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

17 Embracing New Technology to Boost Sales - Chris Hartley

Embracing New Technology to Boost Sales - Chris Hartley

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Production by: Josh Williamson and KT Maschler 

Editing by: KT Maschler 

We welcomed Chris Hartley, VP of Sales at K. Hovnanian® Homes, on to the show to discuss how to assess and use technology to your advantage to boost sales efforts. Chris was named a 40 Under 40 member by Professional Builder Magazine. He’s known for being on the cutting edge with his use of technology to augment his sales teams. Chris talks about how to resourcefully budget for the latest technology, how to choose the right new tools and creative ways to get sales teams to buy-in to technology. Chris has a lot of good energy and great insight so listen in and enjoy.

Chris Hartley has 17 years of New Home Sales Experience as an On-site Sales Representative, Corporate Sales Trainer, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, and Vice President of Operations. In addition, Chris is a Certified Trainer for the Texas Real Estate Commission, a frequent contributor to industry-leading publications, a guest on numerous industry podcasts, and a highly sought out Public Speaker.  Chris has worked with both public and private homebuilders across the US and holds an active Brokers License in his home state of Kansas. 

Chris was named Sales Manager of the Year by the Dallas Builders Association, a Silver Award Finalist for National Sales Manager of the Year at The Nationals through the NAHB, a Gold Award Winner at The Nationals for One to Watch through the NAHB, Texas Star Winner for Sales Manager of the Year, NAHB Young Professional of the Year finalist, and recognized in Professional Builder Magazine for 40 Under 40.  Chris is an active member of the Zillow Builder Advisor Board as well as a Board Member for AtlasRTX.  In addition, Chris is an advocate for the American Cancer Society, being named a three-time Corporate Hero and is part of Team Determination participating in half and full marathons.  Chris has raised over $200,000 fighting for the cause.


 [00:00:00]Greg Bray: Hello everybody. And welcome back to another exciting episode of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine. 

Kevin Weitzel: And I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse. 

Greg Bray: And we are excited today to be joined by Chris Hartley, who is the Vice President of Sales for K Hovnanian in Dallas Fort Worth.

Welcome, Chris. 

Chris Hartley: Thanks guys, good to see yah. 

Greg Bray: Well, we really appreciate you joining us today, Chris. We're excited to kind of pick your brain a little bit, but before we kind of dive into the hard questions, just tell us a little bit about yourself and give people a quick introduction. 

Chris Hartley: Yeah, [00:01:00] sure. So I've been doing this for 17 years now.

It's kind of hard to believe. I keep taking a ticking time onto my resume and it just seems like they're getting older and older. So I guess so. That's part of what happens. Right. But, uh, started in the industry in a small, small town of Kansas City. And, uh, as my sister likes to say, I was a big fish in a small pond, and I will give that complete credit for the fact that when you're a big fish in a small pond, you can move up a heck of a lot quicker and a lot easier than what she did.

And my sister is in home building as well. She's been with Asheville Home now for 12 years, but we both started our careers with Pulte and I started in Kansas City. She started in Dallas. Now the difference is I had 12 people on my sales team. My sister had 82 people on our sales team. So it was very much more difficult for her to be recognized for anything than it was for me.

So I started the industry right out of college. This is the only thing I know how to do. So if it ever goes horribly wrong, I'm going to be in big trouble because it's literally the only thing. Uh, from there, I moved to Colorado, opened a division of [00:02:00] Ashton Woods Homes in 2008. Shut that down in 2009 during the recession, uh, I was also a national sales coach for Ashton Woods Homes.

So they threw me in their worst division hit by the recession, which was Phoenix. I spent a couple of years in Arizona, moved back to Kansas City, started my own home building company, horrible idea, and the recession shut it down 18 months later and got to Dallas, Texas with a company called Highland Homes.

And it was. They're one of the largest homebuilders here in DFW. And then from there, a short time, seven months, and came from the vice president of sales and marketing for a small startup called Dunhill Homes and Nathan Carlisle Homes. And it was the best thing that ever happened to me. And it's funny, I look back on this and somebody, they said, how did you get started?

And Richard Dixie was the owner of that company convinced me. Uh, out a Starbuck that he was going to be a huge success and that I needed to come to join his company. And I was so eager. And this will just tell you how young and dumb I was. Cause I was [00:03:00] 30. It was always a goal of mine to be a VP of sales by the age of 30, that I agreed to take the job for the title or base pay of $80,000 a year.

Which was a huge, huge drop from what a normal VP of sales would make? Only because I was chasing a title, but it was, it was the best thing that I ever did. Um, you know, I quickly got him to pay me more later, but the best thing about him was that he gave me an opportunity to do anything I wanted to do as long as it made him money and what an awesome opportunity to have a CEO that would give you the ability to run your own show because that very rarely happens.

