Focus Discussion of the Week:
Alexis Udine and Laura Stortz talk specifics when it comes to OSC and Online Marketing collaboration. The OSC gets to hear straight from your buyers what they are looking for and the questions they are asking. By working together, your OSC can enhance your marketing content so your content addresses the things your buyers want to hear most!
Alexis: Hi, everyone. Welcome to building perspective, season three, this is episode three already. And I’m going to be your host today. Alexis Udine, along with my fabulous co-host, Laura Stortz.
Laura: So happy to be here.
Alexis: Yes. And Laura and I are, we’ve been working together for a very long time. I don’t want to age us or anything, but what has been over a decade of working together and Laura is…
Laura: We’ve been working together a while.
It’s, it’s such a pleasure to be here this many years later, talking about today’s topic. We’ve come a very long way in a decade.
Alexis: Sure. It’s been a great decade. And today we’re talking about something that is near and dear to my heart, as well as yours, which is how important the collaboration is between your marketing strategies and your online sales team.
And this is something that I really don’t think we’ve talked about in depth, and it’s so important for the two to be synced and go hand in hand. And one of the advantages of Group Two, being that we have so many services, not to kind of tout things, but our online sales coaching program can be synced with your marketing strategies and when the two of them are together, it’s pure magic. And so that’s what we’re kind of going to dive in today. Specifically we’re going to be talking about Heartland Builders, which Laura is actually the builder marketing manager. And I am the coach of the OSC to this builder.
So that’s specifically what we’re going to dive in today. Laura, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who Heartland is and the background of them in Group Two.
Laura: Yes. So you mentioned Heartland Builders. They are an on your lot custom builder who builds in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, Western Michigan area.
We started working with them in 2018. So about four years ago this month. So it, I can’t believe it’s already been four years. But just to give you an idea, they had a goal of selling about 12 homes back in 2018.
The owners of Heartland Builders are Cindy and Rich. They’re a husband and wife team.
They’re amazing and wonderful. What you’ll learn over the course of this podcast is Cindy has been our contact primarily for the whole four years. We’ve been working together and she has worn so many hats. She was the OSC, the sales person, the marketing person, she was everything.
And so they did not have this role of the OSC for really the first three and a half years of us working together. Only recently. I think they started with us and you will access back in August is when we brought them on for the OSC program and the coaching. We really found that Cindy did not have the time to be properly following up with and nurturing leads that were coming through the website. So that was one of her many, many tasks that she was handling. And while she is a fabulous salesperson and wonderful with all the prospects who she has dealt with, there wasn’t enough of her to go around.
After a couple conversations of that, we realized it was probably a good time to bring you Alexis into the mix and see what was our program about how would this role be able to alleviate Cindy and give this task to someone else. So Cindy could do what she really does best, which is work with the prospects, one-on-one have meetings, all of that.
So we pulled you in and things really kind of went off from there.
Alexis: It’s interesting because what you said is what you find with a lot of builders. So it’s not uncommon for a person to wear multiple hats, especially when you’re a smaller builder, right? So you have people that are playing pseudo OSC with no follow-up process.
And so if a contact came in, she would follow up and she actually answered the phone, but she was really doing the bare minimum because she can’t do it all. And this is same thing we see when builders say, I’m not going to hire a dedicated OSC. I’m just going to have my onsite sales teams manage what comes through.
They can do it. They know how to sell. They know how to follow up. But what happens is you’re more focused with the people in front of you and the people that you’re meeting face-to-face with. And so those online leads kind of fall by the wayside and it’s to no fault to anyone. It’s what happens when builders don’t have this dedicated role.
And I think that’s what Cindy was starting to notice.
Laura: Yeah, I think she definitely realized that and, and could acknowledge, and I give her a lot of credit for acknowledging that she couldn’t do it all. And she did see that this was an area that they were probably suffering a little bit. And she, she was willing to figure out what the solution was and how, how could she get some help?
Alexis: And 2021 was a pivotal a year for a lot of builders. Like many people didn’t have OSEs and like 2020 and 2021 was the year that like, okay, it is time. And so we did see that across many, many builders that we work with, they, they were the role was new to them.
And so she trusted in us. And I have to say they’ve been absolutely wonderful to work with, but there was some hesitations and there was a lot of back and forth and it was even like okay. Do I have enough volume? Like you said, what does this role look like? So do I have enough leads coming through to warrant a full-time position?
And we worked with Cindy directly to help come up with a job description, kind of task and responsibilities. So we were really, really hands-on. With the description and even the hiring process. So we were completely involved and Cindy kind of handle all the applications she met with people and she said, I have someone that I want you to meet. I think she’s pretty special.
