Posts Tagged ‘new homes sales’

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

November 14, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 14, 2013

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

 1.     The builder story

2.      Demonstration  other the model

3.      Closing the prospect

Builder Story

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

The Bad news…..

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Demonstration

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Closing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 17, 2013

(Part 1 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping: Want to KEEP your New Year’s Resolutions? Get some SKIN in the game!

January 4, 2013

new-years-resolutions[1]I read an article this week that asked: “What is a New Year’s resolution?”

The answer was: “A ‘to-do’ list for the first 2 weeks of January.”

Sadly, this is true for many people. We start out with GREAT intentions and action steps to achieve our goals, but after a few weeks we tend to fall back into the same old patterns.  I myself used to do this same thing year after year until FINALLY I discovered a fool proof way to KEEP my resolutions for the long haul. How did I do it? I got some ‘skin in the game’.

Here’s how it all went down. Last year my friend Becky and I were setting some goals for 2012. I mentioned to her that I wanted to start enjoying my weekends more and quit using them as ‘extra’ work days to catch up. You see, I LOVE what I do and when you love your work so much, sometimes you actually forget that it is work, and you end up doing it 24/7. That’s what had happened to me. I was not spending my weekends with my family and friends; I was instead using that time to work!

Becky then challenged me to commit to not working one single weekend for the entire year. Feeling very sure of myself, I quickly agreed! The thing she did next was what I refer to as the ‘game changer’. She asked to put some ‘skin in the game’.

Becky asked me: “Melinda, what is the one group or organization that you would NEVER, EVER, EVER support?”

I replied: “The American Nazi Party!”

“Great,” she said. “Write out a check for $1,000 to the American Nazi Party.  If you keep your resolution of not working weekends for the entire year, I will return the check to you. If you break your commitment, I will personally mail your check to the Nazi’s.”

So, I wrote out a check for $1,000 to the American Nazi Party and gave it to Becky for safe keeping. (I also made a copy for myself to use as a daily reminder). You see, I now had some skin in the game!

From that moment on, my life began to change in a BIG way. I stopped working weekends! I started hiking with friends and going to movies with my daughter. Anytime I got the ‘urge’ to check e-mails or make just a few follow up calls, I simply looked at the check I had written to the Nazi’s and decided against it!

If something came up where I absolutely had to work over a weekend (IE., a speaking engagement) , I had to do two things. I had to get Becky’s approval and then I had to schedule ‘comp’ time for myself during the week to make up for the weekend. This exercise worked for me like no other thing I had ever done before!

This year my goal/resolution is to write a book. I have wanted to do this for a long time, but never seemed to be able to find the time to do so. Well, I just wrote a $1,000 check to the RJ Reynolds Tobacco Company…..how much do you want to bet that my book will be completed this year??

So, here is my 2013 challenge for you……decide what you want to change in your professional life that will have a positive impact. Maybe it is something as simple as TURNING OFF your cell phone from 6 pm until 9 am. Next, ask yourself what group or organization you would never, ever , ever consider supporting. Then, write them a check and give it to a friend to hold on to for 365 days. It’s amazing how much easier it is to accomplish your goals when you’ve got ‘skin’ (or money!) in the game!

Video Mystery Shopping: Stay Connected with Your ‘A’ Team – the REALTORS!

December 27, 2012

You know, one of the great mysteries to me in the new home industry is why there is oftentimes a huge disconnect  between new home sales associates and Realtors. It’s as if they live on two different planets yet have one common goal – to sell houses!

Your Realtors are a vital part of your marketing plan! They are your ‘A’ team! They have the clients, you have the product! The quicker you realize this and begin to build a marketing system that includes your real estate comrades the quicker you will sell new homes.

Let’s look at the facts for a moment, shall we? As a new home sales associate, you spend a great deal of your time in your sales office…..waiting (and praying) for walk in traffic, correct? A general real estate agent typically spends a great deal of their time on the streets, showing clients potential homes for purchase…..OK, call me crazy, but doesn’t it make sense to have the REALTORS show their CLIENTS your new homes??