Yeah, as long as it was successful. And we grew that thing to be the seventh fastest-growing company in all of DFW, not just homebuilder, fastest-growing company. And then December of 2018, we sold the company to the Tri Pointe group for $65 million. I did not have any shares of that company, so I did not.

Uh, I'm still working. So, uh, I got to hang out there and I hung [00:04:00] out with them for about a year. And then I jumped over here to K Hovnanian  Homes. Uh, the national VP of sales is a good friend of mine. And the division president here is just a phenomenal guy. Um, so about two months ago, I jumped over here to K Hovnanian Homes in Dallas, Fort Worth. I'm a good friend with the national VP of sales, uh, Dana Spencer, and we got to meet the division president, Rick Trotter, who was just an amazing guy, great vision, and really, it was just a perfect match.

So I jumped over here and we're looking to do 600 homes this year and grow this thing to a thousand units. Pretty quickly, so exciting, exciting times. And as we enter this crazy world of COVID, um, there's so many great things that are working behind the scenes here at K Hovnanian that I'm excited about the future.

Kevin Weitzel: So your transition from one pretty decent player, I mean, Tri Points of a major player in the whole milling market, uh, then going over to K Hov. Did you have any fears or concerns about losing your autonomy that you had with the company you're with or has that improved [00:05:00] by moving over to K Hov.? 

Chris Hartley: Yeah, so, and you're correct.

Tri-point is a phenomenal company and in a top national home builder, as well as this K Hov. And they're very close in size. The difference is, is, is I actually have a lot more ability to do what I want here at K Hovnanian. It was, I would say it's. Almost like the best of both worlds. It's a lot of what I was able to do with a small private company.

And now I have the financial backing of a large public to come up with ideas. And my ideas are heard way more here than they were at the previous place and nothing wrong with that and not talking negatively about tri-point right at all. It was just a different structure. And I do have to say it makes a difference how I got here being friends with the national VP of sales.

Um, you know, we had a relationship outside of the company. So we do have a lot of conversations that we'll say, Hey, we're going to take off the coworker hat, and we're going to be friends here and let's have a conversation and let's talk through some things and then we can throw the coworker hat back on and we can talk through.

So, uh, having a friendship with [00:06:00] anything in life, right? If you have a friend, uh, it's easier to have a good conversation and it's easier to be heard. 

Kevin Weitzel: And in your previous role, you were sales and marketing and a K HOV. You're the VP of sales. So it was that allowed you to streamline and focus more on those actual tasks and functions.

Or do you find that you still have your mind in the marketing mindset as well? 

Chris Hartley: I love that you asked that question because when I came over here, I was like, wait a second. You're going to pay me this much. And I'm only in charge of sales. You don't also have to be in charge of marketing. And what I've realized is I love marketing.

Like I am a marketing geek and I love all the data that comes behind it. And you can't have sales without having marketing, but here's, what's interesting. And I love that you asked that question. Myers Barnes had said roughly five years ago that the title of VP of sales and marketing was something that was going to be in the past.

And he's right a lot of the ways. And here's what here's where he's saying, if you can not be great at both of those and he's, he's dead-on, [00:07:00] you can not be grateful for there are very few people that can, that can truly understand it because I graduated college in 2003. What I learned about marketing in 2003 to marketing looks like in 2020 are far different, right?

We didn't have Google analytics. We didn't have, we weren't talking about attribution models. I mean, all that stuff is completely foreign or you take that and you try to be a sales leader as well. They, they do. They compliment each other. You can't have one without the other. So it does have, it does create a big need to be responsible for marketing too, because what's where the struggle is, is when I was both, I could say, okay, we need to do this and I can control the budget of marketing.

Whereas today it's Oh, I have this idea. I have this relationship. Let me go talk to my VP of marketing, which we have. And she's been with the company for 20 plus years and she's great, but it's Hey, what do you have in your budget that I could go do? And what's been good is that you know, when I first got here, it was a conversation that her and I had and I said, look, we're on the same team.

We're on the same page. I just want to make [00:08:00] this place the best it can be. And I'm assuming you do as well. And she said, of course, and I said, well, let's work together to come up with what we need to do to get this place going. And very fortunate for me, she's been very open-minded in the sense of she's like, Hey, I don't know everything.

You've come on with a lot of experience. So let's see what we can do together. And we've been able to implement a lot of things. Now, the challenge and, and jumping in with a company pre virus, or, you know, during the viruses, all of our budgets, for the most part, have been halted. So anything that you want to do to get a drastic impact on this is very, very difficult because we're basically waiting for the next fiscal year to open our budgets back up.

