Posts Tagged ‘Secret Shoppers’

Video Mystery Shopping: Don’t Fear the Shop!

December 20, 2013

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

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

The conversations sound something like this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Social Integration Key to Home Builder Marketing

September 6, 2013

12176415-meredith-oliver-aka-the-digital-divaGuest Blogger: Meredith Oliver, Internet Sales & Marketing expert, Creating WOW Communications

Most of us can no longer imagine a day without sharing, liking, commenting or following whatever information we find interesting via social media. Given the soaring use of social media it is not surprising that being active on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and/or Pinterest has become an inseparable part of home builder marketing. When home builders integrate social media within the company website it allows your visitors to engage with your product and company on a much deeper level. It also allows visitors to easily share your information with others. If you don’t currently have social sharing buttons on your website there are several free/low cost social sharing tool bars you can easily integrate on your website such as AddThis and ShareThis. Both of these tool bars can be customized and provide analytics reporting on their results.

In addition to increasing engagement, the use of social sharing on your home builder website impacts your search engine rankings.  Forbes.com recently posted a really good article titled, “The Three Pillars of SEO in 2013: Content, Links and Social Media” which I highly recommend.  The article explains that content and links aren’t enough to rank well on Google search; social interaction is also an important factor.

There’s a couple of techniques you can use to integrate social media into your home builder website. Here are the most effective options:

  • Social Media Buttons – Placing icons of social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest and others anywhere on the site (usually at the top, left, right, or bottom of your webpage). Remember the higher you place the buttons on the page the more visible and likely they are to receive interaction.
  • Social Share Buttons – In case your website visitors find the content interesting and want to share it on their own social media profile, they don’t have to leave the site. All it takes is a single click on the social share button. This is excellent for community pages and blog posts.
  • Social Login – Social login represents a situation when your website visitors use an existing login, such as facebook, instead of creating a new one. Of course, people who are not active on social media sites (and therefore have no profile) can use a regular website login. Home builder website’s can use this for the “My Favorites” portion of the site where users can save favorite communities, floor plans and/or available homes in a personal portfolio.
  • Social Commenting – There’s no easier way to give feedback to your posted content, than allowing your visitors to comment on it via their existing social media profiles. Moreover, by commenting under the visitor’s real name you discourage those who intent to post derogatory comments and harm your website. This tool would be excellent for photo gallery pages and blog posts.

These four tips can easily increase user interaction on your home builder website, which can result in creating viral social traffic, and easily help your site rank higher in search engines. It is definitely worth trying!

Meredith had this to say about Melinda’s new book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops’

“Shocking, funny and educational this book has it all! If you are a sale agents or new home sales manager “They Said What??!!” should be required reading. You will learn how to become a top producing agent from the good, bad and even the ugly examples in this book. I couldn’t put it down!”

To order your copy today, click here!

Video Mystery Shopping: You had me at hello!

August 21, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Marilyn Whelan, Business Owner

 

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping: The Model Employee

August 9, 2013

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

www.jeffshore.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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: 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: 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: 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: 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!