Tag Archives: Entrepreneurial Marketing

Industry Update 2017

I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 International Builders Show in Orlando a couple weeks ago. By all accounts, the show was an overwhelming success! The trade show floor was a flurry of vendors and builders like no other I have seen. The training and educational tracks were in most cases, standing room only! The many people I had the opportunity to speak with were all highly optimistic about our industry in 2017! All excellent indicators that the building industry is ready for a strong, successful and profitable year!

A key point for new home builders to consider this year, more than ever before, is the needs of their buyers. Today’s buyer is smarter, savvier, and more knowledgeable than ever before!

There are five critical things that today’s buyer expect….and demands…during the sales experience. In order to be successful, you’ve got to be willing to provide them with the following:

  1. Information
  2. Ability to ask questions and listen
  3. A personalized presentation
  4. Be the problem solver
  5. Passion

Video Mystery Shopping: What was your name again?

dissatisfied angry young woman haired girl in red dress emotion isolated on white backgroundOn the Video Mystery Shopping scoring sheet, there is a question that reads: “Did the SA use the prospect’s name more than twice during the visit?” Now, initially you might be thinking, “That is a silly question to ask! Of COURSE the SA used the prospect’s name AT LEAST twice during the sales presentation!” Well my friends, you would be surprised!

In about 75% of ALL the video mystery shops we review, the SA DOES NOT use the prospect’s name more than twice….in fact in most of the video shops the SA doesn’t even use the prospect’s name once!

How can this be? I have asked SA’s countless times why they don’t use their prospect’s names, and  the first response I normally get is ‘Oh, I am HORRIBLE at remembering names! And then I am too embarrassed to ask them again what their name is.”

OK, I get that. But, let me ask you this….can you honestly tell me that you would be comfortable asking someone to purchase a $500K home without even knowing what their name is? I can just picture it now ‘Hey, what’s your face, do you want to move forward in the purchase of this home?’

If you are not good at remembering names, here are a few suggestions for you that will help.

  1. During the sales presentation, carry a clipboard with you. Write the prospect’s name BIG AND BOLD on a sheet of paper that is on the clipboard. This way you can easily glance down and see it.
  2. Try using the prospect’s name a minimum of 3 -5 times during the first 20 minutes of the presentation. For example, “Sarah, tell me what’s important to you in your new home?” , “Have you ever built a new home before, Sarah?’
  3. If your prospect has an unusual or hard to pronounce name, ask them to say it for you. This can be done by simply saying “You have such a unique and beautiful name, would you mind repeating it again for me?”
  4. Use an Alliteration Memory tactic. For example, if your prospect’s name is Sam, notice something about him that also begins with an S. Sam is wearing sunglasses. Sunglass Sam. This may sound silly but it really works!

The bottom line, do whatever you need to do to remember your prospect’s name and USE IT.

 

 

Video Mystery Shopping: Meeting Unrecognized Needs

In Maslow’s Hierarchy of Customer Service, he discusses the 3 levels of service.

Level one is Meeting Expectations. For example, you need to purchase toothpaste. So, you go to Walgreens and buy a tube of Colgate. Your expectation has been met, and you are satisfied. Not a thrilling or memorable experience, but you got what you came to get. You are satisfied.

Level two is when you not only meet expectations, but you also Meet Desires! This is the level where most new home sales associates are. You meet with your prospects; ask questions to determine what they are looking for in their new home. You then find them the home that successfully meets their desires. This creates a loyal customer!

However, the third level of Maslow’s Hierarchy is referred to as creating a ‘transformation’. This is when you meet your prospects Unrecognized Needs. This creates EVANGELISM!

What is an unrecognized need? It’s a need that your prospects never knew they had! You can only get to this level of service by finding out everything you can about your prospects and how they live. This takes more than basic discovery and questioning. It takes empathy, understanding and out of the box thinking. Let me give you an example, in a shop I watched last month the SA was working with a couple. They had scheduled their first meeting, but the husband was unable to attend the first meeting due to health issues.

