(If you wouild like to read the discussion between Kimberly and Leah, the video transcription is at the bottom of the page.)
It is always better to learn from the mistakes of others. For the second year in a row, Leah Turner, from Melinda Brody & Company Mystery Shopping stops by to share with Kimberly Mackey the result of their annual Benchmark Study. How have things changed in the course of only 1 year? What are the mistakes new home salespeople are making, perhaps as a result of current market conditions? More importantly, how will that impact their ability to pivot as the market makes a dramatic shift again due to continued supply chain shortages and rising interest rates. Grab your lunch and something to take notes. This episode is packed from stem to stern and you won’t want to miss a minute. To learn more, please visit NewHomesSolutions.com/Head-to-Head.
If you missed last year’s H2H with Leah Turner, click here to watch it.
And, COMING UP on the next H2H, Roland Nairnsey, with New Home Sales Plus joins me to help you Avoid Market Whiplash.
Kimberly: Welcome everybody, Leah and I have our track shoes on today
Leah: We’ve got a lot to cover today.
Kimberly: The chat is open. We’d love to hear from you, so keep it coming. We want to know what’s happening in your world. I should have set up a poll. I would like to know how traffic is – not web traffic – actual people that you’re seeing. I used to say physical traffic, but I know that today we are still seeing a lot of people via zoom and electronically. I am talking about people you’re meeting with. Kurt says walk-in traffic is slowing down. That’s what I’m hearing. I even had a builder today that I was on earlier with. Kurt, you’ll get a kick out of this. He said that the trades are starting to call him and ask for work. I said, “Have I entered an alternate universe! That’s just crazy!” So, let’s hear from the rest of you how’s traffic in your world? Is it up? Is it down? Is it about the same? Are you seeing your internet traffic and registrations going down but still dealing with the same amount of people? We’re working through all these people that are trying to get sold, to get a home before uh the prices go up any more or interest rates go up any more. If anybody was not able to buy, they are they have a vengeance now to try move forward. (From the chat) Steady and slight increase in web traffic. That’s encouraging. Thank you for sharing that. Leah if you would go ahead and introduce yourself, and talk about what Melinda Brody and Company is, and if you would share just a little bit about our dear departed friend, Melinda Brody. I feel like we always must honor her.
Leah: I am Leah Turner, and I was here a year ago. Kimberly, it was around June 22nd. Thank you of course for having me back on representing Melinda Brody and Company. For those of you who don’t know what Melinda Brody and Company is, it is a video shopping company that Melinda Brody started about 35 years ago. I have been working with the company for 15 years. Time flies. As their sales coach and trainer, Melinda Brody unfortunately passed away a couple of years ago, but her legacy lives on, and Ben Marks is the president has been for seven years now. One of the things that sets Melinda Brody and Company apart, is that they focus only on the builder and the new home building industry. For those of you who aren’t familiar with video shopping, I’m sure this will ring a bell. It’s when the secret shopper comes into your sales office and has a camera and a microphone strategically hidden on their body, and they go through the actual sales presentation with the salesperson. This is recorded, then this video is sent to a team of people who review it. We have a team of reviewers that go through and look at all of the video shops and come up with a score. The score is then sent with the video to the general manager, sales manager, and president. Now you’ve got a tool. So many people that I talk to say, “Oh my gosh! Video shopping! I hate that!” One of my missions or passions in life is getting salespeople to recognize that video shopping is not a gotcha! It’s an aha in terms of let’s take a look and see what you’re doing well and if there are some areas that you can improve upon. I look at a video shop as an excellent tool for training you. You get a baseline as to where you are. When I’m coaching clients, Kimberly, the first thing I ask is, “Tell me the three best things that you saw in your video shop.” Of course, everybody says, “Oh my gosh! I did this. I was horrible at this.” No, no, no! I want to know what you did well because it’s simply a tool to get a snapshot of what it looks like when you’re out there doing your sales presentation. What we’re going to be talking about today is the real exciting part. At the end of the year, Melinda Brody and Company takes all the analysis and the data from all of the shops they’ve done the previous year and put together what we call a benchmark study. The company has been doing that for I’d say at least 20-something years, so that’s what Kimberly and I are going to be talking about today. I’m very proud of working with Melinda Brody and Company. Melinda was the pioneer in our industry, and her legacy lives on. It makes me excited to be able to share the message and share some of the results that we have that we’ve seen this year, because as Kimberly and I will tell you, the results are very different from years past. It’s going to be an exciting time, so thank you very much for having me again, Kimberly.
Kimberly: No surprise, I would say to people like you and me, but it is a surprise because of what has changed, so yes, I’m super excited about that. Thank you to you and Ben for what you’re doing. You know Leah and I back in the day worked for a large publicly traded builder and we were both sent to the Center for Creative Leadership.
Leah: What an experience!
Kimberly: What is Center for Creative Leadership? If you think having a mystery shop is a thing, go to the Center for Creative Leadership. Talk about probing.
Leah: You are under a microscope! Literally for 7 days under a microscope in terms of every aspect of your personality, your behaviors, your socialization. I think they even did a physical exam where they’re checking body fat.
Kimberly: They did. They used calipers. Excuse me, you don’t need to know my body fat!
