Author Archives: Chris Hartley

As Seen at IBS75: Text Vs Email: Chat Bots For the Win

As Seen at IBS75: Text Vs Email: Chat Bots For the Win

*Note: Special thanks to our Guest VLOGGERS today from Trendmaker Homes in Dallas.  While we provide this transcription for your convenience, we sincerely hope you will watch this video because it truly is a game-changer!

Hi, my name is Chris Hartley, and I’m Ingrid Prince, and we’re with Trendmaker Homes in Dallas Fort-Worth. The purpose for today’s VLOG is that we’re going to follow up on a presentation that was done at the International Builders Show where we spoke about artificial intelligence and the use of chatbots. Ingrid: About three years ago we started using Atlas RTX (chatbots). Chris: Before we talk about the details of Atlas RTX, we want to give you some statistics about text messaging and today’s follow up.

Ingrid: Did you know that only 5% of calls are ever answered, and only 14% of emails are ever read? However, 98% of text messages are read within the first 2 minutes. Chris: Those statistics may sound crazy for some, but if you look at it, 78% of us have our cell phone within 1 foot of us 22 hours a day. That’s truly insane! So, when we look at this, we spend 3 1/2 hours a day on our phones. That equates to 4 1/2 days a month, which is 54 days a year on our phones. So as sales leaders, we quickly realized that we needed to change the way we do things if only 5% of phone calls are answered, 14% of emails are read, but 98% of text messages were read within 2 minutes. We knew there was a better way to do it. So then came Atlas RTX. Atlas RTX is a text messaging system that allows our sales team to input the information into our CRM. The CRM then sends a text message to our prospects to ask the prospects to rank their interest level in the home. So, for instance, you visit a community, your name gets put into the CRM, you receive a text message that says,

“On behalf of Trendmaker Homes, we would like to ask you 2 questions. On a scale from 1-10, with 10 being the greatest, what is your interest in the home that you’re looking at?” Based upon that answer, a second question is generated that says, “Please tell us why you gave us the answer that you gave us.”

What that is doing is allowing our on-site sales team to truly and effectively rank a prospect. Because they are no longer ranking a prospect based upon how they feel, they are letting the prospect rank themselves based upon how they truly felt after visiting the home. Ingrid: That’s right. People are busy these days, and they want to just be able to send a quick text message, so they are not having to stay on the phone and have a long drawn out conversation. Chris: Now, oftentimes people are concerned with the fact that they may be on a Do Not Call list or a Do Not Text list – whatever it may be – but, what people are forgetting, is that we’re not sending messages out to people who have never been to us before. These are people that have been inside of our sales offices, so people on our sales team have communicated with. It’s on the registration card that allows us to follow up with them. So, the concerns of hitting up people that we shouldn’t be messaging or hitting up is really not a concern at all.

Another thing that we’re doing that has really proven effective, and this gave Ingrid a lot of work, is our amazing marketing team at Trendmaker Homes will get together an interest list or database of either past REALTORS® or past prospects. I am going to give you 2 real-world examples that we used:

1.) Back in November, sales were pretty brutal. We needed some sales pretty badly, and we were wondering where in the world we were going to get these sales. So, the marketing team came up with a great idea. They said we see 3,000 aged leads in our system that are ranked a C or a D (for our prospects). They came up with a campaign that said, “We are running a great end-of-year savings event right now. If you’re interested in our homes, please let us know.” And, it was as simple as A. Yes, we’re still interested, B. We’re not, or C. Other. And by responding to that, a follow-up message would come out that asked, “Would you like to set up an appointment?” Out of 3,000 dead leads, which the sales team ranked as dead – C or D leads – we received 101 appointments. Chris to Ingrid, “What did you do with the 101 appointments?” Ingrid, “Out of 101 appointments, we were able to sell 6 homes.” Chris: Now you look at that, and as a traditional Sales and Marketing VP you’d say that’s only a 6% conversion rate. That’s not a high conversion rate if I can convert 1 out of 10 people who walk through my door. But you have to remember, this was a 6% conversion rate on what we ranked as effectively dead leads – a C or a D lead. These were leads that nobody was even working because we didn’t find any merit to working those.

2.) About 2 weeks ago, we ran a program here in the month of February where we sent out a 4% commission email to all the Real Estate Agents who sold a home with us in 2018. We got an open rate of about 6%. It was horrible. Nobody was opening the email. Nobody was looking at the email. The marketing team again came up with a great idea of sending a text messaging campaign through Atlas RTX to all those same REALTORS® who received our email campaign. Out of those, there were a little over 400 emails that were sent to agents. Ingrid had 23 appointments that weekend alone. Chris to Ingrid, “How many sales?” Ingrid, “Six sales.” Chris: Six sales out of 23 appointments. Now, again, what’s crazy about that is there is no other thing different than the way that we sent that message out- from email to text message – except that it was sent via text. We already know the email campaigns, at best, are opened 14% of the time. Text messages are read 98% of the time within the first 2 minutes. So, clearly those same agents who refused to open the email, because they saw it as spam – like every other agent does – they deleted it, and they utilized the text messaging system to set up an appointment through Ingrid. Christ to Ingrid, “I don’t know about you, but it seems to be a no-brainer.” Ingrid, “It definitely a no-brainer. It makes my life a whole lot easier, and I’m sure it makes everybody’s lives easier, just because, again, the faster follow up makes it easy and simple to use.”

To finish with some statistics because we have thrown a lot out at you, it is known that 80% of companies will be using some form of artificial intelligence and a chatbot by the end of 2020. This is 1 year away from where we are today – 80% of companies. Chris to Ingrid, “That’s crazy? What do you think the percentages who are utilizing it for home building right now? Do you know? Take a guess.” Ingrid, “Twenty-five percent?” Chris, “One percent of the homebuilding industry is using AI chatbots today.”

Although we like to have our secrets here, and we like to stay ahead of the curve, it’s something that if you are not going to be utilizing this type of technology in the future, you are going to be falling behind.

Thank you for watching our VLOG today, and if you have any questions, please let us know.

Chris Hartley, VP of Sales & Marketing

Ingrid Prince, Director of Online Sales


Chris Hartley has 15 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 and 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, 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, 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 Visionary Council 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.  Since 2008 Chris has raised over $200,000 fighting for the cause.

Ingrid has over 15 years of experience working in the home building profession with over four years being an industry leader in online sales.  Her expertise in creating a meaningful experience for buyers and being in the forefront of using video technology for follow up has made Ingrid a highly sought-after individual. In 2014, Ingrid joined Winchester Carlisle Companies, as Online Sales Manager where she was instrumental in creative and developing their online sales program.  Since inception, online sales continually contribute over 64% overall sales for the organization.  Ingrid has been a guest speaker at the International Builder Show and spoke on how social media marketing affects new home sales.  She has also been a part of Do You Convert’s OSC Panel sharing best practices to online sales counselors across the country. Ingrid has also appeared on Dallas’ highly rated morning news station, Good Morning Texas, speaking on various real estate market trends and sales. Ingrid has received several awards such as 2019 Professional Builder 40 Under 40, National Association of Home Builders Silver Award for Online Sales Counselor of the Year for 2017 and is a Two-Time Award Winner of Dallas Builders Association McSam Award for Online Sales Counselor of the Year in 2016 and 2017. If you’re looking to purchase a new home or want tips on how to improve your online sales program, just #AskIngrid! 

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