How you can best help a customer in the housing market:
Welcome to episode 108 of Selling More Homes: The Monday Morning Meeting on Sales & Digital Marketing for Builders. This Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast features an informative discussion between Jerry Rouleau, Scott Stroud, and guest Jerry Costanzo of G.L Costanzo and Associates. Mr. Costanzo has a long background as a sales manager and consultant.
How soon would you like to be in your new home? What are you truly looking for? What is your budget?
These questions will dictate how you can best help a customer in the market for a new property.
Sit back and enjoy the informative discussion on how to properly match a potential buyer with a property that will best fit their wants and needs.
Click here to listen to Episode 108 of Selling More Homes: The Monday Morning Meeting on Sales & Digital Marketing for Builders.
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FULL TRANSCRIPT (with timecode)
00:00:01:22 – 00:00:14:22
This is the Selling More Homes podcast program number 108. This week, we speak with Jerry Costanzo of G.L. Castanzo and Associates, and you’re listening to the Selling More Homes Media Network.
00:00:20:06 – 00:00:25:12
Welcome to Selling More Homes, the Monday morning sales meeting for Jerry Relo. I’m Scott Stroud.
00:00:25:27 – 00:00:56:01
Every week we bring you interviews with sales and marketing professionals to help you find more buyers, close more sales, and earn more money in this challenging housing market. Whether you’re a realtor, builder, sales or marketing manager or new home specialist, this program has been designed just for you. Selling More Homes, the Monday morning sales meeting is a production of the Selling More Homes Media Network. So get ready to listen, take notes and enjoy this week’s program.
00:01:08:09 – 00:01:12:17
Welcome to Selling More Homes media network. I’m Jerry Relo. I’m Scott Stroud.
00:01:13:11 – 00:01:18:12
Well, welcome, Scott. Yes, we have back on the air again with us this week. We have Jerry Costanzo.
00:01:18:21 – 00:01:21:13
What a great speaker he is, his background.
00:01:21:18 – 00:01:55:20
You know, he does a lot of feasibility studies with corporations setting up their business plan and if they should go into that market, what kind of house styles and design they should do. But, you know, he’s also excellent and I believe he’s going to talk with us today about just staying in touch with our customers. And his background is is so varied. And he’s been a sales manager for companies prior to getting into the consulting business. So he’s a real pro. Why don’t we get them on the air? Jerry, welcome to our program.
00:01:55:22 – 00:01:58:18
Looking forward to your words of wisdom again today.
00:01:59:25 – 00:02:34:20
You’ve talked about a tracking system that you worked with over the years. I wonder if you could go through that with us. It really starts with the basis of which you can rate your customer in terms of the amount of time that you’re going to spend with them at this time. And it really starts with getting answers to three very basic questions. The first question is, and how soon would you like to be in your new home? Now, that gets at the idea of timetable. Once you know, timetable, you can determine where your product can fit into that.
00:02:34:22 – 00:03:06:00
If somebody tells you a timetable, I need something as close to right away as possible. And you’re a builder that only builds pre-sold, then you might have a little bit of a job to work with that customer to get them to wait. So anyway, the first question that you get an answer to is timetable. Those people that are truly hot prospects know their timetable. Second criteria is what are they truly looking for? And that is couched under the questioning. That says, what’s important to you in your new home.
00:03:06:19 – 00:03:46:21
It’s amazing because just adding that word important adds a dimension psychologically that people filter out sort of all of the wish-list stuff and now they focus in on what truly is important to them. So once you know what the key ingredients are, the things that are most important to the customer, then it’s your job to know whether or not your product is in the running. So that’s the second part of the equation. So now if you got somebody who’s hot based on the timetable question and now you got somebody who’s basically really interested in what you have to offer, they’re hot on what you have to offer them.
00:03:46:23 – 00:04:17:29
The last question is simply what budget or what price range do you have in mind? And that strikes up the idea of ability to move forward. It’s really nice to know that if a customer walks through the door and they’re thinking $250,000 and you’re thinking $275 or $300, even though they may have the ability to go up to that 300, their mindset is still back at 250. And that’s really what you have to be able to deal with.
00:04:18:07 – 00:04:52:07
And what most people forget to do is they deal with the 300 and say, well, our home started $300,000. And you said, well, $250. Well, what you have to do is you’ve got to translate that to the idea that it’s not a leap from zero to 300. It’s only a leap from 250 to 300 or an additional $50,000. And most people that have the ability to buy a home at $250 often can stretch to that $275 to $280 to $290, $300 if they really want what you have to offer.
00:04:52:26 – 00:05:27:22
So now, if you have all three of those ingredients and you know how soon, you know what’s important to them and you have it and you’re in sync basically on the ability to buy, you now have a hot prospect that you’re A prospect. To have a B prospect, which is just a little bit down on the scale. Always you need to have that first question timetable, because that’s the real key. You have timetable and then you’re going to have one of the other two. You may have the product that they’re most interested in or you may have that they have the ability to buy.
