Archive for the ‘New Homes Sales Coaching’ Category

Video Mystery Shopping: What’s YOUR Super Bowl Sales Commercial?

January 24, 2014

clydesdale-horses-450As many of you may know, I am not a huge football fan. I DO know which teams are actually playing in the Super Bowl this year, but that is about where my knowledge of all things Gridiron ends. This year, I have the pleasure of actually being in Las Vegas for the International Builders Show on Sunday, February 2nd…the day the Broncos take on the Seahawks. Already many of my traveling colleagues are discussing “WHERE” they will be to watch the BIG Game. I, of course, will join them to watch the game…..however; my real focus will be on the commercials!

For years, I have LOVED watching the clever commercials that are always unveiled at the Super Bowl. Some are hilarious, some are strange, some make your cry, and some are just plain risqué! But, for the most part, they are all very MEMORABLE and make for fun discussion the next day with friends.

A commercial is basically a 30 or 60 second opportunity to ‘sell’  a product or brand. A Super Bowl commercial is an opportunity to sell a brand or product to MILLIONS of people! That’s not a lot of time to make a sales pitch. The commercials must be clear, concise, and get the point across quickly! But, most importantly, they must be memorable enough to make you want to buy the product!

Believe it or not, in many ways you can compare a Super Bowl commercial to a new home sales presentation! You have a brief period of time to ‘sell’ your product to the consumer. Your presentation must be clear, concise, and memorable! You’ve got to stand out above the crowd!

Think about YOUR sales presentation…is it Super Bowl worthy or is it just ho-hum? Do your prospects leave wanting MORE or do they just want to leave? And, most importantly, will they remember you and your presentation the next day?

Every person that walks into your sales office has high expectations….the same way we have high expectations for the Super Bowl commercials. Make sure you are able to deliver on those expectations! If I asked you to name for me your favorite Super Bowl spot, I am fairly certain you would be able to spout out several from years gone by that have made a lasting impression! Budweiser, Dorito’s, the cute kid from the E-Trade commercials….are just a few that come to mind.

What if I asked your prospects to name their favorite new home sales person? Do you think you would make the cut?

Remember, every day is Super Bowl Sunday when you are in new home sales! For your viewing pleasure….the 25 BEST Super Bowl commercials…..Budweiser and Dorito’s are dominant players!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s_xI5E4zVFs

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Video Mystery Shopping: A wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a WOLF!

January 10, 2014

kids-hate-vegetablesOnce when I was a little girl, my mother tried to get me to eat lima beans. Now, I don’t like lima beans…..never have and never will. Anyway, back then, I had never actually eaten a lima bean before, but I could tell by the way they looked (and smelled) that lima beans would probably never make it on my Top Ten favorite foods list. Anyway, Mother decided to disguise the limas by hiding them in a casserole and neglecting to tell me they were in there. Well, I took a bite of the casserole, immediately tasted a lima, and promptly spit out my food! (Mother was not real pleased with my reaction; but she also never hid lima beans in any more dishes either!)

Anyway, I share this experience not to provide you with too much information about my eating habits, but instead to stress a point…..a wolf in sheep’s clothing is still a wolf. Or, a lima bean in a chicken cacciatore casserole is still a LIMA BEAN!

Fast forward to today……I am sitting in my office and  my bank manager calls and leaves me message. Of course, I call her back (good strategy on the bank’s part!) to see if something is wrong with my account. Am I overdrawn?? Has someone stolen my identity?? Did a mystery person deposit a MILLION dollars into the account???

When I reach the manager, she begins by reading from a script, (yes, it was THAT obvious). She asks me if she can send a team member over to my house as a “courtesy call”. A courtesy call? Who are they kidding? Banks and Courtesy Calls are polar opposites!

When I explain to her that I am busy (my January is like an accountant’s tax season! I am in IBS mode…International Builder Show, NOT irritable Bowel Syndrome. I am writing speeches, creating marketing materials, rehearsing with fellow speakers; I have NO TIME for a courtesy call!)

