In 2017 we saw an increase in home builders and developers implementing a formalized online sales program. With nearly all home shoppers using the Internet at some point during their home search, new home sales and marketing companies have recognized the need to attract and nurture online leads. According to Kevin Oakley in the Professional Builder article, The Perfect Marketing Budget for 2017, builders should dedicate at least 50 percent of their overall market budgets to online efforts.
Builders and developers have optimized their websites for lead conversion and integrated them with CRMs for more effective follow-up. But we’re now seeing a case of too much demand and not enough supply – on-site agents simply can’t keep up with online lead volume. They’re busy with walk-in traffic, negotiations, contracts, lenders and inspections. As a result, online lead follow-up becomes sporadic, irrelevant and ineffective – bringing down the likelihood of an appointment conversion to virtually zero.
This is where a formalized online sales program can be beneficial and profitable. Lasso clients with successful online sales programs are seeing around a 30 percent online lead-to-appointment conversion ratio. Online sales for these companies can account for 20 percent or more of total company revenue, and that number continues to climb.
Here’s how successful home builders do it:
It all starts with the right person. Despite improvements in technology, the human element is still critical in new home sales. An effective Online Sales Counselor (OSC), or Internet Sales Specialist, skilled in interpersonal communication and sales techniques, can develop and lead a successful online sales program. An OSC performs the following tasks:
- Handles all leads that come through the company’s website, listing directories like Zillow, social media platforms like Facebook, and other secondary advertising sources
- Takes incoming phone calls from these sources
- Qualifies and nurtures leads using a predetermined sales process coupled with marketing automation tools
An OSC’s goal is to drive qualified traffic to the on-site sales team via scheduled appointments.
According to the Do You Convert team, an online lead is twice as likely to convert to sale if they first engage with an OSC, rather than an on-site agent. Once you have the right OSC in place, you’ll realize how many prospects have been leaking from your sales funnel.
All online leads should be captured in one central database – a CRM system. Your OSC can then efficiently follow up with hundreds of new prospects every month, while also routinely and proactively reaching out to older leads. For optimal lead management and nurturing, you’ll want a CRM with the following features:
- Accessible anywhere, on any device: OSCs often work from home or on-the-go.
- Scheduling for next steps and activities: your OSC doesn’t have to think about where a prospect is in the sales funnel.
- Customizable rating system that makes sense for your business.
- Email integration: all correspondence is tracked to the prospect’s profile.
- Email Marketing: create professional-looking marketing emails and eliminate the need for 3rd party email providers.
- Custom Lists and Groups: for more effective organization and segmentation.
- Flexible, robust reporting that can be as high-level or detailed as necessary.
- Website Analytics: OSCs know where online leads come from, which pages they’re viewing on the website, and when a prospect is active on the site.
- Marketing automation: a predefined process and path frees an OSC from setting daily tasks and reminders, and allows him or her to focus more on deeper prospect interaction.
Once the person and program has been confirmed, it’s time to work on the sales process. A pre-defined sales process, executed by a dedicated team member (an OSC), is critical to a successful online sales program. A process often includes a variety of touch points, including phone calls, emails, video emails, mass mails, text messages and more. Beyond the type of follow-up to be used, a process addresses the total volume of follow-up, as well as the period of time between each step.
While it’s best to start with one sales process and build upon it, an OSC will ultimately have a different process for each lead type – website lead, listing directory lead, Facebook lead, REALTOR®, etc. The goal of a sales process is to move the prospect along the buyer’s journey, so there should also be various sales processes reflecting the stage of the prospect – initial interest, confirmed interest, missed appointment, etc.
With the right person, program and process in place, your company could convert 30-35 percent of online leads to appointment. If this seems like a far-fetched number, take a look at how Lasso’s clients have done it in these testimonial videos.
Interested in a CRM to kick-start your online sales program? Schedule a Lasso demo today.