“Ask not what your company can do for you, but what you can do for your company.”
Please excuse my modest editing of this famous quote from JFK, however we must remind our salespeople of their fundamental responsibilities. As we all know, with the boom that we experienced in most States, we had more clients than we could handle. Now that the market has normalized it’s time for our salespeople to step up and implement prospecting activities, which will become a habit and sustain them for their whole new home sales career.
When I started in new home sales there was an accepted rule of thirds when it came to driving in qualified sales traffic, that stated that only one third of our business should stem from our builders marketing efforts; and the other two thirds should be self-generated by our sales team. I lived by this rule as a new home salesperson and became proficient at driving in my own qualified buyers. I now teach this program to sales teams across the USA. Here is a simple plan to transform your sales team's abilities to create their own sales pipeline.
Start by identifying where we can find interested prospects. Here is my Top 10 list.
1. Real estate agents2. Referrals
3. Home buying seminars
4. Local businesses and services such as hospitals, schools, etc.
5. Zip code analysis
6. Community events
7. Managing search engines such as Livabl.com.
8. Rental communities
9. Trade partner programs
10. Social media
If you are a manager, introduce this concept to your sales team and have each one select three targets. I have found that too many can be overwhelming. For this article, I will select three and share examples of an effective strategy for each.
Have your salesperson select your target offices or target agents. As a young salesman, for 10 years, I did a presentation to a Real Estate office every single month, either at my models or their office. Forget expensive cocktail receptions, I have found that breakfasts at your model or design studio give you by far the best ROI. When giving a presentation, focus on how much you value their business, how your process makes it easy show and sell your brand-new homes, and then the massive earning potential they have with you. Then focus on your product and unique selling propositions.
After years of increased sales, now is the perfect time to capitalize and implement a structured referral process. Measure what your referral rate is currently, and then set a goal for your first and second years.
Research shows that clients don’t need to be bribed with expensive gifts, instead will be happy to refer friends and family if they are happy with their home building experience. For example, a few builders I work with give a donation to a charity of the choice of both parties, creating a true win-win win.
Create a referral flyer which is ubiquitous on salespeople’s desks, and at the design studio so that clients are thinking about referrals sublimely. Then at each emotional high point of the buying process, such as signing an agreement, design studio appointments, walk throughs, move in date, and anniversaries make sure you present the form with space for referrals name, email, and phone.
Ebon Petty, vice president of sales for Robertson Homes in West Bloomfield, Michigan, decided to focus on referrals a few years ago; they were just under 15% of their sales when we started measuring. After two years of working together with the sales team to implement our proactive plan, we increased their referrals to a mighty 30% of their sales. It takes hard work to sustain, and a mutual commitment within the company to provide and sustain an exceptional buyer experience; however this is a very cost-effective source of continual business.
Home Buying Seminars
There are buyers in most markets who are interested in buying a brand-new home at some point soon, but are confused about the process, and fearful about being pressured, if they visit a conventional new home model or sales center. Home buying seminars present the perfect antidote, where potential buyers may come out and learn about the homebuilding process with your company, under the guise of education.
I work with many builders across the country who accomplish remarkable conversion ratios with their seminars. For example, Garrette Custom Homes in Washington State and Oregon have been hosting monthly seminars for over a decade, with consistent sales success. Here are some tips:
Research shows with home buying seminars that both the conversion ratio is high, and the buyer created is educated and therefore has a far greater experience than the more typical non-educated client. Remember to create a four-to-six-month calendar of events to maximize attendance.
Lastly while we want to motivate and encourage our salespeople to create their own qualified traffic, we also want to make sure that our company brand is being represented professionally and that we also leverage the expertise within the company.
Ensure that management, sales, and marketing meet to create the path forward and are available for each other as a resource. For example, in creating collateral material and ads for either agents, referrals or home buying seminars, inspire the team to work together for the greater good of the company and the clients we serve.