Leah: What does that have to do with sales and marketing? You’re right though, definitely under the microscope. That was a great course, though. I feel fortunate we had the opportunity to partake in that.
Kimberly: It was, and we had every assessment known to man. They put you in all these artificial circumstances to see if you are very uncomfortable to see how you react to judge your leadership skills. You’re videoed for the entire week, and then they give you a corporate psychologist on the last day, and you meet for half a day with this corporate psychologist. Talk about mind-blowing, but once you’ve been through something like that, video is nothing. Get over yourself. This is how I look. This is how I talk. Usually, when I’m going over somebody’s mystery shop, they ask, “Do I sound like that? Do I look like that?” Yes, that’s you. We can allagree that’s you on the video.
Leah: I say this whenever I’m coaching clients, “Watch it three times. Especially women. Watch it three times because the first time, you’re going to hate your outfit, you’re going to look fat, you’re not going to like your voice, you’re not going to like your hair. It’s only about the second or third time where you can start to get in there and get the meat and see it for what it is, but you get over it. Yes, you do look like that. Yes, you sound like that. You’re still beautiful, and we still love you, but dig into it and pull those nuggets. I always say, ”If you can walk away with two or three good nuggets from your video shop that are going to help you be a better salesperson tomorrow, then we’ve succeeded in what we wanted to do.”
Kimberly: Absolutely. I learned I have a Jim Carrey face.
Leah: Ew! I wouldn’t say that.
Kimberly: It’s very elastic. If I’m thinking, it’s coming across from my expressions. So, to finish with our intros, for those of you who don’t know me, my name is Kimberly Mackey. My company is New Homes Solutions Consulting, and I am a management consultant. That is the primary meat of what I do. Currently, I am working with a lot of builders on gaining traction. and Gino Wickman wrote a book about traction, so I’m implementing that and acting as an implementer for builders. I love this because it’s everything that I’ve been teaching them, but now I have a way of tracking it by setting them up and seeing the results. It’s thrilling. I also do sales management consulting and regular sales and marketing management consulting as well, but I like to say that I’m the person who comes in to make sure that sales is the engine that drives the train rather than running it off the tracks. I have gone to a builder, gotten their systems like a well-oiled machine, and they ran out of land because they wouldn’t listen to me. They were always telling me, No, it’s the market. Oh, the Canadians are in town.” Oh, it’s this or it’s that. Never that we now had a way of predicting absorption, and that we had even flow sales so that we could have our even starts, even flow out that cash flow, even flow out our building, and make sure that we have the right people in the right place at the right time. Now I have this tool, they can’t argue with me anymore. It’s right there in black and white. Homebuilding is a numbers game, so that’s what I do. If I can help you with any of that or just if you have any questions about any of our topics. Head-to-Head came about as conversations that people like Leah and I have. It started with Myers Barnes and me talking on the phone one day, and we were bantering back and forth, and we were arguing an idea but not arguing it. We were debating and coming at it from two different perspectives to meet in the middle, and I thought it would be interesting if people could hear it like a fly on the wall. That’s how Head-to-Head came about. They’re all on newhomesolutions.com. There’s a tab for Head-to-Head. You can find all of it right there, so that’s how you find me. Coming up we have a good friend Rolly. We call him Rolly. Roland is going to join me on June 14th at noon. It’s a Tuesday, we are going to be talking about avoiding market whiplash which is such a great segue from what we’re talking about today, Leah. That should be a really good one. Roland’s got a new book out, and he has a retreat coming up. If you got my newsletter, there’s a link in there about his new tropical retreat that’s coming up in November here in our backyard, Leah. He’s going to be in Clearwater over at the Clearwater Hilton. I thought that was convenient of him to schedule that where I didn’t have to get on an airplane to go to it. All right, let’s just dive right in. We will not have slides for this, but this is such a visual thing, I wanted to make sure that everyone could see this. Let’s talk about 2020 versus 2021. We’ll go into more detail after we take the slides down, but let’s talk about where these numbers fell.
Leah: As I mentioned earlier, we take the results every year of all the video shops that have taken place during that year. I’m going to say it’s typically between about 1,200 and 1,400 shops a year, and these shops represent on average between 40 and 45 different builders across the country from the Carolinas to California and all places in between. They take all that data and crunch it down to come up with the score in each of these six areas.
Approach and introduction Kimberly referred to earlier as the meet and greet. Did they do the registration card et cetera, et cetera? Did they offer a refreshment? Did they use the person’s name? Then the builder story. Obviously model demonstration, home site demonstration, closing, and then follow-up. We monitor the follow-up and want to see if anything has been sent out, whether it’s a text message, a voicemail, or whatever within 24 hours. Typically, if you look at the score for 2020, that’s kind of in line with what I see almost every year. There’s some variation, but typically closing is always dead last. The model demonstration is always high. Approach and introduction are always high. We were all kind of on pins and needles wondering what 2021 would bring because, as you know in 2021, we had some changes in the market. Lots of changes in the market. We were still coming off of Covid and changing how we do business. When we published these results, Ben and I saw for the first time in a very long time these shifts in the numbers. We had builders calling us asking, “What in the world happened here? How can you explain this?” Kimberly, thank you for highlighting in red and the big fat arrow pointing downward where we’ve seen changes. Approach and introduction. My goodness, 92% We always see that in the 90s, and this year it’s 73%. That means 73% of the people that we video shop did a good meet and greet welcome, use of names, building rapport, asking questions, etc. That is a huge drop. That is down 19%. Huge. Builder story. The good news is it went up. I remember when you and I talked last year, Kimberly, we were talking about the importance of sharing your builder’s story, so obviously, people have listened to that. It’s not super high, but it does mean that 53% of those that we video shopped used the builder’s name, and talked about the USP (unique selling proposition) their builder has. Positioned them in the marketplace. Go to model demonstration and another downer. Down 11%. This one is ironic to me, and we’ll get into more detail, but this is typically always in the 90s because this is where our salespeople get into the zone. They’re comfortable, they’re showcasing the model, and they’re pointing out the beautiful features. They’re not doing that so much in 2021. They didn’t do the home site demonstration. Holy moly!
