Posts Tagged ‘video consultant’

Video Mystery Shopping: Take the time to KNOW your customers!

October 29, 2013

Panera-Franchisee-Settles-Lawsuit-with-Black-WorkersI have a certain Panera Bread that I frequent in Altamonte Springs, FL. I go there to write my blogs, collect my thoughts and just get out of the office! There is a woman there who works the front counter, Vicki, and she is someone that I think we can all learn from. Vicki has been working at this Panera Bread for many years and has taken the time to get to know her customers. Imagine that!

Recently, while I was in line waiting to order my bagel with cream cheese, Vicki was in her usual spot at the cash register. With a smile on her face, I noticed that she knew most of the customers in line by name.

She was asking them personal questions about their lives!

“Bob, how was your trip to Wyoming?”

 “Susan, how’s that new grand baby doing?”

“Alex, how’s the new job going?”

If she didn’t know her customers’ names, she fondly referred to them as ‘sweetheart’ or ‘honey’. I couldn’t help but think to myself: Now here is a lady who LOVES what she is doing and truly enjoys interacting with her clients!

In this day and age, where most people seem to have forgotten the value of good customer service, Vicki is an inspiration! After my experience that morning, I posted a comment on Facebook about Vicki and her friendly disposition. Would you believe that SEVERAL of my friends posted back that they too knew Vicki and had also been impressed with her service, style and charm!

You see, Vicki takes the time to get to know her customers. She makes each person standing in line at Panera feel SPECIAL! She turns the experience into something valuable and pleasant. You are no longer just waiting in line for your coffee and muffin, you are waiting in line to be recognized, greeted and charmed by Vicki!

In new home sales, you have the opportunity every day to do the same thing with your customers. You have the power to make people feel special! Use your customer’s name, ask them questions about what is important to them, and genuinely care about them! This is the key to gaining their trust!

We all know that people will do business with people they know, like and trust. As for me, I know that when I go to Panera, Vicki makes my day. I will ONLY stand in her line, even if it means I have to wait a bit longer. The experience is worth the wait!

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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: 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: 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.

Video Mystery Shopping – Referrals: How to get ‘em, How to give ‘em!

August 3, 2012

I LOVE referrals! I love GIVING them and I love GETTING them. Can you imagine if 100% of your new home sales came from nothing but referrals?? Wouldn’t life be SWEET? While I doubt that many one of us will ever obtain ALL our business just from referrals; I DO BELIEVE you can substantially increase your percentage of referral business just by implementing a few simple steps.

As Bob Burg, the best-selling author of Endless Referrals, The Go-Giver, and several other excellent books, likes to say: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it may sound simple, but it does take a lot of work and effort on your part to make this powerful trifecta of know, like and trust a reality with your clients and sphere of influence.

So, how do you start to build our referral business? One simple way is by GIVING referrals. A referral is worth its weight in GOLD. As the expert of your new home community, doesn’t it seem natural that you would know the best dry cleaner, pet sitter, hair dresser, and medical professionals in the area? Are you sharing this information with your new home buyers when they move in? Why not create a one page document with a few of your personal suggestions for business professionals in the area. In fact, you could list three per category and let your homeowners make the final decision based on their personal needs.

Be sure to let these business professionals KNOW you are referring their services and products to your new home owners. And, make sure your new home owners are letting these businesses know where they got their name from.

Another great place to build your referrals is within your realtor community. I often ask new home sales people how they are establishing relationships within the realtor community, and I am always amazed when I hear: “Well, I drop off fliers at the offices once a week.” REALLY??? How’s THAT savvy and original marketing tactic working for you??

Remember people: Know, Like and Trust are the key words here. Build solid relationships with your key realtors. Get to know them personally.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your past customers for referrals. The average person knows at least 200 other people (and now with social media, I am certain that number is much higher). Let your customers know that a referral is the highest and best compliment they can give you for a job well done. Remember, if you don’t ask…the answer is ALWAYS No.

Video Mystery Shopping: Be a New Home Sales Olympian! Bring home the GOLD

July 27, 2012

The Olympics start today! I can’t wait! I love watching the competitions and cheering for Team USA. The spirit, energy and teamwork that are exhibited throughout the 10 days of the Olympics are a true testament to the hard work and commitment of these fine athletes.  These men and women have truly dedicated their lives to their particular sport and the Olympics is the ultimate opportunity to SHINE before the entire world.

As new home sales professionals did you realize that you too have the opportunity to be Olympians? And, the best part about being a new home Olympian is that you don’t have to wait four years to win your Olympic gold. You have the opportunity every day to compete and take home the medal. Your customers and your prospects are the judges. They will score you and determine if your ‘performance’ is worthy of a gold medal.

If you want to sell new homes like a winning Olympian, you need to have the three characteristics that every Olympic athlete has, regardless of what sport they are competing in.

  1. Dedication – Are you dedicated to your profession? Are you dedicated to winning?  Without dedication, it becomes too easy to lose your focus and drive. When a prospect walks into your sales office, your dedication must be clearly recognized. You have to be dedicated to finding them the perfect new home for their needs. Nothing can stop you! When you are dedicated, nothing gets in the way of you and your goals.
  2. Commitment – How committed are you to the job? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win? Olympic athletes commit to their sport in a way that most of us can’t even fathom. Read about Michael Phelps’ commitment to swimming! This is a young man who spends countless hours in the pool EVERY DAY perfecting his craft. In new home sales if you are not committed to the profession you will quickly be overshadowed by those who are. Only the best of the best athletes get the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. There is no need for a second or third string.
  3. Passion – I believe that passion is the most important trait of all for Olympians. They are passionate about their sport. They will do whatever it takes to master their craft and win! Without passion, there is no game. As you watch the Olympics this week on television, you will learn a lot about the athletes. In addition to their flawless performances, their personal stories will be shared as well. I promise you that there isn’t one competitor that isn’t passionate about what they do.  How passionate are YOU about new home sales? Are you passionate enough to ‘Go for the GOLD’?