From Mike Blake, The Blake Group

I met a potential home purchaser just inside my model home door.  We exchange pleasantries and I proceeded to walk and talk them through a model home demonstration.  I knew they walked into my model home that day because I controlled the area, community, company and plan information they needed to buy a home.

Their desire for research information and my need for their buying criteria created a win-win relationship.  The point is I controlled the sales process because I controlled the information.

As I provided more information they disclosed more of their buying criteria essentially moving them down the critical path sales processes.

That was 2003, now fast forward to 2013.  Almost 96% of potential customers look online before making contact with a realtor or builder salesperson.  According to a PEW study 57% use online research to narrow down their buying criteria.

Why is this significant?

We as sellers no longer have exclusive control of the information buyers need to research for a home solution.  In fact, the Internet has created a situation that I call – Information Equilibrium.

Buyers are responding to greater access to information by collecting information, prioritizing needs and wants, investigating solutions and refining solutions before making contact with a builder representative.  Essentially they use the Internet to gain more control of the buying process.

So what’s the solution?

  • As marketing people we need to understand what potential purchasers are looking for online.
  • We need to develop marketing strategies that capture the interest of potential purchasers during their online research phase.
  • We need to more effectively engage and create dialogue with potential purchasers before they narrow their buying criteria.
  • Salespeople need to discover and understand what information the purchaser has collected and its relevance.
  • Salespeople will be more effective if they quickly discover what stage in the buying process the customer has reached.
  • The above discovery process will insure that the sales process is positioned to address the buying criteria of the purchaser.

Buyer’s access to information is not a passing phenomenon.  If fact, access to information found on the web will likely be more influential as new generations enter into the market place.  Except in a high demand housing market consumer’s access to information will lengthen the buying cycle.  This will place greater emphasis on developing long-term communication activities that create or maintain a dialogue.

Essentially we need to become as prospect focused as we are customer focused.

From Mike Blake of The Mike Blake Group

I think we can all agree that the use of the Internet to access information has not only changed how we acquire and consume products, but also changed the way we conduct our daily lives.

A traditional “view of economic behavior is that the two most important activities are producing and consuming.”  However today, a new economic behavior of connecting to people, creating and distributing information has emerged. I characterize access to information, interacting with others and distribution of information as the “connectivity age”.

Today, how consumers use information and multiple forms of communication to express themselves is a driving force behind changes in consumer buying behavior. The question is how do we adapt to the challenges of marketing and selling homes in this new age of connectivity?

First we must understand that the connectivity age has gained momentum with the proliferate use of smart devices. According to most technology experts, the use of connected devices like desktop computers will become obsolete in the next 10 years. Handheld smart devices are redefining business to consumer sales and in fact destroyed some aspects of traditional selling.  Consumers are using access to volumes of information found on the Internet to collect information, conduct research, compare options, refine a solution and in some cases bypass salespeople all together.

In fact, historic access to information has created an “information equilibrium” not previously seen before in history!  When buyers and sellers have equal access to information the dynamics of the sales processes changes.

In more complex sales environments such as home sales, equal access to information creates a sales environment which requires a more sophisticated set of selling and marketing skills to engage and influence buyer decision-making.

Equal access to information changed the home sales environment in three significant areas.

  1. Buyers can wait until they are further down the buying cycle before making contact with a builder representative.
  2. The sales cycle has become longer.
  3. On site salespeople are at a significant disadvantage when prospects do finally connect with a builder representative.

A key aspect to thrive in this new environment is finding ways to reach, connect and dialogue with potential customers earlier in the buying cycle.  This process is best achieved through the Internet. Companies that understand this challenge and develop activities to reach these prospects will thrive in our new “connectivity age”.


Mike Blake

The Mike Blake Group

www.mikeblakegroup.com

“Inspiring Top Performers”

mikeblake@ultimatesalesdriver.com

To help you better navigate your way through the “connectivity age” be sure to contact The BDX at info@thebdx.com

Come hear Mike Blake and BDX’s Chad Bria speak at the SEBC show in July when they present: “Buyers Vs. Sellers – Are You Ready?”. Click here for details: http://www.sebcshow.com

A first of its kind campaign in the home building industry, “Start Fresh. Buy New.” was launched in the spring of 2013 and already thousands of home shoppers each day are responding positively to the advertising and are engaging with the interactive website, StartFreshBuyNew.com. The campaign highlights the numerous advantages of buying a new construction vs. a “used” (i.e. existing) home. StartFreshBuyNew.com includes educational facts, useful features such as a Cost Savings Calculator as well as intriguing diagrams on how energy efficient appliances and features operate. BDX is promoting the site through over 37 million advertisement impressions each week and reaching nearly 50% of new home shoppers. With over 50,000 weekly visits to the “Start Fresh. Buy New.” website, potential home buyers are now equipped with the knowledge of what attributes really make a new home more desirable than a used one. (Click here for more background information about the new campaign.)

While the site is informative and has already been nominated for design awards, “Start Fresh. Buy New.” also boasts some impressive results which prove visitor interest in new homes. The campaign is driving over 10,000 visits per month to NewHomeSource.com, a site that connects new home buyers with builders. In fact, new home searchers who spend time on the “Start Fresh. Buy New.” site are converting to leads on NewHomeSource.com at a rate of 40% higher than the site’s average visitor. With research predicting the demand for new homes to grow to nearly 1.2 million each year, the market is clearly rebounding and will benefit from this focus on new home buyer education.

“Start Fresh. Buy New” has also connected with Pinterest users to drive awareness of the perks of owning a new home. Pinterest users had the opportunity to win a grand prize by creating a board of their favorite pins from NewHomeSource.com as well as answering a few trivia questions. With nearly 4,000 followers of NewHomeSource.com on Pinterest, the sweepstakes was a hit with over 2,300 Pinboards created to promote new homes. In fact, just last week the grand prize of $10,000 was awarded to a young mother in Chicago, Illinois. (See the “Start Fresh. Buy New.” Facebook page for more on the story.)

The “Start Fresh. Buy New.” Pinterest page isn’t the only social media site getting attention from buyers either. The campaign’s Facebook page and Twitter account have also grown into platforms for buyers to connect with builder professionals and other buyers to speak about their experiences with their own new homes. (Wanna get social with “Start Fresh. Buy New.”? Follow our Twitter account for daily new home buying tips and inspirational home designs.)

The campaign has also gained national coverage and attention from over 360 publications including spotlights in The New York Times, The Austin Business Journal, The Financial Times and Builder Online.

 So what’s next? Following the success of our previous study last summer, we are currently gearing up to start our annual Home Buyer Insight Study which is going to expand beyond our original 25 markets. This year we will add Portland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, Indianapolis, Columbus and San Francisco to the study. So stay tuned! We will keep you posted on the results of this research and the progress of the campaign.

If you are a builder and want to get involved in the campaign, we have created a Builder Toolkit exclusively for BDX clients to leverage the campaign marketing resources and research. This toolkit can be found within BDXLive, our client portal. If you’re not a BDX client and are interested in finding out how we can help your business succeed, email us to learn more.