Go on, admit it. It’s ok to bring those sneaking suspicions you have into the cold light of day. You’ve had those feelings of concern more and more often. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you’re convinced something isn’t quite right. You have a great product at an incredible price, but your not selling as many homes as your competition. You’re confident your marketing is working: your company is all over the first page of search engine results, your sales center and model home is impressive to behold and your current homeowners sing your praises throughout social media. Why isn’t that translating to more sales?
Unfortunately, the answer is right there, plain as the nose on your face…it’s your sales team….and they suck! The sooner you come to terms with this harsh fact the better. You’re not the only builder suffering the consequences from a ineffective sales force, and you’re certainly not the first, however I hope you are savvy enough to realize the madness has to end, and I’m here to tell you how to identify the symptoms, and help you provide the remedy!
If you’re still reading this, then you know there’s room for improvement in regards to your sales team, and the word “improvement”, Dear Readers, just may be the Understatement Of The Year! Chances are you know who I am, as I’ve travelled the country for nearly a quarter of a century, speaking to builders and those in the housing industry; offering practical marketing advice and guidance to help improve sales. I’ve been around long enough to know a great salesperson is worth their weight in gold, just as a bad one is more of a cancer, an albatross dragging your company down into a financial abyss. So please forgive my straightforwardness!Have you ever witnessed, or had that rotten feeling in your gut, that your sales team was guilty of any of the following?
#1. Ignoring Valuable Prospects!
I’ve seen this with my own eyes more times than I can count. Buyers arrive at your sales center or model home only to have to wait for the sales person to finish the Sunday paper or complete their Facebook post. No greeting, no “thank you for stopping by”—not even a welcoming smile or the offer of a fresh cup of coffee! Don’t believe me? When was the last time you asked a friend or hired a secret shopping service (I recommend MelindaBrody.com) to pay your sales center a visit? I’m telling you, on more occasions than we both like, what you fear the most takes place when eager buyers stop by your sales center.
One Solution: Shop your sales team. Whenever you hire a salesperson or agency, make it abundantly clear that you will be shopping them. If you have a sales person or agency who is dropping the ball, this is the best method to begin fixing the problem together or simply remove the problem. Also, people do what you inspect, not what you expect. If they realize you will indeed shop them, they will be on their toes. Shopping isn’t punitive, it is designed to sharpen the stone.
#2. Not using The Sales Tools You’ve Purchased!
Think for a moment of all those resources you’ve invested in to help your sales team succeed at their job. All of those print materials, displays, plat tables, marketing campaigns and big screen televisions intended to help the client understand and visualize living in one of your new properties. I’ve seen muddy floors, locked doors, and models with not a single light turned on. Can you believe I’ve even smelled rank cooked fish traveling throughout a model home because a sales person thought it was good idea to reheat his leftover trout in the kitchen microwave? And, I have to ask, what good is investing your marketing budget to attract serious buyers when your sales team sabotages your efforts, failing to inquire as to how these clients found their way to your community?
One Solution: Your sales center or model home requires training. Do your sales people follow a critical sales path? Do they sell from macro decisions to micro decisions? If you invest into a sales tool – plat table, wall displays, location display, etc. – make sure the sales team understands how that tool fits into their critical path of sales.
#3. Allowing Visitors To Start Their Tour Through The Garage Door Into The Mud Room Or kitchen.
You’ve been building homes for a long time, and it goes without saying the model home is your best sales tool. As I’m sure you know, any well done home tour begins at the front door! Do you know some of your sales people are in the habit starting the tour right there in the office, which is usually off the hall from the laundry/mud room? Start at the front door to get the entire experience, from beginning to end? Nope, that takes too much work! “Let’s just traipse through this unimpressive hallway, through the mud room, as they try to convince your potential customer how this is the perfect dream house for their family!” Friends, I’m telling you, it happens, and that’s depressing.
One Solution: Lock the door! Well, not really, but I have done that. Insist that every visitor to your model begin their tour at the front door, then inspect that process.
#4. Your Sales Team Lets Prospects Give Themselves A Tour!
The Cardinal Sin of demonstrating a model—letting your guest do their own self-guided tour. Now, your sales person is going to try to justify this grievous error by saying something like this: “But boss, I don’t want to seem pushy, or worse yet, desperate. Where’s the harm in letting them walk through the model on their own?” Well, Mr. or Ms. Sales Agent, here’s the problem. You don’t get the opportunity to gain valuable information from your potential buyers, nor do you have the chance to present the predetermined selling points that will help you make the sale.
Now, you will come across visitors who all but insist they can find their way around without any guidance; this is when your agent politely informs them that they will be happy to give them some alone time. A great sales person knows specifically how to convey this—to a lazy sales agent, a self-guided tour sounds like a great idea, equating to less work.
One Solution: Refer to number one!
#5. Your Sales Team Purposefully Misreports Traffic!
Alright this one really get my dander up! Here’s the typical Monday morning sales meeting: Builder: “Hey Betty, how many visitors did we have to the model last week?” Betty: “Uh…two or three, but they were just tire kickers…they weren’t serious buyers. Builder: “Oh…ok, I hope so, because we need to sell these properties!”Do you see the problem with that conversation? Chances are pretty high that Betty had more than two potential clients come through the doors, but she’s hedging her bets. It’s easier for her to save face and simply tell you a “fib”.
I’ve been very direct with you from the moment you read the title to this article, and I’m not about to stop now—Betty is lying! Do you have proper lead-tracking in place? If you did, your sales team wouldn’t be able to pull the wool over your eyes so easily. Pay attention to the numbers. Pay attention to names that become sales that were never leads. Pay attention to traffic details; you invest too much money for leads to not track every one of them.
One Solution:Inspect lead lists and compare them to sales lists. This is sort of the dirty little secret in new home sales that no one wants to admit or even talk about. But it is happening. Your only recourse is a thorough sales meeting for lead management. If a sale never showed up on your lead list, you likely have a problem.
#6. Your Sales Team Simply Doesn’t Care About Your Investment!
I can’t even tell you how many times your sales team have left your model homes unlocked….overnight….over a weekend….all the time. Does this sound impossible? Do they turn all the model home lights on to show it at its best? Go ahead, stop by your model home after hours. Check all the doors and windows. Do it now before someone else does. And it’s not just the security of your sales center and model. I’ve literally walked into a sales center during open hours and physically walked out with a computer. The agent on duty never stopped me, heck, they never even asked what I was doing! I’m not even sure they knew I was there. Oh, and in case you wondering, they had never met me before, having no idea who this guy was that just unplugged a computer and walked out to his car. Pretty scary, don’tcha think? (By the way, I was authorized to take that computer…but they didn’t know that!).
One Solution: Create a sales center or model home checklist. There are several items that should always be taken care of: lights on, floor kept clean, toilets maintained, refrigerator clean… A model home is a huge investment. Make sure it is functioning at its highest and best use.
How many of the above points ring true to your business? Well, as Dr. Phil always says, you can’t fix a problem until you acknowledge you have a problem to fix. I love the homebuilding industry, always did and always will.
My company’s purpose is to empower the homebuilding industry. If I can help you remedy the concerns you have with your sales team, rest assured, I certainly will! Feel free to contact me at 301.416.7861 or email me at [email protected] and let’s address your problems head on!
Until next time…