Monday, August 4, 2008

To Work with an Objection Effectively, Learn the Motivation Behind It

Many salespeople report objections about the size of the yard being too small (or seemingly smaller than they expected) or the homes being close together or the associations dues being too high - or many other issues.

The tendency upon hearing these is to attack them head-on. There's a better way.

When we hear these concerns being voiced, we don't know if they are serious issues or just comments.

Why should we spend our energy discussing why the homes are that close together or trying to explain that they're really not as close as they appear to be - or any of the other issues - until we understand why someone is raising this question and if they are even serious about living in the home or neighborhood.

Forget about using the old "feel, felt, found." If you don't know what I'm talking about, it's OK.

When someone says something like the yard is too small, we should just ask why they are saying that. Do they really need more space and this is a serious issue? Or does it just seem smaller than they thought they'd see? Or have they just not yet considered how easy it will be to maintain it? What are they looking for in a new home? Is this it? How close is this one to what they will consider buying?

These are good questions that will help us interpret the customer's concerns and explain them in terms of something meaningful to them rather than just because it's an answer we rehearsed.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Monday, July 7, 2008

Don’t Give In Without a Fight

As salespeople, we’re competitive. We’re tenacious. We’re persistent. We hate to lose. So let’s fight to save more sales.

What do I mean? Simple.

Someone walks in and says that they like your home but that they have a home to sell (or something else like this). That sounds like the end of the sale. But, here’s were the fight starts.

There must be something you can do or suggest to help them make a decision on a new home – even with their present home seemingly an issue. It might involve financing assistance, help with property taxes, moving allowances, commissions to their Realtor, hiring a stager for them, or many other possibilities.

First before suggesting any solution, determine that they really do want to buy a home and that the only thing standing in the way of a “yes” is their feeling that their current home needs to be out of the picture.

If they aren’t serious and are just offering a flimsy excuse that they think sounds good to make you quit your presentation, then you have other issues to work with – such as determining why they aren’t serious about a new home and dismissing them if a move is not something they’re really contemplating.

Size up your opponent, and fight for the sale. Your opponent is not your customer. Your customer is your friend. Your opponent is the ultimate reason why they won’t say “yes,” and that’s what you attack.

Don’t be put off or intimidated by excuses. Fight them. Be prepared to engage them. Learn how to win.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Thursday, June 19, 2008

It’s Not Always How Much You Know

There’s an old saying that goes “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

In sales, it might seem that product knowledge is the most important content of a presentation – that it’s very hard to make a sale with someone if you can’t convey all of the features and specifications about what is being offered, and how well designed or conceived it is.

Actually, it’s not as important as it might appear.

In fact, the two most important parts of a sales presentation are asking questions (often called “discovery” or “qualifying”) and listening.

This doesn’t mean that detailed product knowledge is not useful or that you won’t use it to make a sale.

However, if I knew nothing about your product or service, I could go a long way in building the sale just by communicating with your customer about their needs and desires.

By skillfully asking questions and establishing a relationship with a customer, it’s possible to make a sale without a lot of detailed facts and figures, demonstrations, examples, and technical information.

Some people will require the detail, while others will be more interested in relating to you.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Your Data Base Can Hold Some Real Nuggets

One of the best places to look for a potential sale is in your data base among those people you’ve already talked with about your product or service.

They already have some familiarity with you and what you can do for them, and you already have some relationship with them.

However, only a few potential sales are going to be hidden there, so you have to be strategic about locating them.

Just as you wouldn't go panning for gold in a stream where no gold has ever been found, contacting people in your data base who expressed no interest in your product at your first meeting or any subsequent contacts with them is not going to be effective.

Therefore, calling everyone in your Rolodex or card box or Outlook, Top Producer, Maximizer, Gold Mine, ACT!, or other CRM (contact manager) is not going to be a good use of your time.

First of all, there is little likelihood that you can reach and talk to everyone in your data base - even if this was your goal, and second, you aren't going to be that influential in changing someone's mind who didn't feel that your product or service was something they wanted or was not particularly serious about making a buying decision.

Rather than spending a significant amount of time trying to recontact everyone in your data base - just so that you can say that you did - consider how much more strategic and efficient it would be to contact just those people who showed an initial interest in what you offer and indicated that they would be happy owning your product or having your service at some point.

How are you going to know who these people are that you should be contacting and looking for? By reviewing the notes that you make after each contact. Not making notes or not making them consistently? It's times just as these when the importance of good notes becomes apparent.

Spend time evaluating your contact notes to determine which people have the potential of buying your product or service and then contact them.