The SA spent about 20 minutes at the beginning of the presentation asking questions, and building trust and rapport. The wife shared with the SA that the husband had some long term health issues that would eventually cause him to be in a wheel chair. The SA began discussing options on how to build the home so that it would accommodate his future health needs. She even went so far as to suggest the option of adding a hidden elevator in the home.  The wife was ecstatic! She had not thought about these options and was thrilled with the recommendations. The SA had met unrecognized needs for her buyers. This is your job as a new home sales associate.  In doing so, you will create Evangelism with YOUR buyers!

 

 

 

Video Mystery Shopping: Setting Expectations

Outdoor business meetingOne of the things I have noticed lately in watching video mystery shops is that many seem to lack structure. In some cases, the presentations go on and on forever, but there is no rhyme or reason to the presentation. As I watch, I have to wonder what is going on in the mind of the sales associate. Do they not have a plan for how they are going to spend their time with the prospects? Do they not realize that in our business ‘time is money’? Why don’t they set expectations with the prospects?

I’ll give you a real life example. I was watching a shop last week that went well over 2 1/2 hours. At the end, the shopper was visibly drained. The SA had not asked her at the beginning of the presentation how much time she had to spend nor did she ask what she hoped to accomplish from the meeting. It was like she was on the Gilligan Island’s 3 hour tour….to nowhere!

How much time do you have to spend with me? What do you hope to accomplish today? These two questions asked upfront will allow you to set the stage for the entire presentation.

“I understand you have about 1 hour to spend with me today, and I want to be respectful of your time. So, let me suggest how we can best use our time together to meet your expectations.”

This not only sets the stage with your prospects, it gives you control and structure of the presentation. It also let’s your prospect know what’s going to take place throughout the presentation. And, added bonus…it allows you to introduce the close at the beginning!

“Once we’ve viewed the models and toured the community, I would like to then return to the sales office and discuss options for moving forward with the purchase of your new home.”

I see WAY too many shops where the sales associate ‘runs out of time’ at the end of the presentation and literally has to close the presentation standing in the sales office parking lot because the prospect has to leave! By setting expectations, you are giving ample time for all parts of the presentation, including qualifying, community/model/home site demonstration, and closing.

All sales presentations have a beginning, middle and end. It’s a sales strategy! Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. In other words, set expectations.

Video Mystery Shopping: Objections are directional signs leading you to the close!

problems and solution signpostBuyer’s objections can often derail sales people and end up blowing up the sale. Objections CAN be deal breakers if not identified and overcome quickly.

The problem with objections is that most new home sales consultants view them as a negative. They don’t want to deal with them or, if they do, they just want to provide an immediate solution to the objection and move on. We have actually seen sales consultants IGNORE objections presented by their prospects. Obviously, this is not a good way to handle objections.

Objections are actually powerful selling signs which, when handled properly, actually lead the sales associate closer to the sale. The goal with handling objections is to flush them out early and respond in a calm, convincing way that neutralizes the prospect’s concern.
Below is the 4 step process that we recommend using each time you are presented with an objection.

STEP 1: Validate/Show Empathy – This lets your prospect know you have heard them and validated their point. ‘That’s a great observation!’, ‘I understand what you are saying’, ‘Thank you for pointing that out to me’

STEP 2: Question/Clarify – This allows you to clarify exactly what they are objecting about. Believe it or not, many times there can be a miscommunication between what the prospect has said and what the sales consultant actually interprets. ‘So, tell me specifically what it is about the kitchen layout that isn’t working for you’

STEP 3: Offer Solutions (if possible) – Not all objections will have a solution, but if there is one, this is the place to provide it. ‘Here are a couple of suggestions that may work for you’.

STEP 4: Confirm it is resolved or not a deal breaker – At this point you want to make sure that this objection is no longer going to persuade them regarding the purchase of the home. ‘So, do you think that idea will work for you regarding the kitchen layout?’

BONUS TIP: Another great way to handle objections is to ask the prospect at the beginning of your sales presentation to name their 3 MUST HAVES in their new home. This way, if you are presented with an objection during the model demonstration, IE. ‘These secondary bedrooms seem too small’, you can simply remind your prospect of what those three must haves were (assuming one wasn’t large secondary bedrooms!). This reminds the prospect to focus more on what they REALLY want in a new home, and not get caught up in the smaller details.

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: The New Rules of Qualifying

Business people in officeBack in the day, the qualifying process for sales associates basically consisted of two things. First, you had to make sure the prospect had enough money to buy the home, and secondly, you had to find out if they had a house to sell. It was a pretty simple process. Once you had answers to those two questions, you could sell them a home.

