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Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast Digital Marketing Podcast Hosted by Greg Bray and Kevin Weitzel

103 Adapting Sales to the Buyer and the Market - David Hagan

This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, David Hagan of Sales Uncomplicated joins Greg and Kevin to talk about the importance of adapting sales processes to fit the buyer and the market.

Home buyers and the home buying market are constantly changing. Many builders are not adapting to these changes. David explains, “We're in a digital world, whether we want to be or not. Buyers are buying using modern technology, whether we want them to or not. There are a lot of home builders that are doing this and they're doing a wonderful job of it, where they're using digital technology across the board, where they're doing business using ecommerce tools to engage with buyers. I think they're evolving greatly. However, I think that there are a lot of builders that aren't evolving. I know that's a news flash. Obviously, and this is not newsworthy either, but those are the builders, those late adapters or never adapters are the ones that are going to lose market share. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that based on what we're hearing in the news about interest rates this year, there's perhaps going to be a market shift. Now's the time if it's not too late, to implement some of these tools to make sure that we're able to capture market share.”

Builders must be ready, willing, able to adjust to those changes, especially when it comes to sales. David says, “You can, from a sales effort, lose some of your disciplines. If I don't work out, I lose my muscles, and so as the market begins to shift, if we're not implementing both the fundamentals, the things that we have been doing and should have been doing all along, coupled with those new technologies that the buyers are using, we're going to lose market share. The builders that don't get on board are gonna lose market share.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how you can boost your sales team and be ready for the ever-changing home building market.

About the Guest:

David Hagan has an interesting background that weaves over fifteen years of experience in leadership in the sales world with almost fifteen years of experience in leadership in full-time ministry. David believes this gives him a unique insight into the power of connection. David understands people and is an advocate for human connection in the sales process. As we add more virtual meetings to our calendars and “buy now” buttons to our websites, we must be intentional in our efforts to connect to our customers. If we fail to gain that connection, our business becomes much more transactional, and we risk losing sight of who our customers are and what they are really looking for.

David spent the last ten years leading sales teams in Georgia for the homebuilding industry. He has been involved in sales leadership for large, national builders like K. Hovnanian Homes and Meritage Homes, and he has led sales teams for local and regional builders like Smith Family Homes in Savannah, and most recently for Smith Douglas Homes in Atlanta.

In mid-January of this year, David announced that he was leaving his sales leadership role to open his own sales training company, Sales Uncomplicated. He is focused on training and developing sales teams for the new home industry.  David is currently writing a book entitled, Gab is Not the Gift, which is centered around his new sales process, The Uncomplicated Method.

David lives in Atlanta with his beautiful wife, Rebecca. They have three grown daughters who also live in the greater Atlanta area. Two of their daughters work for homebuilders and the other daughter works for one of the largest real estate law firms in Atlanta, so they are in fact, a homebuilding family! 


Greg Bray: [00:00:00] Hello everybody. And welcome to today's episode of The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,

Kevin Weitzel: and from Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse,

Greg Bray: and we are excited today to welcome to the show, David Hagan. David is the CEO and President of Sales Uncomplicated. Welcome, David. Thanks for joining us today.

David Hagan: Thank you, Greg and Kevin, for having me.

Greg Bray: So, David, let's start off and help people get to know you a little bit better. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

David Hagan: Okay. Well, as you said, I'm David Hagan. I have spent the last 10 years in [00:01:00] sales leadership in the new home industry. My wife and I are from the Southeast Georgia area where I'm from Savannah, she's from a little town Statesboro.

We moved to Atlanta about four years ago. We have three adult daughters. Two of them actually work for home builders now in the Atlanta market and then our middle daughter works for the largest real estate closing attorney in Atlanta, and she's about to go to law school. My wife would get onto me if I don't tell you that we also have two male Persians that she calls our sons, and that makes her sound like a crazy cat lady, but that's a little bit about us.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, that's the business side of you, but what we need to know, and you can't say anything housing-related, you can't say anything Sales Uncomplicated related just an interesting factoid about yourself that people will learn about on this podcast.

David Hagan: Wow. You know, I think that maybe something that most people don't know. I have a twin brother. So, we're fraternal twins. So, I have dark hair. My twin brother has red hair. [00:02:00] The other area that we're completely different in is he's a bodybuilder and I'm not. People don't believe that we're even brothers, much less twins.

