Tag Archives: one stop vidoe shop

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: Tips for Building a Better Builder’s Story

Oftentimes when watching video mystery shops, the SA’s tend to struggle with the Builder’s story. They either don’t bring up the builder AT ALL during the presentation or they have a tendency to recite a canned speech about how the builder is a ‘quality, family owned builder’….which can get very BORING!

older people

Let’s face it….your prospects are probably visiting several builders during their home search. Your job is to provide a builders story that will make YOUR builder memorable and unique! Imagine that! A builder that your prospect will actually remember long after they have left your sales office. So, how do you do this?

Here are a couple of tips for you:
1. Don’t make your presentation boring! The fact that you have been in business since 1956 is honorable, but does it really impact your prospect? The fact that you are a quality builder is great, but don’t you think your prospect already assumes you are a quality builder? To make your builders story stand out think about what makes you different and better than the other builders. Try this exercise, fill in the blank: “We are the only builder in (your city) that (your uniqueness). Answers may range from ‘offers a no down payment option’ to ‘builds with brick’ to ‘offers award winning energy features’.

2. Avoid the ‘Pronoun Problem’. Too often SA’s refer to the builder as ‘they’ or ‘them’ during the presentation. This immediately distances you from your builder. It creates an us vs. them scenario. Try using the pronoun WE when referring to your builder. WE build in communities throughout Tampa Bay. WE offer an award winning energy efficient program. WE allow you to customize’

3. Ask your prospect’s if they have ever built a new home before. If they answer YES, then continue by asking them what they LIKED and DISLIKED about the process. This allows you to collect key information that can be used to customize and personalize your builder’s story. If your prospect has never built a new home, then your line of questioning changes. You can ask them about their expectations and then craft your builder’s story to reflect on that.

Bottom line, your builder’s story is your brand. It’s your secret sales weapon! By crafting and sharing an excellent builder’s story, you not only gain credibility and trust with your prospects, but you are able to affiliate yourself with a brand that is much bigger than you alone.

Video Mystery Shopping: An objection is just a directional sign!

problems and solution signpostI was conducting a coaching session with a seasoned sales associate a few months back and we were discussing overcoming objections. He was telling me how much he LOVED overcoming prospect’s objections. This surprised me because most sales associates in new home sales would much rather have a root canal than deal with a buyer’s objection. When I asked him why he enjoyed overcoming objections so much, he replied “Melinda, an objection is really just a directional sign pointing you towards the close!”

Now, how clever is that? And, indeed, how true it is! Think about it, if a prospect is giving you an objection what they are really doing is telling you that they are interested in moving forward but need to get through a particular challenge or situation in order to do so. If they were not interested AT ALL in your product, they would just keep quiet!

Objections are your opportunity to ‘move the prospect closer to the close’. As my client said, objections are directional signs!

One thing that is very important to understand about objections is that you WON’T be able to overcome all of them. I don’t care how good of a sales person you are, there is NO WAY you can overcome every objection that you are going to face. However, that is OK. This gives you the chance to put the objection into perspective for the prospect.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you have a prospect that LOVES everything about a specific home EXCEPT for the fact that is does not have a formal dining area. Chances are you are not going to be able to have your builder change the entire floor plan to include a formal dining area, right? So, instead, you have to determine how important this feature is to the client so you can put it into perspective for them. This is done through questioning. For example:

SA: I understand that it is important to you to have a formal dining area. Why is this important to you? Do you do a lot of entertaining? As we discussed this home features a large kitchen and open dining area as well. Would that work for you instead?

Prospect: No, I REALLY want a formal dining room. It is how all my previous homes have been laid out.

SA: Well, I can appreciate that. However, I wanted to point out (INSERT ALL THE FEATURES THEY LOVE ABOUT THE HOME). This home seems to work for you in every way possible with the exception of the formal dining room. Is this something that you could work with and look at alternative ideas for your dining space?

At this point the prospect will now have to weigh the options being presented. In many cases, through this line of questioning, the prospect will be able to determine if this objection is a deal breaker. Most times, it isn’t. But, if it is….that’s OK too! Your job is to find the perfect match for your prospects! Objections are the powerful tools that help you do your job!

Video Mystery Shop: Feedback is your friend

Business people in officeI have the distinctive pleasure this year of working with two of my favorite people (Meredith Oliver and John Palumbo) presenting the Three Elements 2014 Sales and Marketing Rally to various home builders associations and builders around the country.  We’ve been to IBS in Vegas, Tampa, Jacksonville and are heading to Raleigh, Birmingham and St. Louis in the next few weeks.

The program is a three-hour high-energy, fast-paced, and extremely content-rich subject sales training. It has the energy of a concert, the motivation of a retreat, and the skills and strategies of a two-day conference.

I cover several topics in my portion of the program, but the one I want to discuss today is FEEDBACK. Many people get intimidated or nervous about delivering (or receiving) feedback, but I am here to tell you that FEEDBACK can be your Friend!