Now, let’s look at it from the Realtor’s perspective. A Realtor gets paid a commission once a home closes.  They do not make money ‘hand-holding’ a buyer through the long (and often tedious) process of closing the home. So, call me crazy, but isn’t a NEW HOME transaction easier, quicker and more cost-effective for the REALTOR? Their client buys your home, and the Realtor gets paid at closing, but they don’t have to be involved in the time-consuming minutia that occurs during the process….that becomes YOUR job.

So, how do we get Realtors to help us ‘sell’ our new homes? Here are 5 quick tips that you can begin using today to increase your Realtor business.

  1. Identify the top real estate firms and realtors in your target market area. You need to know WHICH realtors are actually selling homes in your area. Once identified, create a database with their contact information. You have now created your ‘A’ team!
  2. Meet & Greet – Now that you know WHO you are targeting, get out there and meet them! Offer to attend a sales meeting at the top real estate firms. Bring some bagels and plenty of collateral materials. And, get specific in your presentation! Let the Realtors know exactly why they should bring their clients to your community.  Better yet, hold an open house at your community so the Realtors can actually see your product.
  3. Educate and Engage – Don’t assume your Realtors know everything about your community or the new home sales process. Oftentimes Realtors don’t show new homes because the process (and commission structure) is unfamiliar (and scary) to them. Why not offer to conduct a brief workshop on how the new home process works? Create a partnership with your Realtor ‘A’ team.
  4. Keep in touch – Make sure you keep in touch with your Realtor ‘A’ team. I know a new home sales associate that schedules a lunch once a week with a top producing Realtor. It’s all about building relationships! Also, be sure to keep your ‘A’ team posted on events in your community, new inventory homes, special promotions or incentives. Make it EASY for them to sell your product!
  5. Appreciate and thank your Realtor community – Remember, people do business with people that they KNOW, LIKE, and TRUST. Let your Realtors know that you appreciate their time, their business, and their referrals. Thank them! I know a very successful new home sales associate that gives every realtor who brings a prospective buyer into her sales office a $10 Starbucks gift card. This is a great way to say ‘thank you’ for your business.

Bottom line, Realtors account for a VERY large portion of new home sales, well over 60% in many areas, can you really afford NOT to have a Realtor ‘A’ team in place?

Video Mystery Shopping: What does YOUR future look like?

November 13, 2012

Remember the old-fashioned fortune tellers from the movies? They were always dressed as gypsies and had these great crystal balls they looked into to foresee the future. If you are too young to remember that, perhaps you recall the Magic 8 ball from your elementary years. This was a black plastic ball that you could ask any question of and it would miraculously give you a response. I remember asking the Magic 8 ball once if Eddy Solomon was going to ask me to the prom. When the response came back as ‘highly unlikely’ I decided to toss the Magic 8 ball into the garbage, take destiny into my own hands and start creating my future!

In new home sales we have the opportunity to create our future pretty much on a daily basis. We are fortunate in that there is nothing to stop us from achieving our goals! The sky is the limit! The biggest obstacle for most new home sales people is they tend to get in their own way when it comes to being successful!

As we prepare to head into a new year, I would encourage you to really think about your future. What do you want 2013 to look like?

Here are some pieces of advice for you to ensure you have a FABULOUS 2013!

  1. Decide what your goals are, create an action plan and WRITE it down. Remember, a goal without a plan is merely a wish.
  2. Have a support team, mentoring partner, business coach or mastermind group. We all need someone who will hold us accountable for achieving your goals.
  3. Learn to LISTEN more and SPEAK less! Enough said.
  4. Know what your financial goals are. You can’t just have a goal to make a lot of money. Get specific.
  5. Be kind to everyone.
  6. Invest in yourself and your business.
  7. Never be too old to learn a new trick! The world is changing at a rapid place. You’ve got to keep up.
  8. Kick negative people off your bus! It’s is challenging enough to control your own negativity, do you really want to surround yourself with negative people??
  9. Be focused in everything you do. Don’t do anything half way. If you can commit 100% you are better off not doing it at all.
  10. Realize that YOU deserve to be successful                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         I leave you with one of my favorite quotes of all time by Marianne Williamson.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

 

Shine your light brightly and proudly in 2013!

