This week on The Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast, Melanie Mickie of Engel & Völkers joins Greg and Kevin to discuss the benefits home builders gain by outsourcing sales.
Wondering whether outsourcing sales is the right thing for your business? Listen to this episode as Melanie details the advantages home builders gain by outsourcing.
She says, “One, they don't have to worry about the overhead because the salespeople are getting paid from the sale of the home and they don't have to worry about insurance. They don't have to worry about benefits. Basically, our team is considered a contractor, our team members are contractors. Okay. So, they don't have to worry about that. We train them so they understand the new home sales process from before they walk through the door to managing those leads, to getting the contract and managing the process all the way through and up through the closing.”
Melanie explains that outsourcing sales allow home builders to focus on what they do best. She says, “Ultimately it makes it much more efficient and fiscally efficient for them and effective. They can go ahead and buy more land, so we can come back and sell some more homes for them.”
About the Guest:
Melanie Mickie is the Vice President of Sales and the Associate Managing Broker for Engel & Völkers Buckhead Atlanta and North Fulton Shops, a position that maximizes her 20+ years of sales and marketing. Her focus is on talent acquisition, development services and builder partnerships, training, coaching, and mentoring agents, and assisting clients with the sale of their home and the purchase of new ones.
She has served as a board member for the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association and the Tampa Bay Builders Association Sales and Marketing Councils, volunteered for Homeaid, and been a mentor for INROADS, a non-profit organization focused on developing talented minority youth in business and preparing them for corporate and community leadership opportunities.
When Melanie is not working with home builders and selling homes, she enjoys spending time watching movies, cooking, or traveling with her amazing husband, two phenomenal teenage sons, and her tenacious toddler daughter! Melanie’s motto is, “Live in the light and be a shining example for the world to see.”
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 I'm Kevin Weitzel with OutHouse.
Greg Bray: We are excited today to welcome to the show Melanie Mickie and Melanie is the Vice President of Sales and the Associate Managing Broker for Engel & Völkers in the Buckhead, Atlanta, and North Fulton Shops, I guess. Is that the right word you guys use there Melanie?
Melanie Mickie: Yes. Thank you so glad to be here today.
Greg Bray: Well, Melanie, why don't we start off by just letting you introduce yourself and help us get to know you a little bit better.
Melanie Mickie: Yeah, my name's [00:01:00] Melanie Mickie, as you mentioned. I have been in new home sales and sales and marketing actually for over 20 years. Grew up in the Minneapolis area. Attended the University of Iowa for undergrad. I'm the oldest of three girls.
I am currently married to my husband, Terrance and I have two stepsons who are absolutely amazing. One's in college and another one's a senior in high school, and I also have a four year old. So yes, we've got two completely different extremes, toddlers and teenagers. So you can imagine the tantrums we have in our house.
Kevin Weitzel: You have live in babysitters though, so you're good.
Melanie Mickie: Yeah, she babysits them more so than anybody. All good, all good. So that's a little bit about me.
Kevin Weitzel: That's just the family/work side. We need to know a little bit more about some tiny little secret that people are only gonna learn about you on this podcast.
Melanie Mickie: Well, you know what? I was the news [00:02:00] director at the University of Iowa, and I also had a radio show, the Midnight Mix every Friday night.
Kevin Weitzel: What?
Melanie Mickie: Yes. On KRUI 89.7 your sound alternative.
Greg Bray: Oh wow! She's even going straight into the voice.
Kevin Weitzel: Wow. That was impressive.
Melanie Mickie: Yeah. So I'm the one who got the party started while everybody went out to the clubs and the bars.
Greg Bray: How did you get into radio in college?
Melanie Mickie: You know what, throughout high school, I used to do the daily broadcast of the announcements and whatnot, and a friend of mine had deejayed at the campus radio station and he's like, oh, you would be awesome. Let's get you on and before you knew it, they were like, you can do the news and you can have your own show. So anyway, yeah that's pretty much how that happened. It was lots of fun. Lots of fun.
Kevin Weitzel: So what was the pathway from radio to home sales?
Melanie Mickie: Oh, that was just for fun. I [00:03:00] actually went to school to be a pediatrician, believe it or not. I had started at the University of Iowa in biology pre-med and got to the middle of my freshman year. I was like, this is too much science, way too much science.
