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With some parts of the country experiencing as much as a 90% drop in new-homes sales between 2005 and 2010 and others faring not much better, it’s time to rethink how we should motivate and train our sales teams.
In 2005, our teams only needed to be good at processing paperwork, organization, keeping track of escrows — and managing the lines of prospects waiting for new homes to be released.
Frankly, we really didn’t have to work that hard at selling, or at building rapport with prospects.
Boy, how things have changed.
To survive today — and to lay the groundwork for thriving tomorrow — we need to re-adopt the tried-and-true sales basics that most of us abandoned during the boom times.
To begin, share the following training topics with your sales team:
Maximize every encounter with every prospect coming through the door.
Selling is easy when you are genuine and interested in people — an attribute many of us have forgotten. To be effective, work at being good at building relationships for life.
Know the marketing cost of each prospect.
Your sales team should know how much it costs your builder to bring a prospect to your door. Also, remind your sales teams that they should stick to their prospects like glue and hand-hold them until the deal is done.
Give prospects your undivided attention.
As soon as a prospect comes to your office, stop what you’re doing and greet them. Your office should operate under the philosophy that no person is more important than the person walking through your door. Your immediate and undivided attention will make them remember you.
Get to the root of your prospects’ needs by knowing how to ask great questions.
Not only ask your prospects great questions, make sure you write down their answers so can you remember everything about them. Your attentiveness will pay dividends.
Walk the models in the most effective, efficient way possible.
Don’t waste your prospect’s time or yours. Once you understand their needs and wants, show them the model that best addresses them. Once inside, show them the features that press their hot buttons first.
Take advantage of the meet-and-greet and model walk to build rapport with your prospect. Every 30 minutes you spend with them increase your chances of writing a contract by 30%.
Trust makes everything in the sales process easier. Without it, you probably won’t have a sale to write.
Learn to close.
Many salespeople forgot — or never learned — how to close during the boom times because the deal was closed from the beginning. Selling takes work again, so teach room closing, plan closing, site closing and closing in general. You must trial close to know the pulse of your prospect and if you are on target.
Be the expert.
When it comes to real estate, your agents need to be the one-stop shop. They need to know everything about their community and the surrounding area, loans, pre-qualifying, construction phases, escrow questions — you name it, they need to know it. True knowledge builds trust faster than anything.
Learn how to negotiate.
Price was rarely negotiated when the market was peaking because most home buyers simply were grateful to get the lot they wanted. Now, we must teach our sales teams to negotiate so we can give the buyer what they need while protecting our builder’s bottom line.
Follow-up — consistently.
Agents need to create valid reasons to follow up — and then actually do so. Only 10% of your competition follows up with prospects, so fill this crucial gap and make your prospects feel valued and significant.
Motivate Your Sales Team
Sitting there onsite day in and day out without any kind of upswing can be a depressing situation. This market is not only affecting your sales agents' pocket books, it’s also eroding their self esteem. You can help lift their spirits by adding a little fun to their world from time to time with rewards and recognitions.
Use a Sales Coach
A sales coach focuses on making salespeople better at what they do — a much different role than a sales manager. Most agents react much better to a coach than their manager because a coach is “safe” and “neutral” while their manager is generally bombarded with different duties, pressure and responsibilities.
Provide Comprehensive Training
Dedicate at least 30 minutes of your weekly sales meetings to learning the sales basics addressed above. Include role playing — and have some fun with it. Make sure to have takeaways that encourage and remind your sales team to use skills learned in training.
Make Your Team Feel Valued, Supported — and Appreciated
Agents love prizes, awards and being acknowledged by managers, builders and their peers. Give them prizes for a job well done and awards for the most improved performance, most registration cards, most prolific marketing and more. The opportunities to acknowledge them are endless, so choose what works.
Also, provide topics for meetings that will engage them and make them better at what they do. Topics that will make them more knowledgeable and that are easy to present include lending, construction, warranty, escrow and legal issues. In addition, have your builder give a “pep talk.” Your team would like to hear the boss on what the future holds and what leadership thinks of the market.
And finally, don’t forget to provide them lunch.
These tips can help you equip your team to work more effectively in the market today and give them the knowledge they need to succeed.
In real estate, what goes down must come up. It just takes time — and making the best of that time. Happy sales!
Shirleen Von Hoffmann is president and sales coach of Home Builder’s AdvantEdge, an innovative sales coaching company that specializes in secret shopping, sales coaching, seminars and one-on-one onsite training for new home builders. She is also a speaker and the author of two books, including “Secrets of Top Producers: A New Way of Selling for New Home Professionals,” and has written for NAHB’s Sales and Marketing Ideas magazine, NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Channel and other builder industry trade publications and magazines.
This article originally appeared in NAHB’s National Sales and Marketing Channel.
“Think Sold! Creating Home Sales in Any Market,” available at NAHB BuilderBooks, is a practical, how-to guide for developing the self-awareness, knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the competitive field of new home sales.
The book covers everything from the home buying process and new home financing to strategies for making better sales presentations and sizing up the competition. It teaches readers how to overcome customers’ concerns and provides specific examples of how to explain the benefits of new home features in customer-friendly language.
“Think Sold” provides insights on how to approach sales and life from a position of optimism that will create successful outcomes; how to improve upon potential customer prospecting and follow-up skills; and how to communicate effectively with various types of buyers and learn how to adjust communication strategies to increase rapport and alignment with buyers’ motives.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
“ValueMatch Selling for Home Builders,” available through NAHB BuilderBooks, presents a selling process that focuses on selling feelings and appealing to prospective buyers’ emotional need to buy a new home in today’s market rather than product.
Learn how to build rapport with prospective home buyers, meet their needs, make powerful presentations that are focused on their values and go for the close.
To view or purchase this publication online, click here, or call 800-223-2665.
For additional cutting-edge sales and marketing information, subscribe to NAHB’s Sales + Marketing Ideas magazine (www.smimagazine.com).
Click here to learn about membership benefits of the National Sales and Marketing Council and the Institute of Residential Marketing.