Not only will you have a better chance of making a sale or moving the sales process forward, you will be using your time more wisely and not risk irritating people who clearly are not - and possibly never were - good candidates for what you offer.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Friday, June 6, 2008

Save Gas, Become a Specialist

Whether you’re a remodeler or you’re selling new or resale homes, there’s no reason to be a generalist – someone who tries to be familiar with a broad segment of the market and may end up attempting to serve too broad of an area.

There’s no need to drive all over town and be available for everyone who wants a piece of you – or to spend hours driving around trying to learn about and understand areas that are not in your immediate market.

First decide who your competition is if you are in new home sales. Decide your target market if you’re a remodeler. Define your market area or farm area if you’re in general real estate. The principle is the same.

Become an expert on your immediate area and leave the rest of your community to someone else. Become a trusted resource. Be the most knowledgeable there is on real estate in your market area.

Define a market area as concise and finite as possible to allow you to produce a sufficient amount of business and then become an expert on your area. Nothing should escape your attention.

Let anyone else who tries to compete against you or gain a foothold in your market area, and it will be clear to all who know or meet you that you indeed are the expert and the one they should work with for buying or selling or renovating property.

You will become the force to be reckoned with in your market area and will be highly successful – and you’ll save gas as you make money and help create solutions for your customers.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Here? Why Now? Why Me?

Most of us would be happy to have a customer walk into our office or call us on the phone and express an interest in buying a new home (or other product or service that we offer). In fact, we might be so excited about this that we would launch right into our presentation with only a few cursory questions about what they’re looking for, price range, and when they want it.

While I would share your enthusiasm in working with such a customer, there is a more basic set of questions that you should be asking that actually will help you make the sale.

Consider why someone has chosen to contact you – among all of the other companies and people that they could have approached – at this very moment to discuss your product or service.

Knowing the answers to these questions often will tell us what we need to make a sale before we ever learn what our customers are actually looking for.

For instance, if you are talking with someone about a property that is listed in the MLS, they could go to any number of other realtors or offices and view the same property – so clearly it’s not just the property that has caused them to seek you.

If you are selling new homes in an area where other builders are offering a similar product, then the location is not the only reason they have visited you.

If your product or service is promoted on the internet, there likely are many similar ones listed as well.

If you have an office or showroom, chances are you’re not the only one offering those products or services in your area.

No, it’s much more basic than what you’re offering or where you’re located.

Seriously. Of all the other offices, showrooms, websites, or properties that someone could visit, view, or contact at this very moment, why have they chosen your company and the way in which they contacted you – why here?

Then what’s so special in their lives about their personal timing? Why today? Why right now?

Of all the people they could be talking to or visiting with right now, why you?

When we begin asking ourselves these questions and getting the answers from our customers, we will have an inside track on how to help them effectively.

The product, price, features, and the other details will fall into place after that.

Look first to the essential motivation – why here, why now, why me?

For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Making a Sale Everytime Isn't Desirable

How’d you like to close the sale everytime you met with a customer? Sound good? Not so fast.

I mean really close every customer you meet – not just on the next contact but an actual deposit and agreement. Think you’d like to be able to do that?

Well you might be able to actually do it from a skill and technique level. You might even be able to do it from a pure desire level. However, you don’t really want to make a sale to every single customer you meet.

Allow me to explain. In the first place if you literally sold a home to every customer you met you’d either be too busy doing all of the selections, finishing the paperwork, and processing the mortgage applications that you would have little time available to see any more customers for a while, or you’d soon be sold out of everything you had available.

Then in a realistic sense, not everyone will like what you build or what you’re selling or be prepared to make a decision. They may just enjoy looking and never buy anything – from you or anyone else.

In a more practical sense – particularly if you’re selling new homes – there are some customers who present too many challenges to make the process enjoyable, even if they like your homes and want to own one.

In some cases, customers are so difficult to work with that you will eventually give them back their deposit and cancel the sale (or wish that you could). When that isn’t possible, you will find yourself on a daily quest to satisfy all of their demands for perfection in the new home – both during construction and after delivery.

So as enticing as it sounds to be able to make a sale with every customer, be wary of those who shouldn’t be your customers and let them buy from someone else.

Set your sights on selling nearly all of those who like what you offer and like the way you do business.

* For more information about consulting and coaching services visit my website

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Are you ready for voice mail?

We’ve all received voice mail messages, and you probably have received voice mail messages from companies that were intentionally delivered as such.

I mean that no one was actually making the call, and had you been there to answer, the call would have ended – I know because I have experienced this.