So, I still kept the pre-med, still stuck with that, but I ended up going into marketing communications and towards the end of my freshman year, I had gotten a call that Medtronic, a medical device company in Minneapolis was looking for a student that had both a science and a marketing background.
I'm like, oh, that's me, that's me. So, ended up interning with them throughout college, every summer and throughout the winter breaks, and they hired me full time before my last semester of school. So, once I graduated, I had my full-time job. I was good to go. So, I worked as a marketing specialist for Medtronic for three to four years, and then was recruited to come work for GlaxoSmithKline as a pharmaceutical [00:04:00] sales rep.
So, had an amazing time in pharmaceutical sales and did that for about four years, and towards the end of my stint, now, mind you, I grew up in Minneapolis. My territory covered the north suburbs of Minneapolis, about three hours north of there. So, I would drive like three hours north to see one doctor.
I'm like, oh, come on, I've got to get a better return on my investment. This was a time when the HIPAA laws were really being enforced and it was much more challenging to see doctors and nurses at the time. So like, you know what, let me put my resume online.
I literally got a call the next day from an agency that was recruiting for Pulte Homes. I'm like, you mean sit in a house all day. They said, it's a little bit more than that. So I went in for just an initial informational interview, wanted to get a better understanding. Then I ended up doing some recon and went to different builders and different sales offices [00:05:00] and observed and asked questions and just to get a better sense of what it was.
I was like, you know what? I could do this. Right. So I continued with the interview process, got the job,and ended up being the top salesperson the first year out. I truly believe that the sales training that I got in pharmaceutical sales really helped propel my success in new home sales.
By far it was phenomenal. Yeah. So that's how I got into new home sales.
Greg Bray: You've worked for a couple of other builders since Pulte, I believe. Right?
Melanie Mickie: Yes. Yes. So I was with Pulte. I started with Pulte in 2003 in the Minnesota market and had the opportunity to transfer to Washington DC in 2005 and sold for the mid-Atlantic division there for five years.
In 2010, was promoted to management and I've been in management ever since. So I, at the end of 2014, ended up getting recruited to come to Florida to [00:06:00] work with Taylor Morrison, specifically to the Tampa St. Pete area, which was perfect because my stepsons lived there at the time. My husband and I forever, were like, you know what, we've got to get close to the boys, we've got to get close to the boys. So, it was the perfect opportunity to go. Ended up there and about a couple of years into my time in Tampa St. Pete, was promoted to Implementation Director with Taylor Morrison.
In that position had the opportunity to really implement several of the sales strategies, particularly for sales management, because you come into an organization and what have we been finding, is sales managers would come to the organization and there wasn't formal training for the sales managers, right?
You have formal training for the salespeople, but specific to the sales managers we were able to come up with a program to get our sales management teams up and running and moving. So anyway, did that for about a year and a half, and before you knew it [00:07:00] was asked to come to Atlanta with Taylor Morrison and I'm like, ah, okay.
I thought I was going to stay in Florida, but you know what, Atlanta's going to be the place. It actually has been phenomenal for me and my family. Ended up doing that position as a Director of Sales with Taylor Morrison for about a year, year and a half, and then got a call from a recruiter that was recruiting for Beezer.
I'm like, Hm, they're looking for a VP.
Okay, well, let me take it and jumped on it. The team performed month after month after month. Did a phenomenal job with customer satisfaction and improving those scores, and exceeding those sales goals and next thing you know, I get a call from Shirley Gary, who is the licensed partner for Engel & Völkers.
She and I had been working on potentially partnering with an iBuyer program at Beezer, but it ultimately shifted. In this business it's about relationships, right. She said, you know, I want you to come on with my team. I'm [00:08:00] like, okay. Tell me a little bit more about what this about.
Ultimately, what it evolved into was a partnership in her development services division, which is a segment of Engel & Völkers that basically focuses on partnerships with developers and builders and helping them to acquire land, working with them to provide the professional sales and marketing tools that they need to sell the properties that they have available and then ultimately close them.
So, that is what I am doing now with Shirley. It is one of the things that I'm doing with Shirley's group at the Engel & Völkers Buckhead in North Fulton offices.
