Shannon Marler is representative of how online has changed sales within the homebuilding industry.
With Marler in the lead in 2019, Pardee Homes’ online sales division accounted for 38 percent of the total sales volume for the Las Vegas region. That’s a gain of 11 percent over 2018 and that jump will be higher when 2020 is over due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Marler, who received a Silver Nugget for Online Salesperson of the Year, provides the human touch to the sales process that is increasingly digital, working with potential buyers to identify new home needs and then directing them to one of the builder’s 15 valley neighborhoods. She connects with customers through phone calls, texts, emails, live chats, personalized video emails and FaceTime appointments that combine to make it easier for buyers to see a home and make a decision from across town or across the world.
Marler is the winner of 2019’s “1,000 Appointments Kept Club” by the Tri Pointe Co., Pardee’s parent company. She helped manage 2,844 new leads in 2019, converting approximately 26 percent to appointments. Shannon was instrumental in developing the initial Sales Force system and took the team lead for a new and improved process to manage leads more efficiently and provide better follow up.
“I’ve always worked on the new home side of real estate,” Marler said. “I have been with Pardee almost 15 years in May. I started doing sales from one of the communities for about three years, and at that point we started an online program. I stepped in and helped establish this role with Pardee since 2008 and 2009.”
Prior to the online site, the online inquiries would go directly to the sales team at the communities, Marler said. The volume picked up so much that sales agents weren’t quickly answering those web inquiries any longer since customers were also coming through the front door.
“That’s where they came up with a whole new role where someone was focused on touching base and building relationships with buyers going to our websites versus going out to the community,” Marler said.
The process has changed a lot over the years, Marler said. Nowadays, most people start their research online either via their computer or phone. There’s so much information accessible before coming to the community, and customers can eliminate who they are going to go see before coming in the door.
“We want to have that conversation with them now and not wait for them to come into our doors because we may not get that opportunity,” Marler said.
Online staff visit all of the communities and are knowledgeable and work as a team with the sales staff at the site, Marler said. They start the conservation while people are looking at homes online and make them an appointment to visit the community.
“We have the background information of the buyers coming in through the doors and armed them with information so it quickens the sales process rather than someone coming in blindly and not being familiar with our product,” Marler said.
There are many ways to communicate with buyers, including many from out of state, Marler said. Lately, there’s a lot from California and the East Coast and maybe they need to relocate here but don’t always have time to make a trip, including military buyers from overseas, she said.
They communicate by phone, text messaging, email and virtual appointments through Zoom or Facetime. Field agents can do the same town with the virtual appointment. Even initial contact points started with third-party websites get channeled to Pardee’s domain.
The website offers a 360-degree tour of models. There’s photos and floor plans and interactive floor plans and other tools for buyers.
“A lot of people want personal interaction because they don’t want to spend a lot of time trying to find something,” Marler said.
During COVID-19, online and mobile has taken on greater importance and a greater role, including giving prospective buyers a live tour of the community and surroundings.
“When I first started it was maybe 10 percent of the sales division with online appointments and then it grew to 15 percent and 25 percent,” Marler said. “Last year, 38 percent of sales started online with a conversation with myself or one of my partners and led to an appointment and transitioned into a sale. Now, we are closer to 60 percent.”
The skill set of working online requires you to be quick on your feet and understand what Pardee is offering across the valley instead of one community, Marler said.
“The thing about online is people are looking for quick answers,” Marler said. “If you don’t have an answer for them right away, they move on to the next.”
They average about 400 leads a month, and then there’s following up with those prospective buyers seven times in a month, Marler said.
“When you do the math, you are dealing with a lot of people,” Marler said. “I think this is the new normal. I think this is what our future is. We’re going to be an online retailer. We’re already starting to come up with programs to allow buyers to look at options that are going to be available to them when building their home. They will be able to design their homes online.”
Marler said what she loves about her job is it’s different every day. She said she loves change. When growing up in Las Vegas, she never envisioned herself in sales. She doesn’t view herself as a salesperson but as a “matchmaker who meets cool people and has great conversations with them” and looks at ways to help improve their lives.
“What is cool about this job is it’s constantly evolving,” Marler said. “We’re learning new tools to reach out to customers. I love the conversations I have with buyers. It feels really good to be able to help them with a huge purchase that’s going to impact their life. I was born and raised out there, and there’s so many great aspects about being in the city, and I like to share my experience with people relocating out here.”
Marler, 39, is the mother of 8-year-old twins, Eli and Emi.