Kevin Weitzel: Hey, hey, hey, don't be hard on yourself cause I'm a bodybuilder too. I build a pony keg instead of a six-pack.

David Hagan: I got you. I got you. I tell folks at my wife says that I have the body of a God. Buddha is a God. A Buddha body. There's several things that now people know about me that they didn't know.

Greg Bray: David is Statesboro, is that where Georgia Southern is located?

David Hagan: It is.

Greg Bray: Okay. All right. We were down there for that football game. BYU. I'm a BYU alumni, so BYU/Georgia Southern game a few months ago and that was a lot of fun, and those people were so gracious and welcoming down there. It was a great day.

David Hagan: And I'll tell you, my dad's from Statesboro and Rebecca's parents are from there, and folks from BYU that's the first time they've been there that I know of, and just the impact that they made on the city of Statesboro. We're all huge fans of BYU.

Greg Bray: Oh. thanks.

David Hagan: Now, if not before. Really.

Greg Bray: [00:03:00] Awesome. Awesome. Well enough about football. Let's talk about home building.

David Hagan: Alright. Love it. I love it.

Greg Bray: Well, David, tell us more about how you kinda got into the home building industry as a whole and your journey there.

David Hagan: Okay. So, something else that people may not know about me, I served as a pastor for a church for about 13 years, in a rural area outside of Savannah, not far from Statesboro. I was in sales. As long as I can remember I've wanted to be in sales. My dad raised us as a single dad for most of my childhood. We would go to his office after school, and you know, my dad led a group of service tech folks, the backbone of our country, right? The blue-collar guys. They would park in the alley. The business was in downtown Savannah. They would park in the alley and they wore the uniforms and they would stay downstairs.

Anytime I goes upstairs, the salespeople would come in on the second floor in the front and they wore suits and they drove sports cars. You know, when I was a kid I'd run down and feed the meter for their cars and it's like, wow, there's a dichotomy here. I like this world. [00:04:00] So, had an interest in sales have just been involved in sales. Also, very involved in our church and I got an opportunity go and pastor a church and I don't mind saying now that it was something I fought for a long time because I was very interested in sales.

 So, after pastoring the church for 13 years, I had been just really talking to a friend of mine, who's in home building. Lamar Smith, who is a developer and builder in the Savannah area, has served the local board as president and has been President of the Georgia Association of Home Builders, and he decided to start a home building company about 2008 because it was the only way to sell a lot. At that time, you know, he's a developer and he had all these lots and the only way to sell them was to build a house on them.

Really after about a year of just talking and really praying together, I decided to join his company. At that time, late 2011, early 2012, I came in to build an in-house sales team, and I'm going to confess to the world right here that I didn't know anything about real estate. I didn't have a real estate license. I had never [00:05:00] sold a home and just came in and got to work on figuring out new home sales.

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, then how does that lead into where you are today with Sales Uncomplicated? What are you guys doing there and what types of services are you offering?

David Hagan: Obviously, in the church, I found that I love working with people. I really do. That sounds sometimes cliche and even corny, but I really do just love working with people. I love teaching. I think one of my great human needs is contribution. So, I love to see people grow from one place to the next, and something that really early in my career in home building I began to realize that this was something I wanted to do. One of the first sales trainers that Lamar brought in. After taking the trainer to the airport, Lamar said to me, this is 10 years ago and we talk regularly, but Lamar said to me, David, you need to be doing that. Kevin, at first I thought he was trying to tell me that he was going to fire me and that I needed to go find a job doing training.

Kevin Weitzel: You know, David, have you ever thought about doing this because you're not [00:06:00] going to be doing that anymore?

David Hagan: Right. Yeah. David, will you start looking for a new job because you lost this one, but it really is something that I've wanted to do, just consulting with sales teams. I love sales and I love training. Really, a good part of last year, my wife and I started thinking about this, praying about it, talking to confidants, and looking to see if it made sense, and just really realized that, you know, now's the time. You know, I just turned 50 a couple of weeks ago, and last year I came to the realization that I either need to do this or stop talking about it. So, here we are, and in fact, the week that we're recording this podcast is my first week on the job.