Greg Bray: So, Chris, I think one of the things you hit on there is. In the marketing world. At this point, there has been this incredible growth of choices of ways to do things. Um, there's technology behind so many of those tools. Now that requires a level of expertise and understanding to be able to implement effectively.

It's, it's really hard to keep up with all of those different [00:09:00] tools. I look at just. Well, when I first started making websites, I was running the server. I was actually doing some Photoshop work. I was writing code. I was doing all these things that now there's, there's a team of 10 people that do the things that that used to be because it can't be good at all of them anymore.

You know, that there's too much depth. And I think the same thing applies to, you know, kind of what you're talking about there. And so how do you decide which. Which things you want to kind of learn more about and which ones, you know, what I'm going to get a partner or hire somebody or outsource or whatever, to kind of get that specialty and have the expert available to me 

Chris Hartley: What an awesome question. And I will say this, most of it, I would say 99% of it is built on relationships. And it's like, how do you get those relationships? Right. And you get those relationships by talking to other people within the industry that you trust. When you say, Hey, who do you work with for rendering? Who do you work with for websites?

Who do you work with for on assisted entry, whatever it maybe? And then you kind of, that's how you start now. [00:10:00] There is, um, there is a conference called, um, home builder tech, or I'm sorry, tech home tech home summit. Uh, it's one of those two now. I totally lost it cause there's a few of them, right. What it does though, is it takes companies.

It takes home builders and it takes vendors and it merges them together. And it's almost like a speed dating round. And you get to see all of these great companies present their ideas to you as a home builder. And you can decide what you want to focus on. Now. What's interesting though, is like, you go to something like, then you have 20 different rendering companies to say, okay, what makes each rendering company special?

And then what makes them unique? Because each one does specialize in something a little bit. Different. And then what's ultimately your focus and there are some that are horrible. There's some that there's no way that you would do business with because they just don't have that capability. And we could see that they probably won't be around that much longer, but it does start with relationships.

But in terms of like learning about this, one of the most difficult things that I had when I had started Nathan Carlisle home, Being an unknown in the industry and being an unknown home builder is that nobody was ever approaching me for [00:11:00] things. And then we started to get a reputation of a company that was going out there and becoming early adopters to technology, and we would try new things.

And then all of a sudden I have a very big mouth. I'm a loudmouth. Even if I love something or if I hate something, I'm going to make sure everybody in the world knows about it. So I started getting companies approaching me and say, Hey, would you test this product for us now? What's interesting about that is I still get that today and there's right.

Ways to go about doing it. And there are long ways to go about doing it. And sometimes I'm very much turned off by something that may be a good product, just because I'm dealing with a bad salesperson. Which being a salesperson inherently for myself, I want to be, I want to be approached in, in a proper way, or I want to be shown what's great.

And I do get courted by a lot of technology companies to say, Hey, will you look at this for us? And the way you promote it, well, I'll promote you. If I love you, don't come to me and say, Hey, do this and then promote it. Like if you're just naturally a great person and your product does what it's supposed to do, I'm going to tell the world about it.

But I don't really want to be approached in a way that says, Hey, will you pitch this for me? And then I'll give it to [00:12:00] for free. It's not really my thing. 

Greg Bray: Awesome

Kevin Weitzel: And then when you're paid to do it, it's disingenuous anyway. So it doesn't really matter 

Chris Hartley: what, you know, you're totally right with that because there's, I get a lot of questions all the time.

Um, you know, I'm a huge fan of Atlas RTX, you know, it's a text message-based system and they're like, Oh, well you must get paid. You know, two years ago, Atlas is number one, a salesperson. I don't get paid by Atlas. Right. I believe in Atlas, I believe in, Bassam Salem, I believe in the team there at Atlas RTX.

And I believe that people want to be communicated. That way. And so I'm going to talk about it. Now not everybody believes in that, you know what that Atlas RTX it's. It's no secret that, um, Mike Klein and Kevin Oakley are not great fans of the fact that this is used, as a tool. Now they think there's an application for it in other ways.

And Mike and Kevin are extremely well respected in the industry, but we can have varying opinions, right. Their opinion is not necessarily right. Mines not necessarily right. It's just what works for me, but nobody's paying me to promote any of the products that we use. I just believe in them. 

Greg Bray: And, you know, we're, we're big fans of [00:13:00] Atlas RTX as well.

And for those who may not have, you know, episode nine, we actually did the interview with Bassam. Um, so I encourage people who want to learn a little bit more to go listen to that and, and, uh, and, and learn a little bit more about him and, and the technology. Cause it's really intriguing and exciting what they're doing there.

Chris Hartley: You know, anything with technology that I look at is as you gotta look at it and the way writing and this, this really has come about in the pandemic, You have, and I call it the AAA. You have the avoiders, you have the adapters and you have the accelerators. An avoider is somebody who is hoping that the current situation goes away so they can go back to business the way that it was, right.