Anyway, at this point I AM getting irritated. The bank manager then starts ‘introducing’ me to all of the bank’s new investment products and services. Ugghhh. Finally, I tell her point blank that I am not interested and that while I appreciate the call, I don’t appreciate the pretense upon which the call was made.

This is an excellent example of how NOT to provide good service. The bank had disguised a sales presentation as a customer service call………..the old bait and switch routine.  After I hung up, I couldn’t help but smile as I recalled that evening many years ago when Mom did the same thing with lima beans. No matter how you slice it, a sales call in customer service clothing is still a sales call…and a lima bean in a casserole is still a lima bean!

Video Mystery Shopping: Don’t Fear the Shop!

December 20, 2013

woman-scaredDo you want to know the quickest way to silence a room full of New Homes Sales Associates? Tell them they are all going to be Video Mystery Shopped over the next 2 weeks. Not only will they become dead silent, but a look of horror and fear will quickly appear on their faces. Trust me; I have seen it happen numerous times in my 30 plus years in the video mystery shopping business.

After the news sinks in that they are going to be video shopped, the fear begins to grow and grow. Every man, woman, and child that enters their sales office is a possible ‘shopper’ suspect! The phone lines heat up between the sales offices, with sales associates comparing notes with each other about their recent visitors.

The conversations sound something like this:

“Did you get a visit from a lady with big red hair claiming to be relocating from California?”

“No, but what about the man who said he was going through a divorce and was interested in purchasing a townhome?”

“I didn’t see him, but I swear I saw a small video camera hidden in my last customer’s baseball cap!! I AM SURE HE WAS THE SHOPPER!!”

For some reason, sales associates really FEAR being video shopped! The truth of the matter is, being video shopped is nothing to fear. If you are doing your job, and know how to conduct a professional sales presentation from start to finish, you should actually WELCOME and EMBRACE the opportunity to be video shopped. It’s your time to shine!

When we fear something, it usually stems from our preconceived perception of the outcome. IE, you might fear bears because you know they can EAT you.

In most cases, sales associates fear video shops because they falsely believe their sales manager will use the shop as a “GOTCHA” to ridicule or, in severe cases, fire them. Simply not true. Sales Managers look at video shops as an opportunity to get a ‘snapshot’ of their sales associates in action. This video can then be used as a powerful training tool to highlight areas of strength and also identify areas for improvement in the sales presentation.

My advice to sales associates that fear being video shopped is simple: Relax and give the best sales presentation possible to every single person that walks into your sales office. Let’s face it, that really IS your job…whether you are being video shopped or not.

Video Mystery Shopping: Does this dress make me look fat? The TRUTH about honest Feedback! Part 2

December 6, 2013

Job-Interview[1]Last week we discussed the importance of feedback and how it can help us grow professionally and personally.

This week we are going to focus on ways to actually give and receive feedback.

Let’s start with GIVING feedback:

Schedule a meeting in a private conference room, not across from your desk. Remove all barriers. Give the salesperson enough time to gather information on how improvements have been made since the last evaluation. If you are discussing their shop, encourage them to watch it at least 2x privately. Schedule enough time so you are not rushed and turn off all electronics during the meeting.

Explain the purpose of the evaluation prior to the meeting. People like to know WHY they will be getting feedback. Start by saying “we’re meeting next Monday to go over your video shop in addition to your last 30 days of sales performance. I’d like to discuss your positives and a few areas where performance can be improved.”

Start with overall performance and highlight specific accomplishments. Ask the salesperson areas where they believe they are doing well and ask them to cite specific examples.

Ask the salesperson where they think they need improvement. Avoid offering your comments first. Sit back and really listen. When they are done, offer some of your observations with suggestions for improvement. If the salesperson is not doing well with follow up, offer some ideas on how that can improve. IE., setting a time each day to focus on it, learning more about buyers so follow up can be more impactful, etc

Give the salesperson the opportunity to ask questions and make statements and together develop a reasonable timeline for improvement. Write everything down you discussed with a deadline for improvement, sign and date it. This gives you a way to hold the salesperson accountable for their actions.

Follow up and see if improvements are being implemented. Continue to offer words of encouragement.