My last day at Smith Douglas Homes in Atlanta was Monday. This is my first, not even a full week. but I'm honored. I've been in sales training for 10 years and just looking forward to partnering with home building companies of all sizes. I started with Lamar Smith at what is now Smith Family Homes in Savannah, where they build a hundred, 150 homes a year. You know, with Smith Douglas, where I just worked until [00:07:00] this week, we sold a little over 1100 homes in our Atlanta division this past year, and so, you know, I've kind of seen the gamut from small private builders and have worked for large publicly traded builders. So, I want to be able to now partner and be able to come alongside and offer whatever help I can to their sales effort.

Kevin Weitzel: This is going to be a long question, but there's basically two camps then there, of course, there's the muddle in between, but on one side of the camp, we have the Business 101, the Sales 101, the here's the way you do it. Here's the steps. Here's the Zig Ziglar way of life.

Then on the other end of the equation, you've got the people that are like, I want to use every digital tool there is at my disposal. I want to use you know, a CRM and, you know, there's salespeople out there that loathe touching a CRM, but I want to use the CRM. I want to use the data that comes out of an ERP. I want to use my interactive floor plan feeds. I want to use the data that's all on my website live. I want to use the interactive site plans, you know. Where do you lie in that philosophy of I want to use every [00:08:00] gadget that's out there and I need to know the absolute, everything there is to know about the fundamentals?

David Hagan: I would call that enthusiasm because I'd put everything I have into it. Insert laughter here. You know, all kidding aside, I really do think it's some of both. I'm a sales guy. I'm a business guy. I think, at the end of the day, and I hate that phrase, but it's all about sales, right? It's all about margin. It's the bottom line, and so we have to be smart about our business, and in sales, there's so much that goes into that, but at the same time, we would be foolish not to use everything that we can at our disposal. The methods don't have to change just because the means do.

You know, there are businessmen that started businesses that are still in business that were started two or 300 years ago by men who delivered everything by horse and buggy. Do you think those business leaders would be opposed to using jet airplanes today?

Not at all. Does that mean that [00:09:00] their business methods would change? I think we have to be really smart about being open-minded. Hey, I can stick to the method while the means change. If I didn't use a CRM, I'd be lost. One of the first things I did personally, when I started my own company is made sure I had a CRM in place, and, you know, as far as the website, same thing. As far as interact before plans and interactive site plans, I mean, I'd be foolish, as a home builder, if I tried to go to market without those technologies today, in my opinion.

Greg Bray: Let's talk about some of the evolution and change, David, that you've been seeing. You know, let's, look at it from the buyer's perspective. What are you seeing from a buyer experience change from this digital standpoint and some of the impacts of that?

David Hagan: Yeah, I can answer that in one word, Greg. Everything.

Greg Bray: Alright, moving on then. Okay.

David Hagan: Next question. Probably some would say that's being too simple. We're in a digital world, whether we want to be or not. Buyers are buying [00:10:00] using modern technology, whether we want them to or not. There are a lot of home builders that are doing this and they're doing a wonderful job of it, where they're using digital technology across the board. Where they're doing business using Ecommerce tools to engage with buyers, I think they're evolving greatly. However, I think that there are a lot of builders that aren't evolving.

Kevin Weitzel: No.

David Hagan: Yeah, I know that's a news flash. Obviously, and this is not newsworthy either, but those are the builders, those late adapters or never adapters are the ones that are going to lose market share. I don't think it's a surprise to anybody that based on what we're hearing in the news about interest rates. This year, there's perhaps going to be a market shift. Now's the time if it's not too late, to implement some of these tools to make sure that we're able to capture market share.

In Atlanta, for instance, I mean, the market's been white-hot. There's an old saying that, [00:11:00] you know, there's a buyer for every house. Well, we've proved that's not true because in Atlanta over the last two years, there's been 10 buyers for every house. You can, from a sales effort, lose some of your disciplines. If I don't work out, I lose my muscles, and so as the market begins to shift, if we're not implementing both the fundamentals, the things that we have been doing and should have been doing all along, coupled with those new technologies that the buyers are using, we're going to lose market share. The builders that don't get on board are gonna lose market share.

Greg Bray: So, David, as you, look at that though, I know one thing that's important to you, you talked about being a people person and we're a little humble about that cause I think from what I know about you, that's actually a really big deal for you, right? Connection and helping people get along with each other and things. I think it probably comes from some of your religious training and background too but doesn't digital get in the way of human connection sometimes, and how do we not lose in the [00:12:00] sales process, connection with digital tools?

Kevin Weitzel: Greg, you just hurt my heart. Digital tools don't take away from the human experience. They caress it and add to it. Sorry, David. Go ahead.

