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

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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.

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: They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops

July 5, 2013

TheySaidWhat_Signature (3)After viewing more than 25,000 video shops over the past three decades, you could say I have pretty much seen and heard it all when it comes to New Homes Sales.  Last year, I came up with the idea to write a book showcasing the many things I have learned from watching these shops. The purpose of the book is to educate, entertain, and engage those in the home building industry.

“Yeah, I’m running a little late and slow today (said the new home sales associate upon greeting the prospects). I got ripped last night on too many beers. I probably should not have even driven myself to work today!”

They said What??!!” is different from any other book you’ve ever read about selling new homes. I am going to share with you how to do everything wrong in new home selling. Yes, wrong! By stepping into the shoes of hundreds of new home sales counselors who made a total debacle of the selling process, you will have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. The end result? You’ll learn how to do your job far better and make your sales soar!

“If you thought this was long (said the new home sales associate upon showing his prospect’s the features sheet), just wait til you see the F…….ING contract! (Yes, he actually dropped the F-bomb!)

Many people have asked me if I will be ‘naming names’ in the book. My answer: You will have to buy the book and find out for yourself

Here’s what’s in store for you:

  • Good, bad, ugly, funny, and bizarre examples from 3 decades of undercover video mystery shopping
  • How to build instant rapport, stop talking so much, quit feature dumping,  end snoozer tours, and confidently ask for the sale
  • Things to make you stand out in the crowd
  • Checklists and exercises for Sales Managers to perk up sales meetings
  • Advice and tips to break your best sales record so far (and keep breaking it)

The book will officially publish in September; however, I am pre-selling NOW. There is also a discount for ordering your copies early.

To pre-order your copy of “They Said What??!1” simply click the link below. I promise you won’t be disappointed!

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

What others have to say about Melinda’s book:

“They Said What??!! is a fun and interesting read right from the start. The book encapsulates everything that could go wrong, and Melinda Brody turns that into instruction on what should go right. Enjoy the book, but more importantly USE the book”

-Jeff Shore, Sales Trainer, Author, Speaker

 

Video Mystery Shopping: Stop and smell the roses

June 11, 2013

Woman-smelling-red-rose-in-a-field-MG-7856[1]Last week I was speaking with a Sales Manager of a national home building firm. We were discussing the recent uptick in the industry and how everyone was busy, building, selling, and happy again! But, then he said something that really caught my attention! He said ‘Melinda, I have been working an average of 80 hours per week since 2011’ WHAT??? Are you kidding me?

I asked a few other industry peers if they were operating under the same circumstances, and the answer was a resounding YES. Many told me they had not taken a ‘real’ vacation in several years. Basically, what they were all saying was that this was the ‘new’ modus operandi in home building land.

OK, people…while I appreciate and understand that it is important to give it your all out there, it is also important to remember that you are HUMAN….not a machine. We all need to be able to take some time out to unplug, relax, and recharge! If you don’t make the time to do this….you are in serious danger of having a major burn out!

I am sure many of you are rolling your eyes at me right now and thinking ‘Yeah right Melinda! Easy for you to say…..we’ve got to sell HOUSES!’

I get that. But, you also have to find a balance between your work life and your personal life. I’ve got a couple of simple tips that I would like to share with you that have been very helpful to me over the years. Now, I am not saying they will reduce your workload, but they will help you create some much-needed time for yourself

  1. Personal Time Block: One tip that I have used for years that has helped me maintain the ‘work/life’ balance is scheduling my ‘downtime’ the same way I schedule an important meeting with a client or a project. I actually go into my calendar and block out the time I need to take for myself.
  2. Delegate, delegate, delegate: I have found that oftentimes this is an issue with many people. They feel as though they will lose control over a project or task if they delegate it. You know the old saying ‘if you want something done right, do it yourself’. Well, I challenge you throw this thought out the window!
  3. Set weekly goals for yourself: Goal setting it a great way to create balance in your life! Each week set a personal goal just for you. Perhaps it is leaving the office by 6 pm each evening, or taking your kids to the park to play ball 2 nights a week, or maybe it’s just spending two hours by the pool with your favorite book or magazine!

Remember, life is short. And while it is important to work hard, it is just as important to take time out for yourself and your family. Take some time to stop and smell the roses…you won’t regret it.

Video Mystery Shopping: POP! 10 Secrets to Build and Manage a Firecracker Sales Team!

May 28, 2013

Fire-Cracker[1]Are you ready to build a Firecracker Sales Team? Most new home sales managers WANT to build the best team possible; however, it isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Before we start giving you tips on HOW to build your firecracker, I thought it might be useful to share with you some common mistakes that sales managers make in the process

Most managers assume that A GREAT new home sales rep will have the same characteristics of a GREAT new home sales manager. Not true. The characteristics you need to be an effective manager is pretty much the polar opposite of the characteristics needed to be a firecracker salesperson. Take that into consideration when building your team.

