certainty to take action towards life improvement.
This year is an opportunity to become a sales warrior, guiding customers to choose you over all alternatives by leading with certainty. Read more.
Paul Gortzig, Bokka Group
Digitize the Sales Process and Shorten the Sales Cycle
Last year I wrote about “disruption”. Disruption in our sales processes and how we needed to embrace technology to stay on pace with our customers. Our industry needed to beef up our online sales presence, utilize chatbots, and fine-tune our virtual tours to meet the expectations of our online customers.
Well heck, nobody expected the disruption in 2020 to be what it turned out to be. I am proud of our industry and how quickly we adjusted to our new sales and building environments. Builders have had banner years with their sales.
Virtual selling of new homes is here to stay in one form or another. It is unfortunate that it took a pandemic to get our attention. Delivering a great experience through online sales requires a strategy, and by focusing on the customer’s journey you can create an effective one.
Understand, buyers can gain about 90% of what they need to know to purchase a home online by utilizing the information provided on our website. Engagement with virtual tours, Matterports, videos, product information, and reading customer reviews is way up.
Looking ahead to 2021, examine sales processes and determine if you are staying on pace with your customers or if you are getting in your own way. Are digital tools and the process of engaging customers through the OSC, and ultimately the onsite sales counselors, mirroring and matching their expectations? Customers are using the technology provided; make sure you are not the one that slows down the process. Asking for the sale on the first visit is not only necessary, but your customer also expects it! Let’s stay on pace with customers’ expectations and shorten the buying cycle
Mar’Sue Haffner, Sales Solve Everything
Put Your Best Face Forward
To survive and sell successfully in 2021 and beyond, you will have to adapt and incorporate your personal brand, i.e., your face, into your posts and be willing to let the world see you in action doing what you love—in your personal as well as your business life.
Be brave, reinvent yourself, and when the market shifts, practice new techniques and don’t lose heart. Once a salesperson, always a salesperson, even virtually. So, rise up to sell another day, shine no matter where you are physically, and carry on virtually today as long as you put your best “Face” forward.
Passion still transfers over the phone, in-person and virtually. Compassion, Face & Sales Skills plus the courage to carry on virtually will prepare you for the future and guarantee your sales success no matter what is happening in the universe. Read more.
Chris Hartley, K. Hovnanian
Take Calculated Risks
I have been very fortunate that most of my career I have been able to lead a mid-sized private home builder in both sales and marketing. It is a balance that is often unattainable, as being really great at both sales and marketing is truly impossible. However, I was surrounded by great people. They allowed me to have fun in both AND allowed me to have a research budget. In that time, we were able to experiment with chatbots, unassisted entry, online design centers, 3D tours, and so much more, years before COVID hit.
In fact, when COVID did hit this past year, it was evident that our “Research” budget was the entire reason why we were successful during the early months of the pandemic. While others were scrambling, it was pretty much business as usual for our team.
Watching so many companies scramble to recover, I found myself talking about the “Three As,” as I began to call them. I said that within home building we had three different types of companies *and for that matter leaders): The Avoiders, The Adaptors, and The Accelerators.
- The Avoiders are those individuals and companies that would rather avoid the reality of change and continue with business as usual. These companies and individuals will eventually become extinct; they also believe that the internet is a fad, and the earth is flat.
- The next “A” is the Adaptor. Adaptors realize the world is changing, and although they may not like it and are slow to accept it, they ultimately adapt as they realize if they don’t, they will also become extinct. Adaptors are Average.
- Now, the Third “A” is my favorite, the Accelerators. Accelerators believe change is GOOD! They see home building as an exciting and fast-paced industry ripe for disruption. Ricky Bobby was an Accelerator, “if you’re not first, you’re last! “
If this pandemic has taught us anything it is this…We must TRULY be ready for anything and for that to happen, you MUST take some calculated risks and become the trendsetter you have always wanted to be!
Ben Keal, Private Communities
Fix Your First Impressions
As a lead generation company, we deliver leads in real-time via email or through an automated “lead feed” to CRMs like Lasso. To confirm delivery, we are cc’d on these emails and often copied on follow-up emails from salespeople. There are two mistakes we observe in follow-up emails.
