Category Archives: New Home Builders

Video Mystery Shopping: Follow up can make or break the deal!

A tyPortrait of a smiling businesswoman with phonepical scenario I see often in video mystery shops has to do with following up. Here’s what happens, we send our shoppers out as an ‘A’ prospect. They are ready, willing, and able to buy. Their home is sold, they’re the sole decision maker, they LOVE what you are showing them, and they correctly fill out the registration card. After visiting the community, they check their email inbox and…..NOTHING, NADA, ZIP!

Shopper ‘A’ is an ideal customer. It amazes me that they don’t receive follow up from the sales associates. If the ‘A’ prospects are not being followed up with, I seriously doubt the B’s or C’s are!
Houston…..we have a serious problem here. Think about it….when you are shopping for a home, chances are you are going to visit SEVERAL communities. You are going to see SEVERAL sales associates. You are going to become overwhelmed with everything you have seen and heard. Chances are you may get home and not remember who was who and what was what.

But, when you receive follow up from the sales associate that you met at Windsong, who thanks you for stopping by and then provides you with the information about the surrounding schools you requested, all of a sudden you remember!

Then a few days later, you are checking your mailbox and lo and behold….there is a handwritten letter from Mary at Windsong with a $10 Starbucks certificate (because you had told her how much you love their Frappuccinos). Wow. You are impressed! In her note she also invites you to come back the following Saturday because the neighborhood is having a pool party and she wants to introduce your family to some of the other families and their children. You see, Mary remembered your 10 year old daughter Kelly was anxious about moving and making new friends. See where I am going with this? Follow up helps you build the relationship with your prospects. It allows you to continue to build rapport long after they’ve left your sales office.

My question has always been WHY in the world would you not follow up??? I’ve heard every excuse in the book. In most cases, I have found that laziness and lack of creative follow up ideas are the primary causes for no follow up.

Follow up must be engaging, informative and personalized….just like your sales presentations. Take the time to find out interesting things about your prospects. Do they have children or pets? What do they like to do in their spare time? What’s their favorite dessert? This will give you information to create great (and memorable!) follow up!
Remember, if you don’t follow up, chances are someone else will!

Video Mystery Shopping: Sell the home site – Demo the Dirt!

field of grass and perfect skyBelieve it or not, there is a tried and true method to selling a home in the new home industry. It’s a pretty simple formula. If you follow this 4 step program, I promise you that you will see an increase in new home sales!

  1. Sell the Builder
  2. Sell the Community
  3. Sell the Home
  4. Sell the Home site

Now, in most cases new home sales people do a pretty good job of selling the builder, the community and the home. However, when it comes to selling the actual home site they often fall short. When selling the other three, the new homes sales associate has a myriad of resources and tools to help with the presentation (a builder’s story, community information and a decked out model!). But, when it comes time to sell the home site (one of the most important pieces of the process) they only one thing to show – DIRT!

So, how do we take this barren, boring empty lot and transform it into a super, sexy potential home site to our prospects?  The answer it simple – Visualization!

You have to get your prospects to visualize living on that home site! So, how do you do this? Well, here are a couple of tips:

  1. Use the word home site instead of lot. This is a small but significant step in helping your prospects visualize. Which would you rather live on, a ‘lot’ or a ‘home site’?
  2. Physically take your prospects out to the home site. You are doing yourself and your prospects a major disservice if you don’t physically walk the home site. Most people can’t visualize what a new home looks like from looking at just a floor plan; the same is true with the home site. Also, by setting foot on the home site you are establishing a sense of ownership that can’t be garnered looking at a site map.
  3. ASK your prospect questions about what they like to do outside. Engaging your prospects on how they would use the outdoor space is the most important thing you can do. Once you find out what it is they like to do outside, you can then paint the picture for them. If they like to garden, point out an area that would be excellent for planting. If they have children, demonstrate how the yard space could accommodate a back yard jungle gym or swing set! Point out the obvious! IE., the beautiful trees or the spacious back yard.
  4. Trial close them on the home site. You want your prospects to ‘fall in love’ with the home site the same way they fall in love with the home. Here’s a tip, while you are physically standing in their potential new back yard, ask your prospects if they can “see” themselves enjoying a glass of wine after work while sitting in their back yard watching their children run and play with Fluffy the dog as the sun quietly sets behind the canopy of the trees.