Receiving feedback:

Ask for it!! If your sales manager doesn’t review your work, ask them to. It will show your dedication to the job and that you are serious about your career and being successful.

Welcome constructive feedback. Honestly, it truly is the only way to grow and become better at what you do.

Control your defensiveness. Listen closely to the feedback and refrain from judging or denying it. Also, please don’t feel the need to justify why you did something. Just LISTEN.

Don’t take it personally or negatively. Look at feedback as a way to improve! No one is perfect. Instead of thinking ‘I am terrible at closing!’ reframe the message to be ‘I am a great sales person and I see an opportunity to become even better if I work on improving my closing skills”.

Ask questions. If you are not clear about the feedback ask your sales manager to clarify and give specific examples of areas you need to improve upon.

Set a goal for improvement and hold yourself accountable. Find a mentor, listen to audios, attend a SMC meeting, work on obtaining your IRM designation, read the latest sales books, all of these actions will help you perfect your craft!

One final thought about feedback.

 In order for it to be effective you must: Deliver it effectively. Accept it with a smile. Learn from it…. Remember,  your career depends on it.

Melinda Brody, MIRM is president of Melinda Brody and Company, Inc. For three decades, Melinda’s firm has video mystery shopped over 25,000 on site salespeople and knows what’s REALLY going on in the field of new home sales. Melinda is a keynote speaker and seminar leader, presenting at the International Builders Show popular Super Sales Rally. Her new book, “They Said WHAT??!!” explores how to excel at selling new homes by doing everything WRONG!

Video Mystery Shopping: Does this dress make me look fat? The TRUTH about honest Feedback!

November 25, 2013

Part 1 of a 2 part series. Published in Sales & Marketing Ideas Magazine

funny-girls-dress-make-me-look-fat“Boy, do I look FAT in that outfit! And, do I really have a DOUBLE CHIN??” 

“OMG! I can’t believe I wore that suit! Look at how wrinkled my jacket is!!”

“I look so old and tired! They must have distorted MY video!”

If you have ever been on video (or video mystery shopped) one or two of these statements has probably come to mind upon seeing yourself on video. We ALL do, even me! And this is what I do for a living. It is only natural to be critical of yourself when you first see your video. This is why we encourage ALL our clients to watch their videos AT LEAST twice! The first time you watch, you are paying too much attention to your physical self and not really listening to your shop.

Once I did a video and it was shot outside, I actually wore sunglasses because I was so self-conscious about my looks. My company’s sales coach and marketing consultant, Leah Turner, said to me: “Melinda….when you show up to speak, you look the way you look, you can’t change that. It is what it is, and it is time to get over it.”

I hated to admit it, but she was right!! (By the way, I think I look good for 70! Ok, I’m really 60 years old but when I share that with audiences, I get no reaction so I had to bump it up 10 years!)

Anyway, in my role as a professional speaker it is imperative that I watch countless, painful videos of myself speaking in order to improve my performance. Once I get past the physical shock, I can really focus and hone in on my message to improve my presentation. This allows me to continually develop my skill set as a speaker and presenter.

One thing that I have found to be especially helpful and motivating for me is to actually seek feedback from my peers and friends. I welcome it from others and I always listen with an open mind.

You see, your ability to handle candid, brutally honest feedback is in direct proportion to your confidence level. The more confident you are the less defensive and more acceptable to feedback you become.

Remember, you don’t ALWAYS need to follow the feedback, just take it in and decide what works and what doesn’t work for you. If you ask for opinions, you will certainly get them. It does not mean you need to apply every opinion!

If you allow yourself to sift through and analyze the feedback, you will become aware of what you need to pay attention to. The bottom line? Feedback is always about opinions. Not all opinions are the same and not all opinions are right. You have to determine what feedback works for you that will allow you to grow, prosper and be successful.

I have several people who give me feedback, both solicited and random:

My mastermind groups. I sign up and participate in these specifically FOR the feedback. I respect each member of the group and value their input!

Close friends and my boyfriend Howard. This group will ALWAYS tell me straight up how something hits them, how my new headshot really looks, if my new IBS speech is a winner or a flop!

