This is certainly true for OSCs. Before 2020 was the Golden Age for OSCs; sales were easy and plentiful. I started my role as an OSC in 2016, and upon reflection, I see now how different those 4 years leading up to the pandemic were compared to how we operate now.
Pre-Pandemic as an OSC
Before the pandemic, the sales process was not always smooth, and there were more handoffs to other team members. The OSC role was so new and what we did was different – most of us were solo and the pay structure was motivated by setting appointments. Technology was not central to what we did, and very few people wanted to do online meetings.
In the fall of 2017, we expected to see our typical cyclical selling patterns, and instead, we got busy and kept getting busier. That continued through September of 2019, where we still outperformed previous years. We didn’t think it could continue getting better than it already had. It was a buying frenzy. December and January were similar – we had introduced the idea of virtual meetings to help with the huge influx of out-of-state buyers we were dealing with and even earlier than that for presale community meetings, but it wasn’t something that was being fully utilized. When the pandemic hit us in March, things changed overnight.
During the Pandemic
When the pandemic arrived, businesses decided to cut everyone they could. OSCs were getting laid off, and salespeople were limited in what they could do. I started dealing with 12-13 hours a day of nonstop phone calls as people wanted to buy. Fortunately, I was able to pivot to Zoom quickly and easily, having always been an adopter of technology.
Leads poured in; all OSCs saw their workload quadruple. Before the pandemic, only 20% of people would respond, but when COVID arrived, everyone responded. We had to learn quickly how to qualify leads and create better nurturing and responding processes.
Of course, builders themselves had limited inventory, and that took some time to change. The pay structure was broken and no one knew how to set up a team because everyone was used to being solo. The processes that were being set up were purely for survival – they weren’t scalable. New OSCs came on, but there was no structure in pay or role. Seasoned OSCs were tasked with training teammates who were making the same amount of money and potentially hurting their own income.
Fortunately, we’ve found our footing over the past two years, and Shared Drive has been the leader in creating a team environment where OSCs grow from Junior to Executive through time, training, and support. But there are still some hurdles that we (as OSCs) need to overcome across the industry.
There are three major challenges I’ve identified facing OSCs:
- The role of OSCs still isn’t properly understood by sales teams, and thus getting buy-in from them on the circular pipeline is difficult.
- CRMs aren’t built to do what OSCs need them to do, so automation is difficult. (I believe we need technical OSCs.)
- Pay structure – traditionally OSCs were paid like sales teams, but the wide-ranging role of an OSC should be salary-based with bonuses based on achievement of behaviors.
At Shared Drive, we’re doing what we can to overcome these hurdles. Here’s how we’re tackling these 3 issues:
- At Shared Drive, we set expectations upfront at the beginning of any new relationship with the builder and work with them to train teams to understand the role OSCs will play and the way a circular pipeline operates (and why it’s so effective).
- The Shared Drive team has immersed themselves in every popular CRM out there, and simplified ratings into a true sales funnel. We have designed a standard rating process with 3 main ratings for leads – leveraging the individual CRM tools to segment and show detailed information about where that lead is in the process. We are utilizing the tools of CRMs differently to create automations that work for OSCs.
- The OSC levels Shared Drive has created solve the pay structure issues. With the levels below, there are no more bonuses per appointment or sale and each individual is able to control their income by gaining and mastering the skills required for each level.
The levels we’ve created are:
- Junior OSC
- Lead OSC
- Senior OSC
- Executive OSC
Of course, the way homebuyers purchase a new home has shifted and is continuing to shift. To accommodate these changes, we’re adapting the technology we use and developing new processes. The core of what an OSC does has not changed, so these changes are all about ensuring OSCs can meet buyers where they are in the most convenient way possible.
What 2023 Holds
As to what the future of 2023 holds for OSCs, I hope to see the way OSCs are paid change across the industry and I believe the way we’re doing it at Shared Drive is a great start. OSCs can support buyers across the customer journey, so it just doesn’t make sense for them to get paid based on appointments made or homes sold. A great OSC is worth the discovery they do.
I would also like to see more home builders adopt the circular sales process and see how OSCs manage this process. As I touched on above, OSCs are in constant contact with leads and homebuyers, and so they are a wealth of knowledge. Home builders should utilize their OSC as a data source.
Finally, home builders should understand that their OSC can lead and feed information to the sales team. OSCs offer home builders a direct line to their leads and customers, and OSCs need to have that respect or their skills will be wasted.