Okay, so Iâm not the Senior VP of Marketing, and I donât have 12 years of sales experience, but Iâll tell you what I doÂ have! Â I have experience shopping for a home in todayâs market.Â Â My wife and I have been on the prowl for the last couple months trying to find our dream home. Â From a shopperâs perspective, I can tell you the 5 things that your sales team can do in order to boost your marketability without any costs involved!
1~ Make sure your traffic questions get answered
Take time to think about what you want to ask your potential home buyers.Â This allows you to better help your prospects purchase a home from you.Â Your sales staff is Sherlock Holmes and traffic answers are the clues you need to solve a potential buyerâs home shopping mystery.Â Â This means youâll need to enforce your sales people to ask the questions and make sure the prospects answer them too.Â Easier said than done?Â Not really.Â Having prospects register on your website is a great place to fill out the traffic card because itâs a fast and easy way that also specifies the mandatory fields.Â But make sure this information doesnât just get emailed somewhere and forgotten about, never to be used again.Â Make sure this information gets stored in your database where you can run a report to see a list of your highly qualified, potential buyers and act on them.Â This is where IHMS comes in to play.Â
IHMS has a feature that lets any prospect cruising your website enter their name and contact information.
It also allows them to answer your traffic questions from your Web site.Â Best of all, it deposits the prospectâs information right in to the IHMS piggy bank to be cashed in on later.Â Each prospective buyerâs name appears right on a contact report and is instantly available in the IHMS sales database and emailed to the community representative.Â Â On the spot database collection of leads ensures that an email doesnât get spam blocked, junk mailed, or discarded accidentally.Â It also eliminates reentry while transferring from one data base to IHMS.Â There couldnât be a better way to funnel your leads in to your sales peopleâs waiting hands than making sure they go directly from your website to the IHMS database with no additional work.Â Click here to download the ITK Prospect Registration Setup guide.Â Â
2~ Continued follow up with EVERY lead
On my 30 minute drive to work I listen to 20 radio commercials, see 10 billboards, and see 20 cars and trucks with their companiesâ name and phone number plastered all over them.Â Â During lunch I see 20 adds in the newspaper and notice 50 advertisements on the way to checking my personal email.Â I get home from work and get 10 pieces of junk mail.Â After dinner I order tickets to a baseball game on the internet and am bombarded with at least 50 ads.Â I watch my favorite TV shows before bed and channel surf during the barrage of commercials Iâve seen countless times.Â The point is that every person must see over 1000 advertisements a day. Â Easily.Â 99% of those ads donât stick and thatâs why advertising alone isnât enough to get the job done.Â
You have to attack any form of interest you get.Â I registered with a national homebuilder (I wonât say which one) and expressed interest in one of their many communities by registering on their website.Â I received one email from the community sales representative and after they found out this community wasnât perfect for me, I havenât heard back from this sales team at all.Â Okay, maybe Iâm not the perfect lead, but beggars canât be choosers. They should be hounding me at least once a week via email with news about the attractiveness of their communities. Â I am buying a house this year, and itâs going to be from the homebuilder that doesnât give up on me.Â
IHMS has the ability to define a set of follow up activities for every prospect (i.e. phone calls, emails, and brochures).Â IHMS Follow Up Groups are dependent on traffic responses, and can be tailored to specific demographics.Â The key thing is they determine the attention that each prospect will get from your sales people.Â These scheduled phone calls and emails are displayed on an open contact report for each sales person so they can target their contacts towards interested onlookers. Â Â This ensures that no prospect gets overlooked and continued contact with prospective buyers is demanded from your sales staff.