And from working with builders across the country and doing this role myself, I know that it takes a very. The special certain person to be an online sales counselor. You have to have a certain personality, a certain drive, a certain level of organization. And so it was really, really nice to be part of that process.
And immediately after doing a zoom with Alex, who’s our OSC. I was like, Cindy, I think this is a great fit. I asked her like some questions and all that. You can also tell by like sending questionnaires, they get back to you right away. Speed sells. And we know that an online sales counselor has to be very speedy with their follow-up and their responses.
And that’s always a good sign when they do that. So we were completely part of the hiring and the training. So immediately we hired her and we got her, we had to do everything right. We had to get the whole 60 day plus process in their CRM. They didn’t have that. She had some basic things, but she didn’t have a full on process.
So we helped craft that for them. And part of the deal was really making it very personalized to who they are. They really wanted it to be their messaging their voice. And that’s another thing that, where the marketing kind of comes in. So we collaborated with a process that sounded like who they were as a builder and how they wanted to come across.
And then we got her up and running. We set up Callrail cause they hadn’t had that before. So there was a lot of new systems and processes and they were very open, but we did have some more cutout for us to get this going. And you were part of that, even with CallRail, I said, Laura, where are we marketing?
What numbers do we need? And again, people were able to work directly, even with that setup, which I thought was really, really nice.
Laura: Yeah. And I want to go back to cause I don’t think we, we said this very directly, but they had never had this role before. This was something completely brand new.
There is a little fear and hesitation with builders who have never had the role. It feels a bit overwhelming. They don’t know where to start. And I think this was such a great example of us working, not only together, Alexis, you and I, but also working with, with Heartland and Cindy and Alex and making sure they felt comfortable.
Like was the timing, right? I know we went back and forth about when do we even put an application out there or are we ready? We were able to talk all of that through, and I think that really worked in our favor in the end. And I also think you have to be patient because this is a role that’s a very specific role that does require a very specific personality and person and, and Heartland specifically has a very custom brand and tone of voice and, they didn’t want just anyone.
Alexis: And Cindy was specific about that. And I think she should be, she it’s her company and she wanted the right person. She wanted to make sure that Alex was representing who they were and how they were bubbly and friendly, all of it. It was really fun to be part of that and work with you.
And I got to say, sometimes it’s even hard to like, get the phone, like, you know, Cindy was so used to being the only person answering the phones to say Cindy it’s time. And I think you took a vacation for the first time in life, which was so nice because you, you need that. You need that flexibility. You need to have someone to depend on.
So it was really great. Do that. So long story short, we get Alex up and running. She signed up for our 90 day program and we kind of let her fly. And the great thing is we continued our training. So I’m still now in almost six months of working with Heartland Builders. And it’s wonderful to see Alex thriving and really enjoying what she’s doing.
So it’s a continued relationship and because we continued it beyond those three months, it has allowed you and I to continue to work together and kind of brainstorm. What can we do to take this to the next level? What else can we be doing for our prospects? And that’s what we want to segue into today.
Right? So we started talking back and forth and I think you first asked to sit on one of our training calls. I think it was right.
Laura: I don’t remember what the order of it was. I know that we knew from the beginning how beneficial it would be for you and I, to be able to sit on each other’s calls like you on the marketing call me on the OSC calls and learn from each other and kind of poke holes where maybe someone hadn’t poked holes before. See where things maybe we were missing something or, you know. I, so I think with that said this is a great opportunity to talk about a few things that we have collaborated on specific examples where it has worked really well.
And I think it was really beneficial that we have this opportunity to work together. So I want to bring up one example. I think we were having a marketing call where you were, you were part of it, Alex had already been brought on board. And one of the points of discussion on our call was about blogging.
Heartland is part of our blog program and we have great blog content every month. And we were talking about how can we get more people reading our blogs? How can we get more eyes on our blogs? We post on social, but what else could we do? And you came in with a group. Idea, you know, with Alex now filling this OSC role.
And you said, well, if Alex is talking to people and they’re interested in a specific floorplan, say she can reference a past blog that we’ve done about that floorplan and send them the link to the blog.
Alexis: It’s even a reason to reach out. Like it can be like, oh, by the way, I just came across this recent blog. It’s just a way to get engage with someone.
Laura: It’s another touch point with that customer and also shows that you’re thinking about them and you care. And you also said, I think if Alex is maybe sending out emails or a video email or something, she could link blogs in the emails that she’s sending out to get more people onto our blog.
