(If you wouild like to read the discussion between Kimberly and Jeff, the video transcription at the bottom of the page.)
What fun Jeff Shore and Kimberly Mackey had taking a deep dive into looking at the homebuying process “Through the Buyer’s Eyes.” You’ve heard it again and again, but homebuying is about relationships and helping your buyers, but if you don’t get to know them or understand their story, how can properly help? This program is a sales meeting in and of itself! To learn more about Head-to-Head and to register for future events, so you can join in the conversation, visit https://NewHomesSolutions.com/Head-to-Head.
Up next on Head-to-Head, our good friend, Meredith Oliver stops by to put on our “FUTURE VISION: What to Expect in 2022.” We will talk about what we have learned over the past two years and how that impacts what builders need to know in the near future. Make sure you join us live to ask your questions and be part of the conversation.
Kimberly: Good to see people from all over. We’ve got to wake California up this morning. It’s still a little early for them. They’ve got to get their coffee, Jeff. Because we have so much to cover let’s go ahead and let’s kick this thing off. We’ll have the slides up for just a minute and then we’ll go back to where you can see Jeff and me a little more. We do encourage you to participate. This is not a podcast and not a webinar. As I’m fond of saying it’s a conversation, and it’s a conversation where you get to join in, and those are the best kind, so please feel free to join us. We’re going to be taking a deep dive and looking at things from the buyer’s perspective. Now isn’t that interesting that we’re not talking about things from how to do it as a builder, what you need to do as a builder, and why builders need to do these things? We’re going to look at it from your buyer’s eyes and hopefully help you to have a deeper understanding of why your buyers do things the way they do. I know sometimes it can be frustrating, and sometimes it can be wonderful. Home building is never dull; that part we do know. I’m going to go ahead and kick it off with a quick intro of me and then turn it over to Jeff to introduce himself. I am the founder of New Homes Solutions Consulting. Jeff and I were just reminiscing, and I realized how long we’ve known each other. Wow, but we started as kids, Jeff.
Jeff: Yeah, we did. We were 14 at the time.
Kimberly: Yes, wow. We go back a minute or two. Very exciting. We’ll talk about that just a little bit more too. but I’ve been in this industry for about 20 years now, and when I say, “Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt,” I have because I was fortunate to start with a home builder whom I consider boot camp for the industry. I worked as an on-site, I was a sales manager, I was a director of construction, and an acting division president at one point; so, I did purchasing, I did closing. I mean if you can do it in home building, I certainly did. That builder also flew me all over the country and allowed me to get training from the best and the brightest in this industry, and for that, I will be forever grateful because it was my foundation. The next builder I went to, I met Jeff, so I like to say I knew Jeff before he was Jeff Shore. He worked with me when we were at Ryland, and I think that was one of your first gigs that you had, right?
Jeff: It was the first assignment I ever had when I went out on my own was with Ryland Homes. They still had that framed dollar, that ceremonial dollar bill from that assignment. They paid me two, but I kept one of them.
Kimberly: You kept one of the dollars. Well, that’s good. 50 percent of what you earned. It was wonderful, and as a sales manager who was new to a publicly traded builder at that time, and as a sales VP, it was fantastic to work with you and to have those quarterly retreats. We were fortunate. A lot of the information that I got in that foundation came from Jeff. I’m not embarrassed to say it. I think it’s fantastic and I’m sure there are so many people that he has influenced over the years. He probably has no what he said or what he did even at that moment that made a direct impact on them, so thank you very much. It’s an honor to have you here today. Jeff, with that, let me let you go ahead and talk about yourself and your new book that you have. One of the 20 or so that you have out there.
Jeff: Not quite. First of all, thank you, Kimberly. That was very kind. Look, at the end of the day, I think everybody who’s on right now with us – we all have the same goal. We just want to have an impact, right? We want to have an impact on the lives of the people around us and that’s why I love sales so much, and new home sales in particular. We do have just such a profound way to change people’s lives and impact one of the most important decisions that they will ever make in their entire lifetime. It’s very cool. Blessed to be in this industry for now 35 years. Man, I’m getting old, old, old, old!
Kimberly: You did start when you were 14.
Jeff: I did. I did. I was just a pup. I was. I was in my early 20s at the time when I sold my very first home. I just love this industry so much. It’s just it’s so much fun. It’s so challenging. It’s so rewarding. There are just so many things to love about the home building business. Now I lead a team of 13 people at Shore Consulting. We work with home builders large and small all over North America, and we have a great time doing it. It’s a lot of fun. I’m of the age now where people say, “So, when are you going to retire?” and I reply, “Why would I do that? I’m part of a great industry. I’m having a great time, and let’s face it, the days that we’re living in right now, I mean who would want to miss this?” It is just a crazy, crazy time where we are learning more than we think we’re learning, and it’s going to help us for the rest of our careers. When we get to the other side 10 years from now, you’re going to have some rookie who’s saying. “I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to sell a home. Interest rates are all the way to five percent. How will I ever do it?” We’re going to sit back and say, “Hey dude, we survived 2021. Don’t tell me about how bad life is.”
Kimberly: The ups and the downs, but I’ve never seen this industry accelerate at the pace that it has accelerated.
Jeff: Yes, yes. No doubt.
Kimberly: You know what? I might say long overdue. Maybe we could have paced it a little better. I do want to do a couple of housekeeping things here. On November 9th, we’re back here on Head-to-Head. Please join us because we have none other than our friend, Jeff, Miss Meredith Oliver.
Jeff: Good friend. We’ll call her a good friend.
