John Rymer - New Home Knowledge

September 01, 2008
Professional Builder Magazine

Are Your Newly Hired Sales Agents Really Ready to Sell Your Homes

A consequence of the current new home sales environment is high turnover among sales professionals. Whether the turnover is voluntary or involuntary, the outcome is the same - many new sales offices today are staffed by agents who were employed elsewhere just a few weeks or months ago. I will leave merits of the debate on how and when to replace an underperforming sales team for another day. The more important issue is the readiness of your newly hired sales agents to make every sale possible.

The simple fact is that far too many newly hired sales agents are not prepared to answer basic questions, let alone consummate a sale. Consider actual questions to sales professionals I have witnessed in the last month:

  • "If I were to sign a contract today, when would you be able to complete my home?"
  • "Which of the features in the model are included in the standard price of the home?"
  • "Your website talks about a personalized web address for customers who purchase a home to view construction updates. How does it work?"

In each case the answer was the same; "I’m new here and I'll need to get back to you with that answer."

For an industry who is suffering from a lack of sales, we are behaving today as if the representatives to our customers need to have no more training than the clerk at the local department store! It sounds so simple but is worth repeating: When you have high sales agent turnover, you need to invest more time in training. Too many managers today are so preoccupied with negotiating deals and lose sight of basic preparedness of their sales team. It’s the old story of urgent vs. important.

Begin with mandatory 5 day knowledge and selling skills requirements for sales professionals to complete prior to staffing a sales office. Don't be afraid to close a sales office to get basic sales training completed. Break down the course work into the following areas:

  • Administration – Working knowledge of paperwork / deposits needed to complete a sales contract
  • Product and Community Features – Know your specifications, options and the building practices of your company.
  • Competition – Who are your five top competitors? Visit each and make a comparison chart.
  • How the Company works – Meet members of each department with whom your new agent will be interfacing. Discuss internal communications and what is expected from sales members.
  • Basic Selling Skills – Utilize books, online training seminars or other tools at your disposal to communicate the fundamentals of a well structured sales presentation. With today’s technology, there is no reason for new agents to wait for on-site "boot camps" to begin learning basic selling skills.

Sales turnover can be painful. But there is no excuse for having uninformed and untrained sales professionals representing your company.

In the News

Stephen R. Toth
Chief Operating Officer
Novare Realty
Atlanta, Georgia
"The New Home Knowledge training program really appeals to a new generation of sales people as well as a new generation of customer. It does away with the old "textbook" solutions and gives our agents a real word view of how to engage customers when they are shopping for a new home. "