If you are like most homebuilders, the anatomy of a GREAT salesperson remains a mystery to you. Keith McKinney, from New Home Star, dropped by to go Head-to-Head with Kimberly Mackey, along with a lively audience. In this edition, we break down what are the most important attributes that all GREAT salespeople share. We discuss how to hold your team accountable, and what metrics to use. Then we dive into the camps for competitive sales floors vs. shared floors, outsourcing your sales team vs. in-house or even general real estate companies. Then, if that wasn’t enough, we do a BONUS 5-minutes on how to create your outsides sales machine. Honestly, if your business is selling new homes, this video should be required viewing! Would you prefer to read the conversation instead? The full transcription is available below.
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Kimberly: If you guys don’t know, and I mean who doesn’t know Keith McKinney, but if you don’t know Keith McKinney, you’re going to see why he is my brother from another mother. I met Keith I don’t know how many years ago. Keith, I’ve lost track.
Keith: The years have gone by quickly
Kimberly: I don’t even know how we ended up meeting, but we were at sales central.
Keith: Yeah, and we were both exhausted. It was one of the last days of the show. I had been running around all week and you had been, and we were sitting on the couch, and we said, “What do you do? “I don’t know. What do you do?”
Kimberly: It was early on in the years of going to the builder show, and ever since, I have to get my annual hug from Keith. Then he moved to Florida, so in theory, I get to see him more often.
Keith: In theory. Covid put a put it covet put a damper on that for the past couple of years, but we made up for it at SEBC. We had lunch.
Kimberly: We did. We had lunch there, so that was good. Covid put the kibosh on a lot of our getting together, but I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m just hoping it’s not an oncoming train. For those of you we are talking about the builder show, it’s coming up, and Keith and I are speaking together, so we are excited about that. I hope you will join us on Tuesday morning at 9:15. It’s going to be a fantastic show. I know uh it may not be as well attended as years past, but that’s okay because the people who are there are going to be there for a reason. They’re going to be there to learn and grow and build their business. I’m going to kick it off here it looks like, and let me just tell you a little bit about what I do and what I’m looking forward to here in 2022. Then I will turn it over to Keith to do his intro. My company is newhomesolutions.com, and people think that I’m a sales trainer. That’s what most people think I am, and they’re not wrong. I am a sales trainer, but what I do is help businesses to grow so that sales is the engine that drives the train rather than running it off the tracks. People think more sales, more sales. Sales solves everything. No, it doesn’t solve everything because you still must build them, and you still must have a great customer experience while you’re building them. I make sure that the builders have all that back end – those parts and the pieces – to support the sales and make sure those sales are profitable. Just last week working with a builder, who, like everybody else, had lumber supply shortages. He’s wrestling with how much of this he can eat and how much of a price increase he needs to take. We’re looking at things based on how many sales he needs in q1 to make sure that he has his pipeline filled for the rest of the year. We’re balancing that whole need for the sales as well as how much profitability, and we worked out a schedule that then makes sense both to his bottom line as well as his schedule and doesn’t overwhelm the builders so that he can have a great customer experience. That’s what I do, and I hope to make sure all those parts and pieces are there for you. If I can help you with that, you can learn more at newhomessolutions.com. Keith, your business, on the scale that you guys do it, is just crazy unique. We have a lot of smaller companies that do something sort of similar but tell us about New Home Star.
Keith: You said the right word – scale. What New Home Star is we’re a national sales and marketing company for new home builders that are looking to grow. You said the right word, Kimberly – scale. Builders that want to scale in multiple markets and multiple states but have the challenge of wondering how to start a sales team and finding a manager – all the stressors of the sales engine that makes the thing go. How does a builder begin who might have done great operationally in their market, they have the financial backing, they have the line of credit, they have the land guys, they have everything else lined up, but wonder how to start a sales team and put all of this in the trust of some stranger and know they need to go higher, and whether it goes or not it depends on that. New Home Star becomes an option. Dave Rice, the founder of New Home Star, just uh put New Home Star financially in a business model that allows us to go with these builders as they scale their business in multiple areas. That’s what has allowed us to be so successful over the past 13 years and grow to the point of where we are today. That’s what New Home Star is and what we try to do. The same thing as Kimberly; people meet me and think I’m a sales trainer. Yes, I can do that all day and on Sunday, but uh there’s a whole lot more to this business than just sales training you have to talk about. One of the joys I have is collaborating with folks like Kimberly Mackey and Melanie Mickey. “Hey, Melanie!” All the great people that are in this industry because that’s what builds our industry and makes it so great.
Kimberly: Absolutely. Your official title is VP of the World?
Keith: Haha! I have a couple of my New Home Star people on here and Aaron, Clark, and Victoria are probably laughing their butt off. Yeah, I am the VP of Swiss Army Knife or whatever you want to call me. Technically, it’s the VP of Organizational Development. I am VP of making sure the French fry tastes the same. If you go to McDonald’s in the Pacific Northwest and you go get a French fry in Key West, Florida, that French fry better stay the same. That’s my job of making sure everywhere we operate it stays and looks the same.