David Hagan: Yeah. I felt like Kevin needs some human connection right now. Somebody needs to hug him. Is there somebody that we can call Greg, that's close to Kevin that can go hug him, make sure he's okay. That is the million-dollar question because I think we're always going to have human connection. I hear so much about everything becoming automated and following the Teslas of the world and that's not new. I can remember being at IBS 10 years ago when they said, Hey, we need to look to the automobile industry and how they're integrating the online sales counselor, you know, with their sales effort, and they were right then and they're right now.

I said something to my wife the other day about this. I call it own now sales, buy now sales, and I'm developing training for that own now sales division, and my wife has a background in real estate, and she said, isn't [00:13:00] that own now sells trend, isn't that going to eliminate the salesperson? I said, no, it's actually going to do the opposite because in this world we're still gonna need people and I think we have to, use the enter now locks. I heard somebody on one of your podcasts talking the other day about using the self-guided tours. I think Matterports and all the different things that are at our disposal, interactive floor plans, and interactive community sites. I think we have to use all of those things, but we have to be intentional in making sure that when the buyer is ready, that we can get that human connection there, and maybe it's even before they're ready. I'm not a big fan of just turning everything over to the buyer.

I think that we have to make sure that we can still help control some of the process and maybe control's not the right word, but we have to have some autonomy over the process so that we can help influence a decision and not just leave it [00:14:00] completely to the buyer, but I do think we have to, sell the way that people want to be sold to.

Kevin Weitzel: I, a hundred percent agree with you, and I even go even a step further because I hear all the time from salespeople. They're like, well, if we put the pricing up, it's going to steal my thunder, Trust me. If showing the price is stealing your thunder, you are a weak salesperson and you need to find another profession.

David Hagan: That's right. Kevin, so here's something, if I may, that I think is interesting and this too is not news to anybody. To me, it's like kind of where I'm coming from as I step out to offer what we offer at Sales Uncomplicated. When we talk about evolution. We as consumers have evolved in the way we buy things. I mean, just look at how much money is spent on Cyber Monday compared to Black Friday. I mean, it wasn't that long ago, Cyber Monday wasn't even a thing, and there were people that wouldn't even put their credit card online and now our banks are connected to our phones and people spend more money on Cyber Monday [00:15:00] than they do in the brick and mortars on Black Friday, and that was pre-COVID. COVID didn't change that. It was before COVID.

I am a home builder, right? Home builder born and home builder bred, and when I die, I'll be home builder dead. I mean, I really am. I love this industry. Absolutely love this industry. So, I can say this without hurting anybody's feelings I hope. We are late adapters. We're still using the critical path from the 1970s, and back in the 1970s, it worked right? If a customer wanted to see their community, they had to go to the model home. If they wanted to see the model home, they had to go to the model home. They wanted to see lots, they wanted floor plans, if they wanted pricing, they had to go to the model home and who's at the model home? The salesperson.

Daniel Pink says this and he said it 10 years ago, and to sell a human. Back then, it was buyer beware. Buyer beware because the seller had the keys to the kingdom. The seller had the upper hand. The home builder could dole out information however they [00:16:00] want it to. Ten years ago, we had some great sales training, but some of the sales training was still lingering from, I think the critical path days. We were actually told by a sales trainer to lock up the pricing and the floor plans and the other collateral material. Don't dare leave that laying around because customers will take it.

Oh my gosh, they're going to see your pricing. I mean, and I wish I was kidding. I wish I was being dramatic and my three daughters will tell you that I can be dramatic, but I'm being sincere that we were told, Hey, don't let them, because you've got a process, right? You've got a sales process, this critical path, whether it was called that or not, and you can't talk about pricing until it's time to talk about pricing.

And If I may just finish here, one of the things that Pink says in that book is, he says, it's now caveat emptor buyer beware, it's caveat vendator seller be aware. You know, without being Chicken Little, oh, the sky is falling. I just think that's a good word for us [00:17:00] as we move into this year of perhaps change in the market, we should as sellers beware because buyers now have the information, whether we think it's changed or not. It has. They have all the information.

 I heard somebody on, I think it was on your podcast the other day, talking about the old model home traps. Where your model homes, the garages were built, where you come in one door and by, gosh, you're not getting in that model home until you come through here, and there are still builders that are building model homes with traps.