Kimberly: That one hurts.
Leah: That’s down 24%! Here’s the shocking thing – closing is up, and for every year that Melinda has done this survey, closing is usually dead last or second to dead last. This year it went up. The follow-up category is down 6% to 45%, and this one always blows me away because it’s follow-up. It’s the easiest one of all of these to do. We saw a lot of changes in these numbers, and what you and I are going to roll up our sleeves and dig into, is why the changes in the numbers? That’s what our builders are asking us. Is it market conditions? Is it not having anything to sell? Is it price increase? What is it? Why are our salespeople not performing in these areas where they’ve typically done very, very well? That’s the secret of the benchmark study, and you can see just based on those numbers, these are significant changes in 2021.
Kimberly: Aaron asked us if a demo and home site demo include a virtual demo. I don’t know about the benchmark study, but in my world, yes, those count.
Leah: Yes, it does count. Good question, too. When the Covid protocols started coming into play, Melinda Brody was very responsible and reactive to this and shifted our score cards to include virtual home site demonstration and virtual model demonstration because a lot of people were doing their sales presentations virtually especially in 2021. so the score does include model demonstration and home site demonstration virtually.
Kimberly: I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about the conversation that we had last year. I encourage any of you who didn’t hear that yet to click the post in my newsletter that went out, but you can also find it on newhomesolutions.com/head-to-head. A lot of the information that we talked about last year, like the basic no-no of not building rapport and F.O.R.D (family, occupation, recreation, dreams), overcoming objections, getting complacent, the builder story, and follow-up. We did talk about those things, and we’re going to talk about them today, but we’re going to talk about them in a little different way based on not only what happened in 2021, but what’s happening now in 2022 with rising interest rates and what we’re seeing from people in the market and how this shift uh is going to change things. What we’re finding is, that there are a lot of people who have a lot of rust to dust off.
Leah: I agree. Without saying it or saying that there’s some complacency, people are getting complacent, and I can understand that. I think last year, the words we used were frenzied and frustrated. Our buyers are frenzied, we’re frenzied, we’re frustrated, and we don’t have things to sell. I think those two words can carry over and I think it’s carried over into the presentation where if you don’t have a lot to sell or you don’t have anything released. For approach and introduction, we’re jumping straight into sales mode. We’re forgetting that critical piece, which is to stop, take the time to set the stage, set your buyers’ expectations, and get to know them and build rapport. I cannot stress that enough, and I know Kimberly and I are both big F.O.R.D. fans. Woohoo! Family, occupation…
Kimberly: Recreation and dreams.
Leah: Or even if you just spend five minutes or ten minutes at the beginning of your presentation, I guarantee you not only will you build rapport, but then you’re going to get information that you can use during your sales presentation to personalize the presentation. What I’m seeing on the video shops that I watch is, “Hi, the models are that way. Go take a look.” I haven’t seen that in a long time. It goes straight to go take a look at the model, and in many cases, they’re not walking the models with them, which is another crucial point. That’s where you take your F.O.R.D, you walk the model, and you get to know them more. This is where you’re like a fly on the wall especially if there are two or three people who’re making their comments, “Oh, I hate that. Oh, I love that.” These are clues that you need to know to help you during your presentation, and if you’re not there if you’re not present during that model demonstration, you’re missing out. If you’re not building the rapport and going through F.O.R.D. and getting to know them. and I say this till I’m blue in the face. use their names. I still see it. Nobody wants to use the name. I think they hear it, but it goes in one ear and out the other. I’ve told them to write it down. This is Kimberly. She likes to be called Kimberly, not Kim.Kimberly. Use the name. That’s one of the easiest ways to start building rapport because once I start using your name, guess what? You’re going to start using my name. and now we’ve built some rapport there.
Kimberly: So, you have a connection. I always say if we think as on-site salespeople that we don’t like scripts, guess what? Your buyers have scripts, so there’s a good cop there’s a bad cop. They’ve already been to the last three places, they know exactly what they’re going to say, exactly how much information they’re going to give you. Get them off their script. If the sales center is in the garage, I turn and say, “Hey thanks for coming by Bodacious Builders.” I turn around and walk out the door into the kitchen of the home where I can offer them a beverage. Usually, they will follow me if for no other reason than just to wonder where that crazy blonde chick is going. They will follow when you walk with purpose. People will follow you, and now they’re off their script because they’re thinking, “What just happened? I don’t understand what’s happening to me?” Now can talk to them. “Oh, hi”, and that’s where I introduce myself, “Hi, I’m Kimberly and you are?”
