Many builders have a person dedicated to responding to home shopper email inquiries or phone calls. These questions can come in from a builder’s website or one of the many new home shopping websites. Builders have different names for these people. Some are called Online Sales Counselors, some are called New Home Experts, some are called the New Home Concierge, and some even have more inventive titles like New Home Experience Liason.Regardless of how creative the title is, these are the people that are responsible for the initial response that most home shoppers will receive from a builder after the shopper has indicated that they’re interested in learning more about the builder’s homes.
Online Sales Counselors (OSC) are great on the phone and through email. Many builders conduct the early interviews with people applying for these positions entirely over the phone and through email just to see how good they are at these skills! The best OSCs are generally great listeners and very courteous. They are skilled at delivering information that you need and nudging you along the path to a new home. The number one goal of an Online Sales Counselor is to determine if you’re ready to buy a home in the next month, followed closely by getting you set up with an appointment in the community with one of their salespeople. They’ll do all they can to find out if you’re ready to buy immediately. This will include delivering information about sales, inventory homes, demand, urgency, closeouts, special time sensitive promotions, and remaining homesites. Their initial email will let you know about all these things get you to commit to an appointment, so, as you speak with them, know that the final goal is to get you out to the community to meet with one of the builder’s onsite sales counselors. Online Sales Counselors are trained to ask questions and secure answers from you to help move you down the sales funnel toward the purchase of a new home. They’ll do all they can to determine if you’re serious about buying a new home, and, if they determine that you are, will do all they can to help you learn all you can about the homes they represent.
Online Sales Counselors are paid in one (or both) of two ways. First, they are paid based on the number of appointments they set up at the community level between home shoppers and onsite salespeople, but only if the home shopper shows up for the appointment. The second way they are paid is if you buy a home. The equation is a simple one: No appointment, no sale, no paycheck. OSCs will work very hard to encourage you to visit the community.
The term “online sales counselor” is really a misnomer, because (at least at this point), homes are not bought online but rather, in person, at the community. Take all the time you need to get all the information you need to decide if you’re going to commit to an onsite visit. These professionals are knowledgeable about all the builder’s communities and products, and can be extremely helpful to you at this stage of your search.
You may decide during your initial meeting that you’re ready to set an appointment. If that is the case, then move ahead. If you’re not ready to take the next step, they’ll understand. Not everyone is ready to buy a home the first time they talk with a salesperson. No time line states that you have to set up an appointment the first time you talk with them. You may even want to ask them who else in the company they can speak with about your questions or concerns.
Online Sales Counselors are definitely salespeople, but they are trained to be helpful in the early stages of your new home search. They are not selling you a home, but rather, the opportunity to learn about a home and set up an appointment to talk with another sales person about a home. You shouldn’t feel any pressure when you’re speaking with an OSC. Whether you are speaking with the OSC on the phone, text or via email, you have all the power. It’s also good to know that you never have to make a buying decision when you’re speaking with an OSC. Since you can’t buy a home over the internet (at least not yet), your discussion with the OSC is really just a fact-finding mission in which you have all the control! So, take a deep breath and make the call!