My clients. Their feedback leaves no room for interpretation…it is always crystal clear. When I succeed, they are still a client. When they are gracious enough to give me feedback and allow me to make adjustments to solve a problem, I am very grateful. Sometimes, they just move on to another video shopping firm. That feedback is the most obvious…..it is basically saying “you’re fired”!

Since I am in the evaluation and “feedback” business (video mystery shopping), I thought it would be helpful to write about feedback, both receiving it (for salespeople) and delivering it (sales managers). The key to a successful experience with video mystery shopping is to provide feedback and use the shop as a learning tool that will allow your sales people to grow.

Next week, I will get into specifics on how you can give (and receive!) effective feedback.

 

Video Mystery Shopping: Take the time to KNOW your customers!

October 29, 2013

Panera-Franchisee-Settles-Lawsuit-with-Black-WorkersI have a certain Panera Bread that I frequent in Altamonte Springs, FL. I go there to write my blogs, collect my thoughts and just get out of the office! There is a woman there who works the front counter, Vicki, and she is someone that I think we can all learn from. Vicki has been working at this Panera Bread for many years and has taken the time to get to know her customers. Imagine that!

Recently, while I was in line waiting to order my bagel with cream cheese, Vicki was in her usual spot at the cash register. With a smile on her face, I noticed that she knew most of the customers in line by name.

She was asking them personal questions about their lives!

“Bob, how was your trip to Wyoming?”

 “Susan, how’s that new grand baby doing?”

“Alex, how’s the new job going?”

If she didn’t know her customers’ names, she fondly referred to them as ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Now here is a lady who LOVES what she is doing and truly enjoys interacting with her clients!

In this day and age, where most people seem to have forgotten the value of good customer service, Vicki is an inspiration! After my experience that morning, I posted a comment on Facebook about Vicki and her friendly disposition. Would you believe that SEVERAL of my friends posted back that they too knew Vicki and had also been impressed with her service, style and charm!

You see, Vicki takes the time to get to know her customers. She makes each person standing in line at Panera feel SPECIAL! She turns the experience into something valuable and pleasant. You are no longer just waiting in line for your coffee and muffin, you are waiting in line to be recognized, greeted and charmed by Vicki!

In new home sales, you have the opportunity every day to do the same thing with your customers. You have the power to make people feel special! Use your customer’s name, ask them questions about what is important to them, and genuinely care about them! This is the key to gaining their trust!

We all know that people will do business with people they know, like and trust. As for me, I know that when I go to Panera, Vicki makes my day. I will ONLY stand in her line, even if it means I have to wait a bit longer. The experience is worth the wait!

Video Mystery Shopping: An objection is just a directional sign!

October 11, 2013

GARDEN_AND_LAWN_SIGNS_DIRECTIONAL_ARROW__35365_1361764064_1280_1280I was conducting a coaching session with a seasoned sales associate a few months back and we were discussing overcoming objections. He was telling me how much he LOVED overcoming prospect’s objections. This surprised me because most sales associates in new home sales would much rather have a root canal than deal with a buyer’s objection. When I asked him why he enjoyed overcoming objections so much, he replied “Melinda, an objection is really just a directional sign pointing you towards the close!”

Now, how clever is that? And, indeed, how true it is! Think about it, if a prospect is giving you an objection what they are really doing is telling you that they are interested in moving forward but need to get through a particular challenge or situation in order to do so. If they were not interested AT ALL in your product, they would just keep quiet!

Objections are your opportunity to ‘move the prospect closer to the close’. As my client said, objections are directional signs!

One thing that is very important to understand about objections is that you WON’T be able to overcome all of them. I don’t care how good of a sales person you are, there is NO WAY you can overcome every objection that you are going to face. However, that is OK. This gives you the chance to put the objection into perspective for the prospect.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have a prospect that LOVES everything about a specific home EXCEPT for the fact that is does not have a formal dining area. Chances are you are not going to be able to have your builder change the entire floor plan to include a formal dining area, right? So, instead, you have to determine how important this feature is to the client so you can put it into perspective for them. This is done through questioning. For example:

SA: I understand that it is important to you to have a formal dining area. Why is this important to you? Do you do a lot of entertaining? As we discussed this home features a large kitchen and open dining area as well. Would that work for you instead?

