Archive for the ‘New Home Builders’ Category

Video Mystery Shopping – Attention New Homes Sales Associates – You guys are FABULOUS!

November 14, 2013

6461815-gold-award-seal-rosette-editable-vector-illustrationA big part of my job centers on watching and critiquing video shops. I’ve literally watched THOUSANDS of them during my career, and have seen it ALL! In fact, I’ve seen so much that I was actually inspired to write a book this year, ‘They Said What??! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Shops’, which chronicles just some of the things I’ve witnessed in the three decades I’ve been doing video mystery shopping for new homebuilders.

I was recently asked to be a judge for a Homebuilder Association’s Sales & Marketing Annual Awards program. Naturally, I was appointed to review taped video interviews of those sales associates who had been nominated by the Sales Manager for the coveted ‘Sales Person of the Year’ awards.

I dedicated a Sunday morning to review the interviews. I got curled up on my couch, sipping a hot cup of coffee and started watching these interviews. As I sat and watched each video, I felt a deep sense of pride in our industry. The sales people were AWESOME! Ironically, I saw several familiar faces from video shops in the past, and in some cases, the sales people actually referenced being video shopped and proudly recited their scores!

I was blown away by the professionalism, talent and true passion for the building industry that each of these sales people exhibited. Honestly, it almost brought tears to my eyes! This was the crème de la crème of the industry. Many had been sales associate for 15 plus years, and had weathered the storm of the industry crash in 2007. However, I was equally impressed with the ‘young lions and lionesses’ that had only been in the industry for a few years and yet were representing the best of the best.

Judging these interviews was very difficult for me, as I truly felt each and every one these nominees were winners! And, this is coming from a person who has made a career out of carefully critiquing, judging and scoring new home sales associates.

My big ‘take away’ from the whole experience? The building industry is back and better than ever. There are some very talented sales professionals out there selling new homes who know that ‘making the sale’ is about much more than selling sticks & bricks. It’s about listening, questioning, meeting your customer’s needs and forming a strong relationship with them. Way to go new home sales professionals! You guys are fabulous! Thank you all for what you do and for your professionalism and passion. Those two characteristics will never go out of style!

Social Integration Key to Home Builder Marketing

September 6, 2013

12176415-meredith-oliver-aka-the-digital-divaGuest Blogger: Meredith Oliver, Internet Sales & Marketing expert, Creating WOW Communications

Most of us can no longer imagine a day without sharing, liking, commenting or following whatever information we find interesting via social media. Given the soaring use of social media it is not surprising that being active on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and/or Pinterest has become an inseparable part of home builder marketing. When home builders integrate social media within the company website it allows your visitors to engage with your product and company on a much deeper level. It also allows visitors to easily share your information with others. If you don’t currently have social sharing buttons on your website there are several free/low cost social sharing tool bars you can easily integrate on your website such as AddThis and ShareThis. Both of these tool bars can be customized and provide analytics reporting on their results.

In addition to increasing engagement, the use of social sharing on your home builder website impacts your search engine rankings.  Forbes.com recently posted a really good article titled, “The Three Pillars of SEO in 2013: Content, Links and Social Media” which I highly recommend.  The article explains that content and links aren’t enough to rank well on Google search; social interaction is also an important factor.

There’s a couple of techniques you can use to integrate social media into your home builder website. Here are the most effective options:

  • Social Media Buttons – Placing icons of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest and others anywhere on the site (usually at the top, left, right, or bottom of your webpage). Remember the higher you place the buttons on the page the more visible and likely they are to receive interaction.
  • Social Share Buttons – In case your website visitors find the content interesting and want to share it on their own social media profile, they don’t have to leave the site. All it takes is a single click on the social share button. This is excellent for community pages and blog posts.
  • Social Login – Social login represents a situation when your website visitors use an existing login, such as facebook, instead of creating a new one. Of course, people who are not active on social media sites (and therefore have no profile) can use a regular website login. Home builder website’s can use this for the “My Favorites” portion of the site where users can save favorite communities, floor plans and/or available homes in a personal portfolio.
  • Social Commenting – There’s no easier way to give feedback to your posted content, than allowing your visitors to comment on it via their existing social media profiles. Moreover, by commenting under the visitor’s real name you discourage those who intent to post derogatory comments and harm your website. This tool would be excellent for photo gallery pages and blog posts.