So that’s just a small example of you being part of that call. That wasn’t something that I brought to the table initially, but because you had this OSC lense. Yes, you could bring that to that conversation.
Alexis: Well, you probably regretted it. Cause I think I sat there and I took a piece of paper and I started like jotting out all these ideas.
And then I sent like a list to Alex and said, here’s 10 video ideas for you. But at the end of the day, it’s huge. It’s great. And it gave her so much content to stand out from the competition.
Laura: I just want to do a side note. Now that you mentioned that, so it’s been such a joy to watch Alex grow.
Alexis and I are talking about how great it’s been to work together with Hartland, but we’ve watched Alex from the very beginning who had no experience in this role whatsoever. And even just the six months that she’s been working with us and with heartlands like she has grown tremendously and we’ve gotten to watch it.
It’s been amazing. And she is now comfortable in the role, she’s comfortable on video. We’re doing emails that go out with her on video. She’s been amazing. And it’s been such an asset to the Heartland team and their business.
Alexis: The second example is just how our conversations can impact content. Right? So, one thing we say to Alex is like, as you’re getting these phone calls and you’re getting these emails, we ask her.
Alex, what are people asking? What are some frequently asked questions? What are objections? What are the things that are coming up again and again from your customers and prospects, and she can give us that insight cause she’s the front line. So if we can have her input and give that to our marketing call, she can then develop content for us, whether it’s blogs based on what she’s hearing or emails that people are going to engage.
We have her insight, which is invaluable because she’s the frontline talking to our customers and prospects and she can help drive our content ideas. So on a monthly basis, we’re always brainstorming and strategizing what kind of content we want to put out there. But this is really like coming from her directly and having her input is huge because she’s the one talking to these people.
And so therefore we can kind of put out things that people are going to engage with more and, you know, respond to more. And at the end of the day, that’s our goal, right?
Laura: Yeah, for sure. And I didn’t mention this with the blogs, but having her insight has helped us tremendously with picking blog topics. What are people searching that will help us create a topic?
That’s going to show up more in organic searches from prospects. So that’s another great point about having that OSC conversation and how that kind of segues into what we’re doing marketing wise and how they really do work hand in hand.
Alexis: Definitely. And I do want to share another example. I don’t want to share all the ideas because we’ve got lots of them, but another thing that came up on our call is Heartland, like many builders, host events. And whether they be open houses or build and brew is popular for them, we always help.
Our goal obviously is to get the word out there so we can get as many people to attend these events possible. So, you know, we do our event on Facebook. We have our marketing emails that are beautiful and engaging and, send out to our prospect list, which is fabulous.
And that’s kind of what we have done and we’ve had success, but sitting on the call hearing you guys talk about this upcoming event and who you are anticipating coming again. Ding, ding, ding, my OSC hat kind of went off and I said, you know what, Alex, I have a great idea. Again, I hang on that video content because so many people are reluctant to do it, but it’s a huge part of your followup.
If it’s not, it should be, don’t be scared. I get that seeing yourself on video can be kind of painful sometimes, but that’s another thing Alex was so hesitant and she wasn’t on board with a, but now she’s like a rock star and I’m using her as examples for other builders that I’m training.
But I said, you know, we have this great event coming up. We sent this email, but let’s take it to the next step. Let’s do a follow-up. Email video, email to your database and say, Hey, I’m Alex with Heartland Builders. I want to make sure that you got our invitation to the upcoming events. Would love to see you there. So blase it basically she’s reiterating the event, the details, why they want to be there, what they can expect, kind of taking it a little informational, but how cool is that? How personable is that? To receive that follow-up from that initial invite, it just is the extra step. It’s an extra detail. And that goes a long way.
Laura: And the best part is Hartland as a company and team is so special. They are such a family that I think all of their homeowners would agree with that. And working with them is such a special experience. So that is exactly the feeling they want to put out their message and they want to put out, they really do want it to feel super personable and welcoming and warm.
It’s just totally fitting for their brand.
I also wanted to say too, with the video content you had brought this up earlier too, using a lot of content in multiple different places. We’re now trying to take relevant videos that Alex is creating and using them on say social media more and just trying to get the most out of the content that she does put together. So I think that’s another kind of crossover that we’re finding.
Alexis: Any way that we can humanize her. I mean, she’s a real person, right? She’s not a robot, she’s not a stock photo on their website. She’s a real, authentic human being that wants to connect with you and help you start your journey of building your dream home. That’s what we want. And that’s kind of what we’re portraying to our customers. So it’s really, really important. And I tell her, you know, these videos don’t have to be professional. It’s okay. If you mess up, like you’re authentic, you’re real.
