As selling season winds its way through new times for the homebuilding industry, how will builders and real estate developers continue to engage in new ways? The answer is understanding what your customer path desires and how consumers want to connect with your education and decision points.
Today’s marketers are faced with a myriad of challenges; API connectivity, brand cohesion, technology capabilities, sales team configuration, analytic acumen, budget constraints and good ol’ time management. Picking the right software and hardware for the challenges at hand are never a simple “yes” or “no” but an engagement of Q&A, time, discovery, and approvals to get new ideas and new tech products to market.
So how do you unfold what your customers really want? There are a few courses to take. First, what is your sales team saying about your customer engagement and interactions. More than anyone, they understand what tools are missing, what customer stopgaps exist, what the competition offers, and where there is an opportunity to close a home earlier or faster in the process. Why? Because even in slower times, time IS money, and good salespeople are observant of the process to successful closings and happy homeowners.
Second, analyze where your customers are spending their time in your marketing path, and yes, that starts online. What pages get the most time, what plans and feature showcase the most interest, and where do customers fall short of information to take their experience or their engagement farther? You will get a ton of insights by listening to your Online Sales Counselors. Wait, you don’t have any? Well, that is your first low hanging piece of fruit to pick! With an online sales team they will echo the needs, wants and gaps from your customer experience online. Whatever your customer cannot find or feel confident about to make an appointment or take that next step to drive to your community, or better yet, press a buy-now button, can be uncovered by conversations, chats and inquiries left throughout the process of home discovery on your website! Your online sales teams are also huge adopters of your tools and likely will help set them up. Keep them in the loop of your process to better your customer engagement!
Discover the areas you are lacking – chat features, offering after hour Q/A, appearing to be available nearly 24-7 (even considering your after-market- homebuyer audience) , lack of community appeal and draw, homesite information, floorplan configuration, competitive placemaking and storytelling video, photo-realistic renderings for those out of town migrating buyers and pure high-class brand enhancing visual details that showcase how you sell in today’s virtual world! Ask yourself, are we doing enough to show our buyers we care about their experience from first sight and first homesite? If the answer is no, it’s time to look for applications and features on your website AND sales office that can offer an integrated experience upgrade!
Start by taking your list of “misses and lost marketing opportunities” and prioritize what can move the mark on your experience. Depending on your needs and wants, each builder may prioritize differently and spend money or more money in different areas. Again, align your choices with your builder’s value. Make sure you understand what all your technology vendors offer and where they lack. I guarantee you there are differences to be uncovered not just in quality and price, but in development, timeline, service, competitive edge, and innovation.
It’s important that during your discovery process you ask a ton of questions like: what is the timeline to implement, what is the process to implement, how do your apps integrate with my existing selling tools and/or CRM, what does reporting look like, how do I update information, how easy is it to make updates, where does the data live, what does a successful application of your services look like (case studies), what data do I get in the process and do you offer additional data or analytics support? Next, look at the process to get a new application integrated into your selling channels and the timeline. Sometimes cost and timeline can impact the feasibility to implement in a calendar year and where on the priority list your application additions may move. Once you have your needs list, your vendor core competencies, prices, and your timeline, you are ready to sell it to your leadership and division teams to them start the implementation process.
So, asking “what the app?” isn’t an answer about a discovery strategy that helps you understand which app to invest in and use. It’s about first knowing what your customers want, what your sales team needs, and where in the priority list it is feasible to make the investment because each builder is simply different.