So, anyway, I just think it's so important that as home builders, that we equip our teams because our salespeople are doing what we were telling them to do in a lot of cases, and we're training them the way we trained them 20 or 30 years ago, and it worked 20 or 30 years ago, but buyers now, because of the information they're able to get, they're coming in at a different point than they did even 10 years ago, and I just think it's so important that we recognize that, and I think as an industry, [00:18:00] we, and again, Kevin, this is going to be shocking, but as an industry, we're not recognizing that change.

Kevin Weitzel: No.

Greg Bray: So, David, I have certainly had conversations with clients about how they display and how much pricing they put on the website, but I have never heard about lockup the brochures because the customer might take one. Hide the brochures. To your point about information and knowledge, it's not just that the buyers have the information. There's a frustration if they can't get it that creates a negative interaction if they feel like where is the information.

I mean, you've been on a website and you're trying to find something. It's like, how can they not have this out there right now? It's just frustrating. It's like, no, I don't want to call anybody. No, I don't want to email somebody. This is a simple question. I just wanted to answer it and find the information and be done, and now you've created this negative interaction that kind of lingers, and frankly, in today's world, they move on to the next one a lot of times.

David Hagan: Absolutely. Yeah. It used to be that confusion leads to indecision. I think now it's frustration leads to indecision. I mean, if [00:19:00] I'm looking to buy a home and I have, gosh, 12 builders that are all offering basically the same thing that I want, the zip code, the school district, the square footage. Before I'm deciding who I'm going to buy from, I'm deciding who I'm not going to buy from. That's part of the buyer's journey.

Kevin Weitzel: That's exactly where I was going with this is that I thought that you were going to say frustration leads to decision, not indecision, but decision. I'm not going to do business with these people that don't want to let me know their price, that aren't transparent. Yes.

David Hagan: I mean, I guess in that sense it is. I've decided who I'm not going to buy from, right, and we joke all the time that you know, knowing what not to do is as important, sometimes more important, than knowing what to do. I believe, and again, I love this industry. The very first thing I did was join the local home builders association, the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association. I just I love our industry and I just want to say that because I don't want to sound like I'm being a negative Nelly. No offense to all the Nellies that are listening.[00:20:00] So, it's opportunity, right? There's an opportunity for us to really understand. Okay. Since the buyer has changed, the way I sell has to change, and in the last couple of years, the market has maybe disguised some of the inefficiencies in the way we sell.

Greg Bray: Alright, David. So, what does a new home salesperson, you know, who's listening or trying to adapt and evolve and prepare, what does change for them with all these digital interactions with the buyers and the information that the buyers have at their fingertips? What changes for that salesperson?

David Hagan: Well, I think, just being intentional in those interactions. I was talking to somebody the other day and it's somebody in our industry who bought a house, who really was going to start with the whole by now, and then the onsite person talked them out of it. So, they were working with the onsite person, and then they reached out to the online sales counselor. When the online sales counselor found out [00:21:00] that they were already working with the onsite person. They really just literally said, I'm going to give you that person's email address.

So, that's not really on the individual salespeople. I would say to the builder, you know, make sure that your approach is holistic and that you're not putting up hurdles you know, because we're moving this, again, I call it own now and I can tell you why I think it's not buy now. The buy now effort is now a hybrid between, the onsite salesperson and the online salesperson and so there's going to be more crossover in those roles, and we ought to embrace that as home builders. We ought to make sure that's the case because that's certainly the customer's expectation.

Customer experience is linked intrinsically to customer expectation. Their experience is based on their expectation. One happens before they meet us and obviously, one happens after they meet us. The way that we nail customer experience is to understand customer expectation. Doesn't [00:22:00] matter we've got free popcorn and free kittens for the kids to take home after they visit.

For the salespeople who are out there listening, it's understanding that there is some crossover and there's going to be more crossover perhaps, as we move forward between what we're doing online and what we're doing onsite, and just don't lose sight of, at the end of the day, it's about that customer's experience. Customer experience isn't a buzzword. It's everything.

Greg Bray: I loved the example you just pulled up there between the online sales counselor, OSC, and the onsite. Typically that OSC's job, over the last few years, has been to set the appointment. To get enough information to set that appointment and kind of move them over and hand them off to the onsite salesperson.