And she’s really, really embraced it. But you know, if I didn’t work with our marketing team or I didn’t get to work with you directly, As an OSC trainer, I might not know about this event and how we can capitalize on it. And so that just shows how knowing that insight and having that synced is, is great and will result in hopefully more traffic, more attendance to these events and things of that nature.
Laura: Yeah. The best part is I had a marketing call with them following the event. They had two events that one of the videos Alex created was, was promoting and both events went super well. They had great attendance. They got appointments scheduled or people coming out. And it was great to not only hear that, but to, to also be able to share that with you, Alexis, because that was a great idea that you had shared with us.
And so it really does come full circle.
Alexis: I was gonna say full circle too, but yeah. It’s just shows the sync between the two and how when they’re, they’re married great things can happen. Right?
So those are just a few examples of the collaboration and I I’m sure we have the future is endless and I think there’s a lot more that we’re going to do and discover as time goes on.
I will say, I’m not going to name any names, but there are times where I have noticed a disconnect between the marketing team and the online sales counselor. And I might have mentioned, oh, this email, did you see this email that went out? And they might be like, no, I didn’t even know we did that.
Or did you know that Facebook ads for this community are currently paused and no, I had no idea. And to me I’m like, oh my goodness, that’s such a breakdown in communication and a disconnect between the two because your online sales team needs to know these things. And so that’s why it’s, it’s so nice when we can work together and have our marketing strategies and our online sales team fully come together and be on board and collaborate and brainstorm great ideas, and really how can we take our customer’s needs and things to the next level.
So it’s, it’s really critical to success.
Laura: Yes, for sure.
Alexis: So Laura let’s, I think we have a lot of great things that we share today. What do you think? What can we take away from this episode?
Laura: Okay, so I have a couple, one is if you don’t have an OSC currently, I want you to think or get over the mindset of you’re too small of a company, or you’re not a big enough team to have one.
That is not true. That is a fear that Heartland had. And we learned quickly that that wasn’t the case. They really could benefit from one. So you’re never too small of a company.
Along the same lines of that, you may think you don’t have enough volume to warrant an OSC, or you don’t build enough homes. Again, get that out of your mindset because that, we’re not just going by how big of a team you have and how many homes you build.
That’s not the criteria for if you need an OSC or not. So those are the two things I want to make very clear.
Alexis: And I can tell you, Alex is busy. I mean, she’s constantly working leads and if you have the time and it’s not just like keeping up with the ones that are coming through and responding, it’s going back and nurturing and like continuing to follow up with these people.
That’s when you have real success. And so I can tell you, she has plenty that she can work on. It’s just been a game changer for this company for Cindy, everyone. So I think everyone’s a lot happier, has more balance in their lives which I think it’s important.
The third thing that I think we can take away is I’ll say thinking that your online sales team doesn’t need to be part of your marketing discussions is false. They should join your meetings, whether it be monthly or by bi-weekly, and they should be hearing, they should be sharing their insight from their perspective.
And there should be constant communication of what’s planned what’s going out. And so if your OSEs are not part of your marketing discussions, that is a change that you want to make. I think you will see that there is more opportunity and more that you could be doing for your customers and your prospects.
Laura: And that also includes, I think, email exchanges. Alexis, you and I have been on a lot of email exchanges back and forth with the Heartland team. And I think that that shouldn’t be forgotten either, you know, not only calls and discussions, but even just having the full team on the email thread is helpful.
Alexis: Teamwork makes the dream work, Laura!
Laura: So right!
Okay. So I do want to also share that this was kind of part one of the OSC and marketing collaboration topics. So we really first wanted to introduce you guys to one Heartland Builders and our working relationship thus far, and how Alexis and I and the Heartland team have worked together, on the OSC and marketing side.
But I think we’re going to do a part two where we’re going to invite Alex and Cindy from Heartland Builders back on, and we’re going to talk to them about their perspective from the builder side. And also how things have been going from the lead side, the sales side. How do they feel this program has impacted them in their business? It’ll be really fun to have them part of the conversation for part two. So that will be coming soon.
Alexis: That sounds great. Well, Laura, it’s been so fun discussing this and I continue. I look forward to continue to collaborate with you on all things Heartland Builders. You might have an email in your inbox when you get back to this podcast concerning something, but we appreciate everyone listening to today discussion.
As always reach out to us with any questions and we will talk to you soon. Have a great day!
Laura: Bye everybody!