Kimberly: As long I can still dip that French fry in a key lime pie if I’m in Key West.
Keith: Ooh, okay I’m writing that down right now.
Kimberly: You must have a good key lime pie from Key West. This is not a webinar, so we are not going to have slides, but I could not let this go without sharing what I have coming up on March 8th with the amazing Bassam Salem from Atlas RTX. If you have not met Bassam, you’re missing out. Talk about a fantastic story. He has just an incredible immigrant story. A rags to riches story, and he is the king of artificial intelligence in our industry, so we’re going to talk about how to make it sexy and personal. Please, if you didn’t register for what’s coming up, I encourage you to go back and do that or you can always go to newhomessolutions.com/headtohead, and that will get you right to where you need to register. I am going to get out of this and stop sharing my screen so we can just focus on one another and get through our topics. Breath. Deep breath. All right, let’s kick it off with a big one, Keith. Let’s talk about what makes a great salesperson.
Keith: This one will take us a week. Speaking of sales training, we could talk about this for a week in five-hour sessions. To put it simply, like when I was thinking of this question, to save time, I think it’s a combination of ownership and collaboration. if you have a heart of ownership and the willingness to also collaborate, and you have a delicate balance of those two things, that is going to make you a great salesperson. That ownership side is what makes you show up to work – you and I were just talking about this – what makes you show up to work every day and put in all the work because it’s your you feel like it’s your business. It’s your franchise. Your builder’s giving you a store for you to take care of so that ownership is what makes you do all the other things that we could throw out there – great attitude, work ethic, and willingness to get it done. All that falls into if I have great ownership, that’s what going to push me towards that. Then the collaboration keeps you humble enough to where you don’t think you do it all yourself and you still collaborate with the marketing department, you still collaborate with great sales trainers, you still collaborate with great sales strategists, and you try to learn and understand what you can do to help your business grow. I tried to simplify this as much as I could to two words, and I came up with ownership and collaboration because the two are kind of the yin and yang. You collaborate deals with a bunch of people, and ownership is more one-on-one. Those two things, if you balance, those two things are what I’m looking for in a great salesperson. I don’t know about you, Kim.
Kimberly: Yes, Leah Fellows likes that. She said that’s a great way to sum it up. I agree. I think those two things. Owning something; you just think about it differently when you own it. There’s a pride of ownership and you’re constantly striving to make it better. If you’re just renting something, or if it’s somebody else’s business and you just work there, there’s a complete difference in attitude. I love that. I love the ownership. I think a great salesperson must be curious. I think they must be very curious because we get to do something pretty darn incredible when you think about it. I know it sounds a little cheesy, but truly you’re helping people to build the American dream. You’re helping people to have a slice of the pie. Most wealth in America is tied up in on the ownership of their primary home – not even just real estate – it’s their home. A home is more than just an investment, it’s your home. It’s where you live, it’s where your memories are made, it’s where you raise your children. Your pets, your family, and all those wonderful memories. That’s pretty cool if you think about it that we get the opportunity to do that, so to me, that’s very humbling, but those people who are curious know that it’s about the buyer and their family and what’s important to them. If you ask great questions, and you don’t just take the first answer because it’s like peeling back that onion, you must keep peeling those layers until you get to that why, those are the people. I don’t want the people who think they have all the answers. Just don’t want them. I’ve interviewed them, and I’ve turned them down. I don’t care what your track record says because if you think you have all the answers, this is not going to be the job for you. It’s instead the people who have the right questions that I think are the ones that make great salespeople. They’re humble, they’re going to get after it, they’re going to be curious, they’re always going to be learning. As Bob Schultz used to say, “Don’t confuse the size of your paycheck with your abilities.”
Keith: The funny thing is I was going to say you and I grew up in this business with the same mentors and looking up to the same people when Tom Richie and Bob Schultz and Nicki Joy and all those greats were running around sales training, and I was the curious guy. I had never sold anything before new home sales. I learned everything in this business, and when they would come to my builder and do a two-day seminar. I wouldn’t let them eat lunch. I was with my notebook asking them questions because it was that curiosity in me that was just so fascinating. How do I do this? How do I do this better? I never thought of that, but it’s the curiosity in somebody that makes you want to learn and learn more. I think that’s great
Kimberly: To me that’s the number one. Then I think you must have tenacity too so that that stick-to-itiveness. You’ll stick to it, and you won’t give up because uh the late great Bill Herring used to say – and I love and miss Bill Herring – but he would say that this is a business where you get up every day and you dress in your Sunday finest – now maybe not so much anymore – but we used to. We used to dress in our Sunday finest. We’d go out into a world that was going to tell us no nine times out of ten. That takes some stick-to-itiveness. That takes that tenacity and that ability to look for the yeses and not worry so much about the nos and understand that your job in your community is not going to be for everybody. You must find the ones that it is.