00:05:28:11 – 00:06:02:13
The beauty of the system is if you know that it’s product oriented, whether the void is you focus on product is the issue that you have is their ability to move forward. You focus your attention on your ability to buy when whether that’s financing programs or incentives or whatever that might be. And then everybody else falls into the category of C buyers and there’s nothing wrong with C buyers. And the reason why I love C buyers is because I did a study and believe it or not for a couple of years at communities in New Jersey.
00:06:02:15 – 00:06:34:04
And I took the rating that was originally done by the onsite salesperson. And I tracked that compared to their sales. And what we found was almost 50 percent of their actual sales after about six months were from people that originally were rated as C prospects. Interesting. So they had a continual follow up system with the B’s and C’s. Well, that’s exactly the point, Jerry. If you don’t have a follow up system that you are relentless.
00:06:34:06 – 00:07:05:03
And I and I mean, I chose that word on purpose. You have to be relentless to stay in touch with people. As a matter of fact, I don’t even call for a follow up anymore because that sounds like work. But I call it staying in touch and people don’t mind staying in touch. I mean, you do that with your friends. You do that with aquantences, you’d like to stay in touch. So what happens then is you now need to have a system of taking those ratings and staying in touch. And there’s a whole sequence of events.
00:07:05:05 – 00:07:35:16
We take the A prospects, for example, or the hot prospects. They walk in the door on Saturday. You’re going to be on the phone with if you didn’t get them to buy on the first visit, which is always a goal. But let’s say that that didn’t happen. And if you did it right, you should have predisposed them to the follow up phone call the next day and you’re going to call them the next day, because if they came in on Saturday or even Sunday, they may have seen something that they like that is one of your competitors offering.
00:07:35:27 – 00:08:07:18
And you need to know that pretty pronto so that you can intervene early on before they get too engrossed in the other person’s product. So first day after their visit is you got a phone call. Three days later, you got a second phone call. Five days later, you got a phone call. And all you’re trying to do in those phone calls is get them to come back. And what’s often missed in terms of follow up, especially phone calls to see, don’t ever ask the person to come back. The conversation goes something like this.
00:08:08:02 – 00:08:40:05
Well, hello, Jerry. This Jerry from Happy Trails. We saw each other last Saturday when you were out looking for a new home. I was just following up to see if you have any questions. Oh, you don’t have any question. Oh, well, you know, Jerry, if you find that you have some questions, you’ve got my number and card. Don’t hesitate. I’m here to help. Thanks a bunch. Hope you have a great day. Well, nowhere in there did we ever invite them to come back. So you just change it around a little bit. You say, hey, Jerry, this Jerry from Happy Trails, you were out Saturday.
00:08:40:07 – 00:09:10:25
We met. Well, you were looking for a new home. And I’m calling to invite you to come back out so we could continue to help you in your search for a new home. When’s a good time to do that. Because if you don’t invite them back, only the hottest of hot are going to come in and basically sell the home for you. And that happens. And thank goodness it happens once in a while. But I always say to my people, I said, you know, I’d like to know the people, but because of you, not in spite of you and a lot of sales people don’t catch on to that.
00:09:11:08 – 00:09:48:13
So those are the follow up phone calls. Then if they came in on Saturday, that evening, you write out your little invitation note. You know, dear Jerry, thank you for coming out. And I’d like you to come back. I’ll give you a call to see when that’s convenient, yadada dada. So that first call goes out and I like actually I like postcards. I’ve switched my thinking from a nice note card to a postcard because the postcard first of all, typically one side of it can have a really nice picture of the interior of a home or a couple of pictures of the interior, one of your homes.
00:09:49:10 – 00:10:22:15
But what happens is when the person gets it at the other end, fifty percent of the time, theoretically, your message should be face up and they’re going to look at it. They don’t have an envelope to mess with and open up. And most people are curious about what postcard that they get if it slips out the other side and there’s a space inviting a couple of pictures and people say, oh, what’s this? So they turn it over and they look at it and read it anyway. Right. So that’s the first contact. And then I like to send out a follow up note at about 14 days to the hot prospect.
00:10:23:07 – 00:10:59:11
And all the while you’re doing these phone calls and all the while you’re following up, you’re trying to get them to come back and also for you to determine whether or not they really were an A prospect or a hot prospect or whether or not there really may be a B or they might have found something that they just fell in love with and you’re out of the running and then, boom, they’re no longer a buyer for you, but they are now a buyer for somebody else. And we don’t like to have that happen, but it does happen. So then add 30, 60, 90 days, unless they’ve actually purchased, you send them another little note.
00:10:59:13 – 00:11:37:22
Usually it’s kind of automated. It might be a computer generated letter. It might be some fliers that you put some labels on. But whatever you do, you’re sending something out. And then after ninety days, you hold off until 180 days, because that seems to be sort of a magic point at one hundred and eighty days where they’re if they’re serious, they will be back in the market. And if they’re not too serious, then they’re really not there. B prospects you make that same phone call within the day, you also send everybody, by the way everybody gets their follow up or they’re staying in touch note right away.
