With the market becoming more restrictive over the last year, there has been a mini exodus of new-home salespeople around the country. As a sales leader, it’s important that you don’t wait until you have a vacancy to fill—you should always be recruiting and looking for top sales talent.
Start by evaluating your current sales team, and, if you have a salesperson who is continually underperforming, understand the damage in terms of both lost sales and reputation that you could be enduring as a result. We should always be looking to improve the quality of our team.
Since we believe that new-home sales follow the same principles as the retail and hospitality sectors, it makes sense to seek salespeople with selling skills and retail experience.
Look for coachable candidates who are excited to begin a career in home sales. You can find candidates who are in retail, car sales, rental communities, restaurant servers, and hospitality. Interestingly, teachers can often do very well in new-home sales.
Years ago, when hosting a recruiting event for a builder in Nashville, Tennessee, one candidate, Carrie, was successfully selling luxury handbags for a store in the mall. She clearly could sell and was looking for a better quality of life and went on to become a new-home sales star very quickly.
Another tip: If you have a top performer you wish you could clone, ask them if they have any friends who are looking for work. Birds of a feather flock together.
Many years ago, I was at a recruiting event at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton and found myself chatting with the great championship-winning football coach Howard Schnellenberger. I asked him what he looked for when recruiting and he said: “Roland, I want them tall, fast, and coachable.”
I loved how simple his reply was and concur that “in new-home sales, we want great communicators who are passionate, persistent, and coachable.”
We have found countrywide that it is often hard to find the complete salesperson with all the skills you are looking for, but often easier to find someone with great potential who can join your team as an associate and then be trained and groomed to become your next top sales superstar.
I have had the privilege of working with Michele Scott, director of sales and marketing for Empire Communities in Charlotte, North Carolina, for almost 20 years. Scott has been diligent in hiring exceptional candidates to join her team of seasoned sales professionals and then training them in every facet of home sales before they are even considered for a promotion.
Scott role-plays with them, observes them with customers, and uses video shops to evaluate. I have watched many of the shops together, and the associate must have a very high score on their shop before she will even consider promoting them to a community manager.
This can be tough when the associate is good, but Scott demands greatness. As a result, she has built a team of exceptional sales professionals who replicate their success consistently in every single market condition.
When recruiting, follow a simple process, “love yourself enough” to stick to it, and don’t hire people that you have doubts over, who could risk sabotaging your success as well as undermining your team spirit and company culture.
Here is the process we teach around the nation:
With all the builder clients that I work with, I also offer the service of a 30-minute Zoom call with their top sales candidates. We have found that the candidates are excited and typically honored that the company is taking recruiting so seriously, and we have managed to unearth some incredibly talented salespeople who are thriving around the country, consistently selling new homes at the highest level.
I worked with Tilson Homes, a highly successful custom builder in Texas, with a large team of salespeople. One of the managers, Pat Mayo, consistently had the best sales candidates. When I quizzed Mayo on this, he shared that it was the questionnaire that made the difference. He would only accept candidates that filled in the questionnaire and looked promising.
In 2023, Mariah Threet-Cloyd won NAHB Sales Rookie of the Year, which is a huge honor. Prior to joining Mayo’s team at Tilson, she was working in scientific research as a histology technician and tended bar. I had conducted a Zoom interview, and it was obvious to both Mayo and me that she could communicate at a high level; was passionate, internally motivated, and driven to succeed; and would be a great asset to the sales team.
Mayo’s diligence in following every step of the recruiting system, and refusal to take shortcuts, has helped create some of the finest sales talent I have ever had the pleasure of working with and coaching.