Keith: Finding a great new home salesperson is harder now than it was before. You and I were just talking about how the new millennials are entering into the workforce and the challenges of making sure the workplace is conducive for this new age of workers that are coming in and the different mindsets. Looking for that curiosity along with that sense of ownership, that’s not going to be easy that you can find in a one- or two-hour interview and say, “That’s good. Let’s hire them.” If you don’t have a better hiring process, you might want to re-look at that and rethink it.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I have a pre-interview questionnaire that I start with, and people self-select themselves right out of my process. I might get 50 resumes, but only five will fill out the pre-interview questionnaire. If they won’t work to get the job, they’re certainly not going to work when they have the job. I want somebody who understands that new home sales is hard work so they must do that. It tells me so much about them. Right away, I learn a little bit about their backstory, I see their communication style – kind of their viewpoint – how do they look at things? Are they optimistic? Are they curious? Are they asking good questions as part of it? Are they just telling me stuff? It tells you a lot, and I do think you need a very thorough vetting process. A lot of builders state they don’t have time for that. “Wait a minute! Let’s think about this. You don’t have time to put the right person to represent your company and millions of dollars worth of property and homes? This is where you need to focus your energy!”
Keith: I’ve heard this quote, and I love this quote. Dave Rice, our founder, uses his quote all the time: “You can pay now, or you can pay later, but either way you’re going to pay.” You pay the cost of taking your time and finding the right person, or you’re going to pay the cost of hiring the wrong person, but either way, you’re going to pay. Pick your poison and go with the go to the one that’s going to be best for you.
Kimberly: it’s the same advice we give great salespeople. Slow down to go faster. When you spend the time upfront, you’re going to have that better fit, you’re going to have a better hire, and you’ve got to then nurture those people. Melanie’s question as a sales leader is, what does it take to encourage and support the ownership and collaboration?”
Keith: The biggest thing is, and this is a great lead-in to our second question of accountability. You must spend time with them.
Kimberly: Wait! What? Are you saying that sales happen in the field, and sales leaders need to be in the field with their people?
Keith: I don’t know just call me stupid or maybe I’m imagining things, but to encourage ownership and collaboration, they need somebody to collaborate with. If they don’t collaborate with the person who hires them and who’s supposed to be giving them daily direction, they’re going to collaborate with the wrong people, so they need to collaborate with their supervisor. You do that by spending time with them. I know if there are any on here, I’m sorry guys, but our division presidents and our and our builder owners have really important things they want to grab onto us sales leaders about and we have to sit in meetings all day at the corporate office. That is what they’re used to, but man the struggle is real on trying to make everyone understand as a sales leader, your best contribution to the organization is being out in the field with your people.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I had a division president when I worked for one of the largest builders in the U.S. who told me when I first joined, and I showed up, and I had come from another large publicly traded builder, I had an allowance for my office. I could bring in a decorator. I had this nice posh office and place to train and to do consultations, so I show up for this one and she says, “Here’s your cubicle.” I said, Excuse me, what?” She says, “Here’s your cubicle.” It was right next to all this chaos and everything, and I just looked at her, and she said, “Get out and stay out.” This is like day two on the job and I’m thinking, “What?!” The best advice I ever got. Get out and stay out. At the time this is how old I am, people. The just-retired Blackberrys last week. I had my Blackberry, and I had my laptop. What else did I need in her view? That’s where I needed to be; out in the field all day every day. Stop laughing at me Leah Fellows. She’s laughing at me over Blackberry, but you know I had Blackberry thumb. Man, I could type like a banshee on that thing. When you get out and you are working with your team in the field, they get to the point that they say, “Oh my gosh, Kimberly. I’m so glad you’re here.” They’re prepared for you. They know you’re coming. You know you’re going to do a planned encounter. They’ve got a list. They’ve got a Kimberly list of all the support that they need, and they’re so used to me being there that I could be a fly on the wall, and I can hear them and help them without interrupting. Do not interrupt the sales process. You sit and you listen, but you do not interrupt and tell people what they’re doing. Praise people for doing things well. We want to celebrate what’s going well in people’s worlds. This job is hard enough without somebody who’s constantly coming in and nitpicking. That’s not what I’m talking about doing. I had a salesperson whose name was Donna, and she went to a sales training we had. This big company flew everybody to Dallas, Texas for training, and Donna learned some new processes. She was so excited about all these processes. She came back and tried to implement them all at one time. Well, suddenly, I notice Donna’s sales are going down. I don’t know what’s happening here, but as I’m spending time in the field with her, I realized right away she was so focused on implementing these things at one time rather than taking one and getting comfortable with it and then adding it in layers that she forgot to be Donna. She came into my office and said, “I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.” She looks at me with tears in her eyes and I said, “Don’t cry. You’ve got this. I can tell right away what’s going on here. I’m so thrilled that you’re applying these things and that you’re so open to learning but let me permit you to still be Donna. Use these things but be you because you’re the only Donna here and you bring these wonderful gifts.” When I shared with her the wonderful gifts that she brought to our company, it was incredible that you could see her shoulders relax and she started breathing better. She said, “Huh, I didn’t realize that’s what I was doing.” That sales pace went right back up.
