How I scr***d a builder out of Rs 1.07 Crores and made Rs 2.7 Lacs

Real Estate Builders and sales Reps!!!! Are you listening? We just snatched a confirmed booking from a builder! Before you judge me away, I think you should read the whole story and also ensure this doesn’t happen to you. I write this story not because I mean any disrespect to builders and their sales reps but to earn respect from them.

Background of the Story
 I manage a real estate channel partner company among other things. I recently learnt that we lost a confirmed sale that we completed about a week ago. We were obviously upset and curious to find out why. Weeks after registering the lead, days after collecting the customer’s booking check from us ,we were told that we would NOT get the credit for the sale and instead, the sale would be credited to another channel partner who had, at best “registered the lead” before us.

Now before you go thinking ‘that sounds about fair’, you need to know the following:

1. The builder sales rep did not stop us from registering the lead.
 Yeah! We don’t waste our time and resources on leads that are already registered to another channel partner. So it would be nice if you can tell us before time that a lead is already registered to another source

2. The builder sales rep didn’t even mention this “other channel partner” around the time that our sales advisors were shuttling the customer to the project site and back.

Managing a customer relationship costs us money and time you know? and we don’t have plenty of that going around for all the leads we generate. So when we see a potential lead converting into a sale, we do our best to focus all of our efforts in converting that lead to a sale. So this would be about the right time to tell us that you are going to “sc**w” us out of the sale.

“Our Company has a policy” to cheat deserving channel partners?

So the sales rep we were dealing with chose not to alert us of any such previous connections to this lead. How convenient for him to wait for us to do all the hard work and then ‘swoop in’ right after everything was done and drop a “we have a company policy” bomb! So basically, there were ZERO reasons for us to believe that we wouldn’t be credited this sale until after the sale was completed and all the formalities complete.

Turns out that the sales rep of this builder company, “suddenly” remembered and felt that the first channel partner who registered the lead deserved the sale much more than the party which did all the work and he remembered much after the booking transaction was done. So I did what I could as a manager of the process. Ring up the managers within the builder organization, give them evidence that we had done everything right and we were at no fault what so ever! But all of our efforts fell on deaf ears and finally, I was brick-walled with a simple text message from the ‘head of sales’ that read “Mr.X (sales rep) has spoken to your Mr. Y (Our sales advisor) and updated regarding the same”. This is the same gentleman who had promised to call me back and update the status of the transaction which he never did (probably never will after reading this post).

Sweet Revenge!

So this was obviously disappointing not because we lost the sale but also because we had spent enough money in developing a strong pipeline full of potential leads for this project. So how did we choose to react? Well, we weren’t going to sit on this, moping around, thinking about how the builder cheated us out of our hard earned sale and feeling sorry for ourselves. Hell no! With a new and improved form of motivation, driven by unforgiving vengeance, we got in touch with another customer that we had recently referred to the same builder who had already booked a bigger unit in the same project. He was contemplating on whether he should switch his unit with another unit on the same block. His wife wasn’t completely convinced about the unit he had booked and was also keen on switching the units. I know it sounds a lot like in the movies but this is the truth, believe it or not. So we didnt waste much time after this, we quickly called this customer and convinced him that there was another project that “better suited” his requirements. Strictly speaking, this wasn’t much of a decision given that the booking check wasn’t cashed in by the builder yet and the customer had originally already sought time from the builder so that he could switch units as he pleased. Listening to our new pitch for the new project, do you think the customer bought it? Yes sir! He sure did! God bless them! It certainly helped to have a “not so” convinced wife batting on our side. The ‘booking check’ that we handed to the builder was promptly canceled at the same time/place the new booking check was issued to the new project.

Yes! Bad Karma is a real thing and miracles happen! So what’s the final score you ask? We’re up by Rs. 2.7 Lacs from the commission we are going to earn from referring this customer to the new project and the builder was down by Rs. 1.07 Crores. More than fair don’t you think?

Lessons for all

So here are some take aways for the builders community as I gather from my experience:

Lesson for the builder: Please take your sales reps seriously! Offering them ‘less than average’ or ZERO incentive schemes often makes the sales reps dishonest. I don’t obviously mean that it turns everyone dishonest but I know a good number of builder sales reps who do “settings” with loyal channel partners and collect money under the table. In this particular case, I know I was dealing with a dishonest one, learning how loyal he appeared to be to the other channel partner, often arguing on behalf of the other channel partner. If dishonest sales guys working for you are not problems enough, there will be dozens of affected and grieving channel partners such as me, who can do a lot of damage to a project’s/builder’s reputation. Imagine the motivation for a channel partner who is out of his sale, to return the favour to the builder in kind.

Home buyers constantly worry about legality of a project’s approvals & permits, they worry about builder’s ability to complete projects and they often look to channel partners for unbiased reviews. So it doesn’t help having channel partners on a ‘revenge mode’ when buyers are turning to channel partners for project/builder reviews. You can choose not to believe that channel partners have a say in the buying process, but at your own peril.

Lesson for the Head Of Sales: A “Head Of Sales” title shouldn’t make one ‘un-reachable’. Show that you are concerned about the sales process of your business. When you take away the credit of a sale from a channel partner, please have the courtesy to ring up and explain why you do what you do. Finishing things off via an SMS is so un-real and unbelievable for the day and age we live in. Your ivy league education don’t teach you this.

Lesson for the Sales Rep: Real Estate community is just as big as it’s connected. Everyone knows everyone. News spreads and people know! It doesn’t take much time for your bosses to know what you’re upto. We could easily address this post to your management and you wouldn’t have much to say for yourself. Keep up with these tricks and you are probably going to find out that your short term gains aren’t worth much in the long term.