Archive for July, 2010

My article in July’s California Builder Magazine

July 29th, 2010

Beat the Summer Blues

By Shirleen Von Hoffman

It’s 2010 and we are seeing an economy that our country has never seen before. Now as summer is upon us and people start vacationing, it can slow down your traffic. You have options, you can either sit around and do nothing or you can step up and take on the challenge.

We don’t have to let the economy or season dictate our success. Selling during these times can be more challenging, yet top producers are not feeling the pinch as much as others.

How can you ensure you prosper during these times? With action. Do you ever notice how top producers are busy no matter what? Even in tough times, top producers continue to sell as if there were no challenges. That’s because great salespeople stick to their good habits no matter what.

Following are 10 key habits that will make your sales season and recession proof. The actions you take now are the ones that will make it a great finish to 2010.

1. Set goals

Do you ever drive to a place that you have never been without directions? Then don’t start each day off without direction. You can’t get where you want to be if you don’t clearly know where you want to go. Write down your goals for income, work, home, family … whatever is important to you. Then write an action plan of what you are going to do to achieve those goals. You should be touching on these goals and actions to achieve these goals each and every day.

2. Always hone your sales skills

You can never stop learning, growing and honing your skills, no matter what. All top producers challenge themselves with sales training, reading, practicing their skills. Learning new skills and seeing them work on your prospects is what makes sales fun.

3. Prepare strategically

Research industry trends. What is your competition doing? What are other cities doing? Other states? Use the information to plan strategically with your managers so you can compete in the marketplace and be the best you can be.

4. Sell from their prospective

Prepare, practice and script every stage of your sale. You need to research what is going on inside their heads so you can prepare and communicate value to them. Look at it as what’s in it for them and follow a process to connect with the person. Ask awesome open-ended questions, facilitate their understanding of the process of buying and what it means to them, work through objections and ask for the sale. If you don’t get the sale on the first try, make sure you follow up with them until you do.

» More: My article in July’s California Builder Magazine

Article for NSBIA-North State Building Industry July Magazine – Recipe for Success: Your People

July 20th, 2010

By Shirleen Von Hoffmann President and Sales Coach Creating VIP’s and Homebuilders AdvantEdge  Copyright 2010

People are at the centric of your business. Not much can happen without them. Most businesses have external people (customers) and internal people (employees).  It’s a real balancing act but companies who figure out how to have happy employees and happy clients, usually figure out what the success recipe is made of!

The sooner you realize you are in the People business, no matter what business you are in, the quicker you will be able to mix your recipe for success.

Too often, especially during tough market conditions, companies fail to see the value of internal customers (employees) and they are the first to be affected.  Companies adjust to market conditions with layoffs, cutbacks in benefits, wages, reduction of hours, overtime and the little rewards so many employees enjoy. I know from owning my business, you may have the phone and the internet but unless you have the passion behind the scenes from my employees, selling my goods, running my operations, managing my overhead and most of all, helping my clients.  When any of these things are not carefully handled, it can lead a company to complete failure.  Company leadership must always remember that happy, loyal, employees impact their business in a positive way and make sure to nurture that.  It’s like a recipe for success…1 cup of happy employees, add 2 cups of customer, add good products and you have a winner!

As I coach employees and business owners around the country, I hear the same messages. The owners are saying, “I’m paying my people too much.” And the employees are saying, “I am not getting the support, respect, or resources I need to help me succeed.”

» More: Article for NSBIA-North State Building Industry July Magazine – Recipe for Success: Your People

Marketing 101: Handwritten Notes

July 20th, 2010

By Shirleen Von Hoffmann President and Sales Coach of HomeBuilders AdvantEdge and Creating VIP’s  Copyright 2010

Think about when you go through your mail.  First, you see all the advertisements, which in my case start the throw away, stack.  Then you scan for bills and formal mailings.  I usually scan mail and sort the junk from the mail I will open.  I come across a small handwritten card and it goes on top of the pile.  I am usually anxious to open it and see who it is from and what is inside.  It’s probably a safe bet that everyone opens and reads these pieces of mail almost immediately.  Why because it’s personal and I think because small cards are usually thanking you or inviting you to something fun!

In fact, it is proven that handwritten notes and cards get opened 95% of the time.  Much higher statistics than email, postcards or letter size mailings. Handwritten notes are one of the least expensive, most effective and largely ignored marketing tools in your sales arsenal today. People who send personal notes are thought to be considerate, creative, gracious, well mannered, mindful and a “cut above the rest.”  Not a bad return on stationary, a stamp and a few minutes of writing!

Here are six powerful tips to get you kick started today!

