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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: 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: 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: The New Rules of Qualifying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping: Why One Size DOES NOT Fit all

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

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

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

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

Video Mystery Shopping – Let’s Wrap Things Up!

sold houseClosing is all about timing. There are signals. If you miss them, you miss the window of opportunity to take the sales to the next level. The goal to closing is to wrap things up with a win-win. Your customers commit to a gorgeous, brand new home that fits their needs and that they can afford. You’re the reason they’re improving their lives by asking them to move forward with the sale!

So, what is the best way to wrap things up and move towards the sale? Here are a few helpful tips.

  1. Build rapport. Become your prospect’s trusted advisor! People will do business with people that they know, like and TRUST.
  2. Listen and ask questions. The more information you know about your prospects, the easier it becomes to find them the ideal home! Really dig deep to find out what their needs, wants and desires are in their new home, home site, community and neighborhood!
  3. Personalize the presentation. No one likes a ‘canned’ presentation, especially when you are talking about one of the largest, most expensive purchases they will ever make in their lives! When you are demonstrating the home and the home site, tailor it specifically to the prospect. If you know the prospect has children or pets, make sure you include them in your presentation as well. A FAMILY will be moving into the home, and you need to think about how the entire family will use the home.
  4. Use trial closes throughout the presentation. ‘Does this floor plan work for you and your family?’, ‘How would you use the space in the bonus room?’, ‘You mentioned you liked to cook, does the large kitchen in this home work for you?’ Get the customers buy in every step of the way! In doing so, the close will be much more natural because you will just be repeating back to the customer what they have already told you.
  5. Seize the opportunity – ask for the sale! If you don’t ask, the answer is ALWAYS No.

A final thought, ‘closing’ doesn’t have to be pushy, annoying, uncomfortable or obnoxious. If you do everything leading up to the close, you will have EARNED the right to wrap it up. After all, your job is to play matchmaker between your prospects and your product. If it is a perfect match, you are not doing anyone any favors by NOT asking to move forward.

Video Mystery Shopping – Finding balance in an unbalanced world

Woman's hands holding work life text conceptual image

Last year, I made a BIG decision. I decided NOT to work on weekends. Now, some of you might be saying…..that’s not a big decision! No one works on weekends! But, my guess is a large majority of you are gasping right now and thinking ‘NOT work on weekends??? Are you kidding me? I would never be able to get IT ALL done if I didn’t have weekends to CATCH UP!’

I know all you new home sales people are required to work weekends, but you still get two days off during the week, right? So, this would be considered YOUR weekend. Now….here is the BIG question….do you REALLY take those two days off? Or, are you returning phone calls, sending out e-mails, working on follow-up, racing to the office to meet with clients/prospects/buyers?

I was speaking with a New Home Sales associate this week about this very topic. She was telling me she had worked 6 or 7 days straight for the past 6 months. SIX MONTHS?!?! Really? Granted, the home building industry has picked up immensely in the past 2 years, but does it really require that you work seven days a week without ever having a day off?

Here’s what happens when you work six or seven days a week for an extended period of time……you BURN OUT. When you burn out you get resentful, tired, and CRANKY. You have to make the time to unplug and recharge your batteries in order to stay fresh, alert and energized.

When I began to consciously NOT work on weekends, my world changed! I started going to the beach more. I took up hiking. I spent much more quality time with family and friends! And, ya know what? I became a happier more balanced person. When we take time off, it allows us to gain a new perspective on life.  We begin to realize that work (while very important) does not have to be the only priority in our lives.

I know we are all super busy, and the idea of totally ‘unplugging’ for two solid days might seem unfathomable. But, trust me on this one; it is critical to your mental well-being.

My advice is to ‘schedule’ your time off the same way you schedule an appointment. Put it in your day timer and stick to it! Make a list of ten things you really want to do during your time off and start treating these activities like important appointments that you would not dare miss!

Video Mystery Shopping: How’s YOUR Approach and Introduction?

Did you know the first five minutes of your sales presentation can actually ‘Make or Break’ the sale? It’s true what they say, you only have once chance to make a great first impression! In sales, this is even more important because you know your prospects are actually visiting multiple communities, so you’ve got some competition going on!

I have watched literally thousands of video mystery shops, and I am always amazed at how BORING some of the approach and introduction segments are! In some cases, I have actually seen sales people sit at their desk, and simply yell out to the prospects: ‘The models are to your left if you want to see them’. Really?? That is an acceptable approach??

Trust me, I know there are days when we certainly FEEL like doing that, but honestly, you owe it to everyone that enters your sales office to provide them with a warm, welcome and pleasant experience. After all, they have made the effort to drive out to see you, your community and your models!

If Angelina Jolie or Brad Pitt were to arrive at your sales office unexpectedly, do you think you would get up off your duff and enthusiastically GREET them? Of course you would! You would  give them the red carpet treatment! So, why not do this for every one?

When prospects enter your sales office, they are coming into your ‘home’! Make them feel like they are part of the family! When you have visitors to your house, how do you act? Do you offer them something to drink? Do you make them the focus of your undivided attention? If you don’t, you should!

Here are five tips for creating a winning Approach and Introduction for your prospects.

  1. Upon arrival, enthusiastically walk over and greet your prospects with a smile and a handshake! Let them know you are happy to see them!
  2. Introduce yourself, your builder and your community and then ask them for their names. IE., “Hi, I am Melinda with ABC Builders, welcome to Sparkling Oaks!”
  3. Offer your prospects something to drink. This is a good ice-breaker, and also just a polite gesture.
  4. Allow time to build some rapport before launching right into the sales pitch. Ask them some general questions about how they found your community, what brings them out, where they are from, what they are looking for.
  5. After the small talk is over, ask your prospects how much time they have to spend with you and then set the stage for how you all will be spending this time together.

You see, it really isn’t hard to create a positive first impression. And, if Brad and Angelina don’t ever make it to your model center, remember, every prospect deserves the ‘red carpet’ treatment.

Video Mystery Shopping: Don’t Fear the Shop!

Do you want to know the quickest way to silence a room full of New Homes Sales Associates? Tell them they are all going to be Video Mystery Shopped over the next 2 weeks. Not only will they become dead silent, but a look of horror and fear will quickly appear on their faces. Trust me; I have seen it happen numerous times in my 30 plus years in the video mystery shopping business. Continue reading