I chat with sales superstar Alex Ercole and we discuss her inspirational journey and her own experience buying a home at just 23 years old. Alex shares how she uses iPad during sales presentation to help her cut down on time it takes to complete a cost estimate and other time saving hacks.
Anya: Welcome to the show everyone. I am super excited for our guest today. Her name is Alex Ercole. Alex and I used to work together for one of the big national builders. Alex has always been a go getter. She is one of those millennials that you’re just like, “Wow, you know what? She really has her stuff together.” Recently, Alex has transitioned over to an independent real estate agent with Keller Williams. Welcome to the show, Alex.
Alex: Hi. Thank you. Welcome. Thanks for having me.
Anya: Well, thank you so much for being here. I really appreciate that. If you don’t mind, to get things started, can you tell everyone about your journey? How did you get into real estate, specifically into new construction and what your experience has been? You’ve earned some really prestigious awards with the big national builder. Talk to us a little bit about your success there as well.
Alex: Yeah, of course. I actually grew up moving a lot, just for my dad’s job. My mom had her own home staging company, and of course, watching HGTV with her for numerous years really got me invested in becoming either a real estate agent or what I ended up doing first was to become a sales person for one of the national builders.
Alex: It was originally when I went to be a leasing consultant that I really truly fell in love with helping people find their home. Whether it be an apartment or later on an actual home. I started off as a salesperson, and then I ended up moving into becoming part of President’s Club member, Customer Service member and getting multiple Customer Service Awards. I truly love helping people find their forever home or even just a temporary five-year plan home, which is what I’m currently in now. I found a house in West Chester borough that needed a little bit of fixing up and took on a little bit of a renovation for myself. Just going through that and knowing what people go through in the home purchase process, really motivated me to be the best that I could be to find the perfect fit for people, and make sure that they were genuinely happy with their decision.
Anya: It is so impressive that you bought a house at such a young age. If you don’t mind sharing, how old were you when you bought your first home?
Alex: I was 23 when I bought my first home.
Anya: 23 years old. Wow.
Alex: Yeah. When I originally started, I never thought that I would buy a house. I knew it would be later on in life. But then once I got into the business, I realized how much of an investment it really was and decided to go forward with it.
Anya: See people? If your work hard for it and you’re really putting yourself out there and killing it, you can buy a house. It’s definitely is an investment and I’m so impressed that you did it at 23. And, not to mention, Alex bought her house by herself. No boyfriend, by herself. So, this is very admirable. I think you’re definitely a great example of what hard work can get you.
Anya: With that hard work and working with the Alex, one of the things I’ve noticed is that Alex is definitely very much a type A personality. Alex is very organized, Alex has a file, Alex has a system. And so, Alex is also very smart about her time. I like to think that I’m also very smart about my time, so I hate wasting time. I hate doing redundant tasks. In this business, you have to be very organized in order to be successful. Otherwise, you’re just gonna have things all over the place, getting things mixed up and people are gonna get mad.
Anya: Part of that organization system is using technology to help you move things forward. Alex has been using iPad in her day-to-day sales process with her prospects. So, I thought it’d be perfect opportunity to talk to Alex about how she’s using iPad to help her stay organized, to help her sell homes. Alex, if you don’t mind taking us through some of the things that you do with that iPad.
Alex: Yeah, so I love the iPad. I actually became the go to for the iPad when I was working in new construction. It really did make my life a whole lot easier, especially since it’s not the prettiest thing to be walking around a model home or a home under construction with your laptop.
Alex: Typically, what we used to do was we would walk through a home, we would show them what they could get, what they liked about the home, what they disliked, got a feel for what might work for them, and then we would sit down and go through, in detail, every single option. The process ended up taking one to two hours. I found that a lot of people that may be in a rush or on weekends specifically, when you do want to sit down with somebody, but you may not have the time, the iPad is perfect.
Alex: What I would do is, I actually took the iPad with me when I was walking through a model and just said, “Hey, I’m gonna take notes on here and kind of get a sense of what you guys are looking for, so that when we get back to the desk to sit down, I’ll have most of what you were showing that you wanted listed out already, so I don’t have to go through that again.” At that point when we actually sat down and got to that point, I had filled out most of their selections and it made the process a lot quicker. So, then I was basically able to go from that point to showing them an estimate, showing them the final price and then closing a lot sooner than dragging it out for a couple of hours until their mind is blown, and they’re exhausted emotionally.
Anya: That’s really great. So, as you’re walking through the model and they say, “Oh my goodness, I love that fireplace!” All you do is click fireplace and that adds that option into their selection show. I just love that. So, when you come back to your desk, voila, you already have a filled out the list of the options that they potentially are interested in. So, it definitely makes your life so much easier. And then you can also again use that same iPad to just email that over to your prospect, without adding an extra layer, an extra step. It’s all about simplification. Keeping things as easy as possible.
