Methods of virtual communication for successful home sales during the pandemic
BY MIKE LYON
Current public health concerns have forced new home sales professionals in some markets to shift increasingly, if not exclusively, to “virtual” selling. While there is no replacement for an in-person visit to tour a model home or sales center, virtual appointments can certainly be used to maintain interest, keep the lead pipeline full, and move prospects along the sales journey. Virtual selling, after all, has been used for years for out-of state-buyers.
While physical distancing should be the norm, social distancing should not. What I mean is this—human beings, by nature, are social, and we should work hard to maintain our human connections throughout this time. We can accomplish this virtually, but it means adopting new skills, tools and an enhanced mindset to do it.
The first step is to start with the content you have in order to attract leads and convert them to prospects. To be competitive in normal times, you should have already built an arsenal of interactive content that you can pull from and organize for virtual selling. This may include Matterport tours, interactive photo galleries, drone videos of communities, video tours, interactive plat maps, and interactive floor plans.
These are visually powerful tools that customers should have access to from the first point of contact. Take the process you have in place for relocation, military and overseas buyers and apply it to every lead and prospect.
Methods of Communication
Seventy-five to 80 percent of human communication happens visually, and video allows for people to pick up visual clues about your personality and intent. There are two primary types of communication – synchronous and asynchronous—and both can be deployed using video.
Synchronous is another word for 2-way, or back-and-forth, communication that happens in real time. Think FaceTime, Zoom, GoToWebinar or Skype. Synchronous communication can only happen when there is a level of trust between you and the person on the other end. In the new home sales process, synchronous communication only happens about two percent of the time, which is why it’s so important to build trust first using asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous is 1-way communication that is typically used before and after a new home sales appointment. Think of this as sharing information, scheduling an appointment, or saying thank you. For new home prospects, instead of sending an email or text, consider sending a short video email so that you 1)
put a face to your name, 2) establish a more personal connection from the beginning, and 3) start to build much-needed trust.
While video is our preferred way to communicate “virtually” with new home sales prospects, not every interaction calls for video.
How to Look and Sound Your Best Virtually
When it comes to virtual conversations, it should be shorter than in-person meetings. Don’t expect to go through your entire sales presentation or do a full-home tour and maintain the attention of your virtual customer.
Keep your meetings simple. Don’t overcomplicate this meeting. Stick to a few important points, which hopefully you confirmed in your pre-appointment communication. Remember, a virtual appointment is meant to keep the process going and the engagement level high.
In your meetings, make eye contact. Instead of looking at yourself or the person you’re talking to on the screen, look directly at the camera. This will feel strange, but to the person on the other end, it will appear as if you’re looking directly at them. Again, the point is to establish a human connection.
Another tip is to use your hands. In real life, people talk with their hands. Express yourself and move naturally as you would in an in-person conversation. This helps to disarm your customer and ease their hesitation.
There are dozens of tools to choose from, and most work just fine. Based on surveys we’ve conducted of our builder partners, here are the tools being used most by home builders today:
- FaceTime – Use for face-to-face live conversations or to demonstrate product.
- Zoom – Use for showing something on a screen or co-browsing with your customers.
If you are selling virtually, make sure you can close virtually, too. Don’t forget to use a tool like DocuSign to collect necessary signatures.
Prior to COVID-19, home builders who incorporated video into their sales processes saw higher response and engagement rates. Today, more organizations have been forced into adopting new video technologies and thinking through how to use them. The task may seem daunting, but with a well thought out strategy, lots of practice, and the right expectations, virtual selling can become your new normal, too.