Persistence, Training Pay Off When Asking for the Sale
By Vanessa Linn, Shea Homes
No one in the industry would be surprised to know that asking for the sale is the one area in which salespeople often score the lowest when they are being professionally shopped, even though it is critical to our personal success and to the success of our companies.
They also wouldn’t be surprised to know that the secret to success in selling houses has not changed over the years — nor has asking for the sale.
There was a time early in my career when I didn’t see any value in sales training. Frankly, I didn’t like getting up and going to work on Monday mornings and I rarely practiced my craft.
I was an experienced salesperson, I thought. I was good at talking to people. I was good at influencing them. Plus, I had that salesperson’s intuition. That was all I needed to be successful.
How wrong I was then. How wrong those thoughts are now.
Role Playing and Practice Help Make the Sale
When I was a sales rep for a major home builder, we had a very specific sales process to present to our customers. During Monday morning meetings, we would role play and practice to make sure we had it right.
I dreaded those Monday morning meetings. I couldn’t sleep the night before, and when it was my time to role play, I’d get sick to my stomach and stutter.
But, to make my sales manager happy, I memorized everything and practiced my presentations ― just the way they were designed. I was a good studen, and persistence and training paid off, as much as I didn’t want to admit it at the time.
Becoming a Believer
One day in particular when I was in the sales office working my company’s well-developed sales presentation with a customer, I performed it perfectly — including all the soft closes as well as asking for the sale more than once.
But in the back of my mind, I just knew this was only practice. The customer really wasn’t a potential home buyer, I thought, and I was being professionally shopped.
Guess what? I was half wrong. Yes, the customer wasn’t a potential buyer. The customer was a buyer. I sold the home.
I couldn’t believe it. The sales presentation worked.
From that moment on, I was a believer. I thoroughly understood the value of role playing and practice and started to become a role model and mentor to others on my team.
I wanted everyone to share in my success, so any time my sales manager needed help with training, I volunteered. Eventually, I became the company’s sales trainer.
Now that I am vice president of sales and marketing for Shea Homes, a West Coast and Southeast home builder, I am telling my sales reps to attend Monday morning meetings and to practice their sales techniques and role play.
You should do the same.
Your employer has invested plenty of resources ― beautiful and furnished model homes, a targeted marketing campaign, extensive sales training ― to help you and your buyers achieve the American Dream of homeownership. And all this happened before the doors to your models opened.
Armed and Ready to Sell
Backed by these resources, and with its specific sales presentation, your company has armed you with the ammunition you need to be successful.
You’ve attended training, listened to tapes, observed senior partners and incorporated aspects of what you have learned into your individual sales presentation.
Take the time to provide yourself with the very best strategy for success. Invest in yourself, just as your company has invested in you.
Practice, practice and practice again. The better you get at asking for the sale, the easier it will be.
Vanessa Linn, vice president of sales and marketing for Shea Homes, the largest home builder in San Diego with 14 communities, is a 17-year veteran in the new home building industry. Linn manages a 26-member sales team, a marketing department and an escrow department. In 2005, the NAHB Sales and Marketing Council named her the "Sales Manager of the Year." For more information, e-mail Linn, or call her at 858-526-6562.
This article was originally published in NAHB's Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine.
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