Leah: You know what else is good too, Kimberly? I think about taking them into the kitchen for a cup of coffee or water, you’re getting out of the sales office, so you’re not sitting down across the desk. You’re not in sales mode because you know your buyers, or your prospects want to see the pretty model. You’re accomplishing a couple of things. You’re getting them out of their script mode as Kimberly said. You’re getting them out of sales mode because you’re in the kitchen, and you’re allowing them to be able to look around. Most of the floor plans are very open, so you’re accomplishing a lot of things, and that’s the ideal spot to start building the rapport and asking the F.O.R.D. questions and setting the stage for what you’re going to be doing for the next 45 minutes to an hour.
Kimberly: Yes, and while you’re doing while you’re walking to the kitchen, especially if you have a trap or you’re going out the side and going back in the front door, stop and talk. Talk about the weather, talk about whatever kind of vehicle they drove up in, talk about their logo apparel. Start trying to find some connections. Then when I get in there and I offer them a beverage or a coffee or whatever I’m offering them at that point. Then – I’m so sorry fellas, this won’t work for you – but this is my go-to. I’ll tell you right now, I twist my hair and say, “I’m so sorry, I’m Kimberly and you are?” I know you’re thinking that was rude of me not to introduce myself. I did it on purpose. I wasn’t being rude, but at the end of the day it was then so we can get real, and then they’re more likely to give me real information. Now they’ve forgotten their scripts are gone. We have to get real with people. So, buy yourself a little bit of time. It gives you some time to assess if these people want to shake hands. I don’t think we need to be shaking everybody’s hands. Hello? We just had a pandemic. Before that we had people who are OCD and may not want to or, it’s culturally inappropriate. What if you shake the wrong person’s hand first? There are all these things, so avoid these pitfalls, but take the time to find something.
Leah: Right. Take the time to build rapport. I always say if you give them the opportunity, they’re going to tell you everything they need. That’s why I’m a big proponent of telling me about your current situation because then you’re going to find out I’m divorced, I’m married, I had a baby, the kids left home, grandma’s moving in – all that stuff. Do a nice open-ended question and get them comfortable talking about themselves. That’s going to give you, as you’re then walking through the model, grandma will be in this bedroom and the twins, Kimberly, and Kathy will be in this bedroom. Then you can personalize it but I’m not I’m seeing people jump over that step.
Kimberly: It’s completely dismissive.
Leah: I’m wondering if it’s because they don’t have anything to sell or there’s not any inventory that they have for release. There are a lot of different things.
Kimberly: They’re beaten down. They’re very beaten down. As I’m working with my seasoned salespeople, that’s what they’re telling me. I want to go back to selling, but I don’t have anything to sell. I’m limited in what I have to sell, I am part of a lottery system, I’m part of a highest and best offer situation, I’m this, I’m that. It’s all about just the facts ma’am. No, it can’t be just about the facts. I’m getting a yes, yes with three exclamation points there from Gary. I’m preaching it for you, Gary!
Leah: Kimberly, we were both around in the market of 2005-2006, and we saw a lot of…
Kimberly: You have just aged us, you know. We look good for our age.
Leah: We started when we were like 16, but we saw a lot of these things happening. One of the things I think that we saw too was the same type of scenario of nothing to sell, price increases of $10,000 every month, and but what goes up does come down and things will get back to where they were if you want to call it normal or not. One of the things I think from back in those days that we saw, was those salespeople that did not stay on top of their game when the market turned and they had to sell again, bye-bye, they had to go find a new career. We saw it. There was a benefit to it. Everybody wanted to get in sales at that point, because as my land manager would say, “You know a monkey could sell new homes these days. It’s just so easy.”
Kimberly: Which is quite rude, so please don’t say that to your salespeople.
Leah: It’s horrible. That’s why he’s in land and not sales and marketing.
Kimberly: Ah, that makes far more sense.
Leah: When the tables turn, you’ve got to be ready. We’ve seen it happen before, so don’t rest on those laurels. Use this as an opportunity to practice and master your craft if anything.
Kimberly: When the tide goes out, you see who’s swimming naked. Is that what you’re telling us?
Leah: Yes! Oh, that’s a good one! You’re exactly right. Use this as an opportunity to perfect your skill, because it’s not always going to be like this, and I think that approach, introduction, meet and greet sets everything up. It sets the whole presentation up. I’ve told Kimberly this before; I can typically watch a video shop, and trust me, I watch thousands of them and tell within the first 5 or 10 minutes whether it’s going to be a huge success or whether it’s going to be a flop, and they haven’t said one thing about a home or a home site, or prices. It’s all what happens in that first 10 minutes. You can tell when it’s uncomfortable, when they don’t know their name, and when they’re not using their name, and it’s very, very awkward, so we don’t want that awkwardness. You can save yourself a lot of time and trouble by just 5 to 10 minutes at the very beginning and build that rapport.