Kimberly: She is a very good friend, and I am very interested to hear her take on what we can expect for 2022. I have some predictions in mind as well. You’ll have to join us to hear about all that. Normally I don’t cross over and cross-promote, but I’m going to break my own rule today because I think this one’s important. On November 12th, The Sales and Marketing Power Hour is taking a deep dive into something incredibly important to our industry, so whether you’re a general REALTOR® or you’re a home builder, you are industry adjacent. If you are an associate member at NAHB or just active in the association, we’re going to be talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion, and why that is so incredibly important for our industry. We have two amazing guests. you can learn more by going to our Facebook group. That address is on the screen, or you can search if you’re on Facebook for “Sales Marketing Power Hour”. Make sure you join that group, and we’ll keep you posted. ‘m super excited about having such an important discussion and particularly the timing of that important discussion. With that, I’m going to stop sharing any slides and we’re going to dive right in. Jeff, we talked before the show a little bit about our entire capsule of what part of the buyer’s journey we’re trying to focus on today, and then you did something interesting. You said, “Let’s expand that”, and I thought, “He wants to expand after people buy.” No. He wants to talk more about why and what happens before they ever identify themselves, so we’re going to look at when that buyer identifies themselves to the contract as well as what caused them to identify themselves in the first place. We’ve got to start at the beginning, right?
Jeff: I think that sometimes we get under the mistaken idea that the sales process we tend to think that the sales process begins when we talk to the customer for the first time, or they make contact for the first. I suppose there’s some truth to that idea, but the buying process doesn’t start there. The buying process starts long before we meet them for the first time. If you just look at it right from the very beginning- I’m going to throw a little test out for people who are watching right now, so you’re going to use your chat box right out of the gate – I’m going to ask you to rate your level of dissatisfaction in the home you’re in right now. Here’s how we’re going to do this. I want you to put yourself on a dissatisfaction scale of one to ten. One; very low dissatisfaction. I’m happy in the home I’m in right now. Ten; Raging dissatisfaction in the home I’m in. I have to move. Go to your chat box right now and rate yourself somewhere between a one and ten on your level of dissatisfaction in the home you’re in right now. We got a seven. We got a four. Eric is three. Tabby Seven. Three. Rachel says, “In September, I was a five. Six weeks later I bought a new home and I’m now at 10 because I’m waiting to move into my new home.” There you go. That would make sense. Six, five, four. Cool. All right, we got these ratings in for what that dissatisfaction looks like. I’m going to look at a couple of people here who rated themselves in the one to four range. There’s Kelly, there’s Pamela, there’s Erica, there’s Connie. All one to four; relatively low dissatisfaction in their home. I’m going to tell you that there’s a word for all those people, and the word is non-buyer.
Jeff: The specific connection between dissatisfaction and our desire to buy is so strong. When I look at the Rachels of the world, when I look at Matt, when I look at Tabby, and certainly when looking at both Rachels that are on here right now, these are people with high dissatisfaction. Those are your next buyers. It is that dissatisfaction that ramps up over time, that has been going on long before we meet the customer for the very first time. My concern here, Kimberly, is for salespeople who think that the buying process started the day before the customer walked through the door. Huge, huge mistake.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I hear regularly, “All these looky-loos are coming back into my model. I’m seeing all these people that are just coming through.” Well, you just opened, and looky-loos look because of their level of dissatisfaction. They may be early in the process, or you might be surprised, because looky-loos, when they find what they’re looking for particularly in the active adult market – active adults will say, “I’m five years out. I’m 10 years out.” Then buy a home in two weeks.
Jeff: Let’s look at it this way just to your point here, Kimberly. I’m going to ask Erica and Pamela here to type in the answer to this question in the chat box. Are you actively shopping for your next home? Yes, or no? Erica says no, and Pamela says yes. Pamela, you’re supposed to say no. You’re ruining it right here.
Kimberly: Nobody gave Pamela the script.
Jeff: Hold on, Pamela’s got a story. We’re going to figure it out here in a second. Most people if they have a level three dissatisfaction, they’re not looking for the next home, so Pamela, it’s up to you if you want to share your story do it in the chat box. Let us know how is it that you’re happy with your home but you’re still looking, and I have a guess at what’s happening. I think Pamela’s got something going on in her life that has nothing to do with her home, but let’s see if she responds and we’ll go from there. The idea is that the lower the dissatisfaction, the less chance it is that they’re going to buy. But the time they walk through your door, they’re tipping their hand. It’s like when you walk into a mattress store, you’re probably going to say, “I’m just looking”, which Is ridiculously stupid. Nobody is just looking for a mattress. When you walk through the door, you’re tipping your hand. Something is going on in your life, so we’ve got to get it out of our heads. the people under your eyes
Kimberly: The bags under your eyes might be a tell if you’re in the market for a mattress business.
Jeff: Here’s what Pamela says, “I’m currently renting and looking to buy my first home, and soon to be a fiancé.” Whoop, whoop. I don’t know if I pronounced that right, but here’s t idea. She’s currently renting, and what she’s saying is that she otherwise likes the place that she’s renting, but she doesn’t own it and that’s where her dissatisfaction is. So, it still works. It holds true. You can measure people by their dissatisfaction either with the home they’re in or through something that’s going on in their life. That’s what we have to figure out first
Kimberly: if we’re going to figure it out, it stands to reason that we should stop talking about product and what our features are, and perhaps talk to the buyer about what’s going on in their world. Get to the why. If you don’t get to the why, you certainly shouldn’t be moving on. The why to me is so important.
Jeff: This sort of separates poor salespeople or mediocre salespeople from great salespeople. The fact is it’s easier to ask product questions than it is to ask life questions. it’s easier to ask about bedroom count than it is to ask about dissatisfaction. It’s easier to ask about the time frame than it is to ask about pain points. It’s not a question of what’s easy, it’s a question of what’s right and that’s my concern here, and I think you are right, Kimberly, that we get this conversation headed so deeply into the product, which is all about what the customer is moving to, that we completely short circuit and don’t understand what the customer is coming from. It’s the fatal flaw in sales over and over again.
