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The CRM Elite: Raising the Roof
On the foundation of a Salesforce.com sales contact center, homebuilder Beazer Homes USA constructs increased sales out of fewer, better leads
For the rest of the August 2010 issue of CRM magazine please click here
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Beazer Homes USA, a homebuilder with a nationwide footprint, has always had an established lifecycle for its customers. Joe Harris, Beazer’s director of information systems, describes the progression of the average customer as going from “a lead to a walk-in, which we kind of call ‘a prospect,’ to a buyer, then an owner.”

Regardless of where potential homebuyers were in that lifecycle, though, Beazer wasn’t always answering the doorbell when they came calling. Only 65 percent of incoming contacts were getting a response. “We have kind of two sides to our contact center,” Harris says, with one unit handling customer service and a separate sales side to receive every phone call or email. 

Since implementing Salesforce.com’s software into its sales team’s contact center in May 2009, Beazer’s ability to reply to incoming contacts has improved by more than just a coat of paint: The company now boasts a 100 percent response rate. “Anybody that calls in is [now] going to get a person on the phone,” Harris says. What’s more, the quality of those contacts has enabled the company to both narrow and strengthen the selection of leads that open its customer lifecycle. And despite procuring 35 percent fewer leads overall, total sales are up 52 percent.

“What we’re able to do is now track in more detail the number of leads that are being converted,” Harris explains. “We’re actually gaining a lot more quality leads by having Salesforce in play…. [We’re] narrowing the types of leads that we’re capturing as well as having a new contact center grabbing all these leads. Following up with them in a couple hours is making a big difference in how we actually track them through the rest of the lifecycle and getting them sold and [becoming] a buyer and an owner of one of our homes.” 

In 2004, Beazer had begun using CDC Pivotal in its sales department, placing an Internet sales employee in each of its 32 divisions. “It was not a standard role,” Harris recalls. “In a division that might be a little bit smaller, that person could have been the marketing admin, the sales admin, and the Internet salesperson…. [That one person wasn’t] available all the time to take every email, or follow up quickly with every phone call. Subdivisions had a dedicated Internet salesperson who sat right there—that’s all they did because of the type of volume that they had. And even then they still couldn’t handle it all with one person.”

With the sales contact center built on Salesforce.com technology, however, Harris says that Beazer’s subdivisions can “quickly access [a customer’s] record, answer 100 percent of the phone calls, [and] follow up on the Web leads within hours. There’s a team there handling all of those [inquiries] instead of just one individual per division.” 

Harris attributes Beazer’s success to the increase in customer contact and being able to provide answers specific to each inquiry. By getting a potential homeowner to speak with a representative stationed in her city of interest, Beazer is able to provide very detailed information about amenities important to her. Although that prospect might end up speaking to quite a few reps, Beazer makes a point of sparing customers from having to repeat interests or geographical preferences. Harris describes the information as “flowing through” various representatives. “The contact center is actually touching that record,” he says. “[Reps are] putting in all the notes…they’ve gathered from that customer. The next rep involved in that process [has] all that information.”

In the last year, Beazer has seen a 10 percent increase in its homegrown Lead Experience Indicator, and a 12 percent increase in its Prospect Experience Indicator—internal metrics that Harris calls a clear reflection of the new system’s effectiveness, and which he attributes to the use of Salesforce on the front end.

And Beazer isn’t ready to hang up the tool belt just yet. Harris says that the company plans to adapt Salesforce to assist in the six-month handholding period that precedes most closings. “That’s really the piece of our future strategy,” he concludes. “To get a full cycle of working with our customers, and then even after that with our customer-care group.”

REAL RESULTS 

  • Improved the response rate for incoming contacts from 65 percent to 100 percent.
  • Winnowed the number of leads by 35 percent, resulting in a higher-quality pool.
  • Despite having fewer leads, increased total sales by 52 percent.
  • Increased the population of data in key sales and marketing fields by nearly 20 percent.
  • Improved internal gauge for leads by 10 percent, and for prospects by 12 percent. 

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