Video Mystery Shopping: Set your time frame!

November 5, 2012

I watched two shops this weekend that were at total opposite ends of the spectrum. The first shop featured a bright young lady who knew everything about selling new homes. However, she scored a 50 on her presentation. The reason? Her shop was a whopping 14 minutes long. Fourteen minutes is NOT a sufficient amount of time to educate, engage and sell your prospect a new home. Heck, it can take me 14 minutes just to say HELLO in some circumstances.

The second shop I watched featured a talented young man who, again, was very professional and knowledgeable when it came to new home sales. He scored a 51. The reason? His shop was almost 2 hours long and it went on and on and on….but never really got anywhere!

These two examples illustrate the reason why it is so very critical to determine the amount of time you have with your prospects UP FRONT. By simply asking them ‘how much time do you have to spend with me today’ you will be able to plan and orchestrate your entire presentation to be much more productive.

Most everything in life has a clearly set starting point and ending point. We know that we go to work at 10 am and we leave work at 6 pm. These clearly set time boundaries allow us to determine what we are going to do during our day that is most productive.

The same is true in new home sales! You’ve got to define your starting and ending points in order to be able to deliver a solid and sound presentation to your prospects.

Once you have determined the amount of time your prospect has to spend with you, the next thing you need to do is TELL them how the two of you will spend that time together.  For example, if you determine that the prospect has about 45 minutes to share you can simply say:  “That is great. Here’s how I propose we spend the next 45 minutes together. We will begin by determining which floor plan works best for you and your needs. After that we will preview some home sites that best suit your lifestyle and then once we have determined the perfect match for you, we will discuss the process in order for you to move forward in purchasing your new home.”

This way you have not only set the agenda for your time together, you have also introduced your prospect to the fact that the purpose of this presentation is to find a home that meets their needs and for them to then PURCHASE that new home. If you include trial closes and assumptive closes throughout the presentation, by the time you get to the point where you are actually asking them to move forward, it will be a natural progression.

However, it all starts with the simple question: How much time do you have to spend with me today?

Video Mystery Shopping: Why ‘have you been to our website’ might just be the most important question in new home sales today!

October 25, 2012

Home builders invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in their company websites. They hire top-notch techies, graphic designers, copywriters and SEO experts to do everything within their realm of expertise to make sure the web sites are engaging, interactive, educational and informative.  Savvy home builders KNOW that an overwhelming majority of ALL people will look at a website before actually every stepping foot into a sales office and purchasing a new home. They also KNOW that when a person enters the sales office and HAS looked at the company website, it is likely they have seen something that enticed them to make a physical trip to the community. You see, people use website to ‘eliminate’ their choices. So, if someone steps into your sales office that has been to your website…..chances are they are more than just ‘tire-kickers’.

This is why I always scratch my head in wonder when I am watching a video mystery shop and the sales person never ONCE asks the prospect if they have been to the website. Are they CRAZY? This should be one of the FIRST questions the sales person asks each and every prospect! Actually, this could probably be considered one of the MOST important questions to ask in now home sales. Period!

Let’s face it, people are doing their homework and research on the internet LONG before they make a buying decision. In new home sales, you can be sure that your prospects have spent some time on your website (as well as that of your competition). They do this in order to prequalify which builders and communities they think will meet their specific needs.

Usually, it is only AFTER they have done their on-line research that they make the trip to the sales office. By the time they walk in your sales office chances are they know A LOT more about your community, your floor plans and your builder than you think. So, why wouldn’t you ASK if them?

By asking them if they have visited the website you will gain valuable information that will enable you to personalize and fine tune your presentation.

Many builders consider those who have been online prior to visiting the sales office to be a ‘be back’ as opposed to a first time walk in. We ALL know that we have a better chance of converting a ‘be back’ into a buyer versus a first timer, right?

So, I ask you…why in the world would you NOT find out if they have been to the company website? You have NOTHING to lose, and EVERYTHING to gain.