Keith: To Melanie’s point, that’s the collaboration part. When the collaboration is over and they’re in their element, that’s when the confidence of ownership then sets in. Now they feel like they’re empowered to own this thing and show the builder and the manager what they can do when they’re out here making it happen on their own. That’s how those two and then man, the curiosity; that was just such a good bomb, Kimberly. That curiosity is what continues to make that drive always remain. It’s what has me and you still going to IBS and cornering people and asking, “What’s going on in your market? What’s going on in your market” So, we can learn and grow. We can learn from guys like Ben Marks who’s doing a completely different side of the business but seeing a completely different thing. We’re collaborating so when we all go to our separate corners, we can have ownership and do what we do best. That’s what’s still amazing. It still pushes everybody no matter where you are in your career.
Kimberly: Absolutely. Carrie sent out today a thing about the importance of reading. I read for a couple of hours every single day. People say to me, “Oh, you’re wasting your time.” No, I’m not wasting my time. The fact that I spend time every morning and every evening – I read about an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening and sometimes more. On the weekends I’m also reading. That is what allows me to be good at my job. You’ve got to put good stuff in. You must be curious and put that good stuff in. I don’t want to get away from our accountability point without saying you don’t get what you expect you get what you inspect, as our friend Jeff Shore has reminded us of numerous times. Set expectations with your sales team. Your sales team should never be surprised. They should always know what the budget is and how that compares to their personal goals. Have you done that exercise with them so that we have both a budget and a goal we’re measuring? You’ve got to have key metrics, so people know how they’re doing. How are they doing as a percentage of their goal weekly? On a monthly? On a quarterly and an annual basis? This to me is at the very top of every planned encounter form that I use. I want to know how you are doing as a percentage of the goal. Are we getting there? People need to know where they are. You can’t know where you’re going if you don’t have that starting point. There’s no map in between those two areas if you don’t have that starting point.
Keith: When you’re driving accountability – sales leaders this is hard. This is hard because we all have hearts. We hired these people. We care a lot about these folks, but when it comes to accountability, you have to draw a line of no compromise. There’s a football term that football coaches use called death by inches. If it’s fourth in inches and you don’t get that inch, you’re still turning the ball over. Every time I walk into a model home, the first thing I do is walk the model home. They say, “Hey”, and they always call each other. They know I’m coming, and they say, “Hey, McKinney’s coming! You better walk your model home! I tear it apart because I was trained that your model home is the first representation of you. and it should be perfect. You aren’t going to get it perfect all the time, but if the curtains aren’t straight and the pillows aren’t fluffed, if there’s a little spider web over in the corner and you can tell it’s been there for months – whatever it is – when you walk your model home it should be perfect, and that’s the first indication for me. If they’re not walking the model home…light bulbs Christy, yes…
Kimberly: Oh, light bulbs. Turn them on!
Keith: Have them turned on. Everybody says, “Oh well, that’s just one thing.” If they won’t do that, how are they making their weekly calls to their customers? I doubt it. Are they doing their addendums the way they’re supposed to – filled out with numbers all accurate? I doubt it. That’s what drives accountability. When you don’t compromise. Now I don’t say when you catch it, and it’s not up to par, that you don’t do it with love, and you say, “Okay come on, let’s do this together. Let’s strategize.” it
Kimberly: You still want them to understand the importance.
Keith: Help them to understand, but don’t compromise and say, “Oh well, this is good enough for today. Just make sure you get it straight next week.” When you do that, you are dropping that line of accountability every single time. When it comes to accountability no matter what it is, make sure you keep and hold that accountability standard because you don’t ever want that to decrease.
Kimberly: When you have metrics and you have your minimum performance expectations that you lay out as part of a contract when you hire a new salesperson, it becomes not about who you like. You may have this wonderful person that you like, but they’re not doing the job. Now that gives everybody else the excuse not to do the job. Sometimes the best thing you can do if someone is just not cut out for this job is to let them go find what they are cut out for. Especially in today’s market, people can get a job today. There are lots of jobs out there. This is something that is a passion; it’s a calling. Sometimes it’s more important to help someone along their path. If this is not going to be the right one, help them and give them the tools. You don’t you’ve got to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, “I did everything I could to support this person.”
Keith: I just counseled a sales leader yesterday where this person has been told in writing to do a specific thing, and they just refuse to do it. They just refuse to do it, but this person has the best attitude on the whole team. They’re just a delight to be around. In the sales meeting, they’re always the joy of the sales meeting, but they won’t do the job. By allowing that to continue, you are dropping the accountability standard of your entire team. That is the effect that you can’t have as a sales leader and unfortunately, we helped this person go find another place that will fit what exactly they’re looking for because obviously, this wasn’t it.
