Posts Tagged ‘sales tips’

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

December 6, 2013

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

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

Let’s start with GIVING feedback:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Receiving feedback:

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

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

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

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

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

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

One final thought about feedback.

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

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


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

September 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping: You had me at hello!

August 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marilyn Whelan, Business Owner


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

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: 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: 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.

Video Mystery Shopping: Conquering the Competition

September 28, 2012

In most cases, when a prospect walks in to your sales office it is usually not the first nor the last stop they will make during the day. They have probably scheduled their day in such a way that they will be visiting several new home communities in order to make a final purchasing decision.

The good news is that IF they enter your sales office, chances are they have been to your website and have seen something that piqued their interest enough to get them to physically go there. It could be a specific floor plan, a price point or even your community’s amenity center….whatever it is, your job is to find out what brought them into your community. REASON #537 why it is critical to ASK every prospect if they have been to the website!

So, let’s say you have determined they went to the website and you have found out that they LOVE the location of your community, the amenities that are offered, and the Wellington floor plan. You are thinking Slam dunk, right? WRONG! Just as you go in for the ‘close’ they tell you that while they do indeed love your community, they have plans to visit several more before making a decision. Major BUMMER! SO, you say your goodbyes, promise to follow-up, and then watch them drive off into the sunset KNOWING that you will probably never see them again.

Hum….something is not quite right with this picture. What could you have done to change the scenario? Here are a couple of easy tips to help you conquer the competition and get the sale!

  1. Know EVERYTHING about your competition. This includes pricing, floor plans, incentives, amenities, schools, and anything else that would be considered when making a purchase decision.
  2. Create a notebook with ALL your competitor’s marketing collaterals. This way you can SHOW them WHY your Wellington floor plan is a better fit for them than the competition’s Buttonwood.
  3. Ask your prospects WHAT other communities they are considering and WHY. This will allow you to determine what their ‘hot selling buttons’ are. And, it will also allow you to position yourself against the competition.
  4. SET UP a firm follow-up appointment with your prospects. Encourage them to come back to see you after they have finished looking at the other communities because you are so positive that what you offer meets their specific needs.
  5. Never, ever speak negatively about your competition. Instead POSITION your builder and community as the leader in every aspect. But, in order to do this, you MUST find out what the prospect’s decision making factors are.

Video Mystery Shopping – House to Sell? No problem!

September 17, 2012

In a perfect world every prospect that entered your sales office would arrive armed with a per-qualification letter from their lender, an ideal credit score, and a home that they had recently sold….for CASH! Right? We call these our ‘A’ prospects.  There are no road blocks or challenges that could stand in the way of them moving forward with a home purchase….TODAY!

Unfortunately, in today’s market most prospects have NOT been per-approved, and they usually have a house to sell before they are able to move forward in the purchase of a new home. These are ‘B’ prospects. So, how do you work on closing these folks when you know beyond a shadow of a doubt they won’t be able to purchase from you on their initial visit?

In new home sales I truly believe that the word ‘close’ has multiple meanings. At it’s very best, ‘close’ means that your buyer has signed a contract and written out a deposit check. Yahoo! But, in the real world that isn’t always the case. So, what are some other ways we can ‘close’ the client and move forward towards the actual home purchase?

  1. Make a firm follow-up appointment. If you don’t get a contract on the first visit, you owe it to your prospect to make a follow-up appointment. Perhaps they need to bring other family members back in order to reach a purchase agreement. Maybe they need ‘time to think’ about it. Make sure YOU are firm in setting the appointment. Don’t ask your prospects to call you back when they are ready.
  2. Ask for a deposit. Once you have determined the perfect home and the ideal home site, ask for a deposit to hold the site. Create a sense of urgency.
  3. Connect the prospects with your lender ASAP. Many builders have preferred lenders or in-house mortgage services. Be sure to utilize these services. You will be doing your prospects (and yourself!) a favor.
  4. Utilize any in-house programs your builder may have. Many builders offer ‘house to sell’ or ‘resell contingency’ programs. If you’ve got them, use them!
  5. Follow-up, follow-up, follow-up! Just because your prospects have some obstacles to clear doesn’t mean they are never going to purchase a new home. At some point, they will.