3~ Email Correspondence
This is very, very important.Â Everyone needs to get emailed. Â Â This includes your âAâ prospects and your bottom of the barrel âCâ prospects.Â Your prospects that purchased from another builder and those that purchased one of your beautiful homes last year all need to be kept in the loop with newsletters, announcements, and especially advertising!Â Donât think you canât advertise to someone who bought one of your homes and even someone who bought a home from one of your competitors, because every person has a friend or co-worker whoâs looking for a home!Â
Take the following example. I joined a gym nearby work, and I get an email once a week that explains the sales promotions currently taking place.Â I asked the owner during conversation, why she sends me promotional emails when Iâm already a member.Â She said, âBecause youâre one of my best salesmen.âÂ I came to realize that I usually forward those emails to my co-workers and talk about the deals my gym has going on during lunch. Â Not even thinking about it, I was the catalyst that got three of my co-workers to join her gym.Â Â
I want to stress that everyone you enter in your IHMS prospect database should get some type of regular, tactful email correspondence from your sales team. Â I understand you are reluctant to do so in order to not be discourteous or an annoyance to your buyers.Â But email marketing is something that is now expected from any professional company.Â If your company is not leveraging email marketing youâll actually look less professional.Â
You should also try and target your specific marketing emails to the appropriate demographics.Â For instance, send a lovely email about the great school district to current homeowners, and a different email to first time buyers explaining how they can take advantage of the First Time Home Buyer $8,000 Tax Credit.Â Can this be easily accomplished?Â Yes.Â The IHMS Traffic Statistic Detail Report allows you to export the prospects from your database out to Excel with the name, address, and email address of your targeted demographic.Â Best of all, it allows you to isolate prospects that answered âyesâ to the question of whether or not they had kids, or target prospects that answered ânoâ to the traffic question of whether they currently own a home. Â This allows you to send the âtax credit promo emailâ to first time home buyers, and the âwhat a fantastic school district letterâ to the buyers with children.Â Â Click Here to see a demo of how you can use the IHMS Traffic Statistic Report to key in on a specific buyer demographic and do an email blast.
Â 4~ Start a Facebook Group!Â
Yes, it started as a college thing. Â And yes, the average age might not be anywhere close to whatâs necessary for your active adult communities, but this is a FREE marketing presence. Â Moreover, the number of adults that are subscribing to this social networking forum isÂ increasing profoundly.Â
On the Centex Homes group it says:
|Â This group is for all of the Centex employees across the country to network and hear what is going on coast to coast!
Invite your Centex friends to join!Â After all, we wouldn’t want Pulte having a bigger presence, right?
This group is all about inter-company networking, right?Â Wrong!Â Itâs another way to build a presence on the web and easily branch out to a lot of people very quickly.Â The same thing goes for Twitter and LinkedIn â this is something that you can take advantage of easily.Â Start a competition in your sales department to see who can get the most friends to join the group.Â Plus, this is a great area to announce youâve won an award, opened a new community, and link to your website!Â What does this have to do with IHMS?Â Not much.Â But, all of us here at Mark Systems will gladly be your first friend on your Facebook group!Â
5~ $8,000 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit!
This tax rebate is quickly coming to an end, but it is still strong motivation for buyers to move in to your standing inventory up until November 30. Â It should be plastered all over your website, sales offices, and marketing materials. The national builders, like Centex and Lennar, are doing a great job at putting big motivational banners on their website advertising the tax credit, and so should you!Â $8,000 is available to every first time home buyer that will never have to be paid back!Â Â This is a big deal considering 35-40% of the current market share consists of first time homebuyers and other buyers who havenât owned a home in the last 3 years.Â Right now this is one of the single biggest motivating factors to push my wife and me to purchase our first home.Â It also will be a big help because we can use that money to pay a yearâs worth of property taxes (around $8,000 in my area of NJ), or we could easily use this free cash to furnish our new home.Â Â
Â Get on the NAHBâs website and get the information you need.
Â Hereâs the bottom line:
- The tax credit is worth 10% of the home purchase price, and caps out at $8,000, which means almost any home purchase will qualify for full tax credit.Â
- If you are buying a house alone, your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) can be up to $75,000 a year and if youâre married youâre AGI can be up to $150,000 to qualify for the full tax credit.Â
- The tax credit can be claimed when filing your 2008 tax return if you havenât filed yet, or when filing your 2009 tax return.
- The tax credit is only available from January 1, 2009 to November 30, 2009 for buyers that âsettleâ in their home within this date range.Â If you buy a home on November 10th but donât settle on the home until 2010 you donât qualify for the $8,000.
- A “first-time home buyer” is someone who has not owned a principal residence during the three-year period prior to the purchase of their home.
Use the NAHB website as a resource.Â Click here to get a printable color brochure provided by the NAHB that can be handed out at your sales offices and linked to on your website.
The Integrated Homebuilder Management System can help you accomplish all of these tasks (aside from starting a Facebook group) and is an essential tool to manage and follow up with leads.Â Mark Systems conducts creative web classes on sales and marketing every month.Â For more information, visit: http://www.marksystemsusa.com/home_builder_webclasses.php
-Richard Finelli is an IHMS Technical Consultant and Project Manager at MARK SYSTEMS