Marcus Porcius Cato (234 BC – 149 BC) was a Roman statesman commonly referred to as Censorius (the Censor), Sapiens (the Wise), Priscus (the Ancient) or, more commonly, Cato the Elder (to distinguish him from his great-grandson, Cato the Younger). His most famous quotation is probably “Patience is the greatest of all virtues” which certainly has merit. But I have always been more interested in another of his maxims, “too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”, which I find somewhat ambiguous and vexing.
If “good” is defined as “of a favorable character or tendency; suitable or fit; commercially sound; agreeable or pleasant; well-founded or cogent; adequate or satisfactory, would it not seem that more would be better? In fact, one of Mae West’s most memorable quotes, and my second favorite after “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough” is “Too much of a good thing can be wonderful!” But I wonder if that is really true.
My opinion is that many consumer goods are specifically designed not to be too good. They often have built-in obsolescence and do not quite have all the features you really want so that the next sequential model, which includes new upgrades and bonus features, is attractive for purchase. Witness the iPhone 6 Plus which is arguably better (certainly bigger) than the 6 which is superior to the 5 which was better than the 4, etc. and once again created massive pre-orders and anxious customers waiting in line for hours to spend their money.
In the homebuilding industry we have usually not been able to create this same desire in the minds of the consumers although I remember several grand openings in better market conditions when buyers camped-out overnight to assure a place in line and lotteries where hundreds of potential purchasers eagerly signed up for an opportunity to buy. And while I see homebuilding continuously getting better with 2015 looking even stronger than 2014, I have to wonder if we as an industry are not that “good” and not doing all that we can to assure our success.
For my entire career I have been a strong advocate of prospect follow-up as it has been proven to be one of the most effective tools to produce incremental sales and profitability. But I have required proper implementation of this process with a consistent and positive approach. Today I received the following follow-up email from the concierge team at one of the largest national homebuilders:
Over the last several months, we have introduced you to our company and all we have to offer as a luxury home builder. However, we have only scratched the surface! Please let us know where you are in the process by answering the following questions:
Are you still in the market for a new home?
Have you purchased elsewhere?
Is there any reason or concern that is holding you back?
Can we provide any additional information to help in your decision?
If your situation has changed and you no longer require our assistance, please click on the link below our signature to access the Email Preference Center to unsubscribe. We would love the opportunity to connect with you again, so reply back or call us today!
(names omitted), Online Concierge Team
Perhaps I have misinterpreted this correspondence but I found it to be one of the most negative messages that I have recently received, lacking in the basics of what I believe would be proper prospect follow-up:
- Other than the use of my first name, where is any part of this email that speaks to me personally?
- Where is the positive “selling” message that would spur me to take action?
- Why would you possibly wish a prospective customer to unsubscribe?