Kimberly: I did a role-play a few weeks ago with a very seasoned sales team. Of course, you know seasoned salespeople and role play go together like oil and water. They don’t want any part of It, but our test was how long does it take you when you first meet someone to where you’re talking about product? The best that we made it was almost three minutes but, in most cases, it was two minutes or less. You can’t get to know someone’s why in two minutes or less. I’m sorry. I can talk to a fence post as you well know, Jeff, but I can’t get to the why in that amount of time.
Jeff: Which is too bad because the whys are so interesting. People’s stories are so interesting.
Kimberly: They’re cool, yeah.
Jeff: They are, and they’re all unique, and it keeps the sales presentation fresh. If the sales presentation is all about the buyer and less about the product. I’ve been there as a salesperson. I know what it’s like to walk somebody through a home and say the same thing over and over again, and pretty soon I’m just sick of my voice. When it’s not about the home, and when it’s dominantly about the customer, everyone’s different. That keeps it fresh. That keeps it fun f we lean into what that customer experience is and why they’re even thinking about moving in the first place.
Kimberly: curious salesperson is an excellent salesperson. I loved getting to know my buyers. That, to me, was the best part of it. I went from B-to-B sales into new home sales, and I met some of the coolest people. If you will just take the time to get to know people, it’s incredible what you will learn about them and what kind of foundation you can build for when they do buy from you. Now you’ve got a foundation of trust, and a lot of things can happen as we know in the home building process. Windows. Windows anybody? Is anybody having a problem with windows right now? That’s all I’ve heard is buyers are unhappy about windows. If you have that foundation and you have that trust, this is where it starts.
Jeff: Yes. Let’s address then something hot right now, Kimberly, and that is that there are a lot of salespeople out there that are still so busy. Not in all markets, and we see a lot of different markets around the country right now, but a lot of salespeople are so busy that they have a huge backlog. They’ve got big traffic, and maybe they don’t even really have anything to sell or very limited to sell – whatever it happens to be. Out natural tendency is I’m so busy that I’m going shortcut that discovery, and I don’t hear this much from salespeople, but I hear it from their managers who come to me and say, that their salespeople say, “Why do I want to know why they’re thinking about moving? They’re walking through the door; they need a place to live, and I have exactly one home I can show them. Why do I want to do all these deep dives on what their situation is and their dissatisfaction and everything else?” I’ve heard this from several managers, so I have a sense that there is some prevailing thought along those lines. My response to that is, “I don’t care what your market condition is. Understanding who the customer is will always be appropriate, but it’s going to come down to what your motive is. If your only motive is to try and figure out how to get them on contract and get paid, if that’s the only thing you’re thinking about, then I suppose in this market condition you can take some shortcuts and not understand the why. I think you can get away with that. But if your motive is to serve the customer, you cannot effectively serve someone that you don’t know very well.” Even as it relates to things like window delays that we were just talking about, Kimberly, or other issues. Man, I’ve got to know what my buyer’s story is, so if we’re looking at, “We sold our home way quicker than we thought we were going to. I’m living with my parents and with my three kids. This is a disaster. This is a nightmare.” It’s kind of important to have that information to understand what they’re going through even when you do have to deliver that bad news. So, this idea of understanding the why will always be fresh. It doesn’t matter what the market conditions are.
Kimberly: Even with hot market conditions, you’re going to be attached to this buyer for far longer now than you have ever been because of pipeline management. I did a survey last week and pipeline management was the number two response that I got from people that that is their top struggle. Again, to Jeff’s point, if you don’t have that foundation or if you don’t have that relationship with these people when things go wrong, trust me your life is going to go wrong. I’m going to give you a sound bite that I just took from Jeff, so news flash, sound bite alert here. Forget the builder story; the buyer story is the one that matters.
Jeff: Well said. I think that’s the way we must look at it. Maybe the builder story gives you more points on a video shop, but the buyer’s story is the one that gets you more sales.
Kimberly: Maybe we can have Ben Marks from Melinda Brody and Company weigh in on that one, but certainly does, but we get caught up in that.
Jeff: We do. I want to hit on one thing that you just said, Kimberly. I think is important here that when we understand the customer well in that that long timeline, let’s face it, it’s difficult to be able to work with customers over a very long buying process anyway, but when it’s bad news, bad news, bad news; it’s we can’t get lumber we can’t get windows, we can’t get appliances, we can’t get gas meters or whatever it happens to be, then it feels after a while that as salespeople, our title is chief heartbreak officer and our job here is just to deliver bad news after bad news. I want to suggest here to you if you’re a frontline new home sales professional, if every time you call, you’re delivering bad news, if every time you call, there’s a negative aspect to it, it’s going to wear very, very thin. So, I want to suggest here that you are depositing into the positive side of that relationship in surprising and helpful ways so that when you do call with some bad news, it’s offset a little bit. Think in terms of what marketers call content marketing. What can you share with your customer while they’re in this long process to get them thinking about something else than the delays? What can you tell them about your expanded community and the neighborhood around you? Here’s this art and wine festival that’s coming up, or this is the soccer sign-ups. What can you send them by way of the newest trends in decorating? Or here’s a clip that I saw Joanna Gaines interviewed on this show about whatever, or here are some ideas on how to do your backyard landscaping on a budget. All those things that we provide by way of content marketing that is going to be helpful to your customer, just drip them out regularly throughout the process so that it offsets the idea that the only time they hear from you it’s seemingly going to be bad news. You want to make sure that you’re showing your worth, you’re showing value, that you’re constantly putting stuff out there for them to say, “Well, that was helpful and that was helpful.” That will lessen the pain when you must call and say, “I hate to tell you this, but we’re off another two weeks because of x.”
