Posts Tagged ‘video shops’

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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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: Does this dress make me look fat? The TRUTH about honest Feedback!

November 25, 2013

Part 1 of a 2 part series. Published in Sales & Marketing Ideas Magazine

funny-girls-dress-make-me-look-fat“Boy, do I look FAT in that outfit! And, do I really have a DOUBLE CHIN??” 

“OMG! I can’t believe I wore that suit! Look at how wrinkled my jacket is!!”

“I look so old and tired! They must have distorted MY video!”

If you have ever been on video (or video mystery shopped) one or two of these statements has probably come to mind upon seeing yourself on video. We ALL do, even me! And this is what I do for a living. It is only natural to be critical of yourself when you first see your video. This is why we encourage ALL our clients to watch their videos AT LEAST twice! The first time you watch, you are paying too much attention to your physical self and not really listening to your shop.

Once I did a video and it was shot outside, I actually wore sunglasses because I was so self-conscious about my looks. My company’s sales coach and marketing consultant, Leah Turner, said to me: “Melinda….when you show up to speak, you look the way you look, you can’t change that. It is what it is, and it is time to get over it.”

I hated to admit it, but she was right!! (By the way, I think I look good for 70! Ok, I’m really 60 years old but when I share that with audiences, I get no reaction so I had to bump it up 10 years!)

Anyway, in my role as a professional speaker it is imperative that I watch countless, painful videos of myself speaking in order to improve my performance. Once I get past the physical shock, I can really focus and hone in on my message to improve my presentation. This allows me to continually develop my skill set as a speaker and presenter.

One thing that I have found to be especially helpful and motivating for me is to actually seek feedback from my peers and friends. I welcome it from others and I always listen with an open mind.

You see, your ability to handle candid, brutally honest feedback is in direct proportion to your confidence level. The more confident you are the less defensive and more acceptable to feedback you become.

Remember, you don’t ALWAYS need to follow the feedback, just take it in and decide what works and what doesn’t work for you. If you ask for opinions, you will certainly get them. It does not mean you need to apply every opinion!

If you allow yourself to sift through and analyze the feedback, you will become aware of what you need to pay attention to. The bottom line? Feedback is always about opinions. Not all opinions are the same and not all opinions are right. You have to determine what feedback works for you that will allow you to grow, prosper and be successful.

I have several people who give me feedback, both solicited and random:

My mastermind groups. I sign up and participate in these specifically FOR the feedback. I respect each member of the group and value their input!

Close friends and my boyfriend Howard. This group will ALWAYS tell me straight up how something hits them, how my new headshot really looks, if my new IBS speech is a winner or a flop!

My clients. Their feedback leaves no room for interpretation…it is always crystal clear. When I succeed, they are still a client. When they are gracious enough to give me feedback and allow me to make adjustments to solve a problem, I am very grateful. Sometimes, they just move on to another video shopping firm. That feedback is the most obvious…..it is basically saying “you’re fired”!

Since I am in the evaluation and “feedback” business (video mystery shopping), I thought it would be helpful to write about feedback, both receiving it (for salespeople) and delivering it (sales managers). The key to a successful experience with video mystery shopping is to provide feedback and use the shop as a learning tool that will allow your sales people to grow.

Next week, I will get into specifics on how you can give (and receive!) effective feedback.

 

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!

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: 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: 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: Why a GREAT salesperson MAY NOT be a GREAT Sales Manager

January 17, 2013

(Part 1 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 4, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

I replied: “The American Nazi Party!”

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

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

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

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

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

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