It’s all about visualization and painting that ideal picture for your prospects.

Video Mystery Shopping: Model Demonstration – Sell the Sizzle!

Steaks on barbecue

Have you ever heard the saying ‘Sell the Sizzle, Not the Steak’? For all of us in the new home building industry, I prefer to say ‘Romance the Home, Don’t Just Sell the Stone’. It means that benefits, not features, will ultimately make the sale. All homes have a roof, doors, bedrooms, bathrooms, etc… have to find a way to set your home apart from the competition.

It is important to realize that when prospective buyers come in to your sales office….they have a certain ‘lifestyle’ they are envisioning that will come with buying a new home. They aren’t just interested in buying four walls and a roof, with energy efficient features and lovely standard cabinets. They want to build and buy ‘their dream home’. It becomes your job is to *paint* a visual picture for them that will enable them to see themselves living in that home, enjoying that lifestyle! You’ve got to make them ‘fall in love’ with YOUR home, in YOUR community.

So, how do you do this? How to you shift from ‘feature dumping’ to ‘selling the sizzle’? Here are four simple tips that will get your prospects to fall in LOVE with your home!

The L.O.V.E theory…..

Listen – Ask your prospects about their lifestyle and what they enjoy doing. What do they like about their current residence? What would they change about their existing home? Why are they leaving? What is most important to them in a new home and a neighborhood? And then, shut up and LISTEN to their answers! I mean REALLY listen to them. Don’t interrupt them….Don’t tell them what YOU like….allow them to be open and honest with you. This is going to give you the most important piece of information you will need to make the sale. The information they share with you will allow you to craft a PERSONALIZED sales presentation to meet their specific needs, wants and desires.

Omit the Feature Dumping – As tempting as it is to tell your prospect every single bit of information you can about the home site, the quality construction, the building materials, and every single standard feature in the home (feature dumping); selectively create your presentation to focus of what is important to them. Your job here is to get them to fall in love with the home, not become an expert on the entire home building process!  Also, if it isn’t important to them, it will have no bearing in making the sale. ASK your prospects: ‘What’s important to YOU in your new home?’

Visualize – Paint a visual picture of your prospects living in the home. Ask them if they can see themselves celebrating the holidays in their new family room. Find out what type of furniture they currently have and how they would place it in their new home. While in the kitchen, ask who does most of the cooking and then ask them if the kitchen works for their needs. When you take them to the home site, have them stand in their *future* backyard envisioning the big cook-out they are having with the neighbors! If they have children, discuss where they would put the swing set.

Engage – Get your prospects physically involved in your model demonstration! Before entering your model home (through the front door, of course!), hand your prospect the keys and allow THEM to unlock the door. Ask them to open the cabinets to feel the quality of the wood. Match your tempo with that of the prospects. Allow them to be the first to enter and leave each room. Let them set the pace of the model walk. Let them linger! The longer they linger, the closer they are to LOVE.



Video Mystery Shopping – Attention New Homes Sales Associates – You guys are FABULOUS!

graphic-book-195x300A 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. Continue reading

Social Integration Key to Home Builder Marketing

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping: Dream it, Plan it, Do it!

Melinda2013This week’s blog has absolutely nothing to do with new homes sales…..nothing, nada, zilch! Instead it has to do with dreaming big and achieving those dreams! As many of you know, I recently published my first book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops.’ Now, I never set out to be an author, it wasn’t part of my plan. However, for the past few years I started imagining what it would be like to share my three decades of new home sales video mystery shopping experience with others. It was my intention to be able to provide a tool that would motivate and encourage new home sales agents to improve their sales performance and achieve professional success. But first, I had to fully Dream It.

