John Rymer - New Home Knowledge

April 02, 2010
Professional Builder Magazine

What Separates The Best

Everyone looks for sales superstars. Yet few companies are consistently able to make great sales hires. What separates the best sale professionals and what should you look for when trying to recruit a superior sales professional?

1. Avid goal setters — A sure sign of an average sales person is one who relies on the company “budget” as their sales goal. Great sales professionals know what they want to accomplish and they plan their approach. Their goals are specific and achievable. According to Ben Walters, COO of Inland Homes in Orlando; “It’s easy to say you need to work Realtors to be successful in new home sales. We want a deeper commitment on setting goals. We ask our sales professionals to write down how many Realtor sales they plan to achieve over the next 12 months. We tell them that close personal relationships with top performing Realtors will result in 50% of their total sales. So the question is not do you want Realtor sales, but how are you going to become trusted and connected to top high producers to gain their confidence to achieve the needed number of sales?” Goal setting is easy. Ongoing execution of goals is what sets the best sales professionals. Their goals are achievable yet challenging, relevant to their situation, and time-framed. They visualize success, determine an action plan, and work toward their goals on a daily basis.

2. Ask quality questions — The best sales professionals ask their customers quality questions to fully determine their situation and buying needs. Skilled questioning is an art. Great sales people make their customers feel comfortable answering questions. They know the most effective way to present their homes and community is to uncover their customer's goals, objectives, concerns and hesitations. According to Jeff Agar, Chief Operating Officer at Flagship Homes America, “The best sales people spend more time in discovery than telling you about their product. This allows them to effectively discuss the features and benefits of their product and service that most relate to each customer.” Every great new home sales person always has four or five great questions that set’s up the presentation. Asking a potential new home sales candidate to discuss their best quality questions in an interview must!.

3. Financing Experts — Forget the days of relying on your mortgage partner or loan officer for financing information, today’s top new home sales professionals can write the book on home financing. “We’re in an environment where it’s easier to sell a home than get a buyer approved.” According to Eric Dowdy, a sales manager for Marketing Directors SE in Atlanta Georgia, “The benefit of being a financing expert is that you gain the confidence of the buyer at the beginning of a relationship. In order for my customers to consider one of the new homes in my community, they must first trust me in and accept me as part of their ultimate decision to buy. From there the process of understanding their "other market options" and helping them work out a solution that is biased towards the offering of my client are my top priorities. That is what separates the customer "sale" from the customer "experience"."

4. A passion for new home sales — You need to love your builder and show this pride when talking about your homes and community. The more passionate you are about new home sales, the greater the chance you will succeed. The reason for this is simple—when you love what you do you are going to put more effort into your work. When you are passionate about your community, your enthusiasm will shine brightly in every conversation. If you aren’t genuinely excited about selling your builder or your community, give serious consideration to making a change. You are not doing yourself, your company or your customers any favors by continuing to represent something you can’t get excited about.

5. Always exude enthusiasm — Given the recent housing downturn, finding sales professionals who are always in a positive mood - even during difficult times – is challenging. Enthusiasm is always one of the most sought after traits of any sales new home sales professional. Everyone knows a sales professional’s mood is contagious. Yet too many otherwise successful sales professionals get caught up in company politics or justify why they aren’t given all the tools they feel they need to be successful. Great managers are able to delve into attitude of a sales candidate during an interview. When faced with unpleasant or negative situations, do they choose to focus on the positive elements instead of allowing them to be dragged down? How have they overcome a very difficult environment and turned it into a positive?

6. Taking responsibility for results — Great sales professionals do not blame internal problems, the economy, tough competitors, or anything else if they fail to meet their sales quotas. They know that their actions alone will determine their results and they do what is necessary According to Tom Stokes of Sterling Crest Homes in Atlanta, “Great sales professionals have a way of focusing on the job at hand – making more sales. While lesser individuals will get sidetracked, at the end of the day they understand that their paycheck is based on performance, not distractions.”

7. Hard work and plenty of it — Most sale professionals want to be successful but they aren’t prepared to work hard to achieve it. Sales superstars don’t wait for business to come to them; they go after it. They start work earlier than their coworkers and stay later than everyone else. They make more calls, prospect more consistently, refine their presentation and spend time improving their selling skills. According to Bob Walters, Owner of J Walter Homes in Sacramento California: “Looking for sales superstars involve asking yourself the following questions: Are they good net-workers? Will they go after referrals, meet and connect with the Realtor community? Are they willing to do what it takes to get the job done?” Almost everyone in an interview will indicate they are a hard worker. Sale professionals by nature are the most difficult to judge on work effort. According to sales manager who declined to be quoted but now says she spends more time checking references before she makes a a final sales hire, “They appear to be so sincere in their interview about willingness to work hard to achieve results. I’ve found purported sales superstars sleeping in models. I tend to discount the talk and spend more time checking references when it comes to verifying work ethic.”

8. Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up — According to Steve Hoffacker of Hoffacker and Associates, “The biggest mistake salespeople make in the way the follow-up with people is in not personalizing their message for the individual customer. The amateurish greeting, "Hi, I'm just calling to follow-up" really says they don't care. The best sales professionals state their business and dispense with the weak opening.” Added Hoffacker, “Always have at least two reasons for calling someone. Plan on having something else to talk about if they say they don’t have any questions. The best sales professionals are constantly on the lookout for new and creative ways to keep their name in their customers’ minds.”

9. Always showing value — Today’s homebuilding marketplace is more competitive than ever before and too many sales people think that price is the only motivating buying factor. Successful sales people recognize that price is a factor in every sale but it is seldom the primary reason someone chooses a particular product or supplier. They know that a well-informed buyer will usually base much of her decision on the value proposition presented by the sales person. They know how to create this value with each customer, prospect, or buyer they encounter.

10. Persistent and fearless closer — Selling new homes requires a tremendous amount of tenacity. Even the best sales new home sales professionals will fail with 10 customers for every sale they make. One of the biggest fallacies about great sales performers is that they have “perfect communities” – not true. It’s what they do when faced with barriers that determine their level of success. The most successful people in our industry have learned to face the obstacles that get in their way. They look for new solutions. They refuse to give up. According to Mike Storey, COO of Neal Communities in Sarasota Florida, “I can’t live without the Fearless Closer. They have got to relish the opportunity to get that customer to reject them in order to get them to accept them. They have to know when they’ve earned the right to ask that buyer to commit, build their confidence they are making the right decision and lead them to their checkbook. The best do it without you even know it’s happening to you.”

In the News

Jim Clarke
Robertson Brothers
Detroit, Michigan
"We found New Home Knowledge sales training to be a tremendous help with our sales team. The role playing really helped jump start them to better presentations. You know the program is working when they are anxious to get to the next training session."