Those people are also called dinosaurs and soon to be unemployed, that's just the reality of it. You have the adapters, which are the people that have been watching everybody before them. And they're jumping on the bandwagon. Adapters are bandwagon people right there. They're the ones who love a team because they're great.

All of a sudden, they're the ones that realize that, Oh, if I [00:14:00] avoid this, I'm eventually going to get fired. So I might as well jump on the bandwagon and jump on this technology trend that's going on here and do things for the way that it is now. Now those people will probably revert back to doing what they were before.

And then you have the accelerators. And that's how I always looked at myself as I want to be the person in front. I gotta be honest. It actually pisses me off when somebody comes up and does something before me because I want to test it first. You know, and that just as our friend Quint, Lear says, I'm an Enneagram number three, which basically says I want to be first in everything that I do.

I want to, I want to be tested on a, I want to make sure that it's going to work perfectly. But when I hear other things that other builders do and I'm like, well, why didn't we get the opportunity to do that? You know? Cause I want to jump forward with that, but that's always thinking ahead. 

Kevin Weitzel: So I have a question for you. Um, You actually have been gifted in the fact that number one, you're an intelligent guy. You're a lovable dude. And you have been given the autonomy just by virtue of the pathway that you've taken you're in your career. And you [00:15:00] have that, that, uh, that you've, you've established that ability to have trust in you to make those decisions on behalf of the company.

What do, what advice would you give to that person that maybe doesn't have that Chris Hartley factor that is working for a company that's a little bit more heavy-handed. And a little bit more closed-minded and a little bit afraid or have that change or that new technology and, or, uh, they like the way they've been doing things forever.

And you know, why would we change this magic formula of selling eight houses a year? You know, what would you suggest to that person? How can they sell this concept or upsell basically to their boss? Oh, that is that dinosaur that guesses what? He's not going to be unemployed because he's the guy that owns the company or she, yeah.

Chris Hartley: Yeah. Well, that's a great question. And in itself too. And so what I would suggest doing, and I'm going to, I borrowed this idea from Kevin Oakley and Kevin Oakley said, look, we all put budgets in place at the beginning of your fiscal year. And if you put aside a research budget and he would always suggest 5%, so 5% of your total budget, [00:16:00] you would put that in it aside for trying new things.

And you put it in there as research. Then when you have an idea that you want to bring to the forefront of your organization and they say, well, we don't have the money for that. You can say, well, actually we do. We have a research budget for this. And it's actually built-in. Now. One thing that I quickly realized is I love testing stuff so much that from 5% of my budget to 10% of my budget per year. So my budget was about $1.2 Million a year. So I had a $120,000 a year to go play with toys. Right. 

wait wait...

Those toys better perform. But then the other 

Kevin Weitzel: Can you say that one more time, Chris, can you say that one more time 

That I had a 120,000 a year to play with toys? Oh, that part? 

Oh Man, you just made minds explode for people who listen to this podcast, 

Chris Hartley: but you know, thinking about it is, is that the money was going to be spent anyway, right? The $1.2 Million budget or the percentage of revenue that it had in line for the marketing team was already there. So if you're, you know, I took away a couple of billboards.

Right. Or I took away a couple of old school [00:17:00] ways of doing things to look for new technologies to move forward because if you're not growing, you're dying and if you're not doing new things, you will become obsolete. So what I would suggest for any organization or person that does, does not have autonomy yet is to put aside a budget, a research budget, and go five to 7%.

And then go look after those things and come to them and say, Hey, here is the data. Cause most people that are avoiders people that are used to doing things in the past, they're also the same type of people that want to see numbers, right? They're not going to go off of intuition. Most of the stuff that I do is off of intuition when Atlas RTX approached me, gosh, four years ago, I think it was, I think we were the third home builder that jumped on with them in the country.

Um, when they approached me, they were like, Hey, we've got this technology here and it's basically follow up with text messages and I'm sitting here thinking. Dang. My cell phone is attached to me 24/7 and I know I'm on, I'm on an Amazon junkie. Right. Everything I do is busy on my phone. And I think it's 600 emails a day and my text messages.

Yeah. I respond to those things immediately. So [00:18:00] this kind of a no brainer here, we'll see. It's, it's that kind of mentality. Same thing with unassisted entry, you know, I'm looking at this and I'm like, gosh, I'm one of those people that will go park in front of completed inventory home, go run to the door and try to test it out.

And the door is locked. I'll just go away because I don't want to talk to the salesperson because I'm not to that level yet. I'm not far enough down the process. What if there's an unassisted entry and I can get in. Heck. That's fantastic. So most of the stuff that I come up with is just how do I, as a consumer, see it.