Kimberly: If you do that, and you do things in a personal way. We’ve known for years that buyers who express high levels of dissatisfaction with the home building process at the end of their surveys, the one thing that they’re saying is no one reached out to me. That’s right. We scratch our heads as builders and think, we saw you every single week, you were in my office, you were in your home. What do you mean you didn’t hear from us? They didn’t hear from you. They initiated all of that, and if you are initiating it in personal ways that matter such as asking, “How was little Timmy’s soccer game last night?” How was Cora’s district championship?” Whatever it is you’re asking them about what’s going on in their world, it shows you’re paying attention and it shows you care, so be personal and be proactive when you’re reaching out to your buyers and your prospects. It needs to be very personal.
Jeff: I think it has to be. We know it’s a difficult time to be a salesperson in this industry, we get that. It’s been a very difficult and challenging two years, but man, try being a buyer over the last two years. Really, tough. It pulls at you, and it weighs on you. Anything that we can do to try and say I’m interested in who you are as a human being not just as a home buyer. By the way, if you’ve got content marketing and things that you regularly drip out to your customers if you’ve got something along those lines and you regularly do, drop it in the chat box. Let us know what you do and how you keep in contact in a very positive way with your customers when they’re in the backlog. Maybe we can learn from one another along those lines. I’d be happy to steal anybody’s idea and call it my own.
Kimberly: You said something to me as we were preparing for the show. You were talking about simple equals right. I love that, because I think so often, we complicate things in our heads. We assign good or bad, or this is good news or bad news. Sometimes news is just news.
Jeff: That idea of simple equals right is a mental rule of thumb. Heuristic as the psychologists call it that we carry around. The simpler something seems to, me the righter it feels to me. More and more companies these days are doing business that way. They’re set up to do business that way. Do you by chance use Chewy.com, Kimberly?
Kimberly: I do, yes, and I think they’re amazing.
Jeff: They’re incredible. Once a month a box shows up on my doorstep from Chewy.com with the exact amount of dog food that I need for my dog, and then it gets billed automatically so I don’t have to think about it. It’s so easy because it takes it out of play, I don’t have to wonder if I need dog food or whether I’m out of dog food. I don’t have to think about it. What’s interesting about that, Kimberly, do you know what you pay Chewy.com? I have no idea, and I don’t care.
Kimberly: Something ridiculous a month, but I’ll go even better. When Pepper, my little schnauzer, passed away. my order had already shipped. This was a very sick dog who was diabetic, and we had all these special prescriptions. Well, I received the box, and I hadn’t thought to cancel the order. I reached out to them, and I said, “I need to cancel this order.” They asked me what happened, and I told them, and they said to please donate it to your local shelter and that my money will be refunded. They didn’t want me to ship it back which I would have gladly done at my own expense, but they wanted me to pay it forward. That comes from that abundance mentality, and that company to me is incredible because of that.
Jeff: It’s an example of a company that’s set up to ask how it would look if it were easy even for something like dog food. If you call the 800 number for Zappos today, do you know how you get the recording that states press one for this press two? Call the 800 number for Zappos, and you’re going to get a recording that says to press one to talk to somebody right now, and press five to hear our joke of the day.
Kimberly: I love that!
Jeff: That’s it. That’s all you get if you want to talk to somebody you press one and you go right to somebody in no time at all. That’s easy. If you look at ibuyers right now, that’s exactly how they do business. I have sold two rental homes in the last two years that were both in the Dallas market but one I sold literally from my lanai at a beach in Hawaii using an app through OpenDoor. My tenant bugged out on me – just left the place, and I put in a request to OpenDoor. I got an offer later that day. It was one of the easiest transactions that I’ve ever had. This is the future of our industry. When we think about those ibuyers leading the way, why are they leading the way? Because they make things easy. We have to ask ourselves the question, “What does simple look like? What would this look like if it were simple?” In the buyer’s mind, the easier something seems to me, the righter it feels to me.
Kimberly: Absolutely. Interestingly, not once have I heard you say that Chewy was the cheapest or the ibuyer program that you used was the cheapest. We get so focused on price, and honestly, if the price were the only thing that mattered, we’d all be living in cardboard boxes on the beach. Price is not what the buyer’s primary concern is. It may be what they voiced the most, but they think they have to.
Jeff: I think they voice it the most, largely because they’ve been trained by other salespeople in their experience that they think that’s what they’re supposed to ask. If a salesperson is going to ask dumb questions like, “Can I help you?” right out of the gate, then you’re forcing the buyer to take the lead. What do you think they’re going to do? They’re going to ask you about price, and this is a disaster of a conversation right out of the gate. Let’s figure out what pain looks like. Let’s figure out what value looks like. We’ll get to price or put it another way; the earlier you talk about price, the harder it will be to get the sale. Maybe you’re not in this marketplace. but if you need this marketplace to be a good salesperson, you’re in for a rude awakening when the market turns.
Kimberly: Well rising tide floats all boats, right? What happens when that tide goes out? I can tell you there are people that I’m working with that realize they need to get the rust off because their market’s changing and the market is changing. Maybe more in some places than others, but the market is rapidly changing, and the interest rates going up will certainly do that. How do we give buyers that confidence? Our process is a little more complicated than buying shoes or dog food without a doubt, so how do we give them that confidence and that peace with their decision to move forward? Each builder has a different model. Some of them are to-be-built, some of them are custom, and some of them are more production oriented. A lot of production. They’re trying to do that by offering their homes later in the process more for their benefit, I think.