These four tips can easily increase user interaction on your home builder website, which can result in creating viral social traffic, and easily help your site rank higher in search engines. It is definitely worth trying!

Meredith had this to say about Melinda’s new book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops’

“Shocking, funny and educational this book has it all! If you are a sale agents or new home sales manager “They Said What??!!” should be required reading. You will learn how to become a top producing agent from the good, bad and even the ugly examples in this book. I couldn’t put it down!”

To order your copy today, click here!

Video Mystery Shopping: Dream it, Plan it, Do it!

July 23, 2013

Melinda2013This week’s blog has absolutely nothing to do with new homes sales…..nothing, nada, zilch! Instead it has to do with dreaming big and achieving those dreams! As many of you know, I recently published my first book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops.’ Now, I never set out to be an author, it wasn’t part of my plan. However, for the past few years I started imagining what it would be like to share my three decades of new home sales video mystery shopping experience with others. It was my intention to be able to provide a tool that would motivate and encourage new home sales agents to improve their sales performance and achieve professional success. But first, I had to fully Dream It.

The dream started small, I would casually mention my idea of writing a book to friends and family members. They were encouraging and supportive! This response actually provided me with the motivation I needed to take my dream to the next level.

I started to Plan it. I planned what the key message of my book would be. I planned what types of examples I would use. I planned how many pages it would be. My dream was slowly starting to take flight and become a reality.

The planning stage is the most critical in achieving any goal you have in life. This is the turning point in which a ‘dream’ actually becomes a goal, with strategies and action plans to support it. I decided that 2013 would be the year that my book would be published. Now, I had to DO it. To truly visualize my book becoming a reality, I added it to my 2013 Vision Board. I created my book cover and put the deadline next to the picture!

The next step was then carving out the time to actually WRITE the book! For me, writing and being creative is something that I need to do outside of the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, I looked at my calendar and planned three writing retreats for myself. I actually left town and emerged myself in the writing process. Once I was away and focused on writing the book, the words just seemed to flow onto the pages!

I am proud to announce that the book has been written and is now pre-selling! The journey to go from a dream to a reality is complete. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would one day write (and publish!) a book, I would have probably laughed in their face!  But, that was before I had visualized the dream. What is it that YOU want to accomplish in your life? What do YOU dream about? Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

To order Melinda’s book, click the link below.

http://www.melindabrody.com/they-said-what.html

Video Mystery Shopping: Want to create a positive company culture? Don’t forget the cheerleaders!

May 17, 2013

High school cheerleaders4[1]This past month I had the opportunity to attend not one but TWO Parade of Homes’ Awards events, one in Orlando and the other in Tampa. I LOVE everything about what the Parade of Homes represents to our builders. The past couple of years, I have witnessed this annual event grow and emerge from the sluggish homebuilding market. It is exciting again!  Entries are up, attendance is high, and people are having FUN!

Not only are many new homes being built (and sold!), but the sales teams are getting back in the spirit of the true meaning of the Parade. They are part of a winning team once again. In my opinion, the most enjoyable part of the Parade of Homes Awards program is watching the audience respond when the winners are announced. It’s the Super Bowl for the home building industry! People are hooting, hollering and cheering their teams on! This is really what is it all about.

You can tell a lot about the culture of a new home builder based on the excitement level of the team. In most cases, when a builder’s model won a category at the Parade events I attended the sales team went WILD…and I do mean WILD! They could barely contain themselves.  They were proud of being part of a winning team and were not embarrassed to show their enthusiasm.

For some builders, however, I noticed that the cheering was not quite so loud, or not at all in the cases where the builder didn’t even bother to show up for the event! Now I ask you, what team would YOU rather be on?

