The Role of OSC
Online Sales Counselors (OSCs) continue to become more and more respected in the industry. The NAHB has referred to them as “your greatest asset”. The need for the role becomes more and more obvious as technology evolves and the way we shop continues to go more and more digital. We can shop for almost anything online today, with no exception to houses. The push for more digital content has allowed OSCs to aid in the sale of homes no matter where the buyer is.
It became obvious to home builders, especially those that build a lot of homes, that if they wanted to sell more homes and continue to increase their revenue, they had to incorporate an online sales program to adapt to their buyers. Builders who caught on to this early have built extraordinary programs, and continue to reap the benefits of adapting to the way their buyer shops. Some were more hesitant but eventually came around, had to play a little catch up, and now see why this role is so important. Whether an OSC program has been around for a long or short amount of time, technology has changed, adapted and improved and OSCs must adapt with it.
Where Technology Was When The Role Started
In the early 2000s websites began to launch for businesses everywhere, and while marketers learned more about the digital world, the number of people looking for products and information online increased year by year. Home building caught on to this, but during this time a website was simply a place to find some information, maybe learn a little more than was known before, and then exit. Fast forward a few years and more consumers were online shopping for homes, and marketers started to understand how to capture some of this online traffic. The next question became how to store and manage all the traffic coming in. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software became necessary for home builders as a way for marketers and salespeople to manage all of their leads. Not every home building organization gravitated towards a website and CRM right away, but those that did became the pioneers for OSCs. Home builders that were able to adapt to technology realized the need to sell to all of these leads they weren’t meeting in person.
Mastering the Website and CRM
Fast forward to the late 2010s and we see several builders with established OSC programs. While some builders are slow to the game, OSCs have made great strides and earned respect as a valued part of the sales team. OSCs have mastered the use of websites and CRMs. Builders’ websites have several ways to capture leads and new ways to capture online leads have been established via third parties like Zillow or BDX. The CRM can send communication immediately. Eventually some of these leads will turn into an appointment with an on-site sales agent. This process has become an art to OSCs and many of them have become very successful.
Where Technology Is Now
In 2007 the first iPhone was introduced to the world and forever changed the way we browse and shop online. Obviously smartphones allowed us to access the internet from anywhere, but what smartphones truly introduced to us were applications. Since the introduction of smartphones to the present day apps have become the normalized way of browsing, shopping, and communicating on our phones. Websites can be difficult to navigate on the screen of an iPhone, because of lack of size. Apps have offered a better way to accomplish our daily tasks. We can do things as complicated as booking flights or hotels on apps.
Apps also offer better tracking for marketers and salespeople. We can track activity on apps much better than we can on websites. Many apps require an account tied to an email address, which leads to more precise data on who’s shopping, when they’re shopping, and what they’re shopping for. Many companies offer app-exclusive promotions or send announcements out exclusively to members that have an account on their app. Businesses want consumers to have their app on their phone because it allows them to shop no matter where they are. It also offers a better buyer experience because of its convenience and digitality. Wouldn’t home builders want the same thing for their customers?
As mentioned before, OSCs have learned to leverage their website and CRM to deliver their prospects with information, but is there something missing here? Apps have become the most convenient way to access information and there is no exception to this in home building. Buyers looking for a home should be able to browse floor plans, community information, design options, etc. from an app. That’s a buying experience we are familiar with, but not only that, it’s a buying experience that we enjoy. When a buyer requests more information they shouldn’t provide a link that takes them back to the same place (the website) they were before. Sending them an email with some information isn’t enough either. If a buyer is requesting more information, it’s because they’ve seen enough from the website, Zillow, Facebook, etc, that now they want the next step.
NoviHome builds custom apps for home builders and allows OSCs to deliver more information than they ever could previously to their prospects. Not only is it giving the customer what they want, it allows the OSC to see exactly what their prospect buyer is shopping for on the app, tracking each individual, unique buyer, login to the builders app. The OSC can then use this tracking data to tailor their follow up to what they know the buyer is interested in. NoviHome is not replacing the website, nor is it replacing the CRM. These are still essential tools for any home building company and OSC team. But it’s time for the OSC to take another step in delivering information to their buyers through an app and get more accurate tracking on their buyers. New Home Sales