Greg Bray: Melanie, tell us just for those who aren't familiar with Engel & Völkers at all, the quick background of the company and what you guys do and where you fit in the world of real estate.
Melanie Mickie: Yes. So, Engel & Völkers is one of the world's leading companies that provides services for premier residential properties, commercial properties, land acquisition as well. The [00:09:00] company is based in over 30 countries throughout the world, but really focuses on fostering exclusive experiences and in relationships with clients and providing high competence of the market and really doing it with passion.
I had the opportunity to attend a leadership conference with the organization this past week, and by far, just a phenomenal organization to work with, and not only as an employee, but for clients and the experiences that we provide for them are just phenomenal.
Kevin Weitzel: So are you working in conjunction with homebuilders? Like, are you an outsources sales team for a smaller mid-size home builder that maybe doesn't have a sales program?
Melanie Mickie: Yes. That's exactly.
Kevin Weitzel: And, or are you also competition to sales teams for other home builders when you're bringing your clients to potentially maybe somebody that you're not representing, but you're bringing in a buyer for a product that matches their needs?
Melanie Mickie: It's a couple of different things. So one, we have [00:10:00] agents who can bring buyers to home builders communities for purchasing homes.
Number two, what we do is we have the opportunity to work with a home builder and provide the sales staff for that builder to sell the homes in the community. We also provide management opportunities for the builder as well. So, if they need a management team to help manage those salespeople, we have that opportunity available as well.
Then finally, we also provide the marketing tool and resources that they may need to launch the community, keep the community running, and then obviously close out the community as well.
Kevin Weitzel: Well, that actually brings up an interesting topic because I was actually curious if you ever run into, when you're consulting for a builder, you ever run in to a builder where you just look at their digital assets and just go no, you need some help here and here's what you need to do?
Melanie Mickie: Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: Awesome.
Melanie Mickie: Yes. That's exactly it.
Kevin Weitzel: Well then let [00:11:00] me introduce you to myself. No, I'm just kidding.
Melanie Mickie: You can reach me at...no.
Kevin Weitzel: Do you suffer from horrible digital experiences?
Melanie Mickie: That's exactly what we do. We've got the data and analyze the data for our builders, give them updates, market updates of what's happening in the market, and then offer suggestions as to how they can make changes with their strategies, their sales strategies, marketing strategies, what have you.
Greg Bray: Melanie, I'm going to point out the pink elephant in the back of the room. So, I'm a builder and I'm going to outsource my sales team to somebody like you. Is that the right term, outsource my sales team?
Melanie Mickie: Yeah.
Greg Bray: But you've got these real estate agents that might take my leads and go sell them some other house.
Melanie Mickie: Nope.
Greg Bray: I'm putting it out there. How do we get past that perception or that fear that a builder may have?
Melanie Mickie: Right. So, one, it depends on the way that the relationship is set up. Right. Several of the builders that we work [00:12:00] with, there's a non-compete. You cannot take these leads and go sell them a house elsewhere. Your focus is this community. If we find out otherwise, then we have another situation that we need to deal with. That's how we nip that in the bud.
Greg Bray: Okay. All right. So, what you're offering then is a little bit different. Sometimes I've seen, especially smaller builders, just say, well, I just want to work with realtors. I can't put together a sales team. I can't manage a sales team. I even talked to one builder who is emailing all of his leads to agents at one point off his website directly to real estate agents in the community and wasn't even tracking them. He didn't even know how many he was sending them.
I was dumbfounded. That was a couple of years ago, but I was like, you don't even know if they're bringing them back to look at your stuff. So, what you're talking about is a little bit different than something like that.
Melanie Mickie: Correct. Correct.
Greg Bray: What's the big benefit to a builder then to look at that type of an outsourcing arrangement versus trying to put something together on their own?
Melanie Mickie: One, they don't have to worry about the overhead because the salespeople are getting paid from [00:13:00] the sale of the home and they don't have to worry about insurance. They don't have to worry about benefits. Basically, our team is considered a contractor, our team members are contractors. Okay. So, they don't have to worry about that. We train them so they understand the new home sales process from before they walk through the door to managing those leads, to getting the contract and managing the process all the way through and up through the closing.