Jeff: I think it begins with what I’d like to call macro statements. When I could say to a customer, “Let me give you an overview of what’s going to happen here.” Now I can do that at different times in the process. I can do that early in the conversation – even about our early questioning pattern and what’s going to happen on that day. I can explain that in the way that we’re going to buy the home and explain how our buying process works. but the idea here is that I’m not going into detail. it’s a 60 to 90-second overview right from the top. You know I recently had, rotator cuff surgery. When I first sat down with my surgeon, one of the things he said is, “That tendon is like a rubber band. Sometimes it stretches so it’s it loses all its elasticity, and sometimes it snaps, and yours snapped. Our job here is like a rubber band. We’re just going to reattach it up there. That’s what we’re going to do. That’s basically what we’re going to do; everything else is details.” Right from the very beginning, it gave me a mental picture to clarify what was going to happen next. I think too often we start with the details in hopes that they’ll bubble up into the big picture. That’s going to confuse the customer. We want them to have an overview, so be thinking that it’s not the builder’s story. It’s let me just take 60 seconds here to tell you how the process works. That conversation is most welcomed by somebody who’s thinking about buying a home because it’s going to be a top-level conversation that allows me to understand how this works in context. As an example of this, one of my favorite closing approaches of all is called the explain the process close or sometimes called the next step close where I say to a customer, “if you decide to purchase, let me walk you through the process. The first thing we’re going to do is sit down and write a purchase agreement. There’s a check for five thousand dollars which is the deposit that’s part of your down payment. The rest of the down payment isn’t due until you’re ready to close. It’s going to be about eight months for this home, and then we’re going to make an appointment.” I’m going to walk through the steps, but it’s going to take me 60 to 90 seconds. When I get to the end, I’m going to say, “So that’s how the process works.” Now the very first step in the process is to sit down and write a purchase agreement. Is that where you’re at? Is that what you wanted to do? That’s the question. I’ve explained the process. I’ve told them the first step and then asked if that’s what they want to do. It’s not scary, it’s not manipulative, it’s not in your face; it’s a very simple either yes, we do or no we don’t, and if not, why not? That’s it, but the idea here is that it’s clear. Again, think macro. How do I give my customer the macro view first before I get into the details at various stages throughout the process?
Kimberly: So, you mean the buyer at that point doesn’t care whether you have elevators or you’re using level 5 cabinets and granite. They don’t care about that at that point.
Jeff: Yeah, can you believe it? It’s the weirdest thing.
Kimberly: Dr. Covey tells us to begin with the end in mind in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People which of course is, you know, the bible that I use in my business and life. When you start thinking about where they are in the process, we try to find that out, and then we can create that road map just like you said. Let’s talk through that process. Let’s get them also to the end. They may not have leaped yet. They may know there’s that level of dissatisfaction. They may know there’s something they want to change, but they may not have already leaped to think that a new home is what’s going to fix this.
Jeff: That is right, but this ties back into what we were talking about earlier, Kimberly. The idea that if you don’t know your customer well enough. It’s difficult to begin with the end in mind because what you end up doing is racing forward to the end thinking the product is a means to the end. It’s not. Understanding the buyer is the means to the end. Covey also says that most people don’t listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to respond. I think that this brings up an interesting point about great salespeople. Great salespeople have one attribute that both helps and hurts them. Great salespeople have good short-term problem-solving skills. In other words, they’re quick on their feet. They know how to size something up and solve it quickly. That’s a great attribute, but it’s also a dangerous attribute. If we’re not careful, then we hear the first part of the problem and we think, “Oh, I’ve got a solution for this! I’m so excited!” If you shut up and take a breath, I’m going to throw this at you. I learned it in training. It’s going to blow you away.” At that point we’re disconnected. We’re we are listening with the intent to respond and not with the intent to understand. Just slowing that brain down a little bit and letting it all come to us rather than go chase it is an important process. That’s why one of these we teach at Shore Consulting in our training programs, is that in the first three minutes of the conversation is no solving, no selling. This is the mantra that we try and build into the mindset of salespeople in the first three minutes. No solving, no selling. In the first three minutes, your only task is to understand. That’s it. Hopefully, it goes even longer than that, but we try and put that three-minute governor on there to say you cannot solve and you cannot sell in the first 3 minutes. The only thing you’re allowed to do is seek to understand.
Kimberly: The visual that I often use is an onion. You want to peel the onion back until you get to the stinky part in the middle because that’s your why. That image stays with my people.
Jeff: I love it. I love that stinky part that you call it, that’s where the emotion is. It’s so critical to understand that because people don’t move because of their dissatisfaction, they move because of the emotion tied to the dissatisfaction. People don’t look forward to what their future holds they look forward to the emotion that their future holds. We’re emotional creatures we make emotion-based decisions and getting down deep into it, that’s where the emotion lies. If you don’t figure that out, you’re going to try and say, “Here’s a beautiful shiny project, isn’t it swell?” That’s not the most effective presentation.
Kimberly: I call that selling by process of elimination and I run into so many salespeople and general REALTORS® too. The process is here’s everything that fits the description you just gave me, let’s look at all of it, and as we go through, does this work? Does it not work? If not, we’ll throw that one away. Let’s go to the next one. Can you sell that way? Sure. Eventually, you might wear the buyer out before you get there, but is that the most effective way of doing it? Absolutely not. When you understand the why, then that is going to take you there a lot faster and on more solid ground.
Jeff: Yes, that’s the fun part of sales – getting deep into what happened. Why now? What’s going on in your life? That’s the fun part and frankly, I think buyers want to share their stories. I think they desperately want to share their story. It’s that there aren’t enough people interested in that story. They’re more interested in bedroom count or prices. Here’s a way to be able to frame that. If you’re a new home salesperson, this is my suggestion; don’t be a reg card. Don’t be a walking reg card. What is a walking reg card? Asking bedroom count, price point, time frame, home to sell, are you working with a realtor? Look, those are all reg card questions. Let the visitor card do its job. You’re better than that. You don’t have to ask questions that we would be able to fill out on a form; ask the questions that the reg card can’t answer such as, “Why now? What’s going on in your life? How does that affect you?” These are the things that make us different, that make us unique, that cause us to stand out, and that ultimately make us very memorable and helpful in the eyes of our customers.