Kimberly: I’m going to show my age here because I’m going to tell you that those old-fashioned paper registration cards that you can write stuff down on, you’re not that fast. I don’t care if you’re Gen Z; you are not that fast writing it all or typing it all in. There’s something to be said for being able to do that, and I know it takes a little longer to go do the data entry, but oh boy, there’s huge value in that. It will remind you and have you think of things. I’m working with some seasoned teams right now I mentioned in the pre-show when we were talking, and one of the exercises that I gave a very seasoned group out of Charlotte, North Carolina this past month, was I wanted them to spend 3 minutes doing a meet and greet getting to know one another and building rapport where they didn’t talk about product at all for the first 3 minutes. No product. Their manager said to me, “I don’t think they can do it. I honestly don’t.” I said, “Well, these are your people right now. You should have a little more faith in them, right?” He said, “Let’s just do it for a minute.” I said, “Okay. I’m fine.” I think it needs to be 5 or 10 minutes like you said. I’ve spent I spent 45 minutes one day talking to a guy about a Harley Davidson motorcycle. I can talk to somebody about anything because I don’t have to know the answers. I just have to have good questions. I have lots of questions about stuff I don’t know. so that makes it easy. You just have to be genuinely curious. These people couldn’t make it. Not one of them. These are people who’ve been in the business for 15-20 years. They’ve been through the ups and the downs, and they still could not make it without talking about product for one minute. I encourage you to go back with your sales teams to do this. I know salespeople and role play. Oh, the dreaded role play. If you can’t do it, there you can’t do it live. You really cannot.
Leah: You remind me of something, Kimberly. I remember once there was a video shop that came in and the person scored 100, and I could not wait to watch this video shop. I’m excited, I’m pouring wine. I’m calling Melinda. I’m popping popcorn. I watched this shop, and I would have rather watched paint peel off a wall. Did the person check everything off on the box? Absolutely, but no personality and no building of rapport. In my opinion, new home sales is both a science and an art, and the art part is building rapport. You know you’ve got to be able to have both of those together-the art and the science.
Kimberly: Think about this; today our sales process is more about pipeline management after we get them on contract. Now we have to manage these people for very long periods. if you didn’t build rapport in the beginning, you don’t have the very foundation that you’re going to need to buy you the next 6, 8, 9, 12 months which is trust.
Leah: It’s going to be a very difficult and awkward 6, 9, or 12 months if you don’t have that relationship.
Kimberly: It’s going to be painful for everybody.
Leah: Tried and true; spend the time and build rapport. Then that goes into the model demo. I want to make sure we touch on all these things. That being down 11%, and I’ll tell you, I have started seeing more and more video shops where the salesperson doesn’t walk the model. When I ask them, I hear everything from, “Oh well, everything’s an upgrade, or we don’t have a lot to sell, they’re not interested, I just send them on their way to look.” People, this is your store. This is your storefront and not only that, but it’s also your time to shine. It’s your time to incorporate the builder’s story. Talk about those things that you do differently from other builders. It’s your time to take it to the next level in terms of what your prospects are looking for. Little nuances, little “Oh I love that!” These are the clues that you can now take to use to personalize your presentation. There’s no reason to not walk a model. I haven’t heard one good reason, have you?
Kimberly: The two bigger excuses that I’m getting are, “Well we can’t. We don’t have any more of the model to sell, so I’m showing them something I can’t sell”, or “I don’t have a model right now.” Those two things. Let’s talk about the model that you can’t sell. that mod. There are things within that model that you can show, and it’s an opportunity to be very tactile and hands-on with your buyer to increase conversation. I worked with another very seasoned salesperson. I think this guy had been in the business for probably 25 years, and he said to me, “I can’t sell this model. I’m not going to have it available again until next spring, and yet it’s my only model. What do I do?” I said, “Okay, back up. You’ve done this before. We’ve got to dust off the cobwebs here. This is all about blocking and tackling.” What did I mean by that? I mean where do you stand? He said they come running by me in the model because they want to immediately go in and see the model and get all excited about this one. I said, “No! Who’s in charge here?” Where do you stand? How do you stand? How do you place your feet? Those things become very important to welcoming buyers making them feel very comfortable and getting them inside, but then controlling the narrative so that you can start to set the right expectations.
Leah: Agreed. You’re going to hear things such as, “Oh, I don’t like how that is, or oh, I love how this is.” Even if you’re not selling that model, it’s your opportunity. Kurt, you’re just taking the words out of my mouth, my friend. It’s your opportunity to showcase your builder. The quality craftsmanship, the different things that they can do, the different things your design center offers. I get so upset when people say that they hate showing the model because everything’s an upgrade. Well, duh! This is your store. This is where you’re able to showcase if you’re into countertops, let me show you some of the things we can do with countertops or flooring or whatever. It’s almost like a shift. Quit looking at it like it’s all these things, all these upgrades, and look at it as an opportunity to showcase your builder and all the diverse things that they can do. More importantly, hear what your prospects are saying. Watch their facial expressions and see when they get excited about something and build rapport. I don’t want to see that one down next year. I want to see model demo back up in the 90s because this is where so many of our salespeople just come to life. If you’re not good at the small talk piece, I’ve seen salespeople just transform once they get into the model because they’re in their comfort zone. Make sure you showcase and walk the models which kind of leads us into the biggie, biggie, biggie of the 24% down, and that’s demo the dirt.
Kimberly: When you site, you write.