My, how things have changed! Today, qualifying your prospects has taken on a whole new meaning! You see, your role has changed and evolved over the years. You are no longer a new home sales associate…you are a new home advisor! Your role is to determine if your product, community, and builder match up with what your prospect is looking for. So, in addition to finding out if they can afford your homes and that they don’t have a home to sell, you have to learn how to qualify on everything!

Also, qualifying used to be something that you did throughout your sales presentation. You might do a little qualifying at the beginning, a bit more in the middle, and even some at the end of your presentation. This has also gone by the wayside. In today’s world, it is imperative that you qualify your prospects at the beginning of your presentation. This is done so as to not waste your time or your prospect’s.

I was in the field last week visiting clients throughout Florida, and every sales person I spoke with said that Qualifying had become the most important aspects of their presentation. For example, I visited one very large community in SW Florida that offered 69 floor plans and 6 different product lines! In addition, because of the uniqueness of the community, people from all over the area stop by just to look at models, take the complimentary boat ride through the community, and eat the free chocolate chip cookies! Needless to say, this is a community that gets a lot of traffic. Add to that, the community is very large and on average a sales presentation can take up to 2 hours.

It didn’t take long for the sales associates to realize that if they were going to invest 2 or more hours of their time with the prospects, it was very important to know they were ready, willing and able buyers! In addition, they also realized that due to the multiple product lines and numerous floor plans, they had to use strong qualifying questions to narrow down the options for the prospects based on their needs and wants. Whew! What a process!

I watched the sales team in action, and was very impressed with how they managed all of this qualifying. In most cases, the sales associate had the prospects sit down and before they began discussing the amenities, product lines, and builder story, they started off by saying: ‘Before we get started, we are going to spend about 20 minutes or so talking to determine your moving motivation and time frame and conclude if this community, product line, and builder are the right match for you. We are going to go over what your needs and wants are, and also what type of lifestyle you live. This will better allow me to narrow down your options.’

Awesome stuff! This line of qualifying and questioning allowed them to determine if the prospect was really interested in moving forward or if they were just there for the free cookies and model tours. In our industry, time is money. It is better to invest the time upfront qualifying your prospects before you play cruise director for 2 hours showing models.

Video Mystery Shopping: Why One Size DOES NOT Fit all

Thumbs Up People Diversity Multiethnic Group ConceptLast month I was honored to be asked by Lasso to provide my insight as to what changes we will see in the area of sales in 2015. They asked several industry experts to provide their opinions. My quote is below:
“2015 is going to be all about personalization and customization in new home sales. There is no one-size-fits-all method anymore. Your sales presentations must be individualized for each and every person that walks through your sales office. The only way to master this type of personalized presentation is through powerful questioning, listening and discovery. Savvy sales people will be able to use this line of questioning to tailor their presentations to meet the specific needs, wants and desires of their prospects. If you want to succeed in sales in 2015, you will need to work very hard to identify what is REALLY important to your clients and then master your presentation skills and delivery.”

Some of you may be reading this and thinking ‘Well duh Melinda, this is what we do every day!’ I would beg to differ. In the past, sales associates have been able to get away with minimal questioning. And even then, most of the questions were then redirected back into the sales presentation. You know, ‘How many bedrooms are you looking for? Three? Well, then the Magnolia model is perfect for you!’

I am talking about taking questioning to an entire new level. This means digging deeper than ever before to truly find out what your buyer’s wants, needs and desires in their new home. I was watching a shop last week and after the initial ‘meet & greet’ the Sales Associate took the prospect into her office, got her pen and paper and said: ‘Our goal here today is to find out if we have a fit. If my product, community, home sites and builder meet your needs and expectations. In order to thoroughly explore this, I will be asking you several questions to identify what it is that YOU are looking for your new home and community.’

She then spent about 15 minutes having an in-depth conversation with the prospect. She asked questions and LISTENED to his responses…..she did ALL of this prior to ever showing him a floor plan, a site map or company brochure. I was impressed!
You see this young lady gets it. She understands that her job is not just to sell, sell, sell. The role of the Sales Associate has evolved into that of a new home advisor. Let’s face it, every person that walks into your sales office is not your buyers. Your job is to ask the important questions, listen to their answers and then make the recommendations that work best for their needs. The days of the ‘canned’ sales presentation are long gone. Personalization and customization are the only way to succeed in new home sales. Remember, one size DOES NOT fit all!

