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. Continue reading
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. Continue reading
Guest 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. Continue reading
Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there lived a new home sales princess who worked for a big builder in a fairy tale new home community. The beautiful sales princess was always busy! Traffic to her new home community magically appeared each and every day! She wrote sales contracts weekly! All was well in New Homebuilder Land, that is, until the wicked witch appeared!
The wicked witch decided to cast an evil spell on New Homebuilder Land! All of a sudden the traffic that used to flow freely into the new home community dried up like a raisin in the sun! Time stood still! The beautiful new home princess was confused and sad! She cried to her fairy godmother every night begging her to destroy the witch and restore her happy life.
The fairy godmother (being the wise woman that she was) suggested to the princess that she come up with a plan of her own to generate the traffic that she had become so accustomed to. (Gotta love a sales oriented fairy godmother!)
The sales princess was not sure what to do! She tried to get Prince Charming to help her out, but he too was having his own traffic problems in New Homebuilder Land! Alas, our sales princess sat down with her fairy godmother and together they came up with her own magical spell to restore the abundance of visitors to her sales office. The word ‘self prospecting’ was officially invented!
Our princess combined all the following elements to create her magical self prospecting spell:
The fairy godmother was very proud of her sales princess for taking the initiative to increase traffic and sales into her new home community. So proud in fact that she too created another plan to support the princess in her endeavors. She added marketing and advertising, sales training and corporate kingdom support to assist not only the princess, but Prince Charming too and all the other new homes sales people that lived in the land.
Everyone’s joint efforts paid off! Traffic returned to the land, sales increased and our sales princess was busy!
And they all lived happily ever after. The end!
Moral of the story: To be successful in new home sales, you must learn how to self prospect! Self sales prospecting done properly can have a huge impact on your sales revenue! It doesn’t take a great deal of time to do, and it doesn’t require a magical spell. But, it does require that you have a solid plan in place and that you schedule the time to do it. Many sales people are hesitant to self prospect because they are not sure how to do it, or they fear rejection. A good fairy godmother (sales manager) will provide the training that sales people need to learn how to effectively and efficiently master the art of self prospecting.
We’ve all heard the saying ‘If you don’t follow up with your prospects, your competition will’, right? I always disliked that quote. It sounds more like a THREAT than a quote to me! I thought quotes were supposed to motivate and inspire us to do better, not make us feel like losers!
Anyway, while I don’t necessarily like the ‘tone’ of the saying I do agree with its message 100%! Our new home sales people absolutely must follow up with their prospects on a regular basis in order to close the deal. And, as sales managers, it often times falls on our shoulders to insure that they do follow up. You see, being a sales manager is a lot like being a parent! We have to ‘follow up’ to make sure they ‘follow up’, comprende?
When my daughter Sarah was a little girl she used to love getting presents (she still does for that matter, I wonder where she gets that from??). Anyway, each time she got a present I would encourage her to write a THANK YOU note to the individual who had sent her the gift. She didn’t really enjoy or understand why I encouraged her to do so. You see, she enjoyed getting the gifts, but didn’t enjoy the follow up that came with it. This can be true of a lot of new home sales people. They enjoy the challenge of the hunt, the excitement of the deal, but not so much the administrative, often laborious task of following up.
So, in order to make sure Sarah did her follow up, we came up with a system which made it a lot easier for her to do it. We went to a card store and purchased a big box of fun thank you notes that she picked out. Next, we purchased a bright pink pen for her to write the notes. When we got home, we pre-addressed and stamped the envelopes with names of those whom she regularly received gifts. All of a sudden writing thank you notes became a fun project for her!
We should all start thinking of our prospects as gifts! When they call us, or take the time visit our new homes sales offices they are giving us the gift of a potential new home sale. And, in doing so, it is only appropriate (not to mention polite) that we thank them for that gift. If you do this correctly and on a regular basis, you will receive the ultimate gift of a new home sale!
Take a look at the follow up system you have in place for your sales team. Is it working for you? Have you put the processes in place to make it a seamless next step for your team, or are you expecting them to devise their own program? I guarantee that if you create the system and give them the tools to follow up appropriately, they will be thankful to you and you will reap the rewards by selling more new homes to your prospects!
