Tag Archives: increase your sales

Video Mystery Shopping: Change is GOOD!

Let’s face it; most people are fearful of change. Whether that change logo 30 years finalinvolves getting a new job, or relocating to a new city, or buying a new home, change can stress some people out! However, once we realize that change is inevitable and we embrace it, this produces growth and experiences that we may never have experienced without change.

I have been very fortunate to own and operate Melinda Brody & Company for the past 30 years. We have achieved great successes and reached new milestones as one of the industry’s premier video mystery shopping organizations. Over the years, we have expanded our services to include coaching and training, enhanced our technology to remain cutting edge, and have had the great fortune of being able to work with the best builders in the industry. I am very proud of all the growth and achievements we have experienced over the past 3 decades.

With that being said, we have another change taking place that I wanted to share with you. I have brought in a business partner! Ben Marks has joined me and is committed to taking the company to a new level of success! His goals include providing more services to our clients, adding more video shoppers to the fold, and growing the company.

Ben is energetic, knowledgeable and extremely talented. I am excited to have him as such an integral part of the Melinda Brody & Company team! I am confident he will successfully grow and manage Melinda Brody & Company for another 30 years!

I will be transitioning with Ben over the next several months. All our staff remains in place and are very excited about the opportunities and advancements that will be happening in the company.

Once we have transitioned, you will still be seeing and hearing from me….just not as much! I plan to travel as much as I can, meet new people and explore new places! I am excited about the future, both the company’s and my own.

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: We’ve been building quality homes since 1902…. Perfecting your Builder’s Story

graphic-book“The SA mentioned that her builder was one of the best in the area, except for the illegal stuff that happened at corporate a few years ago”

This is an actual quote from my book They Said WHAT??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops.  Sadly, we can’t make this stuff up! For the first time in 30 years of mystery shopping the builder’s story ranked dead last in our 2015 Benchmark Study. Only 46% of those we video shopped last year even mentioned their builder. I was shocked! Your builder is your brand!

When I talk to Sales Associates many of them tell me they ‘forget’ to tell their builder’s story. Or, they don’t know how to properly introduce the builder without sounding ‘canned’. Here are a couple of tips to help you incorporate your builder’s story with every one of your prospects.

  1. Ask them if they have ever built a new home before. This is one of the best questions you can ask! If they have built a new home, ask them to share with you what they liked and disliked about the experience. This will give provide you with their ‘hot buttons’. Once they give you that information, you can craft your builder’s story to address their issues.
  2. If they have never built a new home before, they are probably pretty clueless about the whole process. This is your opportunity to share with them how YOUR builder does things differently and better than the others. Again, an opportunity to explain your process
  3. Ask them what is important to them in a new home builder! Are they concerned about value, reputation, quality of craftsmanship? By asking them this question, they will tell you what they are most interested in getting from their builder.
  4. Trial close on your builder! After sharing your builder’s story, ask them if your builder is one they would feel comfortable with moving forward in the process
  5. Identify the top 10 things that set your builder apart from the competition. These are called Unique Selling Propositions (USPs). This is your brand! This is WHY people would build with you versus other new home builders.
  6. Make your builder’s story engaging and vibrant! No one wants to hear that you are a quality builder that has been building homes since 1902. BORING!
  7. When discussing your builder or your building process, always use the pronoun ‘WE’ instead of ‘they’ or ‘them’. In your prospects’ mind YOU are the builder!

Bottom line, your builder’s story is your secret weapon. Not all builders are alike. This is your opportunity to shine!

Video Mystery Shopping: That was then….This is now!

People Buy From People They Trust Reminder MessageI was having a conversation with a client last week and we were discussing the many ways the process for selling new homes has changed. While some things remain the same, many things are very different. Technology plays a large part in this transformation, as does the customer’s expectations of the process.  It’s very important for you to be aware of these changes and adapt your presentation accordingly.

Here are a couple of my key observations.

  1. Structure not Scripts: Remember when scripted sales presentations were all the rage? If you followed the ‘critical path’ and used your scripts you were doing a great job! But, sales people don’t LIKE scripts. They want to do their own thing. However, even if you are doing your own thing your presentation still must have structure. This is different from scripts. Structure is having a plan from start to finish as to what you and your customer will be doing during your time together. I can’t even begin to tell you the number of video shops I watch that are sloppy with not structure and no purpose. If you don’t have a plan (or structure) you are not in new home sales, you are a tour guide.
  2. Internet Leads are ‘be backs’: Technology and the internet have given a great deal of power to our prospects. They are doing their research BEFORE they walk into your sales office. In fact, they use the internet to determine which builders they are going to narrow it down to. If you have an internet lead come to your office, they have obviously seen SOMETHING on your website that they like. It might be the location, a particular floor plan, or even a review that a past client gave you. Regardless, they have made the conscience decision to visit your community. It is your job to find out what sparked their interest. It is no longer acceptable to just ask IF they have been to your website. You must now take it even further and ask WHAT they saw on the website that brought them to your community.
  3. Discovery upfront: In the past most sales people asked discovery questions throughout the entire sales presentation. They collected bits and pieces of information along the way. Nowadays we are seeing more and more sales people actually say at the beginning of the presentation ‘Before we look at homes, let’s sit down and talk for bit so I can get to know you a bit and determine what your needs and wants are.’ Great discovery questions include: What are your expectations for our meeting? What’s important to you in a new home, community, home site, and builder? What’s your current situation? The more information you get up front, the more likely you are to Personalize & Customize your presentation to meet the specific needs of your customer.
  4. Exceed expectations 100 plus 1%: We have become a nation of people with high expectations. Call it entitlement or whatever you want, but most people are not satisfied with status quo service. They want to be ‘WOWED’. They want you to not just satisfy their expectations and desires but to go above and beyond that and meet their unrecognized needs.  Maslow’s Hierarchy of Customer Service refers to this as Transformation! In order to reach this level you have to give 100 plus 1% every time.

