Posts Tagged ‘training’

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.

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: 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: 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: 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: Want to create a positive company culture? Don’t forget the cheerleaders!

May 17, 2013

High school cheerleaders4[1]This past month I had the opportunity to attend not one but TWO Parade of Homes’ Awards events, one in Orlando and the other in Tampa. I LOVE everything about what the Parade of Homes represents to our builders. The past couple of years, I have witnessed this annual event grow and emerge from the sluggish homebuilding market. It is exciting again!  Entries are up, attendance is high, and people are having FUN!

Not only are many new homes being built (and sold!), but the sales teams are getting back in the spirit of the true meaning of the Parade. They are part of a winning team once again. In my opinion, the most enjoyable part of the Parade of Homes Awards program is watching the audience respond when the winners are announced. It’s the Super Bowl for the home building industry! People are hooting, hollering and cheering their teams on! This is really what is it all about.

You can tell a lot about the culture of a new home builder based on the excitement level of the team. In most cases, when a builder’s model won a category at the Parade events I attended the sales team went WILD…and I do mean WILD! They could barely contain themselves.  They were proud of being part of a winning team and were not embarrassed to show their enthusiasm.

For some builders, however, I noticed that the cheering was not quite so loud, or not at all in the cases where the builder didn’t even bother to show up for the event! Now I ask you, what team would YOU rather be on?

Are you passionate about the home builder you work for? Are you a cheerleader for your team? If not, you may want to think about joining another team. Company culture is so important in today’s market. Everyone wants to feel like they belong to, and are part of, a winning team. Creating that team spirit is critical to the overall success of the organization. When we are passionate about who we work for, we are passionate about what we do and how we do it! We work harder because we don’t want to let our team down.  We celebrate the victories together and support each other during the defeats. We are proud to be a part of the company culture.

In a day and age where sales people flip flop more often than politicians, building a strong company culture is important in creating a sense of loyalty to the builder. Just ask any Sales Manager what the secret is to building a great sales team and they will tell you it is all about creating a positive experience and company culture. When your team is celebrating the sweetness of their success, make sure you pack the stadium with plenty of cheerleaders! Their cheers leave no doubt to anyone who the real winners in the room are.

Congratulations to ALL builders who participated in the 2013 Parade of Homes!

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

April 13, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 28, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

March 13, 2013

Part 2 in a two part series

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

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

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

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

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

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

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!