Prospect: No, I REALLY want a formal dining room. It is how all my previous homes have been laid out.

SA: Well, I can appreciate that. However, I wanted to point out (INSERT ALL THE FEATURES THEY LOVE ABOUT THE HOME). This home seems to work for you in every way possible with the exception of the formal dining room. Is this something that you could work with and look at alternative ideas for you dining space?

At this point the prospect will now have to weigh the options being presented. In many cases, through this line of questioning, the prospect will be able to determine if this objection is a deal breaker. Most times, it isn’t. But, if it is….that’s OK too! Your job is to find the perfect match for your prospects! Objections are the powerful tool that help you do your job!

Video Mystery Shopping: Getting to Know You – It’s all about Discovery!

September 28, 2013

Melinda2013In Chapter 3 of my new book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Video Mystery Shops’, I write about the importance of getting to know your prospects. This is called the Discovery Process. It gives you the opportunity to ask questions and get input to match the right home to the right person.

The Discovery questions are vital in understanding moving motivation, size of family, time frame, preferences, how long customers have been looking, what other builders they’ve looked at and liked, etc.

The goal of Discovery is to be a true new home sales counselor and ASK questions to understand the customer’s situation, wants, and needs. Sounds pretty simple, right? WRONG.

You would not believe the number of video shops I have watched where the sales associates almost seem to ‘CRINGE’ when it comes to asking questions! When I have asked sales associates why they don’t ask questions, their response is often that they don’t want to seem nosey. Really? How else are you going to find out what is important to your prospect if you don’t ASK questions? Telepathy?? It’s not like you are asking them personal information about their religious beliefs, political affiliations or sexual preferences! You are asking valid questions in order to be able to HELP them in the home buying process.

If you look at most professions there is a fair amount of questioning and discovery that goes along during the process. If you don’t ask the questions, you can’t solve the problem. Can you imagine going to a doctor’s office, sitting in the examining room and having your doctor walk in and immediately start prescribing meds to you? Of course not, the first thing the doctor (or nurse) is going to do is ask you questions about how you are feeling. This allows them to understand what is wrong and then offer a remedy.

To be a successful new home sales person, it is imperative to MASTER the Discovery part of the sales process.  Here’s a tip from my book: In the Discovery process, take the time to carefully and cautiously dig a little deeper with each question you ask. You’ll be surprised how easily people will open up to you when they feel you’re genuinely interested in them. Another idea is to use a clipboard, tablet, or something to takes notes on your tour. Nothing screams “I’m important’ more than writing down what your customer is saying.

Video Mystery Shopping: You had me at hello!

August 21, 2013

tumblr_lzd7wlhtsr1qjq8s2o1_500In Chapter 2 of my new book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops’  I talk about the importance of making a strong first impression.  This message really hit home with me when I first started my mystery shopping business in 1986. One of my first assignments was to shop a small builder in Orlando. As I entered the sales office, I heard muffled voices in the back of the model near the bedroom area. Suddenly the back door to the model slammed shut! A short time later, a flustered female sales agent (with mussed hair!) appeared. She greeted me while quickly buttoning her shirt. Oh, no! She was on a ‘date.’ Suffice to say, the rest of the shop didn’t go very well. You see, the way you greet the prospect sets the stage for the entire visit. Period.

The goal of the Approach/Introduction is to break preoccupation and help your prospect relax and feel comfortable. In order to establish this kind of rapport, you must become the new home sales counselor.

The questions that we score by on our shopping report in the Approach/Introduction process includes:

  • Did the SA welcome the prospect warmly and with enthusiasm?
  • Did the SA initiate introductions?
  • Did the SA use the prospect’s name more than twice during the visit?
  • Did the SA offer the prospect refreshments?
  • Did the SA complete the registration card?
  • Did the SA determine if the prospect had visited the company’s website?

All of these questions work together to create a successful Approach/Introduction. If you follow this procedure up front, I can promise you that the rest of your presentation will have a nice, natural flow to it.