Are you passionate about the home builder you work for? Are you a cheerleader for your team? If not, you may want to think about joining another team. Company culture is so important in today’s market. Everyone wants to feel like they belong to, and are part of, a winning team. Creating that team spirit is critical to the overall success of the organization. When we are passionate about who we work for, we are passionate about what we do and how we do it! We work harder because we don’t want to let our team down.  We celebrate the victories together and support each other during the defeats. We are proud to be a part of the company culture.

In a day and age where sales people flip flop more often than politicians, building a strong company culture is important in creating a sense of loyalty to the builder. Just ask any Sales Manager what the secret is to building a great sales team and they will tell you it is all about creating a positive experience and company culture. When your team is celebrating the sweetness of their success, make sure you pack the stadium with plenty of cheerleaders! Their cheers leave no doubt to anyone who the real winners in the room are.

Congratulations to ALL builders who participated in the 2013 Parade of Homes!

Video Mystery Shopping: How to Sell Your Builder, Demonstrate Your Model and Close Your Prospect

February 14, 2013

I  had the privmelprofilepicilege of conducting over 1200 video shops for 59 builder divisions in 2012 and I’m going to share some of the results of my annual Benchmark Study. The Benchmark Study compiles all the results from the shops and allows us to analyze and see the ‘trends’ that are taking place in the home building industry. I’ve pulled out the 3 most important components we’ve seen in 2012 that are making a difference for the top earners:

 1.     The builder story

2.      Demonstration  other the model

3.      Closing the prospect

Builder Story

Everyone does a builder story. How can there be anything new to report here? Well there is.

The Bad news…..

41% of agents today are NOT TELLING A BUILDER STORY AT ALL.

Here’s the good news! 59% of agents are telling a compelling builder story according to our research. They are ENHANCING the builder story. Top producers are listening to their customers and telling a stronger version of the builder story that is customized on what the customer’s needs and expectations are. These agents are delivering a more compelling, customized builder story AND are making more money by closing more sales. It’s not just a pitch or a script, the builder story is changing. The builder story builds trust and confidence with your clients.

Here are some REAL LIFE examples of how we have heard the builder’s story presented by new home sales agents.

Good                     “You can knock on anyone’s door and ask them how their experience was working with our builder…you will be pleased with the response…”

Bad                        “There are older homes here from the previous builder but don’t worry, they aren’t slums…”

Ugly                      “My builder is one of the best in the area, except for the illegal stuff that happened at corporate a few years back”

 Demonstration

The 2nd area of importance in the sales presentation is the demonstration of your model. You might be thinking ‘how hard can this be?’ We are seeing many sales people memorize a script of features and benefits, and then DUMP that script on the prospects!

Here’s the bad news…92% of all sales reps demonstrated the model home! You are probably wondering how THAT can be a bad thing. Of the 92%, only 32% are doing this correctly, through personalization and customization. The other 68% are FEATURE DUMPING. Give the customer what they want:

A model demonstration that is specific to the needs, wants and desires of the client! Imagine that!

Here are some REAL LIFE examples of what we have seen and heard.

Good                    “What’s not working in your current home?’ Tell me some of your ‘must haves’ in a new home.”

Bad                       “Our Models are filled with crazy upgrades and we don’t offer a lot of that stuff anymore!”

Ugly                     “I sometimes put a sign on the door that I’m out but really go to the mall shopping…you’re not one of those secret shoppers, are you?”

Closing

Closing is the 3rd critical area in your sales presentation. True closers are a distinguished and privileged group of sales people. Here’s the bad news……

58% of ALL sales associates we shopped did not try to close the prospect.

The 42% of the sales people who did close their prospects are what we call ‘master closers’. They come to the Sales Rallies and attend Workshops, Conferences and Builder’s Shows. If their builder doesn’t pay for them to attend, they pay their own way. They read the books and listen to the audio.

Here are some REAL LIFE examples of how we’ve seen sales reps close their prospects.

Good                     “My job is to match your needs with a floor plan…I believe we’ve done that..let’s get started with the home site selection…”

Bad                         “This home is $250 but honestly, we will take less for that..we’re not supposed to do this, but I think if you offer $200, that would be good…”

Ugly                      “Between you and me, we can just ignore those lot premiums”

So, there you have it! These three components of your sales presentation can (and WILL) increase your sales!

