Tag Archives: Secret Shoppers

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: Be Your Personal Best

massageOver the past few months I have noticed a DANGEROUS new trend among new home sales associates. They are working themselves TO DEATH! I spoke to one sales associate last month that said she had not taken a day off in over 28 days. Another sales associate told me he had not gone on a ‘real’ vacation in over 2 years! And yet another told me she had not worked out or gone to the gym in 6 months and had subsequently gained 35 lbs. because of it! I hear stories like these almost on a daily basis!

OK, people…here is your wakeup call! It’s time to start taking care of yourselves! How can you be expected to perform at your best if you are not taking the time to relax, recharge, and rest! Let’s start with your smart phone…..it’s OK to turn it off at night. I have actually heard sales associates tell me they SLEEP with their phones. I don’t know about you, but I have never heard of a new home sales emergency taking place at 2 a.m. Suggestion: set a designated time each night to turn your phone off! Also, if you are in the practice of keeping your phone on when you are eating dinner with your family, at least put it on silence or vibrate. If calls come in, let it go to voice mail and return the call later.

Secondly, most new home sales associates are given two days off during the week. These are called ‘days off’ for a reason. You are not supposed to work. However, almost every sales associate I speak with says they literally work through their days off. I certainly understand if you have to check voice mail, return a few emails, or maybe even write a contract on a day off, but your entire day off should not be about working. Suggestion: set aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to do these tasks (excect the contract writing!). Also, plan something special for your day off. It can be as simple as reading a book, getting a massage, or having lunch with a friend. Enjoy your time!

Third, don’t put your health in jeopardy. I know it can be easy to blow off exercising, but it is important that you take care of you. Suggestion: use a day timer or calendar program and SCHEDULE your exercise the same way you would schedule an important appointment. Also, when it comes to eating properly (going through a Mickey D’s drive-through does not count as healthy!) plan ahead for the week. Suggestion: Always have healthy snacks on hand in the sales office. Also, when you do your weekly grocery shopping have a plan for what you will be eating for lunch and dinner for the entire week.

Some of these suggestions might sound elementary to you; however, I can promise you that by incorporating them into your life you will improve your well-being! New home sales is not an easy job. It can be stressful, demanding, and overwhelming. So, it’s up to you to set boundaries and standards by which to live!

 

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 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: 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: 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!