And to me, it's just common sense. But to get another company to do that most, most of the time, intuition is not going to sell a product to an owner you need, or a CEO. You need to have hard facts data. So contact people like myself, contact other people that have done it, and show their success rate, and then you can move it forward.

Greg Bray: I think that's, that's amazing advice, Chris, do you have any. Indication on how many people are actually setting aside research budgets the way you've described, or do you think it's kind of still something pretty unique and special? 

Chris Hartley: You know, I think it's probably something pretty unique and special, and [00:19:00] I have nothing, but the greatest amount of respect for Kevin Oakley and Mike Klein, because they're just such thought leaders in our industry.

But Kevin has been saying this, he did this with Heartland Homes, way back in Ohio. Gosh, 20 years ago he was setting aside research budget. And he keeps talking about it and talking about talking about, and more and more are they getting some traction with, um, getting people to listen to them and you know, their podcasts or whatever it may be.

So I think more and more people are starting to do it. Here's, what's fascinating about this. It took a stink in the global pandemic for most of us to realize that technology is not going away. Right. I mean, the stuff that we're using, it's like, it's all of a sudden, the cool thing to do is zoom appointment.

Okay. Zoom has been around for a while now. That's not new. We've had FaceTime on our phones for probably as long as the iPhone has been around, you know, so we have this technology, we've just never embraced it. My concern and my fear is that as things start to open up and I'm in Dallas Fort worth where this is horrible to say, but we've pretty much said.

Forget the pandemic, where does business as [00:20:00] usual? Right? I mean, it's businesses are open. Restaurants are open and it is what it is. Now we wear masks and whatever, but we're not going to go back to the way that things were. And I hope that we don't, but there's going to be so many organizations and companies that do.

And what a shame, because the technology is there and it's only getting better. I mean, I'm seeing some really cool things out there today. Been on a lot of podcasts with some really great thought leaders about things that are going forward in the future. I just hope that home builders jump on them. And they don't do the whole while it's expensive.

We know we don't really need it. Sales are good. You know, I just hope that's not the case going forward. 

Greg Bray: So, so Chris, you've got the research budget as a way to kind of work with the executive team, you know, to, to give you some freedom. 

What about the other side? The people that have to implement it, you know, your salespeople, your marketing team, those people you say, Hey, I've got this great new thing I want to try.

You know, and they're all like, no, we don't do it that way. That's not how we do it here. I liked, I liked the way I do it now. How do you deal with [00:21:00] that piece of the implementation challenge? 

Chris Hartley: Here's what's going to be crazy. And most people, most people will never think of this. And I thought of this by doing some things that just failed by pushing them on.

Nobody likes to be forced to do anything right. Change is inevitable. Change is inevitable, but people will change if they want to be changed if they want to try something new. So what I did is I would look at my team as a whole. Let's say I have 20 sales. I say I have a phenomenal program. So let's take Atlas RTX.

For instance, I have this phenomenal program, but if I just push it on the sales team, that is going to be forced, they're not going to do it. So what I do is I look at my, let's say, 20 salespeople that I have, and I say, okay, who are my early adapters? That like to do things. First, who is my ultra-competitive people on the team that want to be the first ones to get to do it?

And what I would do is I would approach them. So with Atlas RTX, that went to five of my salespeople. I said, Hey, I need you to keep this on the down-low. Now, all of a sudden they're in this exclusive group, right? They're like, want you to do something cool and with Atlas RTX is that w we did this and these people started making some sales and then they [00:22:00] started giving me ideas and we took those ideas back to the Atlas and we linked Atlas with Lasso and we linked app or Atlas, some lasso and NTERnow and all this stuff, right.

Because we have this small little internal focus group to push it out. And then what happened is the rest of the team was like, Hey, I was in your community. Like you got this cool little program here, how are you getting all these sales? I'm like, Oh, well, I'm not supposed to tell you, but it's this program, this text messaging program.

And all of a sudden, I'm getting an email saying, Hey, so-and-so has this program. Can I get it? And I'm like, you know, it's not cheap if I'm going to give it to you, you better use it. Yeah. Yeah. I'll use it. Next thing you know, the whole thing team is on it and they self allowed themselves to be told what to do.

So you're thinking about self allowed themselves to be told I was going to tell them anyway, but because it was their idea, they're now believers. So I don't think you should force anything. And I actually did this here recently with my K Hovnanian team is I have a fairly large sales team. I said, Hey, none of you guys are doing video emails, right?

I'm a huge fan of BombBomb under you're doing video emails. BombBomb has a free video trial. You guys [00:23:00] should take a look. Now what's funny is I probably have on my team, 30 salespeople and there was about a handful of them that have jumped on and they're making sales now, the rest of them haven't jumped on and that's okay.

