Posts Tagged ‘new homes sales training’

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!

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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: 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: 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.