What you're describing though, is the reality that the buyer is bouncing back and forth between a visit or a call and then back on the website, and they've got that question on the website, they're going to hit the chat button. They're not going to necessarily call the person they talked to [00:23:00] yesterday in the office, and this idea that that OSC is just an appointment setter, and all of a sudden this person has had the appointment and they're coming back around for another look. That's a disconnect there.

You know, if they're just say, well, let me make another appointment for you, you know, or go call the other person, right. As opposed to being able to move them forward with the information they need or the next step in their process. I think that's a great example of a change in this journey where there's more of a loop there as opposed to that linear progression.

David Hagan: A hundred percent and the need there then is for training. You know, some of it is territorial. That's not my job. That's as old as people themselves, but a lot of it is, not to take away anything from what the online sales team does, but in a lot of cases, what we've given them to do is set the appointment and that's what they're called to do, and that's where they're rewarded.

You know, just understanding. From the builder or the decision-maker, understanding that as [00:24:00] we move into a more digital world and we are, whether I go there or not, as a society, and then as an industry, we're moving into a more digital world. Just understanding that those lines may become a little more blurred.

I think it's interesting that you know, a decade ago we decided to call that person the online sales counselor, and now we're talking about buy now because online sales counselors taken and really in some sense, the online sales counselor was never really an online sales counselor because we didn't want them to sell their sell was the appointment, and now we're talking about actually selling online. Who knew that 10 years ago, when we used the term online sales counselor that 10 years from now, we were going to have a big, topic at IBS where now we got to call them something else because we've already taken the term online sales counselor.

Kevin Weitzel: I knew. I am highly confident, even though the home is a considerably larger purchase than a car. I've ran a motorcycle, we call it a BDC, business development [00:25:00] center, online sales counselor. It's synonymous, but it morphed, and it morphed during my time in that industry from appointment centers and call back people to literally, here's the deal. Can I get a signature on this? We'll have your contract and your keys ready as soon as you walk in the door. I am highly confident that I could be placed with the right digital tools in any home builder in the country and sell exclusively with OSCs.

David Hagan: Oh, I agree. Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. I think, not only do I agree that we can do it, I think we will do it. I come at everything from sales training. I do think we better be careful that we are training our team ahead of time. Especially as the market shifts because that's where everything happens. When that market shifts and our buyers are changing, they're not going to be lined up, For the last two years, and I know this from working with salespeople, directly with salespeople, for the last two years, we have not been negotiating. I'm talking about the online sales teams. We've not been negotiating. We've not [00:26:00] been setting listings on MLS. We've not been overcoming objections.

I had a sales agent tell me, works for different company, told me a few months ago that he's got so many people lined up for each house that if somebody says the driveway's too steep, he just moves on to the next person, or there's a berm in the backyard. He just moves on to the next person. Well, that's not going to happen in 2022. Our buyers are going to change, and so if we're not ready to, you know, meet the needs and again, yes, Kevin, I agree that probably any great online sales team could move right into where they are truly doing online sales. You know, I think you both would agree it's not going to just happen. They're going to have to be given the tools and the training because the role changes.

Kevin Weitzel: It also comes into buy-in from the builder itself. Look at modular building. You take modular building that's been around since the fifties and then kind of went away because the good old boys' network killed it because they didn't want to deal with it. They wanted to still build houses the same way. Well, we still want to sell houses [00:27:00] the same way, but I'll tell you what. The consumer's in the driver's seat and they're telling us that you have to evolve. If you don't evolve, you're going to be in some big trouble come 23, 24, 25.

David Hagan: Absolutely. There's one little thing, and I try not to, get into soundbites or cute little quotes, but there is one quote that I learned a long time ago before I got into new homes and it is this, that the market dictates everything full-stop. The market dictates everything. You know, we can think that we're going to do it our way. You know, we're not going to change. The market dictates everything, and there are folks who have already changed the way they sell to you know, an exclusive digital format. Some are going hybrid and we're hearing more and more about that.

I think there's more to it than just the technology and having the button there. Not to take away from what you smart guys do with creating those things, but I think, you know, on the other side of that, there's gotta be a lot of training and maybe even some paradigm shifts in thinking and processes, [00:28:00] so that the people on the other side know how to either just do, whether it's online true sales, or if you're going to do online sales with a hybrid of onsite sales for the same team, whatever. I just think we have to be intentional and make sure we're reacting to the market and in a way that's connection. Being connected to people as a whole and how they're buying versus deciding I'm just going to do it the way I want to do it, or the way I've always done it.