Anya: Talk to us a little bit about walking homes under construction. I know you’ve used iPad when you take prospects through homes under construction, specifically to show them what that room could look like. So, if you don’t mind telling us a little bit more about that.
Alex: Yeah. I was once told by somebody that homes under construction don’t sell homes, which is true for most people, or it used to be, should I say. Because people really, well the average person cannot envision what the home was look like under construction. Especially if there’s no drywall up.
Alex: So, what I would do is I would take the iPad with me, I would have the floor plans listed in there under the iBooks, and then I would also have any virtual tours or virtual videos. So that when we were standing, let’s say in the kitchen, and there was no island and maybe it was just like a framed in, I could show them from here to here, this is where your kitchen would be. This is exactly what it would look like. So, they’re looking at the full picture of the completed product, as well as seeing it in person and feeling it while they’re actually walking through. It definitely helps people envision it a lot more easily than to just take them through a blank house and start throwing out, “Well, this would look good here and you’re going to have the dining room here.” People just don’t tend to absorb that as well.
Anya: Yeah, definitely. It’s always a gamble when you take somebody through a home under construction. Even if it’s a 5000 square foot house, it just does not look right without the furniture, without it being completed, it looks so much smaller. Most of the time, unless the prospect’s familiar with construction and been through that process before, I’d say nine out of 10 times, it will repel somebody. So, this is definitely great tool. It’s almost like you’re putting those virtual reality goggles on them and saying, “Hey, look what this could look like.” And so, I love that.
Anya: And then I know you’re not only taking prospects through that same model that they bought, but also if they purchased a different model. Can you talk to us a little bit about using pictures and to give people idea for room sizes?
Alex: Yeah. There are a few models that will closely resemble another one. So, whether it be one that has a two-story family room, but maybe a slightly different kitchen layout. I definitely liked taking people in to see a homeowner construction, regardless of whether it is that exact model or not. Especially, if it varies drastically from the decorated model home that you’re sitting in. By using pictures of the actual model and kinda I would take my tape measure and stand exactly where it may end if it was a little bit smaller than the model I’m sitting in. Or show them that if they bumped it out and other two feet, it would be a bigger family room. That always helps too.
Alex: Taking that tape measure was crucial, so that people can see that you’re not just guesstimating, “Hey, it’s gonna be a few feet bigger here.” So, they could actually see exactly where the room would end and how it would differ to a home under construction.
Anya: Yeah. You know what? A little tool like a tape measure can make you seem so much more knowledgeable and give you so much more power in their eyes, that it really makes you seem like you know what you’re doing. It’s not your first rodeo.
Anya: Another area that I find most people struggling visualizing is, what their backyard’s gonna look like. A lot of the times their homesite may look drastically different from a final grade or it may have a huge pile of dirt sitting on top of it. Most customers see grading plan as just a bunch of squiggly lines and for most customers don’t understand it.
Anya: So, can you give us some tips on how someone could use iPad to give somebody an idea for a finished backyard space?
Alex: Yeah, of course. I would take a tape measure out and show them exact measurements. I will say that this is one thing that I got the most feedback on. Most new construction sales representatives do not go out and walk home sites. That gives you so much credibility against the competition that you don’t even realize.
Alex: When you’re going out with a tape measure and your iPad and you’re showing them, what I would normally do, for instance, if someone’s coming in to see one particular home site, I will mark it out with all of the measurement is red, and that’s scan it into my iPad before they come. So that when I’m standing out there on the site, I can say, “Hey look, you’re gonna have 30 feet. I’ll have them hold the tape measure, then I’ll go back and stand there and show them, this is exactly where your house will sit. A good rule of thumb too, is to print out and highlight the landscaping plan so that people can see if there are going to be some street trees or anything behind them, where exactly or where it’s proposed to be.
Alex: So, the iPad really helps there because you’re not struggling with a huge piece of paper. You’re out there, you already have it marked out and it again, it gives you a lot of credibility. Even if they can’t envision it 100%, it certainly helps more so than maybe the new construction sites that they just came from where someone said, “Hey, take a look, drive around, see what you think of the lot.”
Anya: Yes. You make an excellent point that most people don’t walk homes under construction. So, it will definitely make you stand out as most people have some type of an issue with the grading after the fact. At least that’s an issue I’ve run into several times, where a prospect’s home is finished, and we’ve done a final grading and the final grading was measured and verified with the laser and it matches the grading plan, but yet they’re saying, “Well, I didn’t know this was this.”