Right. I'm not going to force you to do anything. I want you to choose to do it, but what's happening is that I'm starting to see that more and more people are like, Hey, can you send me that link again to that free, that free email thing you were telling me about? Or I'll just slowly start saying, Hey, this will be a great opportunity for you to do a video because people are going to pay attention to that.

And it just slowly starts to jump onto the point where now we're looking at BombBomb from a national level because it's slowly starting to pick on. So don't force anything upon anybody. Pick your early adapters, pick the people that you want to push out, and then let them run with it. 

Greg Bray: Do you ever get frustrated though, Chris? Because you want them all to do it and they're just not, you know, they're moving too slow, you know? I mean, again, we won't let your team listen to this. 

Chris Hartley: So, and I'm honest with them too. Sometimes I want to choke them to death. Right? I mean, you do, you just want to grab him by the neck and be like, it's, it's that old saying, like, [00:24:00] you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make a drink.

Right. There's that saying too, that my client is famous for that technology is not going to replace the salesperson with the sales and utilize the technology going, gonna replace the one that doesn't, you need to adapt to grow. You need to utilize the technology to move forward. And if we're doing a good enough job hiring the right people, they're doing it right.

They're picking up on this and they're starting to realize that this is what they need to do. And at the end of the day, I'm just trying to give them more tools in their tool belt to make more money who doesn't want to make more money. Right. And then ultimately what you do with that is you need to find out the why behind the sales person's motivation.

They need you to push that on how you're pushing things forward, right. And say, Hey, you know, I know you really wanted to do this Disney vacation with your family. If I was to get you one more sale a month, how much easier would it be to afford that vacation? I want to be super easy. Like, Hey, I can show you how to do this.

Like, let's work together. I promise you it's going to work. And you just kind of let them do it on their own speed, but you're watching, you're paying attention and then you push it forward. But yeah, I mean, let's be real. I want to choke most salespeople half the time, but [00:25:00] that's just salespeople.

Salespeople are different birds. Right. We thrive off of a commission check. Um, so it's just a different mindset. 

Greg Bray: Awesome. Well, I appreciate the candor, uh, you know, cause sometimes it's so easy to, you know, you, so, so let's, let's take the candor one more step. Can you tell us about one where we're totally bombed where it didn't work? That, that you try it and you don't necessarily have to name products or anything like that, but just a, or is everything Chris touches just gold, 

Chris Hartley: you know, I know it's crazy. So I was like, I was thinking about this because I did get some of the questions sent to me earlier. I literally do not have one.

That did not end up working now. Um, so, and, and the reason being is that we've vetted them so much before we even jumped into it, that I like 99% knew it was gonna work. I just needed to make sure that they knew it was going to work. So, fortunately, I didn't have anything that just blew up in my face. I wouldn't say that we're all a home run, but I don't have anything that just failed.

Kevin Weitzel: I'll tell you one that fails. 

Chris Hartley: Okay.

Kevin Weitzel: Now the [00:26:00] house we built interactive floor plans and the thing that can make me more sick than anything else and ours are proven, we, you know, we're, we're proven we've had these over 18 years, but, uh, what always wants to just kill me and I don't understand how to get around it is when the company pays for them.

They pay for them, hook, line sinker, the whole works. They get all the bells and whistles. They poorly implement them and they don't adopt them. You know, their sales team doesn't even know they have them they're in their sales center and they're still handing out a piece of paper where they could be using an interactive floor plan to their advantage. And yet they don't. So that's what fails is. Implementation of poor execution and lack of buy-in. 

Chris Hartley: You're right. well, and that's another thing. I'm glad you actually brought that up. Cause we had, we have some great interactive floor plans and then you would ask the sales team like, Hey, you know, you have an interactive floor plan on your website.

Oh, we do. And it's like, what do you mean? Like, do you not go on your own website? Right. There needs to be some level of accountability in there too, but it needs to come from the management side as well to make sure that they know what's going on. But you're, you're, you're dead honest with that. Is that it.

None of the tools are worth anything [00:27:00] unless they know how to utilize them, or they know that they're there and they know the capabilities of it because they interact with floor plans. I mean, gosh, do you remember back in the day, I mean, I started in 2003 and this is how we use it. If you sell a house and it's a right-handed garage or a left-handed garage, well, Mar marketing slicks or renderings, for the most part, are always right-handed garages.

Right? And then if people want to be like, well, that's going to be a left-handed house. Most people don't understand how they're going to do that. So you would tell people we don't get it. So we would say, go stand in front of a mirror. Or turn it upside down and put it in the light and that's how it's going to be.

Like, that is literally how we used to do interactive floor plans back in the day. And now, you know, there's a button that you hit it and it flips the whole thing and perfect and, you print it, but like, if you're not utilizing it, it just doesn't make any sense. 

