CALA Homes

I don’t think it is a coincidence that we broke our sales record three times in nine months after rolling out Salesforce.”

- Allan Walker, Director of Sales and Transformation, CALA Homes
 
1,100 employees

3 times

sales records broken in 9 months

 
 

CALA Homes brings dreams to life with Salesforce

There’s nothing quite like the excitement of buying a new house. Starting a new chapter. Picking out the wallpaper. Finally getting that garden you’ve always dreamed of. Then reality hits – competition for the best homes, mountains of paperwork, and a hint of uncertainty you can’t quite shake until you’ve got the keys in your hand.

But at CALA Homes, stressful processes are a thing of the past. With an ambition to make buying a house as easy as Amazon and as enjoyable as a visit to Disney, the real estate trailblazer is making that dream buying experience a reality for house hunters in Scotland and England.

“Buying a home is an emotional experience and a huge investment, but for years it’s been normal to expect stress, disappointment, and delays,” said Allan Walker, Director of Sales and Transformation. “With Salesforce we aim to give customers a seamless buying experience and empower our people with better workplace technology – I don’t think it is a coincidence that we broke our sales record three times in nine months after going live.”

 

With Salesforce we aim to give customers a seamless buying experience and empower our people with better workplace technology.”

Allan Walker, Director of Sales and Transformation, CALA Homes

Keeping customers engaged throughout a lengthy sales cycle

CALA Homes is on a mission to be a force for good; a workplace to be proud of, providing homes people love to live in, and a builder of high-quality, sustainable properties. The company builds and sells properties from one-bed flats through to six-bed mansions, and prides itself on designing creative homes a cut above the rest.

For customers, buying a house can be a lengthy sales process – and searching for their dream home could take even longer – so building close relationships and keeping them engaged throughout the process is crucial at CALA Homes to provide an exceptional customer experience.

However, with 48,000 customers on its books and an average selling window of up to 16 weeks, the company needed to modernise legacy paper-based systems to free staff from admin and help them focus on adding more value to customers.

“It was time to focus on improvement as well as growth and become the company we really wanted to be,” recalled Walker. “A year into our implementation, Salesforce is already opening new avenues for us.”

Implementing with a bang following COVID-19

When CALA Homes went to market, it asked members of the sales team to test two CRM platforms and guide the final decision. “Salesforce really brought our vision to life in a way no other solutions had, and the more we engaged with the team and discovered the art of the possible, the more excited we got,” revealed Walker. “Salesforce is a good match for our values – it prioritises its people and values being a positive influence on the world as much as we do.”

The team engaged CloudShift to help design, build, test, and troubleshoot the Salesforce platform. When the COVID-19 pandemic ground business to a halt, CALA Homes used the opportunity to launch Salesforce with a bang for its sales and marketing teams when furloughed staff began to return to work.

“One of the advantages of involving the sales team in the decision to implement Salesforce was that we could tell people this was the platform their colleagues had chosen for them,” added Walker. “They love how user friendly it is and even the technophobes admitted it was much less frightening than they’d thought a digital transformation would be.”

Although lockdowns meant that planned road shows to educate users couldn’t go ahead, video calls and Trailhead, Salesforce’s free online learning platform, played an important role in helping to support user adoption and introduce the language of Salesforce.

Hitting the ground running with smoother processes

When Salesforce went live, demand for new housing was high, but the sector was also dealing with ever-changing government guidelines on which services they were allowed to provide in person, and for added complexity, rules varied between England and Scotland. However, in just six weeks CALA Homes had broken its all-time sales record – and not for the last time. Between July 2020 and March 2021, it smashed its sales record three times.

Today, the customer journey starts in Marketing Cloud, which is linked to the website to capture leads directly into Salesforce CRM, generating an autoresponder for the customer. The prospective buyer can then be sent more personalised, relevant content based on their search requirements.

“We’ve integrated sales and marketing to create a truly seamless customer experience,” said Walker. “We’re in the process of building out more journeys depending on what type of property the customer is looking for and have plans to use Einstein, the artificial intelligence feature, for lead scoring so the sales team know where to focus their attention.”