Remember, we all know getting the gift is more exciting than writing the follow up note, but if you don’t write the follow up thank you notes, chances are the gifts may just stop coming.
Being a native New Yawker, I have never really considered myself much of a ‘gardening, green thumb’ type of person. Heck, I’ve never even owned a pair of gardening gloves! Most of the plants in my home are of the artificial variety, meaning they still look good even if I don’t water them! I have always admired and actually been more than a little envious of those with a natural green thumb; it was just never my calling! So, you can imagine my surprise last weekend when Howard suggested we do some ‘gardening’ together. I didn’t even know that word was in the man’s vocabulary!
So, off we went into our backyard to ‘garden’. I must admit, working in the dirt really was very therapeutic! Howard and I spent hours out there carefully planting the seedlings, and then meticulously watering and fertilizing our little garden. Believe it or not, this experience reminded me of the relationship between new home sales managers and their sales teams! When I am watching Video Mystery Shops each week I can immediately tell which sales people have been properly cared for in their ‘sales gardens’. It’s amazing the positive results you can get when you “tend” to your new home sales team in much the same way a gardener “tends” to his garden.
4 Tips for Growing a Healthy Sales Garden
1. Pick and plant your seeds carefully. Our sales people are the livelihood of our sales gardens. We want to select the best people out there before planting the sales garden. We can’t just throw our sales seeds in the dirt and expect for them to blossom! As new home sales managers, an important part of our role is to provide our sales teams with all the support they need in order to grow into successful sales superstars.
2. Water the plants regularly. Plants can’t grow if they don’t get adequate water on a regular basis. Our sales teams can’t grow if they don’t get on-going training, resources, and information needed to do their jobs. This is an investment in the future success of your sales garden.
3. Talk to your plants! Every day I encourage the seeds in my garden to grow, grow, grow. (No, I swear I am not crazy; I really did read it is important to talk to your plants. Something to do with oxygen, but who knows?) In our sales garden it is important that we regularly motivate and encourage our sales people for maximum results.
4. Remove the Weeds. Just one weed in the garden can have a detrimental effect on every plant you are trying to grow. Weeds, left unattended, will strangle your plants. Do you have any weeds in your sales garden? If so, it is best to remove them immediately before those bad habits and behaviors spread through the sales garden like wildfire and poison the rest of your team!
So, my challenge to you is to start thinking about your new home sales team as your sales garden. Remember, you really do ‘reap what you sow’. So, let’s create an abundant harvest!
Do any of you remember that classic great movie ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’? It was a 1966 Italian/Spanish spaghetti western starring Clint Eastwood, and the plot revolved around three gunslingers competing to find a fortune in buried Confederate gold amid the violent chaos of gunfights, hangings, American Civil War battles and prison camps!
Last week Howard and I watched the movie (gotta love a young Clint Eastwood!), and I couldn’t help thinking about how the movie and its plot reminded me of the video mystery shops that I watch each week for my new home builder clients!
Look at it this way, your sales people are the ‘gunslingers’ and they are all looking to find the ‘fortune of buried Confederate gold’ (sell a new home, earn a commission) in the ‘violent chaos’ (new home sales) of ‘gunfights, hangings, battles and prison camps’ (finding prospects, mastering a sales technique, closing the deal and contract negotiations). Whew! It can get mighty tough out there for our new home sales people, pardner!
Typically I see new home sales consultants handle these situations in one of three ways: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly! Let me give you an example: A prospect walks into the sales office for the first time and is greeted by the sales consultant.
The Good: “Hello there! Welcome to Arbor Lakes! My name is Susan and you are???….by the way, did you happen to visit our website”
The Bad: “Hi, I’m Susan. Fill out this registration card and then I will show you the models.”
The Ugly: Sales person is on the phone in her office, eating a Lean Cuisine, and yells out to the prospect: “I’m on the phone; the models are through that door. Let me know if you have questions on your way out.”
