In this EXCLUSIVE, Marketshare’s Jonathan Wilhelm shares insights on sales office concepts, the latest trends in sales and marketing technology, and tips to close potential buyers and renters.
By Lisa Brown
MILPITAS, CA—Shipping containers have been adopted for many uses throughout the building spectrum. One unusual way of using these containers is for sales center offices. A creative example is Milpitas-based Marketshare’s Salesbox, a turn-key modular sales center that is customized to match any builder’s brand.
Salesbox is a solution for situational sales center needs ranging from pre-construction, pre-models and constrained space settings. Individual units are constructed in a reinforced 20- by 8-foot shipping container.
Salesbox offers builders the advantage of a truly relocatable and reusable sales office, delivered fully accessorized and plug-in ready, to any builder’s development site. The Salesbox can be set up in a matter of hours, saving builders time, on-site space and environmental waste. And, a Salesbox easy to remove once a project is sold out.
In this exclusive, Marketshare Inc.’s chief digital officer Jonathan Wilhelm shares insights on sales office concepts, the latest trends in technology when it comes to sales and marketing, and tips to close potential buyers and renters.
GlobeSt.com: Why is design so important for a sales or leasing center?
Wilhelm: The sales or leasing center is the point of entry where people learn about the lifestyle of the community so you want to make a lasting impression. In the overall concept design, one of the most important and sadly often overlooked elements is interior design. Building an interactive wireframe is useful at this stage. Know your brand and community’s style and replicate it via design so customers feel a connection the second they walk through the door. Sophisticated buyers and renters expect an experience when they walk through the door so it’s critical that you give them one. A well-designed sales or leasing office sets the stage but also drives a customer’s experience that can go beyond simply speaking to a sales or leasing agent or using an interactive kiosk.
GlobeSt.com: What are the main differences between Salesbox and a modular center?
Wilhelm: You can compare Salesbox to a room in a home, where people can gather, feel comfortable and hang out as they learn about a new community. On the other hand, a modular center can be compared to an empty garage. To make that a usable space to conduct business, a builder would need to first contract with a company to do space design, spec materials and build it. Then, after all that can a sales team get involved. It can be a lengthy and costly process. Salesbox individual units are designed to offer a striking and effective sales environment to greet and showcase products to homebuyers. It also comes with a fully designed interior, branded with the builder or community’s messaging, lifestyles and logo art. Salesbox is fast and easy to remove once a project is sold out, offering added value and convenience as an efficient resource for builders. To us, there really is no comparison of Salesbox to a modular center.
GlobeSt.com: Are there any particular challenges to using Salesbox and how can those be overcome?
Wilhelm: In its current design, Salesbox is best used for staffing one employee or team member at a time. Salesbox also excels as a sales environment for viewing by appointment-only communities.
GlobeSt.com: Can you provide insight on the average costs that builders and owners will incur? Are there logistics issues?
Wilhelm: Salesbox pricing starts as low as $4,000 per month and also requires transport to a jobsite through a flatbed truck, crane or forklift. However, Salesbox is delivered fully accessorized and plug-in ready to any site, and is relocatable and reusable once the community is sold out.
GlobeSt.com: What are the top tips to ensure a sales office or leasing center is helping close potential buyers and renters?
Wilhelm: A cookie cutter office limited to signage and brochures just won’t cut it. First, brainstorm and ask yourself, what’s the goal? Who is the audience? Where is the traffic coming from? What stage of the journey is the buyer or renter in? Answering these questions will help build the foundation for your sales office so it serves multiple purposes, one of which is to close business.
To engage on a deeper level with customers, your office needs an open floor plan that optimizes space and keeps traffic moving in a sensible way. This is important to avoid bottlenecks or situations that are difficult for your sales staff to engage with potential buyers and renters.
The traffic pattern should also be strategized to present information from floorplans to interior amenities to local amenities in a sequence that makes sense for your community. We also recommend that customers outfit their sales and leasing offices with top-notch and spacious workstations, cutting- edge technology and green features, especially if the community is touting itself as a green development.
GlobeSt.com: What are the latest trends in technology when it comes to sales and marketing for homes and apartments?
Wilhelm: It goes without saying if you’re a builder or developer, you have to do more than just explain your product. Buyers and renters are very visual, and will be more inspired and driven to take action if you show them. And the best ways to provide that visual is through technology like video including short engaging videos and drone video tours of your community, and virtual/augmented reality.
VR and AR are rather new technologies in the marketing mix and both very powerful in connecting with customers. For instance, VR lets builders create a completely immersive digital tour experience, giving the user the power to explore each room, get key information on the property and recreate the experience of walking through a model home or apartment in the community.
With AR, developers can provide a home staging app, where potential buyers and renters can point their phone at an empty space in a model home and see a variety of different staging options, including furniture, lighting and decor.
The technology that helps tie this all together is social media. It’s still worthwhile to utilize all the relevant platforms to share images, information and videos of a new project.
Marketshare has been providing sales center, digital marketing, way-finding and outdoor advertising consulting and development to builders for more than 30 years. This includes design, fabrication, assembly, and staging of sales and leasing centers, pavilions and design centers.
Lisa Brown is an editor for the south and west regions of GlobeSt.com. She has 25-plus years of real estate experience, with a regional PR role at Grubb & Ellis and a national communications position at MMI. Brown also spent 10 years as executive director at NAIOP San Francisco Bay Area chapter, where she led the organization to achieving its first national award honors and recognition on Capitol Hill. She has written extensively on commercial real estate topics and edited numerous pieces on the subject.