I want to share with you six easy tips for GIVING good feedback. This can be extremely valuable for sales managers when they are presented with the task of having a ‘difficult’ conversation with a member of their sales team.   Let’s say for example that your sales associate scored very poorly on their video shop, and you want to discuss this with them and set up a plan for improvement.

  1. Schedule a meeting in a private conference room, not across from your desk. Give yourself ample time for the meeting and please…TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONICS.
  2. Explain the purpose of the evaluation prior to the meeting. Let your sales person know WHY they are meeting with you and that the purpose of the meeting is to provide constructive feedback and to improve their performance.
  3. Start with overall performance and highlight specific accomplishments. Get input from the salesperson as to what areas they feel they are doing well in.
  4. Ask the salesperson where they think they need improvement…..and then shut up and LISTEN. Trust me, 99% of the time the salesperson is WELL AWARE of where they are falling short.
  5. Give the salesperson the opportunity to ask questions and make statements in order to create an action plan and timeline for improvement.
  6. Follow up and see if improvements are being implemented. Continue to offer words of encouragement along the way.

Finally, make yourself available to your team. The best sale performance we see is in direct proportion to the amount of time the sales manager spends in the field.


Video Mystery Shopping: You had me at hello!

graphic-book-195x300In Chapter 2 of my new book ‘They Said What??!! Behind the Scenes of 25,000 Undercover Video Mystery Shops’  I talk about the importance of making a strong first impression.  This message really hit home with me when I first started my mystery shopping business in 1986. One of my first assignments was to shop a small builder in Orlando. As I entered the sales office, I heard muffled voices in the back of the model near the bedroom area. Suddenly the back door to the model slammed shut! A short time later, a flustered female sales agent (with mussed hair!) appeared. She greeted me while quickly buttoning her shirt. Oh, no! She was on a ‘date.’ Suffice to say, the rest of the shop didn’t go very well. You see, the way you greet the prospect sets the stage for the entire visit. Period. Continue reading

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: You had me at hello!

Believe it or not, one of the most crucial elements of your new home sales presentation is the approach and introduction. This sets the stage for the ENTIRE presentation. In watching several shops over the past few weeks, I have noticed that many new home sales people do not understand the importance of the approach and introduction. The good news is that this is a pretty simple area to improve upon! It all has to do with your attitude.

When your prospects enter the sales office, they are feeling a bit intimidated and nervous. (Imagine how you feel when you go to the doctor’s office!) They don’t know what to expect. It is your job to put them at ease and make them feel welcome. This allows you to create immediate rapport and build trust.

So, how do you do this? Here are some tips!

  1. Greet each prospect enthusiastically and with a smile! I would suggest having a ‘scripted’ introduction. For example, ‘Hello! Welcome to Best Builder Homes in Crystal Creek. I am Melinda, and you are?’
  2. Offer everyone who walks into your sales office something to drink. This not only quenches their thirst, but it breaks the ice and allows you some bonding time before you jump into your presentation.
  3. Turn the conversation around to be about them. Ask your prospects what has brought them in today and how they heard about the community.
  4. Don’t forget your company website. Statistics show that over 85% of people will go online before they ever venture into a new home community. Ask them if they have been to the website.
  5. Build rapport. Before you dive into your community spiel, get to know a little bit about your prospects. I am not a big ‘small talk’ fan, but I do strongly believe that in order to develop a relationship of trust with your prospective buyers you have to get to know them!
  6. USE YOUR PROSPECT’S NAME. People love to hear their own name! If you are not good at remembering names, write it down and make a point to use their name at least 3 times in the first 10 minutes. This will not only help you remember their name, it will help build rapport. For example, ‘So Sarah, tell me what brought you in to Crystal Creek today?’

Remember, you only get once change to make a first impression. Make it count!

Video Mystery Shopping: ‘Icing’ on the cake – YOUR Design Center!

Have you ever baked a cake? While I certainly do not claim to be a domesticated kitchen goddess, I have baked my share of cakes in the past. When my daughter Sarah was young, we would spend some quality time in the kitchen baking cupcakes, pies and the occasional cake. Sarah was always WAY more interested in the process when we would come to the final step of putting the icing on the cake. She just couldn’t resist that sugary sweet frosting that would turn a plain white cake into a scrumptious culinary delight! (Neither could I for that matter).

In new home sales, while we aren’t spending our time baking cakes, we are following a similar recipe. We are building a new home for our clients. It takes many ingredients to build this new home. Land, construction materials, drywall, and contractors are the equivalent to the butter, sugar, flour and eggs portion of baking a cake. Not the most glamorous or exciting, but nonetheless the foundation for our home. So, what then is the ‘icing’ on your new home cake??? Your Design Center, of course!

Your Design Center is one of the final steps in the new home process. It is the place where clients turn ‘your house’ into ‘their home’. The process is exciting and fun!