Leah: When you site, you write. The other thing too, and I’ve seen this on video shops as well, is not everybody that comes to your community is coming because of the sticks and bricks or the homes, especially if you’re in a heavily amenitized community or a golf course community, or the location is close to the airport. This is why that building rapport of what’s important to the buyer is so important, and I don’t know if I shared this or not last time, but one of the video shops was hysterical. A little old lady is at some big golf and country club in Naples, and the salesperson threw her on the little golf cart, and they’re tooling around in 190-degree weather. He’s pointing out every aspect of this golf course, and at the end, he asked her, “Do you golf?” and she said, “No.” There are 45 minutes of life they never got back, but on the flip side, there are also people that want to be in this community because of the amenities or because of the location or the home site is just as important if not more important than the home. You’ve got to do the questioning. Kimberly, I know you’ve seen it. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen sales made specifically due to the home site.
Kimberly: Absolutely. I tell the story often because it’s just one of those emotions that still gives me goosebumps. I was out in Estrella, which is on the west side of Phoenix, and I was working with a builder out there. The big master-planned community was going to have 50,000 rooftops in it when it was done. It was called Estrella, and I was in one of the villages within that master-planned community aptly named Serenity because it was just breathtaking. The view from sitting up higher in the mountains in the foothills facing the Estrella Mountain range which has, unlike Camelback and some of the other more famous mountains in the Phoenix area, there’s the vegetation on this mountain. When the sun sets at night, it’s just spectacular with blues and purples and oranges and reds. Every night depending on the dust and the cloud cover and what the weather was doing and the time of year, it’s just it’s a different show. I would always try to end my day in Serenity. We’d been working with this family, and it was a very interesting scenario. The parents had been lifelong military, and their adult children were also in the military. Everybody wanted to finally come to roost in one area because they’ve been deployed all over the world. Well, the matriarch of the family had been talking to us for quite some time, and I was so thrilled to find out I was going to be there on the week of her visit because I felt like I’d gotten to know this woman just through working with my on-site. She wanted a two-story home. Now in Phoenix and the southwest, they build 8-foot walls around their backyards to keep critters out of them, but also, I’m convinced they’re all just nudists because nobody wants a two-story home next to a one-story. Nobody wants anybody to be able to see in their 8-foot block wall so there are only so many places you can put a two-story home that this woman wanted. she walked with a cane, and that’s important because as we went out to look at this one home site I had asked the builder probably 15 times why it was expensive. I didn’t get it. These had a better view, and these are better home sites. Why were they charging so much more for this one? it had a rock behind it and one cactus. I live in Florida, so I like green and pretty things. Rocks are just rocks I didn’t get it, but I helped this lady as we went out. We showed. her the home. She loved it. It was everything she wanted. We could only put it in this one spot, and it was a $70, 000 home site premium. It was pretty hefty, and this was back in the day. I helped her over the silt fence, and she had to hold on to me because she walked with a cane. By the time we got out there, we set our cones where the home was going to go, we measured everything out where her patio would be. We were standing on what would be the patio, and the mountains started their show. The sun started to set, and nobody purposely did anything. We realized suddenly that we’d all been standing there for several minutes not saying a word, and I looked over to this lady and there were tears just pouring down her face, which of course made me cry because you know I’m an empathetic crier. She looked at me and she said, “It’s perfect. It’s just perfect.” I said, “Oh, thank goodness because if you didn’t buy this home site I was going to have to since I’ve seen this incredible sunset.”
Leah: That’s the point. You’ve got to find out how they live, and I’m a big patio person as well. What is your sunset going to look like? You’re going to have a masterpiece every night of your life here, so know your home sites as well as you know your floor plans. I always say each home site should also have a USP. What is unique about this? I’ve seen people tell their buyers to come and to look at this. This is where the sun sets and you’ve got the golf course view over there. That’s what sold them, not the floor plan We’ve said this before too, your homes are not unique. You can build a Willow model onhome sites 17, 49, and 38, but how many home sites 17, 49 and 38s do you have? What is unique about that property? What does your buyer want? I love to have my coffee in the mornings and hear the birds chirping. My goodness! You need to look at homesite 27! It is exactly what you want. That’s the most unique thing that you’re selling is that home site, so don’t disregard that. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t show until the second or the third or the fourth time. No! Find out what it is that makes them tick about their home site and show it then. That number to me is appalling. That it’s down 24%. I know there are conditions of we don’t have a lot to release, we don’t have a lot to show, etc., etc., but if you do have home sites that you can show, don’t miss that opportunity. Tell them in advance when you’re talking about how you’re going to spend your time with them. Once we’ve determined your home site or your home floor plan. I want you to see some of these home sites, and based on what you’ve told me, Kimberly, you enjoy that quiet morning time. There is one beautiful home site here where you’re going to see the sun just peeking over the mountain ridge, whateverthat is, paint the picture. You just saw how emotional Kimberly got. Kimberly, are you crying over there?
Kimberly: I could be. I can tell that story and cry because I feel it every time.
Leah: Do you see what I’m saying? That’s what you want your buyers to do. You want to find out and hit that nerve. I can imagine that woman is thinking, “My children are all going to be together, and this is what we’re going to look at.” There’s an emotional picture there, so don’t skim over the home site thing because that is the one unique thing that they are purchasing.