With full visibility of the marketing journey, the sales team know what the customer’s interests are and what kind of content they’ve engaged with, helping them to have more informed conversations depending on where the customer is in the sales funnel and what they’re looking for.

“Previously it was very difficult to filter leads, so it was like having a big digital bucket of contacts,” Walker explained. “Salesforce has been a game changer. Our teams now have full visibility of the customer at every stage of the journey as well as dashboards showing where new opportunities are.”

Where once the sales team had the equivalent of circa 3,000 contacts each to work through, Salesforce now helps them identify the hottest leads so they can have the right conversation, with the right people, at the right time.

Virtualising paper-based processes

When a customer has found their dream home and wants to reserve it, Salesforce has transformed four hours of manual paperwork into a virtual process taking just minutes. “It used to take the team a whole day to do one high-value transaction, but with Sales Cloud and Conga Composer from the AppExchange, that’s down to just a couple of a minutes,” added Walker. “We’ve estimated that’s given every sales rep two weeks of their working life back per year.”

The process is further streamlined via an integration with payment solution, Asperato, and will be joined shortly by Onfido, which performs identification checks, and can be carried out remotely instead of requiring the customer and agent to physically travel to the office.

“Salesforce is like having a high-end smartphone that you can just keep adding apps to until it’s completely tailored to your business,” said Walker. “We’re also using Chatter to collaborate better and the Salesforce Mobile App so managers can approve deals on the go.”

Having a central platform has also unlocked 360-degree visibility and empowered the company to make smarter, data-driven decisions and become more predictive about customer needs. One area where this has helped to protect revenues is cancelled sales.

It’s standard practice for approximately 14% of houses to need to be sold twice due to cancellations, but better visibility means CALA Homes can analyse cancellation data and look for patterns in the cancellation reasons and timings to allow us to tighten up in areas where we are losing sales. “One thing we’ve noticed is that when customers are able to do more remotely, they feel more confident and in control,” explained Walker. “We’re already seeing the cancellation rate slowly dropping, and soon we’ll be able to make smarter decisions on how to sell in the future to cut cancellations even further.”

Empowering the service team with a comprehensive CTI solution

With sales and marketing operating more efficiently than ever, the team turned to phase two of the project – transforming customer service. Previously, manual systems meant that agents were spending 90% of time on internal processes and just 10% of their time speaking to customers. But CALA Homes needed to flip that on its head.

Service agents act as a bridge between customers and the subcontractors who carry out building maintenance. With Salesforce, they’ve got full visibility on the status of repair work to keep customers updated, allowing them to focus on spending more time listening and less time manually tracking down information.

Salesforce is integrated with Natterbox CTI to empower reps with insights into which customer is calling before they even answer the call. “It’s frustrating when you have to explain who you are and which plot you’re calling from over and over again before reaching the right person. Natterbox means we know who’s calling and why, so our reps know what to expect and can handle the call in the best possible way,” added Walker.

The team is also planning on rolling out LiveChat in the future to give customers more omnichannel access to support teams.

Small wins create big efficiency gains

The first two phases of the Salesforce transformation have been all about small wins – from a tool to better manage scheduling appointments, to an integration with project delivery tool, Field View, to track any issues during construction and plans to roll out Maps to make life easier for reps handling part-exchange – and the employee experience has been totally transformed.

CALA Homes is also planning to upgrade to MyTrailhead to create bespoke trails to help new staff get onboarded quickly. And as for that Disney-like experience? The team is planning on rolling out a customer community where they can self-serve to choose the details of their dream house anytime, anyplace; from which kind of tiles they want, to the colour of the cabinets they’ll have in their kitchen.

“Now we’ve got the core functionality in place we can accelerate making more changes that are win-win for our team and the customer,” concluded Walker. “We’re even creating new roles to liberate the sales team from old processes and empower our people to focus on delighting the customer. It’s an exciting time for CALA Homes, and we couldn’t have done it without Salesforce as our partner.”

 
 

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