The whole purpose of the call was to leave you a message. Before the call was ever made, it had been carefully prepared, scripted, and recorded to be broadcast to you and possibly dozen or maybe even hundreds or thousands of others.

Its advertising message, solicitation request, or call to action was intentional. This was not a call where someone was winging it. There were no “ums” or “uhs” or "ahs" unplanned pauses. The message was probably not rushed but neither was it drawn out.

Here’s my point, when you call to reach a customer – whether you have a scheduled phone appointment with them or not, and whether they are expecting you to call or not – be prepared.

Obviously you want to speak with your customers rather than just leave a message, but you may not be successful in reaching them.

I’m not a fan of leaving message after message, but a voice mail message on the initial post-visit contact and on any call where you and your customer had discussed a specific time to talk or the likelihood of you calling is in order.

Therefore plan for this possibility.

Before you ever place the call, ask yourself what you would say if you got their machine instead of them.

Briefly rehearse your message so that it makes sense and doesn’t sound like you were caught off-guard and unprepared. Then deliver it with confidence and energy that conveys that you are mildly disappointed for not reaching them but that you are looking forward to actually speaking with them and are excited about their interest in what you are offering.

Then you can suggest that you will try calling them again. Asking them to call you probably is not going to be productive.
You can choose to forego leaving a message altogether and just hang up as soon as you hear the voice mail greeting. However, if you do decide to leave a message, don't stammer through it and regret what you said or the way it sounded. Have a plan.

For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Meeting People Is Easy – If You Are Willing To Try

The key to making sales – in addition to having a great, competitive product – is having sufficient customers for your product. Of course, one of the ways to attract new customers is through advertising.

Another way – and my favorite – is self-generation. This requires work, and may take a while before you see a return so you may need some advertising in conjunction with this.

The premise of self-generation is that the salesperson (who could be the builder or owner if they are doing their own sales) is responsible for producing new leads from which to make the sales the company needs to stay in business. In an ideal sense, the salesperson would produce all of their own leads and not rely on any additional advertising or promotion.

So if self-generation is to occur, where does it begin? Start with the obvious – people you know, regardless of how well or for how long you have known them. This includes friends, family, acquaintances, former customers, referrals, and professional contacts.

Then we expand to those people you haven’t yet met – strangers. For most people, this has the most potential.

How do you meet strangers? By being available.

Today in the airport, I met several people that I had never seen before and learned more about them than their name and where they’re from. How did this happen? By being available and interested.

If you are willing to meet people and willing to have a conversation with them, you will meet new people.

Remember the goal of meeting people is not to make an immediate sale. It’s the foundation of a budding relationship that can build into a sale or a referral. I said it was work, but this is a great way to be responsible for producing more of your own traffic.

For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Using Words Judiciously

As professional salespeople, one of our quintessential traits is the ability to communicate. In case you don’t know the meaning of “quintessential” and feel that I didn’t communicate my own message very well, it means the true essence or very core of something.

In simpler terms, it means that we must be able to have a meaningful conversation with our customers and connect with them – whether it’s learning about or understanding their needs, appreciating their concerns and issues, helping them resolve issues standing in the way of a decision, and helping them to feel comfortable about making the decision that is in their best interests.

To this end, customer service – as well as sales – plays a major role in delivering the message to our customers that they are important and that we care about them.

Many times I have called various companies for help with a billing questions or a software issue and after many frustrating and nonproductive minutes, I have been asked if there was “anything else they could help me with?”

Since they had not helped me resolve the primary issue that I had – because they refused to understand the issue and take ownership of it, because “company policy” didn’t allow them to resolve it, because they didn’t feel like helping me, because they lacked the know-how or expertise to help me, or some other equally insipid response – their offer was on its face disingenuous.

Therefore, when we as salespeople offer to help someone, let’s really mean to do so. When we don’t have an immediate answer or solution for their question, let’s promise to find one – and set a deadline for talking with them again about it.

Oh, one last thing on being sincere. Don’t wish people to “Have a nice day” when it clearly is not appropriate. So many customer service personnel use this as a rote conclusion after aggravating you or providing no help to the issue being discussed.


For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

If You Want To Succeed at Sales, You Must Be Great at Asking Questions

There are many qualities that a successful salesperson might possess. These include a good work ethic, an entrepreneurial spirit, good sales skills, great communication abilities, people oriented, and product knowledge.

You can add your ideas to the list, such as organizational abilities, self-motivated, energetic, enthusiastic, persistent, and dedicated.

However, I believe that the most important innate skill that a salesperson can have is the ability to ask questions. This is partly taught and partly natural ability.

