A r t i c l e CRM in Home Building: Building Good Homes and Strong Relationships By Steve Lewkowitz, Pivotal CRM Professional Services Director, Home Building and Real Estate, CDC Software Developing strong relationships and delivering superior customer experiences are important to success in any industry. But in home building, where the products sold usually represent the largest purchase their buyers will ever make, this is especially critical. While the real estate market has been hot for several years, it has cooled over the last several months as the market has corrected. This slowdown is forcing home builders to look for new strategies and tools to address a more challenging market. Traditionally slow to adopt new technologies, home builders are nonetheless warming to the idea that technology can help them lower costs and refine processes. Many are turning to customer relationship management software to help them reach more prospective home buyers, manage the sales process more efficiently, and provide consistent customer service cost effectively. With fewer homebuyers in the market for a new home, builders are recognizing they can’t leave these critical processes to chance. But builders also recognize that they have needs that are unique to their industry, and they don’t want to have to customize a system heavily to fit their processes. Many are finding a good fit in “verticalized” CRM systems that come pre-tailored to home building. With the majority of homebuyers researching their home purchases online, both through builder websites and broader home-hunting portals, builders need to be able to capture and manage online leads reliably. Therefore, builder-focused CRM systems need to have robust online marketing and lead management features, with the ability to gather leads from own and third-party websites. Just as important is ensuring leads don’t go cold waiting for a response, since prospects are more likely to choose the company that contacts them first after they request information. Automating the follow-up process ensures immediate contact and offers a cost-effective way to send out marketing collateral such as brochures, while automatically and immediately routing hot leads to the right salesperson for more in-depth follow-up. Fostering relationships is especially important to home builders due to the lengthy sales cycle for homes, which can last 9 to 12 months. Given the size of the purchase, homebuyers need to feel comfortable not only with their sales representative, but also with their end-to-end experience with the builder. Using CRM to implement methodical sales action plans ensures regular, consistent contact with the homebuyer, building confidence and moving the relationship steadily toward a purchase. For prospects who are many months or even years from a purchase, the same automated marketing features used for initial responses can be used to inexpensively nurture prospects with automated communications flows until they’re closer to a purchase, allowing salespeople to focus on the buyers with more immediate sales potential. This article was originally published by CRM Advocate. Pivotal CRM | Article Using a builder-focused CRM system allows builders to they need to cement a more personal and lasting capture specific kinds of information about prospects, relationship. Maintaining the relationship post-sale such as their hobbies, whether they have school- through ongoing communications ensures a more fluid age children, who their realtor is, contact-method transition from prospect to customer, rather than an preferences, desired communities and amenities, abrupt cessation when the sale closes, keeping the preferred plans and lot configurations, and more, builder front of mind with the homebuyer long after which can then be used to position available homes to the purchase. them more effectively or to create more personalized marketing materials and communications. Providing good post-sale customer service (known in the industry as “customer care”) also goes a long way Managing quotes and contracts is a complex process toward maintaining a reputation for excellence and a for home builders because of all the available options lasting customer relationship. A builder-tailored CRM and features. A CRM solution verticalized for home system makes detailed current and historical data building takes into account all the information that about the customer and home easily accessible to the needs to go into a contract, from basic information customer care team, equipping them to resolve any like location and release, right down to specific details problems faster. about light fixtures and windows, and stores all the Home builders may also be able to use industry-tailored A home builder has to think long term as well, nurturing CRM software to track and manage service requests and work under warranty, assigning subcontractors and relationships that can yield additional business. recovering warranty costs where appropriate. Keeping data in one central location. The best systems provide comprehensive service records helps pinpoint potential integration with user-friendly options-selection or construction issues, and some systems may even “design-center” tools, allowing buyers to review all enable builders to perform root-cause analysis to get to available options on their own time and create wish-lists, the bottom of service issues. accelerating their options-selection appointments with For home builders, building strong relationships can the salesperson. be as important as building good homes, especially A good vertical CRM solution will allow additional in a tougher market. An industry-tailored CRM solution information specific to the home building industry to be can assist home builders in presenting a unified entered as well, such as final home-inspection data, face and consistent experience throughout the entire and may even be able to generate the initial home- customer lifecycle, helping them gain an edge in this inspection template based on the contract. Having this competitive industry. information readily accessible removes any confusion as to the readiness of the home to be handed over to the customer. Home builders can increase their Steve Lewkowitz is Professional Services Director, customer satisfaction by delivering a home confirmed to Home Building and Real Estate, for CDC Software’s meet every requirement specified by the buyer. Pivotal CRM, a leading line of customer relationship management solutions. E-mail him at Beyond just the immediate home sale, a home builder firstname.lastname@example.org or has to think long term as well, nurturing a relationship visit www.pivotal.com/homebuilders. that can yield additional business through referrals or second-home purchases while recognizing that these may be several years down the road. Using CRM software to gather and store information centrally, builders can obtain visibility into each and every one of their customers and prospects, giving them the insight take the Pivotal Step with Pivotal crM for Pivotal Home Building and real estate To learn how Pivotal CRM for Home Building and Real Estate can help your organization streamline sales and create customers for life, call us today at +1 877-PIVOTAL (+1 877-748-6825) or visit us at http://www.pivotal.com/homebuilders. Copyright © CDC Software 2007. All rights reserved. The CDC Software logo and Pivotal CRM logo are registered trademarks and/or trademarks of CDC Software.
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