First, we often receive auto-reply emails from lead recipients who are out sick, on vacation, sick leave, or maternity leave. It is imperative to make sure these leads are delivered to an active representative or fed into a CRM to ensure they are receiving timely follow-up. A lead may have gone cold by the time you return to the office.
Second, it is a mistake to reply to a prospect with available inventory without qualifying goals like budget, buying timeline, or even number of bedrooms. Instead of sending home listings on the first contact, ask questions to qualify needs and build rapport with the prospect.
I admit I have never sold a home professionally, but I’ve been a professional salesman for almost 30 years. In my experience, skipping key steps in the sales process reduces your results. Once you’ve corrected these common lead follow-up mistakes, you’ll be on the path to improved sales in 2021.
Erica Lockwood, Joseph Chris Partners
Step Into Your Discomfort Zone!
If we can be brutally honest with ourselves for just a minute, how often have we said “yes” to something that is truly out of our comfort zone? I believe human nature inherently points most of us toward saying a hard “no” to anything anywhere near our non-comfort zone. Perhaps it is a speaking opportunity, being a guest blogger, a chance at the promotion you assume you are not completely ready for, or other countless examples. So, how can we react more positively toward these types of opportunities? While there are certainly several options, I am more and more a supporter of professional and personal development. Our amazing industry does a tremendous job of offering a vast variety of training opportunities related to honing our sales or marketing skills. However, I have become a huge supporter of owning our own personal and professional development journey.
Since the onset of the pandemic, online learning options have skyrocketed, and we should take advantage of them! There are many websites that offer free or low-cost courses but one site in particular I have consistently utilized and have been impressed with is www.coursera.org. Whether you are looking to improve your sales or marketing skills or learn more about emotional intelligence, this resource offers so many options. Learn, grow, and dive into the amazingness that the discomfort zone can create for you! Dive in and don’t look back!
Mike Lyon, Do You Convert
Focus on Scaling Programs to Manage Activity
Builders won the pandemic lottery, and online sales programs saw a surge of activity this year that will carry through into 2021. Leaders need to focus on sizing up their programs to manage the sustained activity. More leads poorly managed does not equal more sales. Get the right teams in place and simultaneously streamline your program and processes to increase efficiency. Support your superstars with the right technology and watch your program flourish in 2021.
Kimberly Mackey, New Homes Solutions Consulting
In 2021, Don’t Just Put Lipstick on a Pig
In the South, we have lots of colorful sayings. According to Wikipedia, for those of you who don’t speak southern, “putting lipstick on a pig” means making superficial or cosmetic changes to a product in a futile effort to disguise its fundamental failings. Just because you made the addition, you didn’t change anything; you just made it more conspicuous.
2020 forced builders to embrace technology in a way like never before. On the one hand, since “we” regularly preach the need to embrace this technology, this is a welcome advance. On the other hand, we exposed our customer journey weaknesses even faster with the technology spotlight because we haven’t completed the underlying business process mapping.
By now, if you are listening to your buyers, you should know precisely where your processes are breaking down or causing friction. Once you map out all the handoffs, be sure to train your entire team, not just the sales team, so everyone is working together toward the common goal of building a better customer experience from start to finish. Be sure to review all your marketing messaging and sales processes and include the periphery functions like mortgage and title. Once you have your customer journey/business process mapping completed, you will want to let the whole world know because you will be far ahead of your closest competitor. Or, in southern terms, crow about it!
Jane Meagher, Success Strategies
Deliver Personalized, Concierge-Level Service
Consumers in all industries crave quicker, easier, and less stressful buying experiences. They demand purchase solutions that are personalized fits for their unique needs. And they’re pretty vocal about their dissatisfaction when this high bar of customer experience is not met. The challenge for home builders is figuring out how to deliver this personalized, concierge-level service while maintaining operational efficiencies, and best practices.
Consider how your sales, design studio, and construction teams can rise to this challenge by taking the time to create and express a deeper connection with each customer. Determine how these teams can best anticipate your customers’ needs and present personalized solutions before customers have to ask for them. Discuss how you can effectively deliver the hyper-personalized home that your customers demand, while simultaneously maintaining efficiencies and best practices (This doesn’t mean you should offer more choices, just better ones!). Brainstorm how you can you better leverage the design expertise you have to separate yourself from your competition. Think outside the box on how you can create a quicker, easier path to get your customer to the finish line of their uniquely personalized home.