Kevin Weitzel: Yeah.

Greg Bray: So Chris, you, you mentioned then that, that part of your, your, one of your secrets to success is this fact that you, you do the work upfront on vetting the technologies and making those say, what are some of the things you look for in that process of trying to decide which ones to try?

Chris Hartley: Yeah. That's a [00:28:00] strong backing from the company for one, you know, do they have a belief in their product because you're going to get so many things that if you're just going to get a quote-unquote salesperson that was hired to sell a product, do they really believe in it? No, all of the things that we have adapted to the owners of the company, either dealt with us directly or the high-level managers, can, they truly believed in their product, whether it be outhouse or Atlas or NTERnow, or BombBomb, video, whatever.

I mean, there's dozens of them. The people truly believe that what they were doing was going to make an impact. You know, when you can sit in front of somebody and you talk to somebody and they're so passionate about what they're doing, and they know for a fact that. It's going to make a direct impact on the industry.

Then you, you just, there's just something about like somebody, a connection that I have with that person that I truly believe in them. And then when that connection is made, when there's a problem because there's always going to be a problem, right. When there's a problem that comes up, you have a, you have a person to contact about getting that situation fixed.

You know, if there was ever a situation with Atlas RTX, I called Bassam directly. Right. And if, if I ever had an issue with Lasso, I could [00:29:00] call Dave Betcher or Angela McKay or whatever the situation may be, right. A relationship needs to be formed where I believe so strongly that those people wanted me to be successful, that I knew it was going to be a success.

Greg Bray: That's awesome. No, I, relationships are huge. And it's really interesting because none of what you said had really anything to do with, um, testing the technology or, or watching demos or, or doing, you know, some of those kinds of things that we kind of think of, or, or negotiating prices to, you know, to save a nickel, you know, or whatever.

It's, it's more about somebody care. Does somebody want it to be successful and, and that, that power of wanting it to succeed has a huge influence? Now, of course, you can't overcome something that's broken. It doesn't work just because you want it to, but, but there's, um, I think there's a real lesson there and what really matters most 

Chris Hartley: and yeah, absolutely.

Greg Bray: Awesome. So, uh, you know, we're kind of getting a, want to be respectful of your time here, Chris, and, and really appreciate, [00:30:00] um, Couple more questions though, before we let you go. Um, what are, what are some of the sources that you look towards to kind of stay current? How do you kind of keep up with what's new?

Chris Hartley: Yeah. So this is, this is something I'm I'm super excited about is. I'm really good friends with Lisa Parrish and Shane Parrish, uh, run and own team PNP and team PNP are the production crew that basically put on every major sales and marketing, um, award show across the country. So you think of the Mame awards, the McSam awards, the golden nugget awards, that's Lisa and Shane.

And so what I'm very fortunate is as I've built a friendship with them and you can contact them and anybody listening to this could contact them because they're always looking for judges and ask to be a judge. In a different market. Right? And so every year I was very fortunate that I got to be a judge for nationals, which is like the Oscars of homebuilding.

Right. So we sat in a room for four days and looked at 1400 entries of the best of the best across the country. And what was I doing? I was taking notes entire [00:31:00] dang time, because I'm like, Oh my gosh, that is so cool. I haven't seen that yet. You know, there are things that are coming out of Toronto, Canada.

They're just ridiculously amazing right now in condo sales and high rise sales, there are things that are coming out of Mexico that are super cool. That for the most part, so somebody sitting in DFW wouldn't know. Never know about it. And then I got to be a judge for the Denver builder awards show last year, too.

And so I'm going to Denver and I'm going inside the sales offices. I'm seeing technology. I'm like, Oh my gosh, this is incredible. And I'm writing it down. And I'm taking note of what those programs and stuff are. So that is probably one of my best things is just traveling around the country. Seeing now, because I have a loudmouth, I have a lot of friends across the country too, when I'm able to do a lot of speaking opportunities.

But I'll call my friend. Will Duderstadt MI. And you know, we've spoken on the stage several times together and say, Hey, what are you working on? Are you working on something? Cool, I'm betting. Just an example of this. Um, I was saying, Hey, do you have, do you have a problem? Tracking traffic is your sales team telling you the truth about traffic?

And let's be real. No sales team ever tells the truth about traffic. Those are so concerned with a conversion that they're gonna get fired for conversion rate. And we'll say like, Oh my gosh, [00:32:00] yes, he goes, I contacted this company and I'm not going to say here. Um, but he goes, I contacted this company. They got this device that goes above the door.