Give me any person who is people oriented that knows how to ask questions – and likes doing so – and I can teach them to sell. They are related. A love of people causes you to want to learn about them, their needs, and how you can help them.

However, give me someone with great product knowledge that isn’t comfortable asking questions or isn’t able to develop a natural rhythm of asking questions, and that person will be more challenged to become a successful salesperson.

Asking questions is nothing more than having a conversation with someone. Take someone you hardly know or are meeting for the first time at a social event. You ask what they do, about their family, where they live, where they’re from, what they like to do, and so forth.

Before long, you have an idea of their background and areas that you have in common. It’s not all one-sided either. It’s give-and-take. You learn about them, and they learn about you.

Sales is quite similar. There are certain types of questions you can’t ask until the foundation has been established, but it’s very similar.

Asking questions because you want to know the answers, because you are curious, because you need an explanation, and because you want a clarification will guide you toward successful a sales presentation.

Along the way, you’ll learn what you need to focus on and the answers that your customers need to have in order to make an informed decision on your product.

Not very good at asking questions but want to be better? Practice talking with people everywhere you go. Enjoy asking questions but need to use more effective ones? Relax and concentrate on really getting to know your customers. The questions will begin coming to you.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website I also maintain a blog on the real estate network Active Rain, and you can join this site and begin participating in the fun and networking opportunities by clicking here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Have You Considered Becoming a Remodeler?

Not every builder can turn to remodeling, but for those who want to be remodelers, it can mean two very important things. First, there is extra cash flow as you help people renovate their existing homes to make them more comfortable for their current needs. Second, there is a new market share to be garnered.

In times when new construction slows and people aren’t buying new homes as rapidly as they once were, remodeling takes on a new importance. People look to improve what they already have. They may want a new bedroom or bath. They may want a larger kitchen or family room. Maybe they need more storage. Perhaps they want to convert some exiting “bonus” or “flex” space in actual living areas.

Remodeling can run from being a handyman all the way to a custom home builder. It can involve changing out a few fixtures or replacing a door to tearing down or gutting an existence home and rebuilding it.

There’s always going to be a demand for remodeling because people are going to want to make modifications to their homes – and not everyone is capable of or even interested in making those changes themselves. Many people like the home they have – especially after a few modifications are completed – and they’re not interested in moving.

Another big factor driving the remodeling business today is the concept of aging in place. People are much more interested in remaining in their current homes long-term, and now they need modifications and other improvements to accommodate various physical limitations and restrictions.

Also, people are having adult children or elderly parents move in with them - or both (the so called "Oreo" family) so they need modified or extra living space - especially bedroom and bathroom areas.

Some people are trying to sell their current home in order to buy another, and a home inspector has pointed out various deficiencies or inadequacies that they need to eliminate - or they want to modernize a kitchen or bath to make the home more salable.

Remodeling can be a very good business decision for a builder, but it takes a different focus and commitment than new construction.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website I also maintain a blog on the real estate network Active Rain, and you can join this site and begin participating in the fun and networking opportunities by clicking here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Taking Notes Is Quite Helpful – and Professional

I stress the importance of salespeople taking notes about what they discuss with their customers – whether that discussion is on the telephone, in-person, or by email.

There are three main benefits for taking notes – and these really are benefits, not features. First, when you write down what you discussed or talked about with your customers, you can refer to your notes and refresh your memory. This also helps you strategize what you want to accomplish on that contact as well as the next one with that customer.

The second benefit is one you probably haven’t thought that much about. At some point, you are going to need help from your builder, manager, assistant, or associate. I’m not talking about every customer or any specific customer, but at some point, you’re going to need help.

You may decide to take a vacation day – or even several days or a cruise. You may get sick. You might have family emergencies to tend to. You might be out of the office showing property, or you might just be busy trying to work with more than one person at the same time.

Regardless of the reason why you might need help working with a returning customer, the point is that whoever pitches in to help you – even if it’s just for a short time until you become available – can easily review your notes and determine what you have discussed with your customer and what they might need to do to assist them in your absence or unavailability.

The third benefit is related to the second one. No one likes to repeat their story so when someone needs to assist you – or it’s been a while since you’ve talked with this customer or you’ve seen and talked with many customers since last speaking with them – a quick review of the notes will bring you right up to speed on where you are with this customer. Why ask them to repeat what they’ve already told you, unless you just want to strategically confirm some of their information to make sure it’s current?