Now, you might think I’m kidding. I’m not. I see this type of behavior often when I watch video mystery shops. In many cases, a lot of the Bad and the Ugly behaviors are a result of not having adequate sales training. Other times, it’s just a person in dire need of a career adjustment! The point is, it does happen. So, how do we get ALL of our sales people to turn into ‘The Good’ (Clint Eastwood’s character)? You probably can’t. But you can (and should) identify who on your sales team needs to improve their sales skills and tactics. The best way to do this is to actually ‘see’ what’s going on in your sales offices. This is where video mystery shopping takes the guess work out of the process!
One of my favorite quotes from ‘The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly’ is when Clint’s character says: “You see, in this world there’s two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.”
Let’s give our sales people the ‘loaded guns’ they need to succeed (sales tools, training and techniques), so they don’t have to dig, you dig?
I have to admit it; I was a big fan of The Brady Bunch. Yes, I had a crush on Greg and was loyal to him even during all the ‘terrible perm’ years! But to me, one of the most interesting dynamics about the show was the relationship between the oldest and middle of the ‘Hair of Gold, like their Mother’ daughters: Marcia and Jan.
Didn’t it always seem like Jan got the short end of the stick? I mean even Cindy with her cute lisp and blonde curly pigtails got her fair share of attention. Not so with our dear Jan. She just wasn’t quite as popular, perfect or pretty as Marcia. Jan was *stuck* in the land of STANDARD. Remember how she used to say ‘Marcia, Marcia, Marcia….why is everything ALWAYS about Marcia’?
So, you might be wondering what in the world the Brady Bunch has to do with the new home sales industry (aside from the fact that Mike was an accomplished architect). Well, if you think about our industry and the way we sell homes, in a lot of cases we are showing our prospects the beautifully decorated, highly upgraded model home (Marcia) when in reality, the version of the home that they are buying is the standard version with the standard features (Jan). So, how do you SELL Jan, when your buyers are looking at Marcia?
Let me introduce you to the JAN concept (in honor of the ‘Standard’ Brady)
You see, most of us can actually relate more to the Jan version than the Marcia version of any product. Let’s show our buyers that STANDARD is actually EXCEPTIONAL!
Now, on another note, I want to know if YOU have a favorite Brady Bunch episode. If you do, let me know which one it was! Personally, I am torn between the one where Marcia’s nose gets broken by a football on the night of her big date with Davy Jones of the Monkees; and the one where Marcia and Greg run against each other for student body president! Good stuff!!
Melinda Brody & Company – Your one stop video shop!
The other night I had insomnia. If you’ve ever had insomnia you’ve most likely found yourself watching television at 3:00 am. And, since there aren’t a lot of first rate programs on at this hour you may have been exposed to the infamous ‘As Seen on TV’ infomercials. These are the clever commercials that sell you everything from Chia pets, Ginsu knives and the Magic Stud finder to the ‘OVE’ Glove, the Ab Rocket and the Time Life Romancing the 70’s cd collection. These items, which are usually priced anywhere from $9.99 to $99.99 (plus shipping & handling), are so unique and distinctive that you actually have to see it on TV to believe it exists!
While I was watching these hilarious ‘As Seen on TV’ programs, I started thinking about the similarities between these infomercials and the video mystery shopping world. You see, I have my own collection of ‘As Seen on TV’ classics, which usually center around some remark or comment made by a new homes sales associate that was so bizarre no one would believe it, unless of course they had actually seen it.
As a division president or sales manager you would be surprised by some of the words coming out of your sales people’s mouths. Let me share with you three of my personal favorite ‘As Seen on TV’ Video Mystery Shopping moments:
I think the most astounding fact about these statements is that the sales associates making them had no idea that what they were saying was inappropriate. This is where sales training, coaching and video mystery shopping can help. Can you really afford not to invest in your sales team? Provide them with the right tools, resources, and scripts needed to make the sale and best represent your company.
And, just for the record, I did end up buying the Time Life Romancing the 70s cd collection. What gal could resist the Bee Gees serenading her with Night Fever at 3:00 in the morning!
