What you don’t know, WILL hurt you!

February 8, 2010 by Shirleen Von Hoffmann Leave a reply »

A SAD BUILDERS STORY
I recently did a competition shop for one of my Builder’s in a competing subdivision. In this particular area, there was a group of Builders who all 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.

I entered the Sales Office and was greeted by a young Sales Agent in his mid to late twenties.
He greeted me with a Hello and handed me a stapled stack of papers that had his floorplans and models and pointed towards the door to the models. I asked if he had a price sheet . He then said, “We don’t have a price sheet due to the lot sizes, each lot is different.” He said, “take a look at the models and let me know if you like one and I can tell you what we have available and how much the price is.” I pleasantly but quickly said, “No, I am not going to waste my time looking at your models if I don’t know price ranges, how about an idea of your base prices?” He stammered and stuttered, he talked about the fact that some are modeled, some are not, some have lot premiums, some don’t, he came across to me as he didn’t know what he was doing and as a prospect it was not only confusing but irritating. It’s called the shuck and jive and I was getting it. It was a very strange way to sell homes. An older, more seasoned Agent came out checked me out and walked back into his office. No real interaction. That was strange too.

Now sometimes a Builder will put a more experienced Agent with a newer Agent, so the newer Agent can learn from the more experienced Agent in action. In this case, I think the more seasoned Agent was busy doing things in the office and he had the younger Agent handling the door. But when you think about it; What is more important than the prospect walking in the door? The seasoned Agent should have come out and either worked with me or explained the policy better because the younger Agent wasn’t doing a good job of either.

After asking model by model and making my own notes, I got my pricing “estimates” for each model and proceeded through the models. Once done, I came back into the sales office and the younger Agent was busy talking to another buyer in the front area of the office. The older Agent could have easily came out and waited on me but did not. I simply walked out, without any REAL interaction with a good sales person, This Agent pretty much handed me a brochure and answered questions I asked about pricing and moved me on to the models alone.
These are not Sales People and I can prove it.

• No one asked me questions about what I was looking for?
• No one tried to build rapport or trust with me.
• No one 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.

Questions about the Sales Agent

• Does the Agent know how much the Builder paid to walk this prospect in the door?
• Does he know how precious traffic is?
• Doesn’t he know that subdivision was closed due to no buyers and recently reopened?
Certainly if he knew these things, he would be better at selling me a home, wouldn’t he?

To the Builder I ask these questions…

• Why place an Agent of this low caliber in this community or any community?
• Does the Builder know the low quality of the Agent he has placed to rescue this already failed community?
• Does the Builder know the Sales Agent is playing this whole pricing game with prospects? Not disclosing pricing thus threatening developing trust and rapport and alienating the prospect all together?
• Does the Builder think the older Agent is being the Lead and teaching the younger Agent?
• Does the Builder know his Agents are letting people walk in and walk out without trying to sell them a home, getting to know them and their needs, getting their names and contact information to follow up?
• Does the Builder know I visited because there was no card collected with my information.

The Answer is;
The Builder doesn’t know any of this, because the Builder doesn’t have his community shopped.

Moral of the story…
Shopping your community is a small price to pay to find out how your sales team is selling and coming across to the precious prospects you pay so dearly to walk through the door.

The Sales Team is the most important thing you have in your community and the easiest thing to fix when it’s not working. The only way you know, is to shop your communities.

So the moral of this story is, what you don’t know…can really hurt you! Call us today to shop your communities and see everything you need to know, through the eyes of a video camera.

Happy Sales!

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7 Responses

  1. I dont know who the builder is- but I can tell you that builders are trying to save precious dollars all over. One has to wonder if this builder has such a low caliber of “Sales People” because they arent willing to pay for quality. The old saying, ” You get what you pay for” comes to mind. I sure hope they get it right before they find themselves having to pull out of the market again.

  2. You are so right Tiffany. It’s really amazing that those huge details are being missed by this builder. And you are right, you do get what you pay for.

    Thanks for your comments.

  3. Elizabeth Malin says:

    That is horrible. We all know of many people we have worked with over the years that are unemployed due to our economy and would have loved to have had that opportunity to sell in that community.
    What a shame!

  4. Chuck Miller says:

    There is a solution. Either hire new home sales professionals people or invest in training the sales people you have to be new home sales professionals. The NAHB Institute of Residential Marketing has a number of courses to do just that. IRM offers four professional designations in sales and marketing.

    Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP)

    Master Certified New Home Sales Professional (Master CSP)

    Certified New Home Marketing Professional (CMP)

    Master of Residential Marketing (MIRM)

    IRM offers 10 sales and marketing courses.
    Certified New Home Sales Professional (CSP)
    Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
    Increased Profits Through Effective Builder/Broker Cooperation
    House Construction as a Selling Tool
    Essential Closing Strategies
    Market Focused Residential Design
    Understanding Housing Markets and Consumers (IRM I)
    Marketing Strategies, Plans, and Budgets (IRM II)
    Lifestyle Merchandising, Advertising, and Promotion Strategies (IRM III)
    The Challenge of New Homes Sales Management (IRM IV)
    Effective Marketing on a Shoestring Budget
    Increased Profits Through Effective Builder/Broker Cooperation
    House Construction as a Selling Tool
    Essential Closing Strategies
    Market Focused Residential Design

    Most Builders are product-focused and, as a result, so are their sales staffs. The Institute of Residential Marketing courses teach you how to be customer focused.

  5. Mel DaPaoli says:

    Great observations Shirleen. I definetly agree. On a similar note, I tested how construction and remodeling companies handled prospects at my local Remodeling Expo and found the results to be quite interesting. I purposely ask questions that they are not expecting to see how the sales person handles the question. By taking this approach, it shows me right off the bat their true relationship with the company (if they were hired just for events or an employee) and how I should proceed.

  6. Kevin Wilzbach says:

    Shirleen,

    This problem is more prevalent than we want to believe as an industry, and what makes this unfortunate is that prospects through the door are more critical to work than ever before. The reasons are simple:

    1. A prospect through the door typically has already done an extensive amount of research prior to coming through the model. Before the explosion of information and tools available on the Internet, a lot of early traffic through the model was in the early stages of the sales process, simply collecting information. Today, when they walk through, they are ready to talk.

    2. More and more builders expect sales counselors to drive their own traffic through the models. In some companies, 50% or more of the traffic through the door is expected to be generated by the counselor through his or her own efforts. That means each prospect is more “expensive” in terms of the sales counselors’ “sweat equity.”

    3. There’s a lot less traffic than there used to be. I’ve been in environments where traffic is off 30-50%. That means a sales counselor should NEVER treat any person through the door as anything other than the most important person in the world.

    Again, great observations. Hopefully great salespeople will understand that they should be even more successful if their competition is behaving in this manner.

  7. Kathy Klinger says:

    Great Points, Shirleen

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