Kimberly: I’ve had to let go of top producers because they wouldn’t show up on time for meetings. They wouldn’t. They wouldn’t show up on time for work, but oh well they’re top producers. But they weren’t there until noon, so your storefront was closed. The number one rule of selling is to show up. Just show up. Sales will happen just because you’re a body in the way. That’s not what it’s about. You’ve got to have those performance expectations, and you have to manage those performance expectations. If you aren’t sure what minimum performance should look like I’m happy to help you with that. I’m sure Keith’s happy to help you with that. But it’s a contract. We expect people to be adults, but we expect to also have to help them and to let them know what we expect out of them. It’s not fair to just throw somebody out there. I remember back in the day when I first started in new home sales, and it was, “Here are the keys Mackey. Go sell something.” Not everybody is going to be me. Not everybody’s going to figure it out, and not everybody’s going to have that stick-to-itiveness. The bruise on my forehead, man. Do you see how nice and smooth my forehead is? It’s not because of Botox, it’s because I banged my head so many times it just flattened out those wrinkles. Not everybody’s going to do that. We could go on about this all day but use your metrics. Measure out how many sales, how many phone calls they need to make, how much follow-up they need to do. How many REALTORS® do they need? What kind of outreach do they need to do? What kind of referrals should they be bringing in? If they aren’t bringing in those referrals, what are the things that they need to do to increase that? How many appointments are they having every week? I measure appointments. Everything I do is based on 10-5-2-1. It’s a formula that I use. If you follow me, you know I talk about it all the time. On average we know that we need ten prospects every week to get five first appointments, two secondary appointments – be back appointments if you will. Second, third, fourth whatever it is because you didn’t get it across the finish line the first time. and that leads to one sale per week. In my world that’s 50 sales a year because you get two weeks off for vacation that you’ll be able to take in Hawaii if you’re getting 50 sales a year. Everything is based on that.
Keith: Quick Head-to-Head plug on metrics, you don’t want to miss the next one with Bassam Salem because his whole program is based on accountability and metrics, so don’t forget to put that in your calendar. You don’t want to miss that one.
Kimberly: And he has the artificial intelligence to measure it and the real intelligence too. We have a question: How do you recommend leadership analyze their performance as leaders and create a company culture that retains. Oh, that’s a whole new webinar. I will tell you, Leah, I have started a new program with my builders that I’m super excited about, and it is truly an accountability program. It’s how we run meetings. what do our scorecards look like, what metrics are we going to measure? It’s so darn cool and two of my builders introduced me to it. One of them introduced me to it at this level, and then I have another one that got me into it at the granular level. I’m all on board with this, so that’s a whole new webinar. Everybody in the company should have minimum performance expectations, so you need to be able to measure yourself and the company needs to be able to measure how you are doing against your goals. Every single position in the company should have metrics. That includes admins, that includes closing coordinators, it includes your purchasing department, it includes your CFO, your COO. I mean everybody should have those metrics and be able to look at every quarter how we are doing with our 90-day goals. How are we reaching those and what are the to-dos in holding ourselves accountable? If you’re not holding yourself accountable and the company is playing favorites over here and sliding people around just because they like them, and this person gets a special perk and this one. It doesn’t matter how you hold your sales team accountable or your construction team accountable out in the field because they see it in the office, so great point, Leah. Thank you. Yes, everybody in the company. This doesn’t just apply to salespeople. Let’s talk about setting up teams. How do you feel Keith about a competitive floor where the salespeople are selling on their own versus that sales team where everybody gets a cut of the pie?
Keith: Okay, you did say this is Head-to-Head, so I’m just going to go. A team floor, and for those that are trying to team, floor means a shared floor. Some call it share floor or team floor where two agents or three agents are going to share commissions no matter who sells a home. I believe a team floor is acceptable, but there needs to be history. History and time need to be built into a team floor in my experience. When I say history and time, if Kimberly Mackey and I were partners in the same community that was a master plan community with 5,000 lots, and it was just me and her. Over two years she did 45 sales, and I did 48. The next year she did 49, and I did 47. There’s a pretty even matched individual ownership in the community. Kimberly and I both say, “You know what? Our families have gone on vacation, we’ve hung out together, we know each other, we should partner up, so we go to our manager. To me, that is a historically good situation where a manager could take a step back, look at the runway of the community, and say that potentially this makes sense. What I’m seeing a lot of is we have this brand-new community. It’s going to be awesome, and it’s going to be rock ‘em sock ‘em, and we’re going to get two brand new people and put them in there, and they’re going to share floor. I think that is a disastrous idea.
Kimberly: That is a recipe for disaster.
Keith: Yes, that is a disastrous idea. In general, I think a competitive floor for the majority of all new home sale models pulls out the best in a new home salesperson especially if they have ownership and they’re trying to do something special for their initiatives and their family and all the goals they want to reach in life. That pushes them to be the best they can be every day. As a guy who played collegiate athletics, when you get to be a sophomore you can’t sit there and say that this is great. No, because remember last year you were the freshman who wanted to take his job? Well now as a sophomore, there’s another freshman behind you that wants to take your job. There is an internal fire that builds that says, “I’m not going to let somebody take my job!” There’s that internal competitiveness that happens when you have a competitive floor that pulls out – hopefully, if you’re out in the field positively – creates a good culture and a good competitive spirit that pulls out the best in everybody. That is my non-adult beverage-laden rant about competitive versus team floors. Now if you want to get robust about it, catch us at IBS and we can do it.