Video Mystery Shopping: Why a GREAT salesperson MAY NOT be a GREAT Sales Manager

January 17, 2013

(Part 1 of 2)

Ahhhhhhh!!I’ve seen it happen a million times in the building industry. The builder has a SUPERSTAR sales person. She can sell ice to Eskimos! She meets (and usually exceeds) her sales goals week after week. She knows how to overcome objections, win over clients, and CLOSE the deals. She’s awesome! So awesome in fact that the division president decides to make HER his new Top Gun Sales Manager! She has all the traits of a GREAT Sales Manager. She is a self- starter, problem solver, goal oriented woman who is also very professional in her appearance and demeanor. Everyone is THRILLED……for the moment. Now, let’s fast forward 3 months.

Our Superstar sales person has lost her mojo.  She resents attending so many meetings. She doesn’t like all the fires she has to put out on a daily basis. And, her sales people DRIVE HER CRAZY! She becomes very frustrated and starts to feel like a loser with a capital L. Finally, in desperation, she goes to her Division President and BEGS to have her old sales job back!

How could this happen?? Don’t ALL sales people strive to be promoted to management?? The answer is NO. Promoting your top salesperson to sales manager is NOT usually a good idea. The reason is simple, there are major differences in the characteristics of a great sales and a great sales manager.

If you are heading to the International Builder’s Show next week be sure to attend my POP! 30 Secrets to Building and Managing a Firecracker Sales Team’ workshop on January 22nd, as this is just one of the things I will be talking about and I will have a hand-out that shows the MAJOR differences between what constitutes a Salesperson from a Sales Manager.

One of the primary differences between the two has to do with focus and vision. You see, a GREAT salesperson has focus. They understand what the immediate end result should be (getting the sale) and they come up with a game plan, focus on it, and work towards that goal.

A Sales Manager on the other hand, has VISION. He has to see the BIGGER picture, not just the immediate result. He has to look at every aspect of the process, including how to create a team culture and then how to motivate that that team to get results. The Sales Manager’s focus is not on self. It is on his team. While a great sales person may or may not be a team player, it is imperative that a great Sales Manager is!

For another analogy, think about your favorite sports team…in most cases, the ‘star’ athletes do not go on to become coaches, and most of the coaches were never the ‘star’ athletes. There is nothing wrong with this, actually is makes perfect sense. We are all given strengths and weaknesses and the REAL magic happens when we understand our place within the team. That’s when it becomes a Win/Win for everyone!

Video Mystery Shopping: Take advantage of YOUR association!

July 19, 2012

It seems over the past couple of months, I have been getting more and more speaking inquiries and opportunities with home builder’s associations from across the country. John Palumbo, Meredith Oliver and I just recently spoke to sell out audiences at two home builder’s associations in Canada, and will be heading to Charlotte, NC in September to speak to their group. The home building industry seems to be making a huge come back with regards to association involvement and participation, and I couldn’t be happier!

Your local home builders association is a vital part of your professional career. In addition to the fabulous networking opportunities and educational programs they offer, industry associations allow you the chance to form strong relationships with peers and work together to make a positive difference for the homebuilding industry.

The past few years were tough for many trade associations. Staff had been eliminated, budgets were cut and overall, builder participation and membership was down.  Not a good thing at all for your professional trade association!

But lately I have noticed a shift in the wind. Builders associations are coming back bigger and better than ever. I believe the positive changes that I have witnessed this past year truly do reflect the state of our industry. Dare I say that positive feeling about the home building industry is back? You bet your bottom dollar I do!

The Sales and Marketing Councils (SMC) are always a driving force for any home builders association. This is a group of crazy and creative sales and marketing people for goodness sakes, what else would you expect?  Everyone is ‘thinking outside the box’ this year with program and events. I attended a program a few months ago put on by the Tampa Bay Builder’s Association in which they had a panel of experts in the building industry speaking to over 100 Realtors about to SELL new homes. It was phenomenal! These are the types of programs that will help to revitalize the industry!

