A Wake-Up Call for New Home Salespeople in Today’s Market
We’ve been in such a hot market for so many years that some salespeople have become rusty. All they’ve had to do to make fancy incomes is show and write.
As markets soften, this doesn’t work anymore.
Let’s all agree that builders deserve to have persuasive salespeople representing them. Builders pour tons of work, know-how and sweat into getting their new homes built — not to mention the financial risks they endure. To pay proper respect for all of that, salespeople must be persuasive advocates for the new homes that they are entrusted to sell.
That said, here’s a wake-up call. If all you are going to do is show homes and write contracts, you can be replaced in a week’s time with good-looking, well-spoken people who will be happy to do what you’re doing for minimum wage. With a bit of training, they may even show and write better than you because they’ll be so eager to have the opportunity.
To deserve the big bucks most new home salespeople hope for, you’ve got to bring something more to the party than showing and writing.
So, what is it that you do to deserve what you make?
Please don’t tell me you earn your pay by helping to get deals you’ve already written make it to the closing table. I know it’s customary for salespeople to do all that busy work, but it makes little sense.
Many builders would be far better off paying delivery specialists to do that job and free up their salespeople to do what only good salespeople can do — produce signed purchase contracts with deposit checks attached.
If we were able to get your builder to convert to the delivery specialist idea, what would you do with your newfound free time?
Hopefully, you would work more thoroughly and skillfully with more customers — and persuade more of them to choose one of your new homes. With any luck at all, your company’s pace of sales absorption would increase more than enough to pay for the cost of using delivery specialists — and you’d have happier home owners to boot.
“Ah ha,” you say. “If I had more time, I would work on becoming more persuasive, and I know just how to do it. I’ll get out all my sales training books and learn how to become a killer closer.”
I certainly am a supporter of closing strong. You might even call me a “closing strong coach.” But, I’m here to tell you, there is much more to being persuasive than closing strong.
It has always amazed me that much of the hyperbole about closing involves metaphors with words like “killing.” It’s as though our job is to mow down our prospects — overwhelming them into buying by the sheer force of our ruthlessness. What’s up with that?
Thank goodness not many of us really do that. I know, because I get to analyze lots of mystery shopping tapes.
Typical shoppers actually almost beg to be sold, and yet, many salespeople don’t get it. That’s truly awful. But, if we really used some of the entrapment closes we hear about, it would be worse. New homes salespeople would be featured on "60 Minutes" as abusers of the public.
Hear this now and believe it, friends. The sales process is not about doing something to them for us. Persuasive selling is just the opposite. It’s about doing something to us for them.
But exactly what is it we should do to ourselves for our prospects?
First, we must be respectful of our customers — placing them at the top of our priority list for the work day. Receiving customers cheerfully when they arrive, asking thoughtful questions to draw out their needs and desires, listening attentively to their answers and knowing all there is to know about the homes we represent — these are what I call “Level One” persuasive selling skills.
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“Level Two” involves studying the body of knowledge that defines our profession and becoming proficient in a wide range of sales communication techniques. This includes understanding body language clues, knowing about behaviorally-based communication models, becoming aware of motivationally-based psychographic decision models and using the power of negotiation techniques.
Putting It All Together
You achieve “Level Three” salesmanship when you are able to integrate the many separate bodies of knowledge into a seamless whole. When you know — and you know you know — you can relax and wait for what comes your way.
No matter how customers confront you, you’ll see it coming and handle it perfectly without having to worry a whit about what to do. That’s “Level Three.”
A ‘Level Three’ Scenario
Here’s an example of “Level Three” in action:
Ted and Sally Johnson are in their late 30s. They are both doing well in their jobs — Ted is a financial analyst, Sally is an advertising executive — and they have two children, Martha, nine, and Ted, Jr., 13.
They have come to our move-up gated community and are admiring our Amherst model, an impressive home with all the latest features. With Ted’s bonus, they can just barely afford it, but they can. Still, they are hanging back.
Standing in the model with the Johnsons, Rhonda Peterson, our salesperson, doesn’t say anything. She just opens her presentation notebook to a pleasant-looking photo and the Johnsons stroll over to take a look.
It’s a photo looking down onto a warm, homey living room with cream-colored carpeting. To the far left is a nice brick fireplace with a small fire inside. A honey-and-white cocker spaniel is placidly sleeping on the hearth. In the center of the photo, two youngsters lying on their stomachs and propped up on their elbows are busy doing their homework. Their parents, sitting on upholstered chairs in the foreground, are looking over their children’s shoulders and ready to help.
A pretty nice picture of family togetherness, isn’t it?
Rhonda chose to show that photo to the Johnsons because she sensed the couple was conflicted about how their high-powered careers might possibly be shortchanging their children. She let the photo convey the thought to the Johnsons that, “If we owned this home, we would really devote quality time to Martha and Ted, Jr. in the evenings.”
The close happened without a word being spoken.
Salespeople who can operate at this level can also name their price. They are the best of the best because they have done their homework and have honed their skills. It’s a demanding path to follow, but also fantastically rewarding.
Bill Webb, MIRM, is the president and founder of William N. Webb & Company, Inc. based in Amelia Island, Fla. and works with home builders and their marketing and sales staffs nationwide. He is a past president of the Institute of Residential Marketing (IRM) and author of IRM Course I and Course IV. In his book, “Sweet Success in New Home Sales," available at www.builderbooks.com, Webb shares more of his powerful, proven techniques for those who are serious about selling new homes and delivering what customers want.
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Bill Webb, MIRM, in “Sweet Success in New Home Sales,” available through BuilderBooks.com, provides the most powerful techniques ever devised for selling more homes and making more money in lean times.
This instructive guide lays out the proven approaches for crafting and delivering sales excellence.
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