Kimberly: In the evening over a cocktail for sure. Now, when it’s everybody’s job, it’s nobody’s job.
Keith: Ooh, say that again, please!
Kimberly: when it’s everybody’s job, it’s nobody’s job. You get people who no longer take ownership, and what else happens is they say, “Oh well, I thought Keith was going to do that. Keith says, “No I thought Kimberly was going to do that.” That’s not the way things work around here, so everybody has to have ownership of it You better have very clearly defined delineations of duty. What Is that I am going to be accountable for and what are you going to be accountable for? Everyone needs to have their metrics. I agree with you, Keith, that if you’ve got an experienced team that has worked together for a long time, and they’re kind of the yin and the yang of each other – one of them is good at this and the other one’s good at that – and you’ve seen that in a partnership or a competitive environment, and they want to do that, but you will see sales go down. Sales will go down.
Keith: They absolutely will. This goes back to accountability. Leah just said, “What metrics are you going to use?” You just pulled two separate metrics and lumped them together, so how can you individually know how either one of them is doing? That’s the other thing that becomes a challenge for a leader is that now if the time ever comes when that community is not performing, and you need to make a change, you potentially need to make a change with two people instead of seeing what you have to do to encourage and change the behavior of one because you have no metrics. You decided to pull all of their metrics and their accountability together. It sounds like an easy solution for a sales manager or a leader just to think that they’re awesome, and that’s going to make them both happy, and they’ll stop calling me, and they’re both be happy, and I’ll hit my quota from my division president, and it’ll all be good.
Kimberly: That won’t stop the phone calls.
Keith: Again, you can pay now, or you pay later, but either way sooner or later you’re going to pay. It’s just that thing.
Kimberly: The goal here is that when you have those minimum performance expectations and you put together team-minded people. I still want team-minded people because we are a sales team and not sales individuals, so we’re going to cover for each other. I had partnerships when I was in on-site sales that were fantastic. I had this amazing partner. We covered for each other. I could take my days off. You want people who will cover for each other and understand it’s the builder’s customers; let’s take care of them first. You also need to have a system in place for that to happen. Think these things through based on your area, your community, and the people that you have in place, but if you find that you throw a third person into the mix because it’s a busier community, and this person starts wreaking all kinds of havoc, your sales are going to go down again. Now all of a sudden, it’s whine, whine, whine and whine, whine, whine, and if there’s a whole bunch of that going on, you better break that stuff up right now and put a stop to it because it’s taking their eye off of what they should be focused on doing. This whine, whine, whine stuff is not healthy at all. Same thing with if you have a salesperson that you put in a community, and you think that one person could handle it and you find that you have more traffic. Too much traffic is worse than not enough. Wait, what did you just say? Too much traffic is worse because what happens is they don’t focus on each person. It’s the person who comes in waving a check, so your Bs and your Cs fall through the cracks even though they’re good buyers. Because they’re not waving a check, then you’re not getting that follow through and sticking with that buyer and helping them, and maybe not even giving them great customer service at the same time.
Keith: That’s how you lose incremental sales.
Kimberly: Yes, because you’re going to have a next community or a next phase, and markets change and markets shift. Oh, Melanie, I see what you did there! She said, “That’s why by appointment only has worked in our favor.” I’m going to be speaking with Melanie too at IBS, and that’s what we’re going to be talking about on Thursday I think at 11 o’clock. By appointment works if you don’t have salespeople. I want my salespeople to schedule appointments. I said if I ever go back into on-site sales, what I would do is set my schedule, and I would work by appointment because I know how to work by appointment. I also know how to drive my traffic, so I don’t have to worry about floor traffic. When you can do those two things together, you’re going to have you’re going to see fewer people, but the quality is going to be higher, and you’re going to get more sales. You do have to follow up after all the appointments. When setting up teams, personalities matter. I was just working with a builder who had a couple of mis hires, and they weren’t necessarily mis hires because of skill set, but they were mis hires because of company culture. So, think about your company culture and be aware of your company culture. Make sure you’re hiring people you don’t want a bunch of clones because we all should embrace our differences and be able to bring that to the team. You don’t want people who have the same personality necessarily that you do, but you do want people who can integrate with the team and support the team rather than disrupt the team. If you’ve got somebody who you know has for whatever reason the issues that they’re bringing to the table every day, you find you’re spending an inordinate amount of time just talking about this one person, that’s the time where we maybe need to revisit even if they’re hitting their metrics. How much is it costing the rest of the company? Do think about that. I think so many builders think it’s just a salesperson. I’ll just throw them out there and see what sticks. Eventually, I’ll get one that’s hungry enough; that they’ll make it work. No. Salespeople must be nurtured. You’re out there on an island by yourself, and when you’re on an island by yourself and you don’t have the answers and you’re not involved in the day-to-day in the office, sometimes you can fill in the gaps there. Maybe not in a way that the builder or the owner would like for it to be filled in.