Bottom line, if you are not involved with your local builders association……get involved. It is a key component to not only YOUR success, but the industry’s overall success as well. Get involved!

Video Mystery Shopping: The Results are in for the 2011 Benchmark Survey!

March 1, 2012

 

 

 

 

Each year we put together a Video Mystery Shop Performance Comparison Survey for our New Homebuilding clients that allows them to see where they rank nationwide among other builders in the following areas:

  1. Prospect  Registration
  2. Telling the Builder’s Story
  3. Demonstrating the Model
  4. Demonstrating the Homesite/or Inventory Home if applicable
  5. Asking directly for the SALE
  6. Following up with the prospect

This much anticipated survey tracks the results of ALL of the video mystery shops Melinda Brody and Company has done for the year. All scores are compiled and then assigned a percentage to show our clients where they stand in comparison with other builders across the country.

In 2011, we shopped 41 different builders, so we are very confident that our survey is an excellent representation of what’s happening in the industry with ALL builders. This is not only a great tool for our builder clients; it is also an excellent way to track trends and other important data pertinent to the home building industry.

Now, while we can’t share the results of the entire survey with you, we can share a couple of trends that we noticed when putting this survey together. We  think you will be surprised by some of the results!

The Good

The good news is that more sales associates are actually registering their prospects! A whopping 98.78% of ALL sales associates who were shopped did indeed have their prospects fill out a registration card. This is great news, especially when you consider traffic has been down in most areas.  And, remember, follow up is IMPOSSIBLE without a registration card!

The Bad

The bad news is most of our new home sales associates have still not mastered the art of telling their builder’s story. Only 54.85% of all sales associates knew how to effectively differentiate their builders and point out why they are the preferred builder. This is a critical element in the sales process. You’ve got to make your prospects WANT to build their new home with you!

The Ugly

The most shocking result this year from our survey was the percentage of sales people who are actually asking directly for the sale! Two-thirds (66%) of the sales associates who we video shopped did NOT ask for the sale. That means only 33% did! We know that many sales associates feel uncomfortable asking for the sale, but come on people…..it’s your JOB. If you don’t ask for the sale, the answer is ALWAYS no.

So, there you have it! Of course the actual survey goes into much more detail on all of these statistics, but the bottom line it…….there are some major areas for improvement with sales associates across the country. By including proper training, coaching and video shopping into your sales budget, you can improve sales techniques, closing ratios, and YOUR bottom line.

Video Mystery Shopping: Use YOUR IBS at IBS: Make the MOST of your experience!

February 6, 2012

Are you attending the International Builder’s Show this week in Orlando? I know I am! This is the premier convention/trade show for our industry! So, if you are attending, be sure to make the most of your experience! Remember, people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan! So make it a priority to spend some time planning your IBS experience so you get the most out of it!

As an IBS veteran for more than 15 years, I’ve finally mastered how to make the most of this convention experience. Let’s face it, it is a BIG convention with A LOT of things going on, you’ve got to know what you’re doing before you get there!

I’ve put together some tips that will help you make the most of the IBS experience!  I call it your Independent Business Strategy (IBS) for the International Builders Show (IBS), so let’s get our IBS moving at IBS!