And what about basically those, you put it above the door that most people aren't going to enter in because you don't wanna put in your front door. Cause you're a salesperson. You're construction deliveries. That's not counting true traffic. Well, let's put this counter above a door and a secondary bedroom, and then it's going to report back to me what my actual traffic is.

And it's you're checking trends. What a genius idea. I wouldn't have known that unless I call him called will, you know, Will's such a smart man. And I say, Hey, what are you working on? Or, you know, I have, I have friends that worked at Shea on a national level that they're working on some cool things or whatever.

It may be, this industry is so awesome in the sense that it's a huge, huge industry, but it's also really small and all of the people, at least in my opinion, all of the people in this industry are really good people. I haven't met anybody that I don't like yet, and they're more than willing to help you get to be successful.

And so when they're willing to help you get to be successful, utilize them, go to the international builders show, go to, uh, uh, PCBC go to, [00:33:00] STBC go to all of these, all of these training across the country and pay attention. And make friends because when you need help with something, give them a call and they're going to help you out.

That's how I get everything. I mean, very few ideas that I have were original, right. I just take them and I want to make them better, but somebody somewhere came up with this original idea and I just happened to be friends with them and they gave me the opportunity to learn and grow from it as well. 

Greg Bray: Oh, that's awesome. Awesome. Thanks for sharing. And, and for the record, um, when you said that, uh, you haven't met anybody, you don't like Kevin had a big sigh of relief. 

Chris Hartley: I love Kevin he's great. 

Greg Bray: Well, any, any last advice, Chris? Any, and he'd just one more thing that you wanted to share with our listeners today. 

Chris Hartley: Yeah. I mean, this is the coolest industry in the entire world, and I did, a huddle call with my team on Monday about intentionality.

And one of the things that we talked about is that there are a lot of jobs out there. That people are just producing widgets, so to speak, right? We have an [00:34:00] opportunity in home building to change people's lives. And as salespeople, one salesperson positively affects 32 families in regards to keeping them employed.

So if you ever want to have a sense of accomplishment, what you do in the sales office every day, when you sell a home, you're keeping families employed. If you can food on the table, houses over their heads, whatever it may be, but what a cool opportunity, cool job, that we have, that what we do is we basically sell.

Memory containers. Right? We sell a house that people are going to have their babies come home, their first steps, prom, Christmas, birthdays, you name it. And what an awesome opportunity we have. And you have to take that and you have to really enjoy it. What you're doing, but don't take it too seriously.

This is a stressful job. New home sales is a stressful job. It's not a difficult job, but it can be stressful, but always remember the why behind what you're doing. I mean, what an amazing career that you can have that can just pay you the amount of money that most people would never even dream of. And you get to make other people's dreams come true.

So just enjoy what you're doing. That's what it is, have fun. 

Greg Bray: Yeah, [00:35:00] great advice. Great advice. And, and you know what? I bet the buyers can sense that too when that's your attitude. Um, I think that comes through that. That's why you're there to make their dream come true, as opposed to just make a buck and probably makes it makes a difference.

If somebody wants to connect with you, Chris, and, and, you know, pick your brain a little bit more, what's the best way for them to reach out. 

Chris Hartley: Yeah. So I only have one form of social media, which just blows people out of the water. Uh, LinkedIn is the only way you can actually find me. So I'm on LinkedIn all the time.

You can connect with me there. My cell phone number is on there, my email address, and I love making connections. And anytime I get to do a podcast, a webinar or public speak, whatever, I probably get a decent amount of people that will reach out to me and just have conversations. And I'm willing to have a conversation with anybody that that's, what's fun about this industry.

Kevin Weitzel: Well, we would love and consider this an open invitation to have you back for a future podcast appearance again, because this is fantastic talking with you today. 

Chris Hartley: I would love to be a part of that for sure. 

Greg Bray:  We'd love to have you back in October at the home builder, digital marketing summit, that we're going to have a virus permitting. Of course, still trying to [00:36:00] clean up there. 

Chris Hartley: So I can't wait to be there and that's going to happen. You know, I'm, I'm running the Chicago marathon, October 11th in New York City on November 1st.

And I keep praying to God that they allow both of those to happen because. I'm not running for no reason. Right. I keep running every day, then they better have those dang races. So as I say, they better have you guys better have your event too, so i can show up to that.

Greg Bray: Terrific.

Kevin Weitzel: But could be part of your problem. Chris. See you picking two biggest cities to see i got for the Schleswig Iowas or the Hutchinson Kansas 

marathon, because they're only like 12 miles. 

Chris Hartley: Yeah. That's more fun. It's more fun. The more people know. 

Greg Bray: Well, thank you, Chris, again, and thank you everybody for listening today. And please join us again. Next time. I'm Greg Bray with Blue Tangerine 

Kevin Weitzel: and I'm Kevin Weitzel with Outhouse.

Thank you.

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