The dream started small, I would casually mention my idea of writing a book to friends and family members. They were encouraging and supportive! This response actually provided me with the motivation I needed to take my dream to the next level.

I started to Plan it. I planned what the key message of my book would be. I planned what types of examples I would use. I planned how many pages it would be. My dream was slowly starting to take flight and become a reality.

The planning stage is the most critical in achieving any goal you have in life. This is the turning point in which a ‘dream’ actually becomes a goal, with strategies and action plans to support it. I decided that 2013 would be the year that my book would be published. Now, I had to DO it. To truly visualize my book becoming a reality, I added it to my 2013 Vision Board. I created my book cover and put the deadline next to the picture!

The next step was then carving out the time to actually WRITE the book! For me, writing and being creative is something that I need to do outside of the normal hustle and bustle of everyday life. So, I looked at my calendar and planned three writing retreats for myself. I actually left town and emerged myself in the writing process. Once I was away and focused on writing the book, the words just seemed to flow onto the pages!

I am proud to announce that the book has been written and is now pre-selling! The journey to go from a dream to a reality is complete. If someone had told me 10 years ago that I would one day write (and publish!) a book, I would have probably laughed in their face!  But, that was before I had visualized the dream. What is it that YOU want to accomplish in your life? What do YOU dream about? Remember, if you can dream it, you can do it!

To order Melinda’s book, click the link below.

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

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: How to Sell Your Builder, Demonstrate Your Model and Close Your Prospect

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”


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 is the 3rd critical area in your sales presentation. True closers are a distinguished and privileged group of sales people. Here’s the bad news……

58% of ALL sales associates we shopped did not try to close the prospect.

The 42% of the sales people who did close their prospects are what we call ‘master closers’. They come to the Sales Rallies and attend Workshops, Conferences and Builder’s Shows. If their builder doesn’t pay for them to attend, they pay their own way. They read the books and listen to the audio.

Here are some REAL LIFE examples of how we’ve seen sales reps close their prospects.

Good                     “My job is to match your needs with a floor plan…I believe we’ve done that..let’s get started with the home site selection…”

Bad                         “This home is $250 but honestly, we will take less for that..we’re not supposed to do this, but I think if you offer $200, that would be good…”

Ugly                      “Between you and me, we can just ignore those lot premiums”

So, there you have it! These three components of your sales presentation can (and WILL) increase your sales!

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

(Part 1 of 2)

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: Take advantage of YOUR association!

It seems over the past couple of months, I have been getting more and more speaking inquiries and opportunities with home builder’s associations from across the country. John Palumbo, Meredith Oliver and I just recently spoke to sell out audiences at two home builder’s associations in Canada, and will be heading to Charlotte, NC in September to speak to their group. The home building industry seems to be making a huge come back with regards to association involvement and participation, and I couldn’t be happier!

Your local home builders association is a vital part of your professional career. In addition to the fabulous networking opportunities and educational programs they offer, industry associations allow you the chance to form strong relationships with peers and work together to make a positive difference for the homebuilding industry.

The past few years were tough for many trade associations. Staff had been eliminated, budgets were cut and overall, builder participation and membership was down.  Not a good thing at all for your professional trade association!

But lately I have noticed a shift in the wind. Builders associations are coming back bigger and better than ever. I believe the positive changes that I have witnessed this past year truly do reflect the state of our industry. Dare I say that positive feeling about the home building industry is back? You bet your bottom dollar I do!

The Sales and Marketing Councils (SMC) are always a driving force for any home builders association. This is a group of crazy and creative sales and marketing people for goodness sakes, what else would you expect?  Everyone is ‘thinking outside the box’ this year with program and events. I attended a program a few months ago put on by the Tampa Bay Builder’s Association in which they had a panel of experts in the building industry speaking to over 100 Realtors about to SELL new homes. It was phenomenal! These are the types of programs that will help to revitalize the industry!

Bottom line, if you are not involved with your local builders association……get involved. It is a key component to not only YOUR success, but the industry’s overall success as well. Get involved!