Kimberly: Absolutely. This is the white space. What are you filling in in the white space? The reg card should prompt you, but it’s the stuff you’re writing on the back of the card. That’s where we need to get, and we’ve gotten away from that. We’ve just gotten to where we are acting like Alice in wonderland and we just take the first thing of oh well they want 4 bedrooms, 3 and a half baths, and a 3-car garage on a cul-de-sac so we show them everything we have that that’s associated with that information.
Jeff: Let’s just get people involved in this because your chat box is a little uh quiet right now. If you’ve got a great question that you like to ask your customers, drop it into the chat box. What’s one of your go-to questions? If you write what brought you out today? I’m going to hit you on the side of the head. If you have a question that you use regularly that elicits good comments from the customers, we’d love to hear it and I know your peers would too, so drop it in the chat box.
Kimberly: While we’re waiting on that one of the questions that I like to ask, especially when people tell me they came in because they saw the sign, and I don’t mean an epiphany from the heavens; not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about your snipe signs that you have in your directionals. “I just saw your directional.” “Oh, that’s fantastic! I’m so glad it’s still out there!” “What happened that today you paid attention to the sign? What happened yesterday? What’s going on in your world?”
Jeff: Because your point is that sign’s been there for a while.
Kimberly: it’s been there a while, they’ve driven by it every day, and they’ve ignored it until now. It’s all about if you don’t ask. I’m a very direct person as you’ve known for years, Jeff so you know I like to get to the heart of the matter. One of the things is what’s going on in your world? What’s making you think about moving? It can be as simple as that.
Jeff: it really can. If you ran into a friend from high school at the grocery store and got into a chat, and they said, “We are in the process of moving”, what would you do? You’d say, “Oh really? What’s going on? Why are you thinking about it?” It’s as simple and as conversational as that, and it makes all the difference in the world. I love what you just brought up, and we were talking about this before we went on the air here, Kimberly, about this idea that your customer has been going through something long before they walk through the door. The sign is called marketing. I just saw the sign. What is good marketing? Good marketing is that it is there, showing up in the customer’s life at the time the customer needs it. That’s the thing, we don’t know what happened long before we talked to the customer, but there have been things that have been going on in their life, in many cases for years, as they’ve been dealing with some form of dissatisfaction. Then finally it gets to a point where that’s it. I can’t stay here anymore. That’s when marketing shows up. Before that it’s branding. Up to that point, it’s just branding
Kimberly: Until they take action.
Jeff: Until they take action, it’s just branding, which is valid, there’s no question about it, but when there’s something that’s going on in my life, suddenly I’m paying attention. That’s where marketing comes into play. By the time they respond to the marketing, you know something’s going on and something’s happening in their life. This should be exciting.
Kimberly: The same could be said of your digital marketing or your website. They went to your website or saw you on Facebook. “What’d you think? What made you pay attention to that today?”
Jeff: You’re probably not the only thing they saw on Facebook. I just love this idea that even when a customer says they just started looking. No, you didn’t. Maybe you just started looking here, but you’ve been thinking about this really for quite some time as that dissatisfaction in your current situation has been rising and rising and rising. The only exception of that is somebody who legitimately just started looking because just like that they got a job transfer, or just like that their house burned down or just like that some tragic accident happened in their life or a mother is moving in with them. Those people are even more motivated even though they just started looking. This idea that we’re just looking, or we just started looking, great salespeople are deaf to this idea. Poor salespeople are the ones who think, “Great like I have time for this!” Now, this is crazy you know, nobody just started; they’ve been thinking about this for a long, long time.
Kimberly: I just don’t think people drive around and look at models as a hobby. There may be that odd one-off, of course, but most people don’t have time to go drive around and just look at stuff.
Jeff: I completely agree but come on Jeff, some people are just looking. As soon as I start getting that thought into my head, there’s no benefit for me to carry that thought that some people are just looking. As soon as I carry that thought that some people are just looking, what happens? The customer comes in and states they are just looking. There it is! Told you. Some people are just looking! No validation’s going to help you in that regard, and even if theoretically somebody was just looking, are you seriously going to tell me that there’s never been anybody who thought they were just looking and then looked and then fell in love and then bought anyway? it happens every single day. Sometimes people see what their future could bring, and it gets them so excited that it spotlights what’s wrong now. They see how great their lives can be, but if you blew them off because they said they were just looking, you are of zero value and zero services.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I wasn’t just looking. I live in the new home world, and I was out doing training in the new home world. I did training a couple of times in the builder’s model that I ultimately ended up purchasing and moving into in 2020. I wasn’t looking to move, I’d been in my home forever and I thought, “Wait a minute. I kind of like this place. Maybe I like this new lifestyle that I could take on.” I sold myself before I ever even talked to anybody about the idea. Then I had to get my husband on board. Maybe not everybody’s as knowledgeable about new homes as I am, but that was the third, fourth, and fifth consideration there.
Jeff: Let me just hit on two of the comments because I love this; Rachel said, “Great so what are you looking for?” I love when somebody says they’re just thinking about it. Well, we’re going to talk about what you’re looking for here in just a moment. That’s a very cool matter-of-fact way to be able to handle it. Tracy says it’s the easiest way for them to try to get you to leave them alone. I want to address that for just a second. Some customers are going to walk through the door, and I get it, they’re going to look and they’re going to say they don’t want to talk to a salesperson. The reason that they’re feeling that way is that they’ve talked to too many salespeople who were not helpful. The idea here is not that they don’t want to talk to a salesperson, they don’t want to talk to an unhelpful salesperson.