The key is to get some type of future commitment from your prospects. If they walk out of your model center without a commitment of some sort, in most cases they are gone for good.

Video Mystery Shopping: ‘Icing’ on the cake – YOUR Design Center!

August 24, 2012

Have you ever baked a cake? While I certainly do not claim to be a domesticated kitchen goddess, I have baked my share of cakes in the past. When my daughter Sarah was young, we would spend some quality time in the kitchen baking cupcakes, pies and the occasional cake. Sarah was always WAY more interested in the process when we would come to the final step of putting the icing on the cake. She just couldn’t resist that sugary sweet frosting that would turn a plain white cake into a scrumptious culinary delight! (Neither could I for that matter).

In new home sales, while we aren’t spending our time baking cakes, we are following a similar recipe. We are building a new home for our clients. It takes many ingredients to build this new home. Land, construction materials, drywall, and contractors are the equivalent to the butter, sugar, flour and eggs portion of baking a cake. Not the most glamorous or exciting, but nonetheless the foundation for our home. So, what then is the ‘icing’ on your new home cake??? Your Design Center, of course!

Your Design Center is one of the final steps in the new home process. It is the place where clients turn ‘your house’ into ‘their home’. The process is exciting and fun!

Are you marketing the design center in your sales presentations? Sure, your clients want (and need) to hear about quality construction, warranty programs and energy efficiency program but they also want to know about the Design Center and all the wonderful things that await them there. The sparkling light fixtures, the abundance of cabinet and flooring options, the appliance packages, the colorful of paint selections…this is the fun stuff! This is the icing on the cake, baby!

Most new home builders have spent a great amount of time, money and effort in creating a showpiece with their design centers.

  1. Schedule some time with your design center manager to fully understand the design center process, this will help you to incorporate it into your presentation
  2. Sales managers – INCLUDE your design center manager in some of your sales meetings. Let them discuss new features and options that are available. In fact, why not schedule one of your sales meetings AT the design center?

Still not sold on the importance of your design center? Well, next you bake a cake; don’t put any icing on it. Serve it for dessert and see the response you get from your family (especially your children!). A cake just isn’t a cake without the icing that goes on top!

Video Mystery Shopping: Four magic words: What’s Important to YOU?

August 20, 2012

What if I told you there were four magic words that if used properly would increase your sales? Would you begin using them? Of COURSE you would. Well, there are four words (not necessarily magic) that will increase your sales performance every time. Those words are (DRUM ROLL please)……What’s Important to YOU?

In many of the video mystery shops that I review, I notice that sales people have an overwhelming urge to tell their new home prospects EVERYTHING they can about the home, the community, the warranty, the construction process, the energy efficiency, the builder’s story, blah blah blah. While ALL of this information is important, it more important to remember that too much information (or ‘feature dumping’) can totally overwhelm your prospects.

I suggest that before you introduce the community, builder, models or anything else, you use the four magic words as your ‘transitional’ phrase. For example, before viewing the model home ask your prospects: What’s IMPORTANT to you in a new home?

Not only will this get the dialogue rolling, it will also allow you to personalize your sales presentation to meet your prospect’s specific needs. Other important times to use the magic words:

  1. What’s IMPORTANT to you in a new home builder?
  2. What’s IMPORTANT to you in a home site?
  3. What’s IMPORTANT to you in your new home community?

Each time you ask them this question, they will be revealing to YOU their needs, wants and desires for their new home. If they tell you that energy efficiency is IMPORTANT to them, then by all means make that a big focus in your presentation. If they tell you that a good warranty is IMPORTANT to them, break out the warranty manual and go to town discussing the value and merits of your builder’s warranty program. You see, the trick is making sure that you are talking to your prospects about things that matter to THEM. It doesn’t matter if you think the community club house is the best thing since sliced bread if your prospects could care less about amenities.

Trust me when I tell you that your job will become MUCH easier when you start asking the ‘What’s IMPORTANT to you’ question. Instead of trying to tell your prospects EVERYTHING under the sun about the home, you will create a much more targeted presentation. And, let’s face it….if it isn’t IMPORTANT to them, it isn’t going to affect them when it comes to making a home buying decision. You want to uncover their hot buttons and sell directly to those hot buttons. That’s what’s really IMPORTANT.