Greg Bray: David tell me if you agree because what I'm hearing is something that I've been saying in some other conversations that my vision of this buy online process that's evolving and emerging is not the unassisted buyer. It's not the self-service gas station type, It's still an assisted, guided, supported by some type of sales professional, or associate, or counselor, or whatever you want to call them. Just because we do the transaction on the [00:29:00] website and do all of that doesn't mean that we are going to have questions we need a person to answer and help us make a decision.

David Hagan: I agree with you a hundred percent. I've been calling it own now for one, my, my background in ministry, I have to alliterate. So, if we have an onsite sales team and an online sales team, we have to have an own now sales team, but that's just me kidding. When you say buy now, it's kind of a misnomer and we do use some things. I heard one of your great guests talking about words that don't make sense to the public and how we hang on to them. There are a lot of those things in our vernacular that don't make sense to the publican.

You know, when we say by now, I always tell my salespeople, you know, it's confusing because we talk about closing the sale when the buyer says, yes, I'll sign the contract, but then we go to the attorney's office in Georgia. It's an attorney closed state. Then we go to the attorney's office in six months and we close again. Wait, Wait. Wait. Why are we closing twice? Because we didn't really close anything, right? [00:30:00] Now, I don't want to blow everybody's brain, but we didn't close anything. When you buy now, you're not really buying anything. You know, the customer, when they hit the buy now button, my fear is that, and I've seen this in so many operations, we are going to lose sight of all the work, to your point, Greg, all the work that still needs to be done.

So, yes, there's a lot of work that's gotta be done by a salesperson. Someone who is trained to influence decision-making. We're not talking about manipulating people and we're not even talking about motivating people, but we're talking about influencing people to make a decision, and if you completely automate the process, you're not going to lose a few sales. You're going to lose a lot of sales because we all need help and influencing. We're looking for people to help influence our decisions and when we trust our salesperson, we want them to help influence our decision.

Kevin Weitzel: Is that you're going to lose a [00:31:00] lot of sales or you're gonna lose the opportunity to make more profit in the sale? Because you can lower your margin. You can simplify the process to make it super easy for people to buy, but if they're not buying the higher-margin options, they're not buying the higher-margin design items, you're losing out on every bit of what grows your profitability.

David Hagan: I agree with that. I think, you know, we still have an opportunity to upsell customers. So, you're right. When you have that human interaction. So, I think it's both. I think you still have to have the salesperson, and I'm not saying that because I want to preserve the salesperson. Ever since I was a kid I've heard about robots are going to take all the jobs of all the people and people won't be able to work unless you know how to build a robot because they're going to replace us.

It's interesting that the more we automate things, the more we still need human beings to participate in whatever the process is. You know, I can order my groceries without going in the grocery store, but who's going to deliver them? A human being. You know, and so I think with home [00:32:00] building, there's no way to foster that trust that a home buyer has to have. You can do some of that online. Absolutely. Does the website play a role in that? Absolutely. Does digital media and social media and those types of messages that are coming from great marketing teams all over the country? Does digital play a part in fostering trust for the home building company? One hundred percent. You'd be foolish to try to do it without those digital tools and those great marketing people who live in that space, but just like you need those people, you're going to need a person at some point, even if it's on a phone call or if it's through email, you're going to need individuals to close the deal.

So, it's not really buy now. It's oh, I'll start a contract, but when the buyer hits the buy now button, they know that they've got two weeks or three weeks before their deposits hard. Sure, they gave 200 bucks or 500 bucks, but they understand what they're doing. I'm not saying we shouldn't do it.

I think it's smart [00:33:00] to set the path to entry as low as possible, and so if you've got a buyer and I'll say this Kevin, to the point, in talking to a couple of folks that are in this world, there's already some indication that buyers who are upmarket from where we felt they would be are buying through the own now features. Maybe it's, they don't want to talk to a salesperson, or maybe it's 11 o'clock at night and they, husband and wife just sat down together looking at houses and decided, Hey, we want to go in and put a reservation on this floor plan on this lot. Whatever, the reason it's not closed until it's closed and regardless of how the buyer does it, you're still going to need people.

I've seen during COVID. A lot of our agents are doing electronic transactions anyway, and we have to be careful that we don't become transactional. You know, because I've got agents that are sending contracts through DocuSign. Buyer came in two months ago, the home site they wanted wasn't released, or they were number 25 on the [00:34:00] list. They've not come back. They're just looking online. They're doing FaceTime meetings, and when the buyer does decide to buy, even though there's not a true buy now button or buy now process, it's essentially what's happening.