Kimberly: I’m going to go one step further and say a bad salesperson.
Jeff: I wasn’t going to go there, but if you want to go there, Kimberly.
Kimberly: You opened the door, and I’m going through it!
Jeff: Fair enough, fair enough. So, now that burden is a hundred percent on me to prove that I am way more valuable to you than the other people that you have met. I have to own that. I can’t blow it off and think, “Oh, great. Another one of those mean people.” No, I have to look at it aa it’s completely up to me to be valuable enough to them to have a conversation. What do I need to do right out of the gate? Here’s an idea; don’t sound like every other salesperson. For example, if you’re asking the question of what brought you out today? Now, I hate this question. I hate it passionately, and the reason I hate it more than anything else is that it gives you a bad answer. Most people are going to say my car, or I’m just looking. I don’t want either of those answers, so stop asking the question. Even if it were a theoretically good question, I still wouldn’t ask it, and why? Because it makes me sound like every other salesperson out there. I’ve got to be unique; I’ve got to be different; I’ve got to be the person that walks through the door and wants to. This is 100% on us. We must own that to know they owe me nothing when they walk through the door. Everything that I get out of the relationship is earned because I poured myself into it, and I did not look like every other salesperson. You’ve got me fired up.
Kimberly: That’s easy. Oh, I can get fired up over that one. People have scripts. We like to think that we’re salespeople, and we have scripts. No. People have scripts. We all have roles that we play, and you get the good cop bad cop, and then they change on you. You get the I’m just looking because that’s a script. If you want to get people out of their script, you do have must, to Jeff’s point, do things differently. One of the things that I’ve been known for doing, and have been laughed at for years is I immediately welcome them, “Welcome to bodacious builders. I was just headed to the kitchen to get some water and put on a fresh pot of coffee. Can I interest you in some?” I don’t wait on the response. I leave my little happy sales center, walk out the trap, and go through the front door. I’m not demonstrating a model; I am simply moving people to get them out of my scary sales office and into the heart of the home, and about the time I hand them whatever beverage I’ve offered them is when I go say, “I’m so sorry.” I twirl my hair, Jeff. That won’t work for you. I twirl my hair and I say, “I’m so sorry. I don’t know where my manners are. I’m Kimberly, and you are?” The reason I do it is very intentional to get them off their script. They’re going to wonder, “Where’s that crazy blonde chick going? I guess we’d better follow.” They’ve suddenly forgotten they’re just looking or sticking to what they talked about in the car and that they’re only here to pick up information. Get real with people. I can’t do that unless I do something that allows them to get real with me.
Jeff: it doesn’t look like everybody else. My go-to is to say hi to somebody and ask, “You’re out home shopping. Are you having fun? Are you enjoying the process? I’m not suggesting that’s the end-all of questions, but the key here is to get them to think about the answer. If I ask, “Can I help you how? What brought you out today?” Those are all script questions that they’ve heard before, and they’re going to give you a scripted answer. The scripted answer is going to be, “I’m just looking.” When I ask if they are having fun in the process, they have to stop and think about the answer that they’re going to give me. By the way, if they’re not having fun, I want to know it. Connie writes in the chat that she had someone tell her that she didn’t like salespeople. I love it. that’s honest. Connie writes that she just agreed with her and said she didn’t like them either. Then she smiled and they had a nice conversation. Let’s just connect with people. I love this buyer because the buyer was at least honest with me right out of the gate and gave me a chance to be able to prove that I am not. I think so often when people say they don’t like salespeople, that very word salesperson is a pejorative. They’re saying it in the negative sense, and I want to prove to them that they don’t have to worry about it right now. How about this? I won’t be a salesperson, and I won’t see you as a buyer. I’m going to be a human being, you’re going to be a human being, and let’s just connect as human beings. How about that as a breath of fresh air?
Kimberly: Motivation is so important. Motivation and intent, and the listener and the audience can tell what your motivation on your intent is. If you’re there to help people, that’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to help people. Even if our home is not the right one for them, they can truly sense if that is where your center is. You need to find that center.
Jeff: I think that’s a really good point, Kimberly. They know whether you’re on script, they know whether you’re really into this, they know whether you’re just trying to sort of getting through it, and my concern even when I’m out there visiting sales offices which I do quite a bit. I don’t see a lot of negative energy. What I see is a lot of neutral energy. Like the energy that you expect to see at the post office, but it’s like I’m here it’s transactional. I have to go through my little spiel, and then you’re going to look at the home, and we’ll see how it goes. When you prove to me that you’re really, really interested, then I’ll prove to you that I’m a good salesperson. This is the concern that I have. it’s got to be a unilateral decision to stand apart right from the very beginning, but it’s so easy as a salesperson to fall into a rut and get into the same speech over and over again.
Kimberly: I like tabby’s response. Would you like to talk about that one?
Jeff: When I worked on site, I would ask what other builders and homes they looked at and liked and disliked and why. It gave me a lot of info. Absolutely. Everybody is an expert on their own experiences, so let’s ask them a question about their experiences whether it’s in the shopping process or about the home they live in now. Those questions are much easier to answer than asking somebody, “What’s your time frame?” The flustered wonders, “Oh my goodness. I don’t know what my time frame is. How long does it take to find a home in the first place? Then what do I do with the home I’m in right now? Am I going to rent it? Am I going to sell it? I mean I don’t want to be a landlord. I need to talk to my kids about school. I don’t want to tip this person off and look too excited.” “A year.” Then a salesperson thinks, “Oh great! A year! I’ll be dead in a year. Why are you even here?” This is a dead-end question. From the very beginning, we’ve got to ask questions that are easy for people to answer. As tabby stated everybody is an expert on their history and their own experience, and they know what they’ve been through and what their life is like right now.