Your prospects are ‘guests’ in your home and it is your job to make them feel comfortable and welcomed. I am sure you have all gone through an experience where you entered a store or business and have been ‘snubbed’ by the salesperson who’s supposed to be waiting on you. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. They make you feel as though your very presence is unwanted! Not a good feeling.

Don’t make these mistakes. Make each person feel as though they are your highest priority at that very moment. I tell clients to imagine that a famous celebrity or movie star has just walked through the door (think Brad Pitt/Angelina Jolie). How different would your sales presentation be?

“I read your book today, cover to cover. You have given the sales staff the material from which they can become great successes. To know is one thing, to know how to pass it along is a gift. You have it.”

Marilyn Whelan, Business Owner

 

To learn more about how YOU can master your sales presentation, purchase your copy of Melinda’s book today. Click below to order

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

Video Mystery Shopping: The Model Employee

August 9, 2013

Guest Blogger: Jeff Shore, Shore Consulting, Sales Trainer, Author & Speaker

www.jeffshore.com

jeff-headshot-230x300The organizations of today’s market are looking to be as efficient in their operations as they can.  That sounds like a pleasant way of saying “saving money”, but the reality is that working towards business efficiencies in every aspect of the operation is a necessary leadership step in keeping an organization healthy through the difficult times.

Ask the experts and they’ll tell you that the biggest impact in efficiency comes through the productivity of the employees.  The company whose employees perform at the highest level will find the best chances of success.  Employees who perform at the highest level will find the greatest income, the greatest job security, and the greatest chance of advancement within an organization.

With many years of experience in managing people, I have found five distinct actions of the model employee.  Note I didn’t say “attitudes”, “characteristics” or “personality traits”. These are actions – clear and specific steps you can take each and every day.  Follow them carefully and you’ll increase the effectiveness of your organization.  It won’t hurt your career one bit.

1)    Exceed Expectations – Every Single Day. Model employees have a specific purpose to outperform, to rise above the minimum expectations of the job.  Mediocre employees ask, “What is the least I can do without getting in trouble?”  Top performs ask, “What specifically can I do today to exceed expectations?”  This mindset, when turned to action, will guide you in doing extraordinary things on a daily basis for your company, for your customers, for your coworkers and for yourself.  But it must be specific. Every day you must start with an action plan of what you will do above and beyond the call of duty.

2)    Arrive Early; Stay Late. When you get to work at the exact start time and leave at the exact ending time you send a message to your leadership that you really don’t want to be at work any longer than you have to.  Moreover, you live this part of your life with no margin, cutting the time too close and risking disciplinary action.  It doesn’t have to be a long time before and after the assigned hours, but padding the time just a little bit sends a message that you are fully devoted to getting the job done right.  One more thing on this topic – I’ve been in leadership for a long time, and somehow I always know when someone struggles in this area.  You may think the boss is blind to your arrival and departure times, but the boss somehow always knows.

3)    Be a Good Businessperson. You greatly increase your value to the organization when you understand the business of your company.  Read industry articles, search for information on industry websites, and develop an inquisitive mind in queries to your co-workers.  Learn everything you can about your organization and apply what you learn to improve your own performance.  This increases your value on a number of levels.

4)    Get Into Self-Training. Too many employees rely on their company to provide any and all training and skill development.  Top performers seek out their own growth opportunities and take ownership of their own development.  In fact, the greatest growth of your career will always be self-directed, if you allow that to be so.  When you set your own developmental agenda you are more likely to utilize what you learn because you have more personal buy-in.  You direct the learning, so you are more likely to also find the application to your work.  Make it a priority to develop a new skill or to learn something that will improve your performance, and do that every single day.

5)    Adopt the Boss’ Vision. Finally, find out what is important to the leadership of your company, and order your own activities to compliment that vision.  In the broad sense, your very job is to make your boss look good.  And that is never a bad way to go about your daily tasks.  If you don’t connect with the vision of the company there is little chance that you will ever perform even to the minimum standards.

So now it’s up to you.  Are you a mediocre employee, or are you an invaluable team member?  The choice is up to you, and you choose with your actions – every single day.