Keith: That’s completely right. When you’re trying to take care of your builder, and your builder’s trying to figure out company culture. I was speaking at a leadership conference about three months ago in Vegas, and the big question was, “Keith, how do you build company culture?” Everybody says that word company culture, and technically speaking half the people that say it don’t know what the hell it is. The best analogy is we’ve all had friends in our early days, and you have the one friend that drives like a bat out of hell. They drive 80 miles an hour until they get within two feet of a car, and then they hit the brakes. You are on pins and needles. Most of us the whole ride, but there are a couple of people who love driving like that. They love to swing through here like that is a culture of fast-paced living on the edge. That’s okay, but most of us would rather have Morgan Freeman from Driving Miss Daisy. We’d rather have somebody calm, cool, and collected who’s driving us around. Sometimes you can go too slowly, and you’re not sure if that’s the culture you want. The culture of a company is who’s driving the bus. How fast is the bus going? What activities are we doing?
Kimberly: How many people are they taking out while they’re driving? We shouldn’t be plowing people over.
Keith: Some companies do happy hours and company events every two weeks. Well, if somebody doesn’t get into that, then that may not match with the company culture. If some companies only do get-togethers once a year, and for a lot of hard-driving people that are financially motivated, “I don’t need more than that once a year. Let me go do my thing.” That’s okay if that’s that company’s culture, hire for that culture so that way you don’t ever get people there that are unhappy to be there. When they get unhappy to be there, that’s when performance goes down, and they don’t want to be held accountable for what you’re trying to do. I had to take that second on understanding because people always talk about company culture. You must look at the company and the people it’s already composed of, and how the company was the vision, and get people that match that vision. That’s building good company culture.
Kimberly: Yes, and it’s not a five-minute process. These are things you need to engage in and think about. Perhaps even hire somebody from the outside, because sometimes that outside perspective helps you to see it a little differently. I’m going here; this is another big point that we wanted to make: outsourcing versus in-house versus an outside real estate company. Go. I’m bracing.
Keith: First of all, outsourcing is not new. Outsourcing has been around for years. This is where a builder will outsource their sales and the staffing of a model or spec home to a REALTOR® or somebody else that is on the outside of their organization. This is not new. It’s been around for years. Most successful real estate agents that like new home sales, have marketed themselves to builders – particularly custom builders that might have one community or they build 10 custom homes. Builders value the people who are bringing customers now, but when builders do that. they are willing to sacrifice the people that walk in the door to be completely at the discretion of the real estate company that’s there; meaning the real estate company can service them in any way they want to, but for a custom builder or lower volume builder that all works. When you go to our bigger builders, it’s a little bit harder to get them to get on that same train, so their options are in-house because they have more control. What our company has done is scalability. As I said before when you have a bigger builder that’s trying to scale they could never understand how they could do that. Through certain companies that figure out a model, then they’re more interested in it. If a builder could have a setup where they don’t manage salespeople, trust me they would take it, but they don’t want to lose control, and they don’t want to lose the ability to hold accountability. The lack of those two things opens the door for these three options. Outsourcing has always been around, but as builders get bigger and their business becomes more important and more important in terms of hitting volume numbers for their investors and hitting all those critical numbers, that’s when they get nervous. They feel they have to control this, and the outsourcing thing turns more in-house. I hope I as politically as I could answer that.
Kimberly: I am very impressed. In the interest of time, we could do a whole hour on this, but in the interest of time, I’m going to tell you one thing; Whatever source you choose, make sure that source is dedicated only to you. I work with general REALTORS® as you know. I train general REALTORS® all the time. It’s a different skill set. It’s a different thing, and if you expect a general real estate agent who does used homes – who does resale – to sell your new homes, you’re not in the real estate business. You’re in the home building business, and they’re two different things. There are options is what Keith is saying. It depends on each builder. Leah and I worked with a builder last year who had real general real estate agents who couldn’t get any sales. They couldn’t get these in 2020 when sales are all around him. We said, “You’ve got a sales problem. This isn’t a marketing problem. It’s not a price product position problem. You have a sales problem here.” We hired two new salespeople and put them in place, and boom! Sales problem resolved. Now it’s a hey can I build all these problems which everybody else was having because of supply. You must have somebody who’s dedicated to you. Whether you choose a real estate company that does this for you, which I know in a lot of our markets that’s very viable. How are they going to hold those salespeople accountable? How are they going to do all these things and how do they handle anybody who may not be your buyer or your buyer right now? Because the answer is to take them and go show them used homes. No! Wrong! That is not it. Whether they’re in-house, whether they’re outsourced, whether you’re using a company like New Home Star, or you’re using that third-party real estate company to manage them, you still have to do all the same stuff. That’s what Keith’s company does. They have to do all these same things that we’re talking about. They’re just doing them for quite a few different builders – not just one. That’s as concise as I can keep that one. When you go to different brokerages, I agree with you that there’s clashing. That company that you hire if you do outsource doesn’t define your culture. It doesn’t define your expectations. You have to have that mapped out ahead of time. You still have to have those key metrics. I work with builders who outsource varying things, and we still measure metrics. Whether it’s outsourced or not, are the metrics being met? Are the expectations being met?
