Tag Archives: sales training

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: 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 Shopping: Benchmark 2015 The Results are in!

 

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From January to December 2015, Melinda Brody & Company gathered scorecards from more than 1000 video shops representing 36 different builders / divisions from across the country. We then compared 6 key questions. The graph above shows the percentage of new home sales associates that discussed the Builder, Demonstrated the Model, Demonstrated the Home Site and or Gained Agreement of Home Site, Asked for the Sale, Registered their prospect and Followed Up with the prospect.

These are the national results of our 2015 Benchmark Study. So, what does it mean? Well, let’s talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly!

The Good – Sales associates are registering their clients! A whopping 95% of them are doing this! Yeah! Also, the model demonstration has improved! 93% of the sales associates successfully completed this portion of the shop!

The Bad – Scores dropped this year in the Builder story, home site demo, and follow up. This tells me that these are areas that require additional training with your sales teams. I was shocked that the builder’s story dropped 15 %! This is a critical part of the sales presentation. It is also a part that the builder needs to be involved in providing. What’s YOUR USP (Unique Selling Proposition)? What sets you apart from the pack? Important questions

The Ugly – Our sales associates are still NOT closing. The score dropped to 47% in 2015. That means that 53% are not closing! This is particularly upsetting because the shoppers we send into your sales offices are READY, WILLING, and ABLE buyers. In the 30 years I have conducted video mystery shops, closing has ALWAYS ranked dead last. This year is no exception. This is an area that really needs to be focused on in your training and sales meetings. How do you ‘earn the right’ to ask for the sale?

If you need assistance in conducting training programs that can help your sales team in these areas, give us a call. We provide personalized and customized sales training for your team.
Want to learn more? Click here to view a short video.

Video Mystery Shop: The Power of Personalization

cokePersonalize and Customize. Personalize and Customize. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to do this in every sales presentation you give. In fact, you should never, ever give the same sales presentation twice. Each one should be specific and focused on your prospect’s specific needs, wants, and desires! The experience you create for your prospects can either make or break the sale for you!

And, this is not just true for new home sales. Many businesses today are finally embracing the concept that there is not a ‘one size fits all’ sales and marketing strategy. My favorite example of this comes from Coca Cola. A couple of years ago Coca Cola introduced its ‘Share a Coke’ campaign. Instead of just having the company name on the cans and bottles of the soft drink, they started incorporating individual names! It created quite the buzz! Everyone wanted to find ‘their’ coke can or bottle. Facebook was a flurry with pictures of people holding their personalized cans of Coca Cola! It was fun, it was clever, and it was pure marketing genius! Not only that….it was profitable!

The ‘Share a Coke’ campaign was single handily responsible for turning profits around for the company after a decade of decline. That’s right! After ten long years of losing money, Coke made a profit by simply adding a person’s name to a can of soda! The first step in personalizing your presentation is building rapport in order to find out what is important to your customers. One of the best ways to do this is to use your prospect’s name. Yes, I know it sounds easy, but in about 75% of the video shops I watch the sales person NEVER uses the customer’s name. Not even once!

In his book ‘How to Win Friends and Influence People’, Dale Carnegie writes: ‘A person’s name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language’ . Don’t forget that! And, if you are like me and have a problem remembering names…..WRITE IT DOWN. Use a clipboard to take notes and write your customer’s name on the top of the page. Try to use their name 3 – 5 times in the first ten minutes of your presentation so that it becomes natural to you.
The Power of Personalization….if Coke can increase sales after ten years by simply putting a name on a 75 cent can of soda, imagine what would happen if you started personalizing and customizing in your sales presentations on a $500,000 home!!!

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: 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: Customize and Personalize – It’s the only way to sell

show a homeIn July, I had the opportunity to attend The Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) in Orlando. It was great connecting with old friends and sitting in on some excellent educational programs. The one common theme that I heard over and over amongst the speakers was the importance of customizing and personalizing your sales presentation if you want to make the sale.

I have been preaching this to the choir for several years now, so I was happy to hear how mainstream this has become in the home building industry.

At the Rockfest Sales & Marketing Rally, three industry speakers discussed marketing and selling to different groups of people: Women, the over 50 crowd, and Millennials. The information was fascinating! In fact, so fascinating that it made me realize that if you were to try to sell a home to a woman yet used the approach that millennials prefer, there is not a chance in the world it would work! In fact, it would probably backfire in your face!
New home sales associates have to realize that the selling process is not as easy as it once was. You can’t just lead your prospects around the model home, feature dumping about every fixture in the home, and expect them to purchase! No way, you’ve got to get inside their minds…you have to do the work to determine WHAT it is they want, and then build your presentation around that. No two sales presentations are EVER going to be the same. Each is individually crafted and delivered to meet the specific needs, wants and desires of your prospect. If you don’t learn that now, chances are you won’t be selling new homes in the future.

So, what’s the best way to customize and personalize your sales presentation? By asking the right questions in order to get the information you need to create your presentation. I would also recommend doing some research (YES, research) on buying triggers, marketing strategies, and selling techniques of different demographics and cultures. In today’s world, there is no one size fits all.

Video Mystery Shopping: Don’t fear the shop!

Businessman with bag over head giving thumbs upVideo Mystery Shopping…..those three words have been known to increase the blood pressure of new home sales associates to deadly levels. Let’s face it, MOST sales associates would rather have a root canal performed (without Novocain!) than be video shopped. I totally get that no one likes seeing themselves on camera and I certainly understand that sometimes the camera position on a video shopper can lead to some unflattering shops, but let’s put all that aside for a moment and let me give you some FACTS about why video shopping is effective and good for you!

FACT 1: Most top performing sales associates welcome a video shop because it is an opportunity to improve their presentation skills. Improved skills = More Sales = More $$

FACT 2: Companies that use video shopping as a training tool are investing in their employees and have a true desire for them to improve. We often work with builders that utilize our three step method of Video Shopping, Coaching, and Training. This program works because it is specific to the needs of the sales team.

FACT 3: Video shops are a great way to get a ‘snap shot’ of what’s going on in your sales offices, thus allowing the sales manager to see what areas the team needs to be trained on. For example, if the video shops reveal that no one is asking for the sale, closing skills might be a good topic for training.

FACT 4: Video shops are NOT all about pointing out the weaknesses of the individual; they should also be used to point out the strengths of the individuals.

FACT 5: The true purpose of a video shop is to train and provide a baseline for your sales team. If used properly, your sales team will improve their presentation skills, become better closers, and make more sales. Isn’t that the main goal?

If you are planning to attend the Southeast Building Conference (SEBC) be sure to attend the educational workshop ‘Ten Tips to Ace Your Video Mystery Shop’ on Friday, July 17th at 11 am presented by our very own sales coach and trainer Leah Turner.

Leah Turner has watched hundreds of video shops and has coached hundreds of sales associates on how to improve not only their video shop scores, but also their overall sales presentations….resulting in MORE SALES. If you want to learn how to ACE your next video shop, perfect your sales presentation, and increase sales join Leah to discover what the best and most successful sales associates in the home building industry are doing differently.

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.