Make 2021 the year you provide true concierge-level service that includes working with a team of real experts who are fully dedicated to creating an easier, more enjoyable customer experience that results in a better solution than the customer would have had on their own.
Alaina Money-Garman, Garman Homes
Meet People Where They Are—Connect with Them on Their Terms
This past year taught me so much about the value of meeting people where they are. We all experienced this past year differently, so I learned to check in with people differently and to save space for them to feel however they’re feeling. And to meet them in that space. Not to try to fix it. Not to try to explain it or present the other side. But to understand. To connect with them and meet them wherever they were on the spectrum of thoughts and feelings at that specific moment.
In doing so, I gained an even greater appreciation for the value of a single moment of connection and how powerful those moments can be. This isn’t a new concept, but it is a concept that when practiced regularly despite what’s going on in the world or in our lives, can have a cumulative and life-changing effect on ourselves and the people around us.
This line from our company manifesto attempts to describe what it means to put the value of a single moment into practice:
We seek connections great and small, knowing every interaction is an opportunity with infinite potential. To show respect and receive it in return. To be kind. To inspire and be inspired. To create and motivate. To be held accountable. To appreciate. To learn. To grow. To care. To be seen and heard as our whole perfectly imperfect selves.
As I look forward to a new year, I’m grateful for all the ways this past year has forced us to grow. And I’m mindful of the power we each have to choreograph more moments of connection and understanding for ourselves and others.
Kerry Mulcrone, Kerry & Co.
Satisfy Home Buyer Cravings
Have you ever gone to the fridge, really wanting something but not knowing what it is? That’s a craving—you keep eating till you fulfill the craving!
Did you know home buyers have “cravings” as well when looking for a new home salesperson and builder?
Until someone fills the craving, they keep looking! Here is my list of what the home buyer of today is “craving” from you: knowledge, trust, service, an easy experience, reliability, honesty, and a value driven approach.
Here is what you do to satisfy the craving:
C~ Calm & Conquer
R~ Respond to it
A~ Act on it and Fulfill it
V~ Verify they are full
E~ End the Craving with a Sale!
Or…they will keep feeding it with the competition….
New Home Sales +
TRUST + PROCESS = SUCCESS
We have all enjoyed an unexpected housing boom due to a combination of things: people’s dissatisfaction with their current situation amplified by COVID, record-setting low-interest rates, and wonderful home values.
Working with builders all across North America, I have found that one of the “difference makers” between moderate and great success is how a company and their salespeople communicate Trust.
As I like to say:
TRUST + PROCESS = SUCCESS
We could possibly be good at one without the other but become masterful at creating trust and following a proven process, and you will become unstoppable in 2021! Read more.
Amy O’Connor, Shore Consulting
The Future is Here, and the Future is Virtual
What does the perfect sale look like? It’s fast, it’s easy, and the buyer loves everything. Sound about right? How could we make this the norm instead of the exception? We can now leverage virtually selling appointments to set up for the perfect sale.
The goal is to make the onsite visit the last step in the process. You want to accomplish as much as possible with the buyer before they ever come to the community. What are all things that you can accomplish before you meet the buyer face to face?
Virtually we can:
- Ask discovery questions
- Recommend floorplans/homesites
- Interactively take them through our floorplans
- Give them a virtual tour of the home/homesite/community
- Go over pricing, conditions, and terms
- Set up the close
When we do this well, we could have 90% of the sale in place before the buyer ever comes in. Contrast this with the buyer who sees your sign from the street and pulls in. That buyer walks in with all sorts of questions: Do they have anything available? Can I afford it? Will I like anything? Is the salesperson nice? When we set up the perfect sale leveraging virtual appointments as our starting point, the only question that needs to be asked when they arrive is: do you love this home as much as you thought you would?
Jeff Shore, Shore Consulting
Connecting Through Video
Chad Sanschagrin, Cannonball
Divorce the outcome and fall in love with the process!