1-Hiring in your own image and beneath you.

When hiring your sales reps, sales managers often think they need to hire someone in their own image. While this might be flattering to the sales manager, it doesn’t always work out since the skills sets for the two roles vary so much. Also, I have seen sales managers hire people ‘beneath’ them, or with less sales talent. One reason could be that they do not have to worry about the sales rep wanting to take their job, but the reality is these ‘under achievers’ require a great deal of hand holding and training.

2-Becoming the Fire Marshal

Fire Marshals are always solving everyone else’s problems. Don’t take on the problems of your team. Allow your team members to become their OWN fire marshals.

3-Getting too friendly

It is common nature to want to become friends with the sales team. However, as a sales manager you must always remember that YOU are the boss. It is often hard to discipline or reprimand a friend.

4-Only interviewing when you have a spot to fill.

Part of your role as a sales manager is to Interview all the time. You always want to keep abreast of fresh talent!

5-Managing, not developing, the team

Develop your team into becoming strategic thinkers. Poor video shop scores are a direct sign of poorly developed or trained sales people. It is YOUR job to get out there in the trenches with your team on a daily basis. Remember, you can’t run the zone if you are sitting on the throne.

Next, let’s discuss Sales Meetings. This is your one consistent opportunity to be in front of the entire team. It should be a time for team building, training, and motivating! Not just a time to update everyone on policies and procedures! Here are 5 Secrets for conducting a Super Sales Meeting.

1-Involve the sales team –

How do you involve the team? You get them engaged and interacting during the meeting. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways:

  1. Delegate a team member to host and coordinate the sales meeting
  2. Ask Questions throughout the meeting. No one likes being ‘talked at’ for an hour.
  3. Team Building activities
  4. Add a Training component – ask your sales people to conduct a mini-workshop on a skill or subject matter they excel in (IE. Overcoming objections)

2-Change it up!

Sales people getting bored easily. If you are conducting your sales meeting week after week in the same sterile conference room, think about changing it up a notch!

  1. Try meeting in a mystery location (a car dealership or retail store)
  2. Hold your meeting in spec home that’s sitting a long time, and use part of your meeting to brainstorm ideas on how to sell the home
  3. Have a ‘standing’ room only meeting (Meetings tend to move much quicker if the entire room is standing up!
  4. Give the bagels and donuts a rest! Why not take the team out for pancakes, or better yet, have a pot luck meeting and ask your team to bring in their favorite breakfast or brunch foods.

3-D-I-M-E…..Develop, Inspire, Motivate, Educate.

Make this the overall theme of ALL your sales meetings. Keep administrative topics to a minimum. Your role is to motivate your sales team to SELL more homes, not bore them to death!

4-Have an agenda with action items and “next steps” for accountability

People don’t plan to fail…they fail to plan. All the great advice and motivation you provide your team will be for naught if they set goals and create action plans to meet those goals. Ask them to get very specific with their goals…providing you with dates, names, next steps, and timelines.

5-Show Best Practices

SHOW your sales people what you expect from them. If you have a sales associate who did exceedingly well in a video mystery shop, SHOW specific scenes to the entire team. Another idea is to incorporate role-playing into your meeting.

These 10 Tips will help your sales team to grow, prosper, and become the FIRECRACKER team you envisioned. It ALL starts with you. Remember, you are their leader and you lead by example. By getting involved with your team, and showing them that you are their coach, they will support you and do everything possible to make your proud!

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: Something is Wrong! My Top Producer Scored Very Low on Their Shop

April 13, 2013

thCAGEUMCRDo those words sound familiar? As a sales manager, have you ever wondered aloud why your super star sales person scored a whopping 14% on their video mystery shop? Were your first thoughts those of disbelief?  Your second thought was probably, “I’m going to FIRE the Video Mystery Shopping company! There is NO WAY this can be right!”

Well, before you pick up the phone and call….let me explain a few things to you.

Let’s discuss what constitutes a ‘Top Producer’. A top producer has the capability to sell well in ANY location. We all know that if a sales agent is has an excellent PRODUCT, with a great PRICE, in an ideal PLACE (Location), the chances of them selling are pretty high! In fact, some would call these folks order takers. In other words, the product actually sells itself.

So, how do you determine if your ‘Top Producer’ really is a Sales Super Star? One of my clients has a process he uses to separate the ‘wheat from the chaff’. He puts his Top Producer in a less desirable location that has had some issues with sales. However, he offers them an incentive of a higher commission. You see, TRUE Top Producers love a challenge and they love to be financially rewarded for their efforts. WHY?

Because a Top Producer can sell and close anywhere at any time, not just in a beautifully decorated model that has a great price in an ideal location!