So they've got that in place as well. Again, they don't have to worry about whether or not the marketing piece is questionable. We've got proven success in what works with regards to digital marketing, print marketing, what have you.
Ultimately it makes it much more efficient and fiscally efficient for them and effective. They can go ahead and buy more land, so we can come back and sell some more homes for them.
Greg Bray: So when you come in then Melanie, of course, you put this team together. You're training them. [00:14:00] You're investing in them, and these folks need leads, right? They need traffic. They need somebody to sell to. Right?
Melanie Mickie: Absolutely.
Greg Bray: So what happens when you then go to the builder and say, we need to change this on the website to get more leads, or we need to update your interactive floor plans, or we need to do all these improvements on the digital side and you get push back. How do you navigate that, I know what works, Mr. and Mrs. Builder, but you're not listening to me.
Melanie Mickie: I think it depends on who you're working with. Right? It goes back to really truly understanding who it is that you're working with and knowing what they're working with. You might have to baby-step it with them and show them different parts and pieces, share with them what has worked with other builders and in previous instances as well to be able to gain their buy-in. In some instances, it's not going to happen right away, but once they see that it's working, they typically buy in.
Again, it goes back to understanding who it is you're working with and what it is that they have to work with and helping them [00:15:00] understand what we can do to make it happen for them. It's nurturing, really about nurturing and building that relationship further.
Kevin Weitzel: So if the owner of the company is still calling it the internets, it's probably going to be a baby-step situation?
Melanie Mickie: Yes. Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: Just checking.
Melanie Mickie: Yes. The internets. Yes.
Kevin Weitzel: You know, when you put all our stuff on the fancy internets thing you know.
Greg Bray: Melanie is there an example that comes to mind where you went in and said, Hey, we need to change fill in the blank, right now, or we can't even get started and you did it and you just saw amazing things happen. Anything come to mind?
Melanie Mickie: Oh my gosh, let's see here. Oh, there was a builder that we were working with, and they had at least 200 homes under construction, at least that at that point in time, and they had changed the way in which they were selling the homes. So instead of doing presales, they were selling to drywall, and then 60 days later closing on the homes. So, [00:16:00] got together with our marketing team and came up with a phenomenal strategy that is working very, very well right now.
So basically, helping the builder understand, look, we've got to release X number of homes every single week, and these are the different things that we're going to do within each community. Now each community was very different. And so what we did was basically a synopsis or a summary of where we were with the prospects, where we were with the realtor community, and identified inanindividual marketing plan for each community. It was a combination of digital marketing as well as print media, but made sure that it made sense for each community and the profit that needed to be driven for each community as well.
By doing that, they were able to say, okay, they know what they're talking about. They've done the research, they've figured out, okay, this is what's happening in this community, this is happening in this [00:17:00] community. They're completely different, and presented each of the communities to them and they figured, okay, yeah, this works. Let's go ahead and spend the money to do it. Now they're selling at least 30 homes a week, easily.
Kevin Weitzel: A week?
Melanie Mickie: Yeah.
Kevin Weitzel: So, I have another follow up question to what Engel & Völkers brings to the table. I apologize for my ignorance because I don't know this, but in the situation where you are an exclusive outsource sales team for a home builder, do you bring other resources outside of just the staffing and expertise? Do you also bring like your CRM into the equation, so then you can actually have that be a component that saves the builder from having to purchase or pay for that?
Melanie Mickie: We have that ability. We do have that ability. Yes. Most of the builders though already have their own CRM set up, and so we use their CRM, but we do have that ability.
Greg Bray: Melanie, as you are now looking at what buyers are asking for and looking for, what are some of the things that you're seeing from [00:18:00] expectations, especially as they are coming more informed to the sales team and more educated and they're spending more time researching online and things like that? What are some of the trends that you guys are adapting to and changing as far as evolving that sales process?
Melanie Mickie: Oh my gosh. Well, you know what? COVID has really changed it, has changed everything. So, one we've got buyers who live in California who've never even stepped foot in the state of Georgia and are buying left and right. Being able to really effectively do a virtual tour of the homes and the community has been critical for our sales agents. Then obviously being able to close remotely has been ideal. Really training those teams, training the sales agents, how to effectively present the homes and present the material and information so that you can get the sale in the shortest period of time virtually. That's been, I think, one of the biggest changes and shifts in terms of being able to utilize the [00:19:00] technologies that's available to get those sales, I would say that's number one.