Okay I get it, this sounds crazy coming from someone that loves sales, but I am here to tell you that you have to divorce the outcome (if you get the sale or not) and fall in love with whatever your sales process is.
If your emotional happiness lies within if you “Get the sale” or not, you will live a very stressed life.
With that said, if you just celebrate the act of leading people though your sales process then you will always have 100% control of that and will live a life of abundance and happiness.
P.S. Follow your process enough and I promise you will have plenty of sales!
Ryan Taft, Shore Consulting
Don’t Get Prepared, Stay Prepared
I think it’s safe to say 2020 has been an interesting year. Of course, we have all had our challenges. Some challenges were heart-breaking, and some were positive and surprising. The housing market boom definitely falls into the positive category. And…we know it won’t last forever.
Every housing boom potentially creates some bad habits that if carried into a normal or down market, could be devastating. But if you want to thrive in a normal or tough market, then you need to master three skills before the market shifts: Discover the buyer’s personal urgency, ask for the sale, and follow up!!
Discipline yourself to create a habit of these three skills now and you will become market proof no matter what 2021 has in store! Read more.
Leah Turner, Melinda Brody & Company
Tips for Virtual Selling
As we all know, virtual sales presentations have become the ‘new normal’ in 2020. In virtual sales presentations, you must still go through the same steps that you would in a face-to-face sales presentation. However, in a virtual presentation you must understand how to set the stage properly and communicate with your prospects. And, surprisingly, communicating is not all about what you actually say. In fact, COMMUNICATION is 7% VERBAL (what you say) and 93% Non-VERBAL (how you say it).
- Ask your prospect how much time they have for the call, and then set expectations.
- Spend ample time in the beginning to build rapport.
- Involve and engage the prospect, don’t just talk at them.
- Make eye contact throughout the presentation. Look directly at the camera, not at yourself.
- Make sure your prospect can turn on their camera–seeing your prospect’s non-verbal communication is just as important as them seeing yours!
JoAnne Williams, JWilliams Staffing
Your Team Is Your Brand
Your company’s brand identity and communication are essential as you move into 2021. The challenges we have all faced in 2020 have led consumers and B2B partners to do more research on you and the changes you’ve made to your product or service offerings.
Is your marketing messaging on point with your vision today and for the future? Equally important: Are you creating a strategy that will ensure that your senior executives communicate in sync with your brand? I believe excellent corporate leadership in 2021 will reflect the ability to inspire regardless of new challenges or stress. Will you and your management team act as the role model for positivity, reliability, and discipline? There is no doubt that new leaders will emerge in 2021, and CEOs must “step it up” to understand shifting team dynamics. With the brand identity in mind, successful executives will develop and motivate their teams to reach a higher level of corporate communication and be top of mind (and heart) for their customers.
Ralph Williams, Sales Solve Everything
Be Resilient & Resourceful
2020 was a year that smacked everyone in the face. As the boxer, Mike Tyson, said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” Everyone was knocked down in different ways, and we weren’t sure exactly what to do, how to feel, how to act, or what might be coming next. Though we got punched, we were resilient and got back up.
We embraced, or were forced to be resourceful, and take advantage of technologies that, for the most part, already existed. Many of us got adept at our new virtual world. We learned how to make human connections virtually and sell homes without ever meeting in person.
So, my message for 2021 is simple—be resilient and resourceful, and nothing will stop you from selling new homes and changing more lives!
Sara Williams, ECI Software Solutions
No More Excuses—Be Tech Strong
If I have heard it once, I have heard it a thousand times, “my team is not good with technology.” I have grown used to hearing this over the years of working with sales teams and management. We are in a whole new world in real estate as we experienced mandatory shutdowns and a pandemic. If you are still saying these words about your staff (or yourself) after going through 2020, it may be time to reevaluate or make a change. Sales success is not being able to cherry-pick deals. Anyone can do that. It is time to get educated, practice your skills, and become proficient in tech tools to help sell and market homes, manage and coach your team, and give the best service possible. I truly believe the tech strong (businesses, employees, and managers) will thrive (and survive) moving forward in 2021 and beyond.
Read Next: Top New Home Marketing Tips for 2021