The customer calls, the sales agent, even though, as sales leaders were saying, Hey, sit down with them, go over the contract, make sure they understand. In a lot of cases, that's not happening. When the buyer's ready to move forward, they're doing an electronic deposit, and then they're getting the contract via DocuSign and they're signing and sending that. So, we're going to be doing more business that way., I think in order to make sure we preserve our backlog and maintain our cancellation rates, we ought to make sure we have the right processes in place so that we can capture those higher margins and actually keep the sales.

Greg Bray: Well, David, we really appreciate you sharing so much of your experience and your thoughts with us today, and just a couple more questions as we come upon our time here. You mentioned one book that you had some good learnings from, are there [00:35:00] other sources that you look to for new ideas you might share that others could learn from?

David Hagan: Well, I love to read. I've had that book, Daniel Pink's To Sell is Human at hand because it's something that I've just started rereading because there's so much good content. I mean, I think reading is key. I raised my kids on the John Maxwell quote that today's readers are tomorrow's leaders. I think just reading wide and deep is so important.

I think you need to, if you're listening to this and you're interested in, you know, making sure that you're insulated from the change in the market if you will. You know, I would just make sure that you're doing a little bit of everything. That you've got the right people making decisions for you when it comes to marketing and those digital tools.

I think plugging into the industry is key. You know, wherever you can get information, you know, obviously there's great marketing companies that are out there. I think NAHB with Builder 20 groups is a great source. You know, we have to be careful we don't all just follow each other, doing the [00:36:00] same old things. When I was talking about a friend who got me in the industry 10 years ago, he's been plugged into a Builder 20 group and, you know, they're all innovative and they share with each other what they're finding. They're non-competitors, so they're in different markets across the country, and so they're able to help each other with best practices. What to do and what not to do. So I think those are a couple of good sources.

Greg Bray: That's great. Thank you. Any last pieces of advice that you wanted to leave with our listeners today about sales and digital marketing?

David Hagan: Yeah. I don't know if this is just about digital marketing. I think it's really just this would be advice for just all of us that are in this industry. I would just say, Hey, don't lose sight of what it is that we get to do every day, and this is going to sound corny, I believe this with all my heart. I believe we have the greatest job in the world.

We get to build homes and communities where people live and now where they work. You know, think about where's the most important place for you in your life? Where do you go when a tragedy happens? You go home. So, I would just say don't lose sight of the [00:37:00] fact that if you're in this home building industry that that's what we do.

We get to build home and they're always going to be challenges. You know, it doesn't matter if we're a downmarket or an upmarket, there different challenges. As soon as we solve one problem, they're going to be other problems. So, my advice, Greg and Kevin would just be for all of us and maybe even for the three of us, to just be intentional. To pull back on that, I'm not a pilot, I don't know what they call it, a joystick. Go up, get up, get out of the weeds, get up to 35,000 feet, get a big picture, view, a big picture reminder of what it is that we're doing, and when you're up there at 35,000 feet, you'll see what we're doing is we're building homes and we're building communities.

The same guy that I've mentioned a couple of times, Lamar Smith, you used to say, and I'm sure he still does, that in America, we import a lot of things. We import our cars. We import our food. Even we import clothes. Much of what we have we can import. It comes from other countries, but there's one thing that is still made right here in America and that is homes. We build our homes here. Even if some of the [00:38:00] components are imported, we still get to build homes here. You can't import homes, and so that's who we are. If you're in the home building industry, that's who you are, and that's who we are, and so don't lose sight of that.

There's always, oh gosh, what do I do now? What do I do next? You know, They're going to be challenges. They're going to be days that we beat our head against the wall. Just don't lose sight of what it is that we do. We get to impact lives in a really unique way.

Greg Bray: Very well said. Thanks, David. We appreciate that. If somebody wants to get in touch with you and learn more, what's the best way for them to connect?

David Hagan: It's very easy. Pun intended. Sales Uncomplicated. So, salesuncomplicated.com. Just come and check us out. You can see what we do there. Reach out to me. I'd be honored to speak with you and be honored to serve you in any way that we can and help you sell more homes, build more homes, build more communities.

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, thanks, David, and thank you everybody for listening today to The Home Builder, Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine,

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse. Thank you.

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