Are you marketing the design center in your sales presentations? Sure, your clients want (and need) to hear about quality construction, warranty programs and energy efficiency program but they also want to know about the Design Center and all the wonderful things that await them there. The sparkling light fixtures, the abundance of cabinet and flooring options, the appliance packages, the colorful of paint selections…this is the fun stuff! This is the icing on the cake, baby!

Most new home builders have spent a great amount of time, money and effort in creating a showpiece with their design centers.

  1. Schedule some time with your design center manager to fully understand the design center process, this will help you to incorporate it into your presentation
  2. Sales managers – INCLUDE your design center manager in some of your sales meetings. Let them discuss new features and options that are available. In fact, why not schedule one of your sales meetings AT the design center?

Still not sold on the importance of your design center? Well, next you bake a cake; don’t put any icing on it. Serve it for dessert and see the response you get from your family (especially your children!). A cake just isn’t a cake without the icing that goes on top!

Video Mystery Shopping – Referrals: How to get ‘em, How to give ‘em!

I LOVE referrals! I love GIVING them and I love GETTING them. Can you imagine if 100% of your new home sales came from nothing but referrals?? Wouldn’t life be SWEET? While I doubt that many one of us will ever obtain ALL our business just from referrals; I DO BELIEVE you can substantially increase your percentage of referral business just by implementing a few simple steps.

As Bob Burg, the best-selling author of Endless Referrals, The Go-Giver, and several other excellent books, likes to say: “All things being equal, people will do business with, and refer business to, those people they know, like and trust.”

Sounds pretty simple, right? Well, it may sound simple, but it does take a lot of work and effort on your part to make this powerful trifecta of know, like and trust a reality with your clients and sphere of influence.

So, how do you start to build our referral business? One simple way is by GIVING referrals. A referral is worth its weight in GOLD. As the expert of your new home community, doesn’t it seem natural that you would know the best dry cleaner, pet sitter, hair dresser, and medical professionals in the area? Are you sharing this information with your new home buyers when they move in? Why not create a one page document with a few of your personal suggestions for business professionals in the area. In fact, you could list three per category and let your homeowners make the final decision based on their personal needs.

Be sure to let these business professionals KNOW you are referring their services and products to your new home owners. And, make sure your new home owners are letting these businesses know where they got their name from.

Another great place to build your referrals is within your realtor community. I often ask new home sales people how they are establishing relationships within the realtor community, and I am always amazed when I hear: “Well, I drop off fliers at the offices once a week.” REALLY??? How’s THAT savvy and original marketing tactic working for you??

Remember people: Know, Like and Trust are the key words here. Build solid relationships with your key realtors. Get to know them personally.

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask your past customers for referrals. The average person knows at least 200 other people (and now with social media, I am certain that number is much higher). Let your customers know that a referral is the highest and best compliment they can give you for a job well done. Remember, if you don’t ask…the answer is ALWAYS No.

Video Mystery Shopping: Be a New Home Sales Olympian! Bring home the GOLD

The Olympics start today! I can’t wait! I love watching the competitions and cheering for Team USA. The spirit, energy and teamwork that are exhibited throughout the 10 days of the Olympics are a true testament to the hard work and commitment of these fine athletes.  These men and women have truly dedicated their lives to their particular sport and the Olympics is the ultimate opportunity to SHINE before the entire world.

As new home sales professionals did you realize that you too have the opportunity to be Olympians? And, the best part about being a new home Olympian is that you don’t have to wait four years to win your Olympic gold. You have the opportunity every day to compete and take home the medal. Your customers and your prospects are the judges. They will score you and determine if your ‘performance’ is worthy of a gold medal.

If you want to sell new homes like a winning Olympian, you need to have the three characteristics that every Olympic athlete has, regardless of what sport they are competing in.

  1. Dedication – Are you dedicated to your profession? Are you dedicated to winning?  Without dedication, it becomes too easy to lose your focus and drive. When a prospect walks into your sales office, your dedication must be clearly recognized. You have to be dedicated to finding them the perfect new home for their needs. Nothing can stop you! When you are dedicated, nothing gets in the way of you and your goals.
  2. Commitment – How committed are you to the job? Are you willing to do whatever it takes to win? Olympic athletes commit to their sport in a way that most of us can’t even fathom. Read about Michael Phelps’ commitment to swimming! This is a young man who spends countless hours in the pool EVERY DAY perfecting his craft. In new home sales if you are not committed to the profession you will quickly be overshadowed by those who are. Only the best of the best athletes get the opportunity to compete in the Olympics. There is no need for a second or third string.
  3. Passion – I believe that passion is the most important trait of all for Olympians. They are passionate about their sport. They will do whatever it takes to master their craft and win! Without passion, there is no game. As you watch the Olympics this week on television, you will learn a lot about the athletes. In addition to their flawless performances, their personal stories will be shared as well. I promise you that there isn’t one competitor that isn’t passionate about what they do.  How passionate are YOU about new home sales? Are you passionate enough to ‘Go for the GOLD’?