Anya: So, you can definitely say, “Hey, remember when we walked through that home under construct and we talked about it?” Maybe you can even take some pictures of you on site wearing hardhats that again, they can post to their social media and help you spread the word about it. So, it definitely builds that credibility of you as an expert. It gives them more of a feeling that you’re transparent with them and you’re giving them all the right tools so that they can make a decision. So, I definitely love that about it.
Anya: Another thing that I found recently that I was using on my iPad is process of when you have a prospect come into your house, open home, and then you have them fill out a guest card and then they leave. And then it’s Sunday night and you’re scrambling to enter 50 guest card into your CRM system so that you can follow up with them. So, I don’t know if you had an experience with this. There are several open house apps on the App Store. Have you tried any of them yourself?
Alex: Yes, I actually use Open Home Pro right now, which allows them to just go in when they sign in. Spacio is another good one. When they sign in, it typically sends them a blurb about the home that they may be looking at or the community. It allows you to go in and add notes right then and there. So, as they sign in and you’re walking around the model with them, you can quickly add notes about something that they may have mentioned or their background story, just so that you have it, and it’s already saved right there. No re-entering it.
Anya: Yeah, definitely. Anything we can do to save time and spend time actually doing what gets you results, rather than manual data entry. And then that email that they put in, is that an S or is it an E. So, it saves on that as well. And, I feel like you have much better clearer data from them if they entered themselves on your iPad. I definitely love that.
Anya: Spacio is the one that I use currently, and I love that it also integrates with a lot of the CRM systems. In this case, my prospect enters their information into the Spacio app, I have a setup so that they immediately receive a follow up email from me later that night saying, “Hey, it was so nice to meet you. Thank you so much for coming out. Here’s a link to our website. Here’s whatever else my contact information. Let me know if you have any questions. It was a pleasure to meet you.”
Anya: Even if I’m so, so busy that weekend and I’ve seen 100 people, each one of them will still receive that follow up email directly from me, not knowing that it’s actually automatically generated by this app. So, I just love that because nothing kind of slips through the cracks. You’ve done your job already by following up with them, even though you haven’t actually lifted a finger. Some of those apps, again, can actually integrate directly with the CRM system that you’re using. So, I personally use Contactually, and it does integrate with Spacio app. Again, I don’t even have to enter anything from that open house app into my CRM it immediately imports everything and it’s just great. I love that. So, definitely anything we can do to save time on that and make it an easier process, it’s so much better.
Anya: So thank you so much, Alex. I really appreciate your being on here today. I think you brought a lot of valid points and showed us how we can utilize an iPad to really make the process smoother, make it more efficient. You know what? Time is money and your prospects don’t have three hours when they walk in through the model with you to sit down and do that cost estimate. So, anything you can do to speed up that process makes you look better, because you’re saving prospects that time.
Anya: Is there any other uses that you can think of that you’ve done with an iPad? Any other tips are shortcuts that you use?
Alex: I would just recommend that everyone input or scan in all of the floor plans of their community, their site map, everything that they need to sell a home, so that it’s really right at their fingertips. Do it all at once and you won’t have to do it again, and it makes your life so much easier.
Anya: Yes. All right. So, the question I love to ask is, what are your favorite tools to use to make your life easier? Obviously, we talked about iPad already, but are there any other tools that you utilize in your day-to-day practice that help you sell more homes?
Alex: Well, this may seem very mundane, but I use a lot of post it notes, just to keep me on track. If I was thinking that I might have to do something or get back to someone, a quick post it note will remind me if I’m on the phone with somebody else. That actually being the type A person that I am, helps me tremendously. It is something small, but even the small little tips tend to make your life easier.
Anya: Absolutely. Last question for you. What do you usually do to stay on top of trends in the industry to make yourself knowledgeable and to really make yourself stand out from the rest as an expert? So, whether it’s books that you recently read, podcasts or any articles or what’s your go-to for information on the industry trends?
Alex: I always like to sign up for new blogs from real estate moguls. Maybe it’s something about the spring market or about a certain state that may not pertain to you, but it will always give you more information to make sure that you’re a professional and the expert in your industry. So, any sort of blogs, reading books always helps and podcasts if you can’t sit down and read the blogs, are wonderful as well. But always educating yourself more and more.
Anya: Yes. Always be learning, right? Like always be selling.
Alex: Yes. Continuously learning.
Anya: Yes. Well Alex, again, thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate it. I wish you best of luck in your new position and I’m sure you’re gonna kill it just like you did with new construction and sell a ton of homes and make a lot of homeowners happy. Again, I appreciate you. You are a special, special person and I know you’re a go getter and you’re always gonna be one. So, I think it’s something that you were born with. So, best of luck to you, Alex.
Alex: Thank you, Anya. Thank you for having me.
Anya: All right. Talk to you soon. Bye.
Alex: Okay. Bye bye.
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