Keith: Builders are outsourcing already because they outsource the plumbing, the electrical, the concrete. Their whole business is outsourcing, but when it’s the heartbeat of your organization, and it becomes the main driver of everything you want to do in your organization, it just becomes a little bit more important that you want to keep it in
Kimberly: Absolutely, and you know I’m always pro in-house if the builder has the structure to support it. If it’s a builder/owner who is not going to manage the salespeople and let them run, you hire somebody to do that. You can outsource sales management. I do that frequently for builders. You know you can outsource that if you need somebody else to manage, but you’re not quite big enough to hire the whole company that’s going to manage it and put the people in place. That’s their job, so there are lots of choices that you have here. We are at the top of the hour. I knew we were going to have trouble getting through this, but we’d be remiss because we did say for general REALTORS® there’s a bonus. Those of you who do have to jump off because it’s the top of the hour, I get it. We’ll send the video out, and you can catch up on this segment of it. Keith, if you’ve got a few minutes, we can get through this last point. Let’s talk about creating a fantastic outside sales force with general REALTORS®
Keith: Anybody who has been to a marketing class has heard the number one traffic driver of marketing is word of mouth. The easiest way I could explain VIP REALTOR® list is that is the builder’s mouth. That is your word of mouth. We can put up billboards and signs, but if you create a team of REALTORS® whose job every day is to go get in front of people and create buyers. You create this VIP list of a bunch of those folks, that is the best word of mouth marketing that a builder can do. When you have a REALTOR® group like Kimberly leads that is specifically geared towards new home sales, then why in the heck would you not go make them a VIP REALTOR® and put together a program that allows you to maximize this VIP REALTOR® group? That VIP list of agents is your word of mouth. They’re your ambassadors out in the field that are speaking where you can’t go. They’re going to be in places, at networking events, at hosting different events where you’re not going to be there, but if you have them as a VIP agent, they’re speaking of you in places when you’re not able to be there.
Kimberly: Yes, the clash I think that we have as builders with general real estate agents is dealing with those who are not educated. They don’t know the process, so don’t worry about those people unless you want to try to cultivate them and educate them. A VIP to me is someone who has already become a raving fan of your company. They are going to bring you two deals a year, and as a salesperson, I have them on my phone. I call them up, and I’m just Kimberly, I don’t have to be Kimberly Mackey. I’m Kimberly. They know exactly who it is. I’m invited to weddings, I’m invited to Christmas events, I’m invited to this because we know each other that well.
Keith: And when you’re invited, you go, by the way.
Kimberly: Of course. They’re going to bring me two deals a year, and when you’re invited you say, “Oh absolutely! Yes, of course!” So, from however many years ago I was on the floor – we don’t even want to talk about that, because you know I started when I was five – but I have REALTOR® VIPs that I am still in close contact with them and their family and their kids. Our kids have grown up together. I could still pick up the phone if I happen to be in the Tampa market, and I’m out at one of my builders; I can still pick up the phone and call them up and say, “Hey, Nancy, I have this home out here that needs a family to love it. It suits this type of lifestyle, it has this, and it has that. Who are you working with that would love a home like this?” They’ll bring me a buyer. I know they’ll bring me a buyer. You don’t need huge numbers, so I’m going to give you another one of my formulas. I did my ten-five-two-one formula. The other one is 25 times 2 equals 50. 25 times 2 equals 50. This is not new math. It is not hard, so you don’t need thousands of VIPs. If you want 50 sales a year. you need 25 realtors who are going to bring you two deals a year, and that’s before any walk-in traffic. That’s before any referrals. That’s before any builder traffic. That’s a pretty good way to start January 1.
Keith: That’s a great way.
Kimberly: Cultivate, but building a relationship is hard. This is why most on-sites don’t do it. There are a million techniques that you can use to build those relationships, but it doesn’t matter. Just do it. Just spend time with people, get to know them, and support each other’s business, and you’ll grow those relationships over time. If your number is not 50, if your builder can’t sustain 50 for each salesperson, do 10, 15. Do five.
Keith: Start somewhere, but you must start. Kimberly just gave you a metric – 25 times two. You can put that on your sales team and if they hit 15 this year, that’s 30. I don’t know about you, but as a sales leader, I’ll take an extra 30 sales.
Kimberly: Sure. Profitable sales with people who run errands for you and babysit kids and do help you when things don’t go as well as we’d like them to go to explain it because they get It. They’re educated. They’re raving fans. We don’t need to deal with those REALTORS® who are trying to tear us down and pick us apart. You don’t have to when you have VIPs. Oh my gosh! So many points. This is a this should be required viewing for every salesperson.
Keith: Yes, we should tell the NAHB this is required; like part of the freaking CSP program.
Kimberly: This was good. This was fantastic. If Keith and I can be of assistance, feel free. See us live and in person at uh at the builder’s show. We’d love to meet you in person.
Keith: We’d love to see you all.
Kimberly: Come up introduce yourself for sure. I will see you in a couple of weeks, my friend.
Keith: Sounds good. I look forward to it.
Kimberly: Take care, everybody. Stay safe out there.