  1. Have a plan and schedule your time wisely – Make sure you have an idea of what you want to do at the show, read the literature and determine which educational programs you want to attend. IBS has made that very easy with their online planner! If you are going with a group of colleagues or friends, use the ‘divide and conquer’ strategy when it comes to seminars and break-out sessions. GOAL: Spend at least one hour planning your show schedule, including workshops and seminars you want to attend as well as specific vendors you want to see at the trade how.
  2. Don’t sit with your friends! Yes, we ALL feel more comfortable hanging out with our friends and colleagues when we attend events where we don’t know a lot of people; however, I would strongly encourage you to ‘break away’ from the pack and forge out on your own. IBS is a great place to network with and meet some very interesting people from the home building industry.  GOAL: Make it a point to meet 3 new people each day you are at the show.
  3. Don’t get overwhelmed: Chances are you will be attending many different seminars and breakout sessions. A lot of information is going to be given to you, but don’t overwhelm yourself by thinking you have to implement everything you learn in 24 hours. Instead, look for the ‘gems’ that you will discover in each session.  GOAL: Come up with 2 or 3 items from the show that you can begin implementing immediately. For all the other great ideas you get, keep them in a journal our notebook and refer to that on a monthly basis to get ideas for other strategies you can put into place.
  4. Come prepared to network:  There are not many opportunities where you are going to be in the same place with 50,000 other new home building profession. Bring plenty of business cards and don’t be shy. GOAL:  Step outside of your comfort zone. Introduce yourself to people you don’t know. Prepare a brief 30 second introduction for yourself and practice before you go.
  5. Attend the Super Sales Rally on Thursday, February 9th – Experience the most powerful sales seminar of your career! This is the biggest, best and boldest sales education event of the year, designed to provide proven techniques and strategies that lead to immediate results. This year’s sales rally is going to knock your socks off! If you are ready to ‘Get back in the BLACK’ in 2012, you don’t want to miss this! And, if you attend, make sure to say hello to me! I am one of the presenting speakers.
  6. Savor the experience and wear comfortable shoes! I know this one from experience. At one of my first IBS Conventions I wore the cutest pair of sling-back high heels. I was looking ever so sassy, however by the end of the day I could barely walk across the parking lot to my car! Take your mother’s advice and wear sensible shoes (you can always put your high heels in your handbag and change in to them later! Enjoy the experience!

See you all in a few days!

Video Mystery Shopping Tip: Playing piano and selling new homes

January 31, 2012

One of my personal goals for 2012 is to learn how to play the piano. As a child I took lessons and was a pretty decent piano player! However, during my teenage years piano lessons and piano practice were quickly replaced by more important things….like hanging out at the mall with my friends! Now, as an adult, I find that I miss playing the piano! Therefore, this year I decided was going to be the year that I, Melinda Brody, once again master the art of ‘tickling the ivories’.

I realized that in order for me to accomplish this goal, I was going to need some help. You see after more than 30 years of not playing, I had forgotten certain things like how to read music, and more importantly, how to actually play the piano! No worries though, I decided to hire a piano teacher!

After much research, it became crystal clear that THE ONLY piano teacher to hire in Orlando was Dr. Moore. He came HIGHLY recommended from many sources. So, I picked up the phone and gave Dr. Moore a call. To my surprise, Dr. Moore suggested that we meet ‘face to face’ for a pre-piano teaching meeting. He wanted to meet me and make sure that I was committed to my goal of re-learning how to play. Dr. Moore made it very clear in our initial phone conversation that he didn’t want to waste his time or mine. In a sense, he was pre-qualifying me! I loved it!

So, the next week I went to Dr. Moore’s studio, where he conducts private piano lessons. I must admit I felt like I was 13 years old and being summoned to the principal’s office! My nervousness immediately dissolved when I met Dr. Moore. He was welcoming and kind and eager to find out more about my interest in rekindling my passion for playing the piano! Dr. Moore was using excellent questioning and listening skills to better understand my motivation.

For more than an hour and a half he and I chatted. There was no doubt that Dr. Moore was passionate about playing piano and loved sharing this passion with his students. When he realized I needed to brush up on my music reading skills, he starting reviewing the notes with me. We sat side by side at his piano and it immediately dawned on me, he was giving me my first piano lesson right there.  He had ASSUMED the sale.

When I left Dr. Moore’s home, not only had I signed up for a series of piano lessons, I also knew how to read music again.  He did not charge me a fee, and he spent 1 ½ hours of his valuable time talking with me, working with me and assessing my knowledge level….and he got the sale!

So you see, selling a new home is not too much different from selling a client piano lessons. The same strategies and tactics are used, no matter what you are selling. You have to pre-qualify your prospects, use superb questioning and listening skills, assume and ask for the sale, and, most importantly, love what you do!

Well, I have to run now, I promised Dr. Moore that I would practice my piano at least 30 minutes each day, and I certainly don’t want to let him down!