 

Video Mystery Shop: Help Me Help You!

Business people in officeDo you all remember that scene from the movie Jerry Maguire where Jerry is trying to negotiate with Cuba Gooding and finally, exasperated, Jerry screams ‘Help Me Help You!”. Great movie and a great scene! So, what does it have to do with new home sales?

Absolutely everything! Your job as a new home sales associate is to help your clients find their dream home, in the perfect community, on the ideal home site, with the right builder. So, how can your prospects’ Help Me Help You? Simple, they have to TELL you what they want!
Getting them to tell you what they want can only be accomplished in one fashion…by asking questions! Believe it or not, I have watched hundreds of video shops where the sales associates barely ask any questions! They may ask price point or number of bedrooms needed, but they don’t dig any deeper than that.

People love to talk about themselves! If you don’t believe that…just take a look at facebook. We’ve become a society that loves to share our news with everyone! Use this to your advantage. Ask your prospects about themselves! Find out who they are and what their hot buttons are. This will help you to customize your presentation in a way that speaks specifically to their wants, needs and desires! This is called the Discovery process.

Also, when you are asking your prospect’s questions, make sure they are open-ended questions that can’t be answered with either a YES or a NO. Below are some excellent questions you can incorporate into your sales presentation that will help you get a better understanding of your prospects and what they are looking for.

-Tell me about your current situation
– What’s important to you in a new home? Community? Home site? Builder?
– How familiar are you with the area?
– What do you dislike about your current home?
– What line of work are you in? How did you get started?
– What do you like to do in your spare time?
– What are some ‘must haves’ that you want in your new home?
Remember, as a sales associate your primary role is to find out if what you are selling matches with what your prospects are looking for. Help Me Help You!

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.

Negotiation Pitfalls: Avoid These Deal-Breaking Mistakes!

John A PalumboGuest Blogger: John A. Palumbo, The Sterling Group

At a Jan. 22 International Builders’ Show seminar in Las Vegas, John Palumbo, CEO of The Sterling Group based in Jacksonville, Fla., provided several strategies to help builders to seal the deal more often than not by demonstrating the biggest and most common negotiation deal breakers:

No Differentiation. Most small builders are not doing research that shows why they are better than their competitors, said Palumbo. “If you do what everyone else is doing, you are missing sales.” One example he cited that makes a community stand out is a food truck that comes three days a week to serve the local residents.

Negotiating With Your Customers. “Consumers don’t like ‘aggressive’ salespeople but they love ‘assertive’ salespeople,” said Palumbo. The most successful are those who use information, charm and the power of persuasion to maximize sales. Make the customer feel like they made the right choice in their home purchase without being talked into it.

Treating All Sales the Same. Salespeople who sound automated and like they are reciting from a script come off as insincere to the customer. The most successful, he said, are “unsalespersons” who are spontaneous, casual, authentic and relaxed and who use their own words and stories. They are able to observe, uncover and predict their prospect’s behavior, thereby evoking emotion and communicating more effectively.

Not Using Third-Party Endorsements. Companies that properly use third-party endorsements can increase their sales by 25% to 30%, said Palumbo. When it comes to the bottom line, customers who have seen written correspondence, videos and social media endorsements are better positioned to buy your products with less negotiating and feel as though they have not been persuaded at all.

To make the endorsement process easy, ask a satisfied customer for a few short words or sentences on why they were happy with their home purchase and then write it up yourself and get it signed off by the customer.

Not Hypnotizing the Customer. Customers don’t want to be informed, they have already done their homework on the Internet. They want to be guided and given a reason to feel good about their purchase so that when they go home at night, they are thrilled about the decision they made earlier in the day with you.

Quitting too Soon. “Call me if you have any questions, here’s my card, let me grab a brochure.” These are all examples of salespeople who quit too soon and never make it across the finish line. Don’t throw in the towel on your next customer so soon. Do not let “feeling pushy” stop you from making one more call or letting your customer walk out the door without a contract in hand.

Being a Good Listener. The ability to interpret what you hear from the customer is vital. Most deal breakers occur because of a disconnect between what the customer is actually saying and what the salesperson thinks they are saying. By honing in on the customer’s needs and desires, you can use that information to initiate a solid purchase decision.

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