Sales Process: Balancing the Art and Science of New Home Selling

“If you build it, he will come.” – Famous words from a well-known movie. For most new home residential communities and projects, thousands of dollars are spent on marketing to generate leads; then even more is spent in the selling process to convert prospects into home buyers. In past markets, lead traffic was high and selling efforts “just seemed to work”.

Today, everyone knows it is a buyer’s market across most regions of North America and, depending on your geographic location and project, the volume of new leads signing up on websites, calling in, or visiting model homes and sales centers is not high. So how you handle and manage these new leads (and existing prospects) throughout their buying cycle is more important than ever before. There are fundamentally two types of leads – those that are sales-ready (ready, willing and able to buy now) and those that are marketing-ready (good prospects but need to be nurtured over a longer period of time).  How you handle each category will involve different tactics and approach, but for today let’s talk keep it simple and talk generically about the process as a ‘sales process’.

What is a Sales Process?
A sales process is defined as an approach to gaining new sales using predefined steps. Virtually all new homes sales involve the following steps by the sales reps:

1.      Prospecting – capturing and engaging with people; every lead is a prospective home buyer

2.      Initial Contact – qualification process

3.      Model Home or Sales Center Visit – assessing the buying indicators

4.      Handling Objections, Customizations, Incentives, etc. – proposing

5.      Offers – negotiations & closing the sale

6.      Customer Care – service after the sale

CRM Sales ProcessWhat differs constantly is the amount of time required for each step as well as what’s involved. One of the biggest challenges for sales reps is identifying where a prospect is in the sales cycle and moving them along the buying process.

Within Lasso, a Sales Process allows you to define an automated set of activities that are generated for your sales team as a prospect progresses through the sales cycle. You can create triggers that will allow a set of activities to be created for a prospect. By creating the activity for the prospect versus the sales rep, the prospect/lead never gets lost in the sales cycle due to changes within your organization or staff turnover. Plus mapping a sales process is like a homebuilders ‘blueprint’, it provides a starting point and a logical framework and workflow.

How do you go about setting up a Sales Process?
A sales process you create may be a triggered activity for the assigned sales rep to follow-up or an action that needs to be performed. Setting these processes accomplishes at least two things – it provides a reminder to the sales rep to follow-up and it keeps the prospect moving along the sales cycle.

Lasso Sales Processes can be setup for each step of the sales process. Here are examples of some great ways to use the Sales Process functionality in Lasso:
Sales Process Reminders

– A reminder to make a phone call within 4 hours of a prospect signing up on the website.
– A reminder to send a personal email within 24 hours (in addition to the auto-reply sent upon registration).
– A reminder for a 3rd day follow-up call that references a couple of the prospects buying interests.
– An alert to send a thank you card after they visit the sales center.
– A reminder to send flowers to a new purchaser.

The key to any sales process is to keep it simple so that you’re not bombarding your reps with a multitude of administrative tasks. Make it easy for your reps to follow through . . . if you want them to send a thank you card to a prospect that visited the sales center, have the cards readily available; or, if they are to send updated floor plans to a prospect, make sure the corresponding email template has the correct information.

Many will say that all this is just common sense and a good sales rep will do all these things intuitively – and yes, that may be true; but why leave anything to chance? A startling finding from The Yankee Group, a highly respected research firm showed “Up to 80% of leads are lost, not followed up, or mishandled.”

To maintain consistency of approach, promote your brand, ensure exceptional customer service and ultimately have your leads and prospects convert to purchasers, a little structure and direction for the sales reps is a worthwhile strategy. In fact, most sales people are more successful when they are guided by a specific sales process and are provided the tools for success.

By setting up Sales Processes, you will be well on your way to having your Sales Team working effectively in creating that deeper customer relationship, closing more deals, and using the science of technology as their ally in the art of selling. By developing a solid sales process work flow, perhaps we can modify that famous quote – “If you build it, he will buy.”

Dave Clements

Dave is founder and CEO of Lasso Data Systems, the leading CRM for homebuilders and real estate developers across North America. His passion for Customer Relationship Management is foremost that CRM is a core business strategy for home builders to grow revenue, increase profit and improve customer loyalty. His approach is a down-to-earth view that leadership, people and effective processes can leverage the advantages of technology to achieve better business results.