FloorPop  - Marketing Best Practices for Homebuilders, July 4, 2007
Vol. 8, Issue 4: Copyright 2007 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

FloorPop FloorPop (Flr-pop) n. 1. The new home buyer who visits a homebuilder's community and writes a contract for sale the same day. 2. The sound made by a salesperson clicking their heels high in the air and returning to the floor after a prospect signs a contract to buy a new home the day they first meet.

How to Get More Leads, How to Convert More Leads

Tulsa, Oklahoma is a small, but good, homebuilding market. Being a smaller market, with limited relocation and easy commutes, lead volume for builders tends to be low. Many home shoppers are reluctant to give up their contact information and prefer to just visit communities without ever becoming a lead. Many builders in these smaller markets are reluctant to add an Online Sales Counselor (OSC). They just don't feel they have enough leads.

Simmons Homes is the leading builder in Tulsa. They have no problem generating lots of leads and converting a great many of them into sales. Here's how they do it.

First a little background. Simmons created an OSC program in October of 2005. When Simmons started their OSC program they were generating well under 100 leads per month. Since that time, they have added NewHomeSource.com, Move.com, NewHomeguides.com, and pay-per-click campaigns to drive up their website leads and third party leads. They have improved their monthly lead volume by 491%, plenty for an effective OSC program.

Simmons sees 20-25% of their total sales coming from their Internet leads. I spent some time this month with Mike Lyon, OSC for Simmons Homes, about techniques for converting more of these leads into sales. Mike is a master of online sales. His strength is in setting appointments. You can order his book on the subject here. After reading it, I would consider buying it just for his phone scripts.

While, Lyon's most effective channel is his own website, he measures everything. According to Lyon, "I measure performance basically on the amount of leads, the conversion rate on those leads, and what we spend. Ultimately it comes down to the cost per contract. Ultimately, it is the contract that determines the value."

Lyon is pretty aggressive with all of his distribution channels, but he cautions, "See which ones works the best for you and gives you the most bang for the buck."

So, Simmons has several channels and great conversion rates. How do they do it? Their key is appointments with approximately 20% of leads converting to an appointment. Lyon's best friend is the phone. "Ultimately on the phone, because on the phone, you can talk with them, qualify them better, learn more about their needs and ultimately set an appointment."

He shared with me a few of the scripts he uses. Here's one: "I'd like to set up a time for you to come see our model home. What works best for you, the weekend or the weekday?" Lyon states, "Just by asking, your scheduling rate can go up immediately."

Did one or two of you out there cringe when I said scripts? Lyon is not scared of scripts, "It is all about the delivery. Learning a script is not about delivering a canned message to a buyer, because that is going to turn off anybody." Lyon sees scripts as somewhat liberating. "The benefit of the script it that you know the information so well that it comes off friendly and allows you to handle the objection." According to Lyon, getting the objection is half the battle. Here are a couple of Lyon's objection scripts:

Prospect: "I have to check with my husband or significant other.
Lyon: "Well that's great, it sounds like you are interested. If it were up to you are you generally more available on the weekdays or weekend? Let's just set it because we are so busy I want to make sure we have a time scheduled. You can call me if that does not work and we can reschedule it."

Prospect: "We are just looking or just started looking..
Lyon: "That's great. Just looking is the fun part. While you are, you don't have any pressure. What I want to do is set a time so you can see our models first hand and determine which home is going to best fit your needs so you know it now. There is not going to be any pressure on you and I will tell the sales reps you are just there looking."

There's a lot more in Lyon's book. You can get more leads by expanding your distribution. Once you get those leads, leverage these conversion tactics and see your Internet related sales volume rapidly improve.

P.S. As some of you may know, I am an avid runner and will be running in the Chicago Marathon on October 7th in support of the Chicago Police Department's Memorial Fund. Any support of this cause would be greatly appreciated.
The Memorial Site:
http://www.cpdmemorial.org/
Donate at My Fund Raising Site: http://www.active.com/donate/TeamCPDmemorial/BKuhnen

Thank you for your support.

Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop. He is VP of Marketing for Builder Homesite, the consortium of 38 major homebuilders that created the leading builder portal, NewHomesource.com (http://www.newhomesource.com).
He can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.

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Contributors to FloorPop this Month

Mike Lyon, Online Sales Counselor at Simmons Homes, can be reached at 918.406.8820 or via email.
His website address is http://www.doyouconvert.com/.

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