Kimberly: You can’t see it from the road. You can’t drive by emotionally. You can’t make an emotional connection
Leah: There’s the home side over there. Make a left. No! Get them out there! There’s something about this is your tree. I name my trees. My favorite tree is named Priscilla out there. I love Priscilla.
Kimberly: I’ve seen Priscilla.
Leah: She’s gorgeous, right?
Kimberly: We sat on a stump and looked at Priscilla.
Leah: I love Priscilla! It’s the truth. it’s those unique things, those unique facets about a home site, and the fact that that number is down so far (gasps) just hurts me. It hurts Priscilla. Get out there and showcase your home sites.
Kimberly: A lot of that I’m sure is because we have such limits. Well, you can buy home site 4 you can buy home site 5. Which one do you want? We’re missing that connection. When you site you write. When I go out and train people and I’ll ask who has cones and a 100-foot measuring tape? Nobody? Get your cones, get your 100-foot measuring tape, get your plot plans, and figure out where those four corners of that home are going because it’s coming, people. It’s coming fast, and you better be ready. Each home site’s one-of-a-kind.
Leah: Kimberly, you touched on a good point too. Oh, we’ve got 14 and 26. That’s not the right attitude. Oh, my goodness! We have the beautiful one that catches the sunrise! What is that USP? Create a story for each home site. What is unique and beautiful and wonderful? Does it have mature trees? Does it have a cul-de-sac? What is it? Every home site is unique. Write that story. I make people make a notebook on every home site. What’s the story of that home site? Share it and get them excited about it. I think they’re going to be showing home sites from here on out. I’m excited about it. I wanted to briefly touch on the closing and how it wasn’t last. It was up 14%. When we talk with builders, a lot of them are in this in this mode that if they only have 2 home sites left; they won’t release anything again until a certain date. Do you want to buy it or not? I think if anything, the market conditions where we used to be scared to suggest moving forward, it’s now, “I have 2 left. Do you want to be in here? Because if not, Joe behind you will buy it.”
Kimberly: Next. Next.
Leah: Right. Now I’m not saying that that’s the right approach because we still need to close, but we still need to make it emotional. We’ve worked towards the close, let’s move forward not the attitude of I’ve got two left if you don’t want to buy it, I know the person behind you will. I think market conditions have increased that number, but maybe the good news is based on what we’ve gone through these past two years, we are more confident in and actively suggesting that our prospects move forward. If you sell them on the home, the home site, the builder, and the community, that’s a quadruple win, then you’re doing them a disservice by not suggesting we move forward. Maybe through all this strangeness of the past couple of years, our salespeople are becoming more confident to suggest moving forward. I was very happy to see the closing numbers increase.
Kimberly: I hope so. You know, Leah teaches one of the courses that I wrote. She’s my stand-in for this, and one of the things that we teach is to ask better questions and set the expectation so that you can become an assumptive closer. Everyone wants to be an assumptive closer, because the best salespeople are, and it isn’t that they come in hard at the end; it’s not about take it or leave it, or do you want this? If not, next. That’s uncomfortable. What’s comfortable is asking questions along the way, checking in, doing those trial closes, and setting the expectation. The next step is we need to do blah, blah, blah and then after that, we’re going to do this and they say, “Okay, okay.” Their head is nodding, their body language changes and they’re just moving with you. At the end, you say, “The only thing we need to do is I need you to sign right here, and I’ll need an earnest money deposit and the amount of x.” That’s it.
Leah: It’s an organic close because we’re working at it from the moment they walk into our sales office, so when it is time to suggest moving forward, it happens organically. It’s the natural progression. It’s not some weird white elephant in the room, call me if you have questions. It’s wow! We said we wanted to do this. We set out to accomplish this, and it sounds like we found the home, the home site, you’re happy with the builder and the community, let’s talk about what that looks like moving forward. It’s easier for you, it’s easier for your prospects when it does just flow like that organically, and it’s not that weirdo last five minutes in the parking lot of, “Well do you want to buy?” That’s so uncomfortable for everyone. If you do what you need to do at the beginning and start setting it up as you go along, you’re working towards the close throughout the entire presentation.
Kimberly: It’s about your curiosity. Just ask questions and then listen I always say the good Lord gave you two ears and one mouth, use them accordingly. If you’re asking great questions, you’re going to get the answers that you need. Truly, questions are the answers to everything. It’s not about having answers, it’s about having great questions.
Leah: Right. To wrap up the benchmark study, the follow-up went down from 51% to 45%.
Kimberly: That one was surprising.
Leah: it’s very surprising. Follow-up just always rubs me the wrong way because it’s the easiest thing in the world to do. Even if you don’t have anything to suggest such as I won’t have anything until next month, follow up because that’s building a relationship. Keep following up and keep following up. Ask the right questions and be able to personalize them. For example, if I were working with Kimberly, I know she has a horse, so it’s probably very important for her to be near an area that can board a horse. Let’s say I saw an article that a new area was opening near my community, that gives me a relevant reason, not a stupid thanks for coming to visit us, Kimberly. Kimberly’s going to think, “Wow that Leah, she’s pretty darn sharp there. you know. She’s got me.” That follow-up is more than just checking it off the list. It is a continuation of building the relationship. Now you become a resource. You become a go-to person, so please follow up.
