Real Estate Company Breaks Sales Record Using CRM

Second-home and resort real-estate company The Inner Circle (TIC), which handles sales and marketing for projects in the neighborhood of $300 million, was looking for a way to better communicate with prospects. What it found was $16.5 million over the course of its first weekend of sales. When the company decided to embark on a project with new luxury resort property The Lodge at Lincoln Peak at Sugarbush Resort, in Warren, VT, "we were in a start-up situation," says Jeff Fagan, president of TIC. "We had, because of some regulatory issues, to engage in a two-step sales process." The first step was to call on individuals who had heard about property to make a $2,000 deposit on a reservation appointment; the second step was to secure a binding purchase and sale contract for their residence at The Lodge. TIC's main concern was how to more efficiently identify and communicate with customers visiting its Web site for The Lodge. Eloqua rose to the challenge, developing a comprehensive interactive marketing program for the company with its Web-based sales and marketing automation solutions. The program aimed to sell to the current resort traffic, generate and qualify new potential buyers, and maintain community awareness. Eloqua helped create a resort-specific Web site that integrated with TIC's lead management process, which in turn helped the sales and marketing team to continuously track online marketing, direct mail campaigns, and advertising efforts, and to integrate that information with its CRM system. The company was able to create reports that drew on prospective clients and their specific interests in the property for sales follow-up, and provided the sales team at The Lodge with weekly reports of reservation holders' online activity. By joining the Web site, members are given first-priority access to information 24 to 48 hours prior to its release to the general public. According to Fagan, Eloqua has helped to streamline information and avoid complications often associated with the company's relatively complex sales processes. "What we found was that it wasn't only a better way to understand our customers, but it was a way to communicate with our customers," he says. Now, TIC can connect offline spending with online leads, has managed costs and reduced overall cost structure for communications, and has driven an average of 50 to 80 inbound leads each month. Consequently, 112 of the 325 reservations were booked through the site each month during the initial launch. Traffic to the Web site increased by 200 percent since launching revised campaigns based on traffic analysis data. Fagan contends that the company's biggest unexpected benefit has been reflected in its contact-to-sale figures. "I'd say those sales reps who use the technology diligently and on an ongoing basis saw contact-to-sale improve by 20 percent," he says. What's more, The Lodge's first weekend sales figure is 50 percent higher than any other New England resort or real estate launch in history. With that momentum, The Inner Circle plans to take this template to the next level, hoping to double the size of the company within the next 24 months, and to reach its goal of managing $750 million to $1 billion in estate inventory.
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