  1. Have some a variety of personal note cards and keep a stack on your desk. Challenge yourself to write note cards every day thanking a prospect.  Make sure to market smart and mention something personal about the visit.  For instance if they had a child with them, mention you enjoyed meeting “Little Billy” and know he will enjoy playing in the community pool in your new neighborhood.
  2. Make sure to handwrite and personalize the outside of the envelope in some small way. It really helps in getting the envelope opened.  A small sticker of some sort.  A quick caricature.  I had one Agent who drew a quick dog paw on the envelope and mentioned the owner’s dog by name.  “Bring Alex with you next time; I have some treats for him!”  These small things cost nothing but a little time and will make a huge dent in your beback success rates, ultimately improving your sales rates.
  3. Do you have an idea that fills a need or an event that prospects need to know about? Send out a handful of personal notes inviting people to your event and let them know you have an idea that you believe could have something of value for them. Not everyone will take you up on your offer but the ones who do could turn out to be tomorrow’s buyer.
  4. » More: Marketing 101: Handwritten Notes

Back to Basics – NAHB Article this month

July 10th, 2010

By Shirleen Von Hoffmann President of Homebuilders AdvantEdge

My company does a lot of Secret Shopping for Home Builders.  I consider the Secret Shopping aspect of my company my very own pulse of the market and love doing secret shops myself, whenever I can, because it keeps me in touch with what the Agents are doing right and not doing at all.  Right now what I see most and my new mantra for the year is,”We need to get back to the Basics”.

Remember when you were young and had to do the ABC’s over and over until you got it right?  Well we as Sales People, we need to get Back to the Basics and do it over and over, until we get it right! In this market, while we have more time, that is what we need to be doing.

I recently did a competition shop for one of my Builder’s in a high end area, where a group of Builders decided to shut down their communities due to the poor economy.  They just reopened about three months ago to try the market again after a two year hiatus. Now after being closed due to no buyers you would have thought the Agents would have been the best in the business.  However, I was so disappointed in this shop, I have to share it with you.

Here are the basics of the visit.  Upon entering I was greeted with a “Hello”, given a brochure with no pricing and pointed towards the doors of the models.  After arguing that I needed to know some basic pricing in order to view the models, I manually wrote down the base prices and viewed the models.  After viewing, the Agent I had spoken with was busy speaking to another prospect, the other Agent was saw me but was busy doing paperwork and simply didn’t acknowledge me or the fact that I was standing there, so I left.

I left feeling like I didn’t matter to them at all.  As I walked away I thought to myself, “Boy, do we need to get back to the basics.”  There is nothing more important that the prospect who is walking through your door.  You should do everything you can to sell them a home.

In this shop;

  • No one asked me questions about what I was looking for?
  • No one tried to build rapport or trust with me.
  • No one gave me their name, asked my name or got my contact information.
  • No one walked me through the models or spent time with me.
  • No one really cared that I came to that community.
  • No one even tried to sell me a home.

And all this was from a community that was closed due to no buyers, amazing!

7 tips to get Back to the Basics  

Goals and Aspirations

Come up with goals you want to achieve, not only for your community but for your life and career.  Really take the time to do this and don’t forget to spell out the action steps it will take to achieve these goals and aspirations. Make sure to calendar the action steps on your calendar to make sure they get done.

Perfect Your Self

Strive to perfect your sale skills by reading, scripting, role play, seminars, and webinars.  Practice, practice, practice creates perfection.  After each prospect visit, evaluate the visit and think about how it could have been better.  Could you have done things differently to get a different, better result?

Become the Expert

When people think about Real Estate, you want them thinking about, You.  Become present in every organization, event and function that might help you become the one everyone calls when it comes to Real Estate.

Meet and Greet

Always drop everything you are doing and greet the prospect who is walking in your door.  Make sure to welcome them, exchange names and extend your hand for a hand shake.  It is a basic thing that is missed 90% of the time.  “Is this your first time here?” or “How did you find us?” are not good introductions.  Greet them as if they were guests in your home.

Walk the Models

Make sure you use this as an opportunity to spend time with your prospects and get to know their needs and wants.  When else will you get the opportunity to spend this kind of time with them?  It’s a huge opportunity to listen and to ask question so you can get to know them, their needs and their wants.

Build Rapport & Trust

Build rapport is one of the most important things you can do.  Everything becomes easier when you have rapport and trust.  Get to know your prospects on a personal level, that’s how you build rapport and trust.  There are studies that prove when you build trust and rapport it can make as much as 65% of a sale!

Close them Every Time

Don’t ever just let them walk out the door feeling like they didn’t matter to you. Close them every time!  People want to matter and they want to be closed.  Here is a big tip, if you have built rapport and trust, closing will be easy! When you find out their needs and wants; you simply sell those needs and wants!

Follow Up Smart

Do your best to obtain registration cards on everyone who come in your door. Create a follow up routine for your prospects and follow up with them every time.  Make sure your follow up is personalized and addresses the needs and lifestyles of your prospects.  By following up you will stand out from your peer group and they will remember you.

It’s all about getting back to the basics.  Given our economic environment and our market it is essential we all pull our best skills forward and get back the basic skills we need to use in this market and every market.

Happy Sales!

My New Article in NAHB’s Sales and Marketing Ideas Magazine

July 10th, 2010

Check out my new article.  Have you got your copy yet? ” Getting back to the basics ”

I will post it so you all can see it.

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