Kimberly: I think it’s a simple question. “Where have you been? What have you seen that you like?” If they go on and on about a home that they liked, that’s fantastic, so the follow-up question is “That does sound like a great home. May I ask what kept you from owning it” Then you’re going to find out what went wrong. Talk about the roadmap of what not to do.
Jeff: You mentioned the word curiosity earlier, Kimberly, and I think curiosity is one of the most underappreciated skill sets of great salespeople. I don’t think we pay enough attention to how important that curiosity is. By the way, it is a skill set. It’s something that can be grown, and it’s something that can be developed. but great salespeople have it. They are very deeply curious about the human being standing in front of them right at that moment.
Kimberly: The buyer doesn’t know what you’re supposed to say and when you’re supposed to say it or what the builder’s story is. I mean just get real with people just like if you were at a cocktail party or hanging out with your neighbor. Erica says in the chat that people are always looking to talk about themselves and where they’re coming from. For the most part, I agree with you, Erica.
Jeff: If they’re not willing, it’s because they don’t trust you. Your questions were just too much like everybody else ‘s questions.
Kimberly: Sometimes you have that person you try to connect with, and you try 3 or 4 different tactics to get there, but you just can’t bridge that gap. I have, as a last resort asked, I’m sure you came here with a purpose in mind. Would you mind sharing with me what that was?” My motivation comes from trying to help the customer if I don’t have anything to help them with, then I’m going to refer them elsewhere.
Jeff: If you don’t understand why they’re there, it always comes back to the why. Trying to sell a home without understanding somebody’s why is a fool’s errand. It’s difficult, and as you said earlier, Kimberly, it’s not just understanding why but you must peel the onion. You got must figure out the deep why, the emotional why, and what’s going on there.
Kimberly: How do you recommend to salespeople, particularly those who’ve been doing this for a while? I think our newbies are probably a little more moldable and easier to teach the right habits, but when you’ve built these habits over the years or you’ve been in a really good market and you just haven’t had to do these things, how do you break those bad habits?
Jeff: That’s a great question. We’re talking a lot with our clients right now about what we call dormant selling skills. The skills that we have not had to use over the last couple of years such as know negotiation skills, dealing with the incentive question, closing skills, or asking even for the motivation. The advice that we give is to list out a bunch of what you would call dormant selling tools. I’ve not been working on this for the last two years because the market hasn’t needed me to. Then ask the question, “When the market shifts, which one will you need first?” You need to be honest about it. My coach says that all change begins by telling the truth, so I need to be honest about what skills I’ve not been using. Then ask, “When the market changes, what skill will you need the most?” Start with that one skill and start practicing it over, and over, and over, and over again and practicing it out loud. That means when getting ready for work in the morning, say it to the mirror. While driving to the car, you practice it out loud. You must wake up those dormant skills so that they’re ready when you need them, and you will need them.
Kimberly: I think even recognizing that we think do things, but when you boil it down to the very core, then you realize maybe you’re not doing it as well as I can. That’s a hard conversation to have with yourself.
Jeff: I agree but it’s a necessary one for sure.
Kimberly: We’ve got about a minute left in our time today. I want to be respectful of everybody’s time, but you’ve got Jeff Shore here to ask questions to, so ask away.
Jeff: I’ve never seen in 35 years in the new home industry less movement of salespeople than we’ve seen in the last year and a half, and I think there are 2 reasons for that: one of them is they’re handcuffed to their pipeline, and the other reason is that a strong market is a good deodorant. There are a lot of salespeople out there that think they are all that, and they look at their backlog and think they must be that good. When the market shifts, we’re going to figure out who maybe is a little bit of a pretender right now. When we ask the question of where to find great salespeople to hire, I believe that this is time to be hiring outside of the industry. Can you find great salespeople in the industry? Maybe, but it’s tough to do and you’re going to get a lot of false reads. You’re going to people telling you to look at how many sales they made in the last 3 years. No. I want to know how many sales you can make when you’ve got the wind at your face; that’s the question. This might be a really, really good time to be trolling for salespeople, but where do we look for salespeople outside the industry? It’s helpful to understand there are two types of salespeople” lead generation salespeople and lead conversion salespeople. if you’re a REALTOR®, you make your living on lead generation, farming, and holding open houses. And whatever else you do to try and pick up new leads if you’re in new home sales, you make your living on lead conversion. Where do lead conversion salespeople hang out? They hang out at cell phone stores. They hang out in commissioned retail operations, at furniture stores.
Kimberly: Mattress sales.
Jeff: Mattress sales. These are the places where you’re going to find people who are already used to working weekends, who are probably making a fraction of what they could make in new home sales. If you can see their accomplishment in that industry, and you can see their achievement drive, that’s where I think we need to look.
Kimberly: You also have to bridge the gap for them because the number one reason that people fail in new home sales, is they didn’t have the financial resources to weather the amount of time it takes before you get to closing. As builders in our industry, we need to start thinking about that. I like to bring people in on the bench and make them trainees.
Jeff: Don’t let your compensation tradition prevent you from hiring your next superstar. It’s really bad business.
Kimberly: It is. We’ve got to be thinking ahead. Unfortunately, we are out of time today, but if you have any more questions, please reach out to us. I will get the recording out to everybody so you’ll have all of Jeff’s contact information, or you can reach him at jeffshore.com. It’s a complicated website. You can reach me at newhomesolutions.com. Thank you all for attending and asking such wonderful questions today. Jeff, thank you for taking your time to share with us.
Jeff: Thank you, everybody!