Typically a Top Producer has a ‘system’ of doing things a certain way because it has worked well for them in the past. However, “their” way may be to sit in their office waiting for prospects to arrive. In today’s market, it takes MUCH more than that. You need someone who is pro-active in driving traffic and excellent at converting and closing buyers.

Oftentimes I hear that “Top Producers” have been offended by the fact that they were video shopped. Really? Why would that be?? Usually after digging a little deeper, it becomes clear that the sales person knows very little about the selling process and a bad shop simple exposes that.

A great salesperson welcomes a shop! It is their time to SHINE and showcase “how it’s done right”. They are usually the first ones to volunteer to role play to show the rookies how it’s done.

Remember this; a video shop is a glimpse into their overall sales performance. It allows you to look at and analyze the entire picture. Things are not always as they appear. I encourage you to conduct a second shop before drawing conclusions. You may be surprised at the results.

Video Mystery Shopping: If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck….it’s probably a duck!

March 28, 2013

Male_mallard_duck_2[1]According to Urban Dictionary, the definition of a car salesman is: ‘One of the shiftiest occupations someone can take. Car salesman earn commission from whatever they sell and will lure, lie, mislead, con, deceive people into buying a car. This is especially true when it comes to used cars.’

It goes on to say that a car salesman ranks 9.5/10 on the shifty scale along with the real estate agents, politicians and professional con men. Hum, I am not sure about you….but this is a pretty disparaging way to describe your profession. And, the fact that real estate agents are clumped into the mix doesn’t speak very highly to our new home sales industry either!

Yet, time and time again, as I watch literally thousands of video mystery shops, I hear otherwise intelligent, professional new home sales agents describe their builder’s warranty program like this: “We’ve got one of the BEST warranties out there….our one year warranty covers everything, “bumper to bumper”. I guarantee it!”

Bumper to bumper, really? Why would you want to compare yourself (or your profession) to that of a used-car dealer? People, we are selling new homes….not old cars!

When you are talking with your clients about your builder’s warranty program, do it in a way that builds trust with your clients. Find out what is important to them in a home warranty. Use your Builders’ story as an introduction to the home warranty plan. People do business with people they know, like and trust……that rapport has to be developed in order to achieve the sale. It doesn’t matter if you have the best warranty program on the PLANET, if you haven’t developed that level of rapport with your clients; they are not going to buy a home from you……period.

Ever heard the old saying, ‘if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck’? This is called INDUCTIVE REASONING. This is a kind of  reasoning that constructs or evaluates general propositions that are derived from specific examples…..Therefore, if you look like a used-car salesman, talk like a used-car salesman, and act like a used-car salesman, chances are people are going to assume you are a used-car salesman.

Instead, I suggest that you look, talk, and act like a New Home Sales Professional. A person who is going to work for their client in order to insure they find the right home in the right community at the right price. Let’s raise the bar in the new home sales industry! Quack, Quack!

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

March 13, 2013

Part 2 in a two part series

Boring presentationIn my last blog I discussed a few of the reasons why a GREAT salesperson may not make  a GREAT Sales Manager. The primary reason being: there are major differences in the characteristics of a great sales and a great sales manager.  We discussed that a sales leader typically has a great sense of focus, they know what they want (a SALE) and go after it! While a sales manager usually has more of a vision rather than a focus. The sales manager sees the ‘bigger’ picture, builds a team and crafts a strategy to make that vision a reality.

Another reason that is worth discussion has to do with coaching. Coaching has become quite the buzzword today. Businesses and individuals are recognizing the significance and importance that coaching has in the work place. It takes a certain type of person to be a coach. One of the primary skills needed to be a good coach is the ability to listen….and I mean REALLY listen. Not just to what the other person is saying, but oftentimes to what the other person is NOT saying.

Sales associates tend to be great talkers (and closers!), but their listening skills typically are something they must consciously hone in on. Great sales managers, on the other hand, have perfected the fine art of listening to a tee! And in doing so, they make excellent coaches for their sales team.

Great coaches (and sales managers) understand how to provide effective coaching to their team.  They are comfortable putting out fires, being problem solvers, and providing constructive criticism when needed. They are also very good at praising and giving credit to their team. In fact, they have an innate need (and derive great satisfaction from) being able to provide this type of leadership and motivation to their sales people.  Nothing satisfies a great sales manager more than watching his or her team achieve their goals. This is what empowers and motivates the sales manager!

Sales people NEED this type of coaching. They SEEK this type of motivation and empowerment! A great sales person will tell you that they have no objection in asking for help and direction from their managers.

So you see, promoting your top sales person to sales manager MAY NOT be the best idea for your organization. When people uncover their talents and strengths and are aware of their weaknesses, they will thrive in their position.