Who’s Gonna Take The Blame?

I’m going out on a limb here! There are lots of people pointing fingers at each other looking to place blame regarding lackluster home sales. No matter which department you ask, you’re bound to get a different answer.

Ask your sales manager and he or she will tell you the main problem is the sales team simply refuses to sell up to their abilities, no matter how much training they’ve been given. When you go and speak with the sales team they sing the blues, claiming they just don’t have enough “good” leads. Off you march down to the Marketing Department and they tell you, with complete confidence, that there’s plenty of leads, but no one is closing them. The Construction Supervisor pops his head in and tells you he has the answer; your competition is beating the pants off you because they’re undercutting you on price while offering way more options. And on and on it goes….but do you really need me to tell you that sooner or later, the buck has to stop somewhere.

I will be the first to admit every answer above may have an element of truth. No sales person can close enough deals to make everyone happy, and can there ever be enough leads? You should be able to easily identify if your marketing team is doing their job, and regarding your competitors, well, not to get too cliché, but the proof is in the pudding and cream will always rise to the top. To find the right answers you have to identify the real problem, and that, Dear Builder, involves accountability.

No matter how you slice it, your business plan needs X number of sales for you to prosper in 2016. Let’s assume for argument’s sake your sales plan is meticulously thought out. Let’s say your goal is to sell 15 homes this year. Assuming 5% of prospects that visit your website will visit you in person at your sales center, you’re going to need about 120 new website visitors per week. This means you should have, on average, 6 potential buyers showing up to meet your sales team in the flesh—every week. Still with me? Great, let’s move on to what needs to happen next.

Your salesperson needs to account for 100% of those 6 leads and close about 4-7% of them every month. That may sound like a lot, but it equates to 1-2 sales per month.

Leads are the currency of sales! Without leads you simply aren’t going to get any sales. So let’s talk about the two “flavors” of your leads: first-timers and be-backs. Granted there will be different types of visitors, but all fall into these two categories.

First-time leads—be they visitors to your model or visitors to your website—are mainly the responsibility of the marketing department. Be-backs have been there, talked with a sales person or hostess, and made a decision to return for additional information or to purchase. Today, more than ever, each of your leads can easily be tracked. Whether you are actually tracking these all-important prospects is an altogether different can of worms.

Here’s a bold statement: If your sales person sells a house and that lead isn’t in your tracking system – be it Infusionsoft, Lasso or a scribbled on a notebook pad – that sales person should not be paid in full or at all. Why? Accountability my friend.

I wrote a blog last year titled “Your Sales Team Sucks”. In that blog, I stirred up quite the hornet’s nest when I mentioned sales people, on occasion stonewall their superiors or, even worse, tend to downplay how many visitors have come to the sales center. You’re under the impression that you had 4 prospects show up last week when in reality you really had 10. That means 6 potential homebuyers went unreported! Even though your sales person continued to try to close those 6 unreported visitors, they mislead you in an effort to pad the numbers to their benefit. This is a problem in more ways than one.

Taken further, the marketing department is firing on all cylinders, battling to bring in more leads. Their analytics (your marketing arm is performing analytics, right?) suggests there are more leads than are being reported. Something just doesn’t add up…

Ok, let’s not throw the sales team totally under the bus. I realize some leads aren’t ‘great’, but, nonetheless, they are leads. You’ve invested money in getting as many leads as possible, regardless of how viable those prospects are, you still deserve to have them reported.

Website leads are easier to validate, but the marketing team is no less accountable. Google analytics always presents the facts and easily monitors the who, what, when and where of your online lead activity. If the bounce rate on your home page is over 40%, the marketing department is responsible and has some work to do. That’s not the sales person’s fault, but it does become their problem as 90% of all sales begin online, usually from your website. A lack of traffic affects the sales person’s ability to close deals. If the number of web visitors is too low, the marketing team is accountable. Web leads drive face-to-face sales!

What about onsite traffic? Who’s responsible for that bad boy? Marketing! Your website is where homebuyers either choose or eliminate your company. A scruffy looking website equals an out-of-date builder in the eyes of a website visitor. Bad photography represents a poor quality builder. A poorly designed website equals immediate negative judgment from the visitor. Psychology has taught us that in the absence of adequate information, we tend to form negative opinions.

So what’s the bottom line? As a Homebuilder, you are judged by the way your website looks and performs! End of discussion. No one looks at a weak website and then jumps in their car to go visit that great builder: “Come on honey, I can’t wait to see that ugly house.” Your website is the key to legitimate face-to-face traffic results. Period. Sure Search Engine Optimization is important. Yes, retargeting, Facebook ads, Pay-Per-Click and email marketing will produce results, but inevitably, if the website is a disappointment, you lost that buyer.

Your marketing person/team should be held ultimately accountable for the number of onsite visits and the quality of your website. Are you holding their feet to the fire?

You, or your sales manager, or marketing manager—or whatever you call that person—needs to understand the metrics and hold people accountable. No more allowing sales to stack the lead deck in order to falsely increase their closing ratios. No more receiving contracts for people you’ve never even seen in the lead deck (ok, we’ll allow that on occasion). No more investing marketing dollars when the marketing team can’t prove a ROI. No more excuses why 150 web visits a week equals only 3 site visits and 2 phone calls a week. No more allowing leads to visit your website and vanish into the night like a panther in the darkness. All of the above is simply unacceptable! The tools to ensure you’re not falling prey to these tactics are readily available. Remember this: Every lead costs a builder hundreds of dollars, sometimes thousands. Holding every person accountable for their respective results, role and responsibility in the sales and marketing system is crucial.

Here’s a quick review:

  • Review and track every lead as though that person(s) is the only lead you have.
  • Understand the metrics necessary so you can hold your marketing team accountable for the right things regularly.

Stop the excuses. Ask the hard questions. Measure. You can only expect what you inspect. It’s time you know where every lead comes from and, more importantly, where they’re going!