Greg Bray: Is there anything that you see coming, that you're watching for now that isn't quite here yet, that you guys are getting ready for?
Melanie Mickie: We're really paying attention to different lead-generating programs, right? What's most effective and different ways in which we can gather the data to be able to decipher and make different business decisions. That's one thing that we've really been paying close attention to.
Greg Bray: Melanie, knowing that we've got some VPs of sales and marketing for home builders listening, hopefully you guys are out there listening. What types of information sources would you recommend to them to help them stay at the top of their game and keep progressing and learning?
Melanie Mickie: Oh gosh. I pay very close attention to The National Association of Home Builders. That's a given. I keep abreast of the articles that come out and the information that they share. I also pay close attention to The National Association of Realtors and what's being presented there, any changes, shifts, things of that nature.
Then the local [00:20:00] boards, right. Anything that comes out from your local real estate boards and your local home building boards. I pay close attention to that as well. I've been involved with the sales and marketing council, both in Tampa as well as in Atlanta, but now I try to get more exposure with the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and able to get really good information that way too. Definitely recommend that.
Greg Bray: Well, we really appreciate you spending so much time with us today and sharing. It's been great to get to know you a little bit. Before we wrap up, is there one last big piece of advice or thought you wanted to share that can help people move forward and sell more homes?
Melanie Mickie: Oh my gosh. Right? What do we need to do to sell more homes? Truly partner with your agents and brokers out there and expect them to do the same. One thing that I absolutely despise are those who parachute in, right, those parachuting agents. Oh, despise it.
What I recommend for new home sales [00:21:00] counselors is that when an agent comes in, and they bring that buyer to the table, that you keep them engaged throughout the entire process. Don't just let them go. You gotta hold them accountable too. Make sure that they're there at the pre-construction meeting, make sure that they're there at the pre-drywall meeting, make sure that they are there at that final walkthrough. They're there for a reason. They should be working with you to guide that buyer through the process.
Then for those brokers and agents out there, when the new home sales counselors are bringing flyers, I mean, I know that's kinda old school, but when they want to share information with your office, share the information. Don't just let it stay there at the front desk, with the office manager, make sure that that information gets disseminated because when we can help them, they can help us and vice versa. So, that's my 52 cents as my grandfather would say.
Kevin Weitzel: That's fantastic. I'd like to point out that you have been [00:22:00] and come across as extremely positive and optimistic. I'd like to just note that when you were talking about the different jobs that you've had, the different positions that you've had, you refer to them all as opportunities. I love that about you.
Melanie Mickie: Thank you.
Kevin Weitzel: Fantastic. I really do think that when you go from, especially when you go from a giant national to a local builder or to some unknown territory, that you look at it as an opportunity. That's fantastic.
Melanie Mickie: Yeah. Thank you.
Kevin Weitzel: So besides your children, because I know you're passionate about your children, is there anything else in your life that you're really passionate about?
Melanie Mickie: Oh, my gosh. Yes, traveling, when we don't have a pandemic. I love music. I love to cook and entertain. Oh man. Love it. Love it. Absolutely love it. I like to golf too. Believe it or not. My father has golfed forever and a day. He tried to get my sisters and I to golf when we were in high school.
I wished I had listened to him cause I probably would've gotten a scholarship, but I didn't. While I was in college, interning at Medtronic, there was a doctor's [00:23:00] group that we were working with, and every year they would have this annual golf event and I'm like, oh gosh, we've got to maintain the relationship. Let me go learn how to golf. I took lessons and I fell in love with it. I wish I had learned it a long time ago. So yes. I like to golf when I have the time.
Greg Bray: If someone would like to connect with you and get in touch, what's the best way for them to reach out?
Melanie Mickie: Yes, they can reach me at Melanie, that's MELANIE dot Mickie, M I C K I E @ evrealestate.com. That's how they can reach me.
Greg Bray: We'll drop that in the show notes too, for those of you who are listening in a place where you can't write things down, you can check it on the website. Thank you Melanie so much for spending time with us today. We really appreciate it. Thank you everybody for listening 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.
Melanie Mickie: Thank you.