Sales Teams Should ‘Beat the Bushes’ for New Traffic
The second in an occasional series about how to ramp up sales and marketing in a changing market.
With the days of prospective home buyers stampeding the doors of sales offices long gone, salespeople will have to spend more time out of the office beating the bushes to drum up new leads and traffic, according to panelists in an NAHB “Back to Basics” teleconference last month on how to ramp up sales and marketing.
“Your sales team is going to have to generate more of their own traffic,” said Ross Robbins, MIRM, of the Lee Evans Group, an operations and marketing consulting firm based in Littleton, Colo. He added that builders may want to keep shorter sales office hours so that the sales staff won’t get tied down staffing the office.
It is not unusual to see traffic of 10 to 15 per week and only one to two on weekdays, Robbins said. “Maybe being in the sales office is not where the staff should be.”
(At no charge, NAHB members can access the audio conference, "Ramp Up Your Sales and Marketing in a Changing Market,” by clicking here.)
Be Prepared to Deal With Prospects’ Fears
Not only are there fewer customers visiting sales offices, but those who do come in are coming in “terrified,” Robbins pointed out.
“They think that this is the worst time to buy because the newspapers and television have been telling them that for a year,” Robbins said. They are fearful that prices will drop and that they are making a bad investment.
“In fact, most people seem to be paralyzed with this fear to the point that they will avoid making a bad decision instead of taking a good opportunity when it fits,” he said.
To counter and lessen buyers’ fears, Robbins said sales teams first have to acknowledge their customers’ fears and then shift the conversation from making a deal into fulfilling the customer’s dream. If the sales team can’t bring the conversation back to the dream home, “it’s over, you're doomed, it’s done,” he said.
Builders cannot assume that their salespeople will know how to sell this way. They will need training and monitoring.
“You need to create these dialogues, rehearse these dialogues, train to these dialogues and then you need to use them and monitor them,” Robbins said. “Make sure they are selling just as you trained them.”
Hold the Sales Team Accountable
Not only should builders initiate specific training for their sales teams, they should also put systems in place that hold their salespeople accountable.
Robbins suggested that builders develop a reporting system where salespeople are kept accountable for their progress with potential clients or to have them explain why prospects have lost interest.
By keeping a scorecard for them, Robbins said, a builder or sales manager also will be able to track who’s going to survive with the company.
“Some of your people aren’t going to make it,” said Robbins. “You need to figure out who those people are, and you need to encourage the people who are willing to change and learn to work in a new manner.”
Builders will have to be willing to let go salespeople who can’t rise to this challenge.
“It’s going to be a matter of survival for both you and them,” Robbins said. Those sellers who can succeed in a slow market will be the sales leaders and managers in a rising market.
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Free NAHB Kit Gives Builders Back-to-Basics Tips to Navigate the Slowdown
What was once expected to be a relatively mild housing slump following three years of record new home construction and sales has given way to a significant downturn.
To help members navigate the uncharted waters of this slowdown, NAHB has compiled a comprehensive “Back to Basics” online toolkit — the best of the basics, the tried and true and the truly new. To access the toolkit, click here.
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For assistance, call the NAHB Member Service Center at 800-368-5242.