On average I watch about 10 video shops per week. It’s good stuff! In some cases it makes for better television than reality shows like The Amazing Race, Survivor or even the Real House Wives of New York!
One thing that I have noticed however is many of the new home sales presentations tend to be Product focused instead of Prospect focused. What does this mean, you ask? Well, let me give you an example. A couple of years ago I was shopping for a new car. I was interested in the Lexus crossover model. So, off I went to my local Lexus dealer to get more information, test drive the car, etc. The salesperson at the dealership was very informative but he immediately went into a long dissertation about how the Lexus was made, the environmental benefits of the crossover model, and the miles per gallon I would save with this model. Not once did he ask ME what I was looking for in a new car.
If he had, he would have quickly learned that my primary buying motivator had nothing to do with what was under the hood! I wanted to know about the leather interior package, if the sunroof was standard and what cool exterior colors were available. I’m not saying the other information was not important, in fact it was. However, I had already done my homework, so I knew about the inner workings of the car. I was, in fact, ready to buy. But because this salesperson seemed more interested in selling me the product instead of discovering what my buying needs were, I left the dealership without the cute Lexus.
Unfortunately this is all too common among new homes sales people. They tend to explain every aspect of the new home and community, but they never identify with what is really important to the prospective buyer! I often wonder how many potential home sales have been lost due to an overeager sales person who never took the time to truly connect with his prospect.
Here are 3 tips I’ve developed to help new home sales people in the Prospect discovery process.
Every prospect that walks into your new home sales office is in there for a different reason. Your job as a new homes salesperson is to identify that reason, discover what their buying motivators are and then sell them a new home. The process becomes a lot easier when we shift our sales presentation from the Product to the Prospect.
This week’s blog continues with five more very important questions you should ask any Video Mystery Shopping Company before you sign the dotted line and hire them to shop your sales team. You owe it to yourself, your builder and your sales team to get the very best.
6. Is there a Minimum Order? Last week I was at Costco’s, and noticed a sale on paper towels. Well, what gal can resist that, right? I was all set to buy my four rolls of paper towels when I saw that in order to get the sales price; I had to buy 25 ROLLS of PAPER TOWELS! I don’t know about you, but I do not need nor do I have the room to warehouse 25 rolls of paper towels in my house. The same is true with Video Mystery Shops; you should not be required to order a minimum amount. You should be able to purchase only what you need. We don’t require a minimum number of monthly shops. You can order 2 or 200, whatever YOU (the client) need! No commitments or contracts should ever be required.
7. Who writes the report? Some companies allow their shoppers to write the report. This is never a good idea. A video mystery shopper is simply not qualified to do this, as they cannot be objective about the process. Our shoppers do not write reports; our Shopping Review Team does so after carefully reviewing the video shop.
8. How do I interpret the Video Mystery Shop? Some Video Mystery Shopping companies offer something known as an Interactive Scorecard. I call this the Cliff Notes version of a Video shop. When I was in college; we had to read Beowulf, probably one of the most boring and hardest to read classics of all time. Several of my friends decided to read the Cliff Notes version instead of the actual book; I on the other hand decided to read the entire book. You see, by reading the book I got the WHOLE story, not just the highlights. Many parts of the overall sales presentation, such as qualifying or closing, happen throughout the visit, which is why we provide our clients with a video time code that allows them to see the whole story, based on their criteria.
9. How do you compare my shops with other new home builders? Wondering how you stack up against other home builders? Most companies will not be able to provide this information because they do not have the national reach to allow for effective comparisons. We provide you with a national industry benchmark.
10. Who is in charge? Bottom line, you need to know that whoever is running the show is qualified to do so. You want that person to have the experience, knowledge, and qualifications required to run a Video Mystery Shopping business. I always say that one of the reasons I have been in this business for 25 years is because I love everything about the new home building process. I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything! When you love what you do, the rest is icing on the cake.
I hope you have found this blog helpful in making your Video Mystery Shopping decisions. As always, please feel free to call me directly with any questions you may have about the video mystery shopping process. If you can’t tell already, it is my PASSION. And, it’s a heck of a lot more exciting than reading Beowulf!