Video Mystery Shopping: The Results are in for Benchmark 2014!

Each year Melinda Brody and Company compiles a detailed report for all of our New Homebuilding clients that show each builder where they rank nationwide among other builders in several key areas of the new home sales presentation. Well, the results for Melinda Brody and Company’s 2014 Benchmark Survey are in!
This much anticipated survey tracks the results of all of the video mystery shops we have done throughout the year. In 2014, we conducted over 900 video shops for 44 builder divisions! Whew, that’s a lot of video mystery shopping! The Benchmark Study allows us to analyze and see the ‘trends’ that are taking place in the home building industry. It gives our clients an opportunity to see where they rank against other builders, the areas where they are doing extremely well, and the areas where improvement is possible. It also allows us to put our finger on the pulse of what is going on nationwide in the homebuilding industry. Builders’ sales teams are rated in the areas of registration, model and home site demonstration, the builder’s story, closing, and follow up.
So, what did we learn? Sadly, most of the scores went down in each category, with the exception of the Builder’s story and Closing. The biggest drop was in the Follow Up category. Only 65% of our new home sales associates are following up with their clients. This is a huge missed opportunity. You’ve got to have a follow up system in place. There really is no excuse for this. I recommend that sales managers focus on helping your sales associates put a systems in place to make follow up a natural part of the sales presentation.

The one category that always ranks dead last in the survey is closing. While the overall score did increase by 1%, an effort to close the buyer was only attempted in 54% of ALL the video mystery shops. Plain and simple folks, you can’t make the sale if you don’t close the buyer….and you can’t close the buyer if you don’t ask for the sale.

Video Mystery Shopping: Bring the Sizzle back to your Sales Meetings

Leah Turner

Leah Turner

Are you sales meetings motivating or boring? Do you regularly incorporate training ideas or just review housekeeping items? Does your sales team get excited about the sales meeting or would they prefer to have a root canal?

We know that planning and implementing dynamic, engaging and educational sales meetings week after week after week can be a challenge. This is why we are pleased to announce our new program for 2015….Sales Meeting Sizzlers! We will bring the Sizzle back to your sales meeting!

These individualized Sales Meeting Sizzler workshops presented by our sales coach, Leah Turner, are designed to provide intense focus and training on specific elements of a successful sales presentation. Each program includes a 45 minute presentation followed by an additional 30 minute interactive exercise to drive home the message. Sales Sizzlers are an ideal way to incorporate consistent training into your weekly sales meetings.

Ready to take your sales team to the next level?  It’s easy, all you do is select a topic or group of topics that you want to provide training on and we’ll do the rest!

TOPICS:

  1. Approach & Introduction: You had me at hello – How to make an excellent first impression and set the stage for the entire presentation.
  2. Qualifying: Getting to know you – Perfecting your questioning & listening skills to get the information needed to make the sale. Discover how to dig deeper through questioning to find out the buyers true buying motivation, wants, and needs.
  3. Setting the Stage – How to introduce the ‘close’ at the beginning of the presentation and be in full control of the presentation from start to finish.
  4. Overcoming Objections –  Learn how to successfully overcome objections through a simple four step process
  5. Closing Techniques & Effective Follow-Up – How to create a ‘window of opportunity’ to seize the sale
  6. Creating a buzz – Prospecting, lead generation, marketing, networking
  7. Building Strong Realtor Relationships – How to make Realtors your ‘community sales ambassadors’
  8. Goal Setting & Action Plans – Create step by step action plans to achieve your goals the SMART way
  9. Builder’s Promise – Craft the perfect Builder’s story that sets you apart from the competition.
  10.  Community – Learn how to create and sell a ‘lifestyle’ that your prospects
  11. Model demo – Master the art of ‘Show & Sell’ by focusing on a prospect driven demonstration vs. product driven
  12. Demo the dirt – How to successfully sell a home site
  • Customized Programs Available – Based on Builder input (Additional fee)

Interested in learning more? Contact Melinda Brody and Company.