00:11:38:11 – 00:12:18:02
No matter who they are, what level of interest they may have exhibited, everybody gets that card or whatever within a day or gets written out within the day and put in the mail with the B prospect. So you go from that first phone call the next. A two maybe a week to see how they’re doing and then maybe two weeks and then you follow into the same routine that you did for the A prospect of 30 days, you send them a note at 60 and 90 and then 180 days. You see, prospects are an interesting group because as I said, we found that about 50 percent of the sales actually came from people that were rated as a C prospect.
00:12:18:10 – 00:12:50:10
So those people it’s not nearly as intense, but it needs to be consistent. I had a great sales guy that was working in a very difficult community, and Ted was an absolute believer in staying in touch. I mean, he took the program that I put together and added to it. And I mean, he was phenomenal. And he told me the story about one day, sitting in his office on a Saturday or a Sunday, and a guy walks in with a whole stack, literally a stack of letters and flyers that Ted had sent out.
00:12:51:00 – 00:13:23:15
And he walked in to Ted’s office, he dropped them on his desk and he says, stop it, I’m ready to buy. And Ted sold him a home. And that was somebody that, you know, just fell into the groove of an automatic kind of a system. Now, if you have any kind of traffic after a while, it can get to be a monumental task to keep track of all that. And that’s where some of the systems that are available for customer contact management are really an important ingredient in making it all come together.
00:13:24:07 – 00:14:17:21
You know, I don’t endorse any one over the other, but there are a couple of pretty good ones that are out there. Some smaller builders wind up using some programs that are really designed as a general follow up program, such as ACT or goldminer. One of those and you can modify those. Now, there’s another important ingredient, and that is that part of that follow up process is also the gathering of some critical information. So not only do you need to get a visitor card filled out so you have a way to contact people, but you also want to have some basic demographic information included in what you want to be able to do then is take demographic information, hopefully put it into a computer and look at those people that purchased and compare that to the demographic profile of people walking through the door.
00:14:18:19 – 00:14:33:21
And the reason why that’s so important is you may be getting some sales from one group, but you’re really attracting more of a different group and you’re looking out to get enough sales that, you know, everybody’s basically someone happy.
00:14:38:12 – 00:14:41:25
Well Scott, can we stay in touch enough with our customers?
00:14:42:19 – 00:14:55:05
No such thing until they tell us it’s too much or know we should be not joined at the hip with them, but at least make them feel like they’re important to us and that their business is important to us and that we’re here to serve them.
00:14:56:12 – 00:15:16:03
You know, if our salespeople, realtors and, you know, people who work with builders would just stay in touch with their customers more often, they’d be amazed how much more extra sales that they would make. But there’s some reason they’re afraid. They continue that policy that they think that they’re going to be after or something of that nature. I don’t I can’t figure it out.
00:15:16:24 – 00:15:39:20
They don’t want to be pushy. I hear that so often. And you think, you know, for years and years and years we’ve been dealing with this one. Wouldn’t it be a pushy salesman or salesperson? But your customers are looking for somebody to help them buy. You know, you don’t need to be pushy Bushies when you contact them with, you know, for your own reasons, you’re contacting them for their reasons and to help them get what they want. But it’s not pushy. That’s helpful.
00:15:40:21 – 00:15:55:16
And what Jerry did with us here today is his is breaking it down into an aide, lasciviousness, evilest and, you know, and working out and it’s amazing how many individuals will actually buy from you down the road if he just sat with them.
00:15:55:21 – 00:16:03:26
Yeah, exactly. And yeah, I love that point is that half of the sales are going to come from your list if you if you work them correctly.
00:16:04:12 – 00:16:12:03
Yeah, right. Well, just another great interview and you keep enjoying this more and more each week that we do on.
00:16:13:15 – 00:16:23:27
Gerri, it’s certainly been edifying for me, I think I’ve got the best job working with you and listen to these people, the best job in housing. So I appreciate that.
00:16:24:18 – 00:16:44:24
Well, you know, it’s nice when all of these industry professionals are coming together to provide our listening audience with just a little journalism tips that can enhance their job. And again, we’re not the great expense of of having these people come to your office. They’re coming to your office of the year via the Internet and the audio, which is great. Yeah.
00:16:45:09 – 00:17:18:25
Hey, Gerri, just had a thought here. We’ve been talking about follow up here with Gerri Costanzo. And just a week or two ago, we had a webinar on this topic of follow up with Melinda Browdy, and that’s still available. The recording is still available. That one hour program, it’s a video recording. You can register for it, purchase it, download it and watch it as often as many times as you like. And it’s available at Goulder Radio Dotcom.
00:17:18:27 – 00:17:27:03
You’ll see the big webinar market on the right side of the page. Go there and click down and get Melinda Browdy on 10 tips for follow up.
00:17:28:05 – 00:17:43:11
You know, and as well as going back and looking back at any of the other archives of full coaching sessions that we did with some of the other experts in the industry, those are still available to purchase and download and listen to it when you’re getting at your office.
00:17:43:16 – 00:17:56:08
By the time we finish up 2009, we’ll have 18 of those coaching sessions. Belinda Brody just being one of them. So be sure to check out our archives there and find the ones that you like or all of them.
00:17:56:29 – 00:18:02:15
Well, until next week, I’m terrible. I’m Scott Stroud and thanks for listening to the phone call home.