Archive for January, 2011

My latest Builder Radio interview “Giving away the store!”

January 17th, 2011

We speak with Shirleen Von Hoffman, Home Builders Advantage


Great salespeople don’t begin negotiating price until they know that they have a real buyer and what they buyer really wants.  So, why is it that so many new home salespeople want to lead with price or incentives?  As we’re about to learn, that will only get you into trouble – everytime.

Shirleen Von Hoffman is a sales coach that bases her individualized training on what she learns by mystery shopping her trainees… And she’s tired of seeing salespeople give away the store before they ever learn what the buyer wants.

Listen to our interview with Shirleen (aka The Queen of Sales) or read the notes from our conversation below:


My latest mission is helping salespeople become better at what they do.  Sales really is an art and there are many steps that take perfection. Negotiations, for example, is probably one of the biggest traits that a sales person needs to learn.

My sales training is a direct result of the mystery shops that I do.  What we’re seeing in these shops is sales people giving away all their sales tools before they even know what the client wants. They’re giving away the prices as soon as the client walks in the door. I saw it as recently as yesterday; the client walked in the door, a price sheet is handed to her, that says that the home is listed for $350,000 and the salesperson immediately says, “but we’re running a special and I can get it for you today for $300,000.”

What happens is that they’ve entered negotiations before they even know if the client is interested in that home.  When you do that the client is going start negotiating from the discounted price. The agent should be holding those prices close to their chest so that they can use them when it comes time to negotiate. You don’t want to be throwing all your tools out as bait. Figure out what the buyer needs and give them what they need.

I see this at all different levels. If the builder is paying $10,000 towards closing costs, the agents are  throwing that out there up front.  Don’t do that.  That client may not need help with closing costs. Their hot button may be tile floors or back yard. You want to know what you have to work with. If they want tile floors then you have that $10,000 to use to give them tile.

Every incentive that a builder makes available an agent is a valuable tool. So if you give it all away you give away your value. You give your power away as a negotiator.  It won’t take long before the builder is going to realize that you are the type of sales person that just gives things away.

The Art of Negotiation
When it comes to price, do not put your specials on the price sheet. A lot of sales people hold that back so they can first get to know the client. Then, when they ask what you can do, deliver some of the answer not all of it. Don’t just say “we help with the closing costs” unless they ask. Then you can say, “Let’s sit down and see what the closing costs will be.” Those closing costs could only be $5,000, giving you another $5,000 give that to them tile or whatever is of value to them.

Holding those cards close to your chest instead of giving it all up as soon as they walk through the door is the biggest tip that I can give to anyone.

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Planning Today defines your Tomorrow!

January 11th, 2011

Written by Shirleen Von Hoffmann, Sales Coach and President of HomeBuilders AdvantEdge Copyright 2011

I find that many times the Builder or owner comes up with a business plan and goals for the New Year and those goals filter throughout Managers and the organization. I also know that many times Sales People don’t have their own plan. Many times Sales People leave their futures to the law of odds and the law of the market. As if they can’t have an impact on the sales walking in the door. One of my Agents told me, ‘I wait and see what goals my Manager sets for me and then I do my best to reach those goals.” I would dare to say this is a typical response to goal setting in the new home sales world. I think this is because the Builder drives the traffic so the Sales People don’t feel empowered to make a plan for tomorrow.

What I say to that is, “Planning today determines your Tomorrow.” That’s why Top Producing Sales People are busy no matter the market…they plan for it. Are you familiar with the phrase, “You are a product of your thoughts, words and actions”? As you think about your ‘current’ state and compare it to your desired state, are you where you want to be? If not, I will make a bet you didn’t plan it out that way. You probably didn’t plan at all. Well one thing I know for sure it that if builders didn’t have plans and blueprints they couldn’t build houses. So how can you build your tomorrow with no plan in place?

Your Blueprint for success…it doesn’t happen by accident.
Let’s talk about a plan, a blueprint for success. How many of you have a plan? How do you get to a location without a map? What is a map? In essence it is the written word. How do achieve a dream without a vision? You have a plan, an agenda, a way to a means, a way to achieve your dream. “EDGE Agents” are top producers and top producers have goals and a plan to achieve those goals.

What are some of the things you need in your Blueprint for success? In a blueprint of a home, you have at least three major components, a floor plan, an elevation and square footage. We are giving you seven goal setting steps as major components in your blueprint for success.

Take some time to write down what your goals are as well as the income you would like to make for the year. What is the difference between a dream and a goal? The written word. Write out a blueprint of the things you will need to do to achieve those goals.

Goal setting is more than simply scribbling down some ideas on a piece of paper. Our goals need to be complete and focused, much like a blueprint. If you follow the 10 goal setting steps, you will be well on your way to building the blueprint to achieve success.

1. Make sure your goals are something you really want.
Not just something that sounds good. When setting goals it is very important to remember that your goals must be consistent with your values.

2. A goal cannot contradict any of your other goals.
For example, you can’t buy a $750,000 house if your income goal is only $50,000 per year. This is called non-integrated thinking and will sabotage all of the hard work you put into your goals. Non-integrated thinking can also hamper your everyday thoughts as well. We should continually strive to eliminate contradictory ideas from our thinking.

3. Develop goals in the 6 areas of life:
Family and Home Financial and Career
Spiritual and Ethical Physical and Health
Social and Cultural Mental and Educational

Setting goals in each area of life will ensure a more balanced life as you begin to examine and change the fundamentals of everyday living. Setting goals in each area of life also helps in eliminating the non-integrated thinking we talked about in the 2nd step. » More: Planning Today defines your Tomorrow!

November pending home sales up 3.5%!

January 3rd, 2011

(Reuters) – Contracts for pending sales of previously owned U.S. homes rose faster than expected in November, though sales remained below “normal” activity levels, a real estate trade group said on Thursday.

The National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Index, based on contracts signed in November, rose 3.5 percent to 92.2 from a downwardly revised 89.1 in October. The index showed sales were 5 percent lower than the 97.0 reading in November of last year.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the report were expecting pending home sales to rise 2 percent.

Lawrence Yun, the association’s chief economist, said low interest rates and early signs of economic recovery boosted sales, “but further gains are needed to reach normal levels of sales activity.”

(Reporting by Corbett B. Daly; Editing by Neil Stempleman)


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