Taking notes is not a clerical function – it’s a sales function. Unless you’re real good at keeping track in your head of everyone who has come through your front door or otherwise contacted you by phone or email, you’d better be relying on notes instead of your memory. It truly is the mark of a professional salesperson.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website I also maintain a blog on the real estate network Active Rain, and you can join this site and begin participating in the fun and networking opportunities by clicking here.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Knowing How To Ask Questions Makes All the Difference

Asking questions is an art. It is coachable but not extremely teachable. I can take someone who has an innate ability to ask questions and teach them how to be a great salesperson – regardless of their current line of work.

In fact, I often look for new home salespeople outside of real estate, and the first quality I look for is the ability to ask questions.

I want someone who enjoys working with people because that’s how the questioning is effective. Otherwise, it can come across as superficial and detached.

Product knowledge can be learned. Sales skills can be taught. Asking questions is either something you understand or it isn’t.

For instance: “How long have you been looking for a new home?” “What would you like to accomplish during our time together today?” “When you find a home that you’d like to live in, how soon are you prepared to make a decision on that home?” “Is there anything else we need to discuss before we start the paperwork?”

I left out dozens of questions, but you can see that just having a conversation with your customers can be a very effective sales technique.

We tend to complicate the sales process. It simply is a matter of meeting interested people who need or want a new home, learning what they’d like to achieve in getting a new home, determining their ability to make a purchasing decision, showing them choices and explaining how their needs can be met, identifying a specific solution for them, and helping them finalize their selection.

For the most part, this process is accomplished through a series of skillfully used questions – not done as a survey, but as a conversational give-and-take interview that you use to meet and get to know someone.

Critical path, working with objections, features and benefits, closing techniques – all important concepts but none as important as the art of asking questions. How do you know what to show someone, and how do you know that they understand and appreciate what you’re showing them, and how do you know that it’s important or that it matters to them? You have to ask.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Beware of the Assumptive Argument

Assumptions. Sometimes they work in our favor and sometimes they don’t. We’ve probably all made some silly mistakes or maybe some fairly huge blunders because we assumed too much and didn’t check things well enough before proceeding.

A well-known closing technique is the assumptive one where you assume the customer is going ahead with the purchase and you begin writing the purchase agreement – figuring as long as they don’t object or stop you that the sale is made. This also is known as “assuming the sale.”

That is a positive application of the assumptive technique.

Let’s talk about a less positive assumptive approach – the assumptive argument.

This is where someone – a friend, a customer, a family member, a colleague, a reporter, an economist, or anyone trying to be persuasive or make a point – states an opinion, advances a piece of conventional wisdom, or recounts something that has been reported as being the truth when in fact there is a difference of opinion on whether that’s the case. It may be totally without foundation but advanced as a foundation for an argument anyway.

When someone walks into your sales center and begins the conversation with “everyone knows that builders are in trouble,” the tendency is to let that premise stand and not challenge it. This puts you in a defensive position from the beginning.

Similar arguments might include phrases like “the economy is bad,” “the subprime mess,” “the housing crisis,” “the credit crunch,” “people can’t sell their existing homes,” or “the current recession.” These largely are inventions of the media – created to attract attention.

Is the economy really bad? I guess it depends on who you ask. Are we in a recession? The economic indicators say no. Can people sell their present homes? Yes, if they really want to. Are all builders in trouble? Duh. Is financing harder to get? In many cases, but it’s still available.

The point is this: people tend to start off an argument with a statement that will help their case – even if it’s not true or it doesn’t apply to you or your situation. Therefore, stop the argument before it gains any traction.

If you let the assumptive argument persist, you basically have agreed that it’s true and your customer can rely on that as the basis for a non-decision or for what they want to negotiate.

Let’s create an assumptive argument of our own: people wouldn’t be visiting our sales center if they weren’t interested in buying a home.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

E-leads Are Perishable – Use Immediately

E-leads are becoming more popular and valuable to builders and salespeople, but they’re a perishable commodity. They have an expiration date – almost no shelf life if not acted upon immediately.

Some people are very impatient – that’s why they’re using the internet. They want instantaneous results. Others will wait a day or two for you to respond to them, but don’t count on your e-leads staying “fresh” for very long.

E-leads should come with a warning label: “Use immediately, subject to rapid expiration.”

In the beginning, it’s not important what prompted someone to email you for information – just that they contacted you.

This sets in motion what I look for in a solid e-lead. There are a minimum of 3 steps. First, the e-lead contacts you by email. Second, you respond by email. Third, they contact you again with another question or request for additional information. Then it’s your turn again.

By the time 3 contacts have occurred – 2 from them and one from you – you are building a relationship that has a better chance of resulting in an actual visit to your sales