Kimberly: Ask how. What is the best way to follow up? Today with our highest and best, and our offers, and our lotteries. and all these things, my salespeople are asking me how I can make it better for my buyer? How can I do these things? Follow up with them again in ways that matter because if they lose on this home site, what’s our plan B? Have a plan. Have a strategy with them, and if you have a strategy, you’re listening to them, you’ve built rapport, and you are going to be able to keep them in the game long enough until they have success. Most people are dismissing them and that is unfortunate. That’s unfortunate for our business, our industry, and our people, but most of all our buyers.
Leah: Good point, Kimberly, because I think with everything that has happened in the market over the past couple of years such as limited releases, you’re no longer a new home sales associate, you are a new home advisor. The relationship is a little bit longer now if you’ve got to wait for a certain release. You’re working with these people, so you’re their advisor, and they’re going to come to you for everything. Realize your importance as a new home advisor that they’re looking to you. They want to hear from you. You’re keeping them in the loop even if you have nothing to sell them for a couple of months or whatever that time frame is. Reposition yourself. Elevate your position to a new home advisor.
Kimberly: The buyer is changing, the technology is changing, our role is changing, but it can be in a very good way if you utilize some of these things that we’re talking about because buyers are coming in far more qualified. They are coming in further into the funnel, and we know they’re buyers, but they’ve got lots of questions. They need a lot of handholding, and that’s where good new home salespeople never go out of style. The builder can’t do all that. The buy online is great to a point until they have a question, and then they need rapport. They need somebody that has taken the time to listen to them.
Leah: Sometimes when you have a market like this, it gets rid of some people who maybe shouldn’t have been in new home sales to begin with, but the ones who are going to be victorious and come out of this as the leaders, are the ones that do take what you just said. Our role is shifting. We are advisors. We’re not just cookie-cutter here’s-your-sale-let’s-move-on. Next! Next! We are developing these relationships, we’re listening to what their needs are, and we’re acting as advisors, not just trying to get the sale. Getting to the core of what makes these people tick.
Kimberly: I like the suggestion in the chat about using BombBomb video as a follow-up. I use video as a lot of different tools such as an expectation setting. Send a video before you have a meeting with them, so they are familiar with you and your mannerisms. Myers Barnes told me that a long time ago, “Kimberly you look like you look.” I said, “Well I’m not happy with that,” and he replied, “Deal with it because it’s a reality.”
Leah: Well, you’re beautiful, so hush. What I was going to say is also it’s what’s so critical today with all these different conditions that are going on right now, it is critical to set the expectations with your buyers. Be transparent. If you don’t have anything to release until July, tell them that right up front.
Kimberly: Preach it!
Leah: Praise hallelujah! I love the idea of a BombBomb video beforehand because now you’re setting expectations of what we’re going to do when you come in, Kimberly. Say we’re going to get to know each other a little bit better and I’m going to ask you a lot of questions. You might not think they’re relevant, but they are for me as your new home advisor to help you find the perfect home. When you set expectations, then no news is bad news. If it’s taking you longer to build homes, which a lot of people are saying. Longer build time, and we’ve got price increases. Are mortgage rates going up? Yes, they are. We can’t stick our heads in the sand and pretend that they’re not. Deal with it. Be transparent about it. I know mortgage rates are going up. Let’s talk about that. Tell me what your concern is about that. People have different thoughts on it. If the price of gas goes up I still must have it. I need to drive. Mortgage rates: what goes up will come down. It’s cyclical. People who have been in this for a while, we’ve seen it before. I think setting those expectations, being transparent and honest, and finding out what those things are that are making your buyers hesitant or a little concerned. Get it on the table. Talk it out. you know
Kimberly: I am 100% with you. Does anybody have anything in the chat? Questions anything you’re dealing with? Thank you for coming on and talking about this. I think it’s so important that our salespeople understand what their unique selling proposition is. Forget what your builder did. What makes you special? Now is the time for that to shine.
Leah: It is. My final observation is again, with this market, what comes up will come down. We will get back to some sense of normalcy. Use this time to master your
Craft. Don’t use it to rest on your laurels, or to I don’t have anything to sell. Perfect your craft because the market will change. We’ve seen it happen. You’re always going to have objections, and you’re always going to have different things that you’re going to be dealing with. but use this as your time to perfect your craft. Carrie is asking about F.O.R.D. Family, occupation, recreation, dreams. Not, “Did you have a nightmare last night?” but, “Tell me your favorite place that you’d love to vacation or what is it that you’ve always wanted to do?”
Kimberly: What is your reason for making this move? How will this impact your ability to travel or do all the things? There’s a free handout on my website if you go to newhomesolutions.com. It has my favorite discovery questions,and they’re broken out by F.O.R.D. so you know when to ask them. It’s free, and all you have to do is go on my website, and a little pop-up will come up. Just fill out your information, and it’ll send it right to you.
Leah: It’s from the book the Ninja Sales. Great book.
Kimberly: I think has been around longer than that, but Ninja Selling definitely talks about F.O.R.D.
Leah: Kimberly thank you.
Kimberly: Thank you to Melinda Brody and Company for doing this wonderful work for us. It’s always fun to hang out with you for an hour, my friend.
Leah: No wine this time.
Kimberly: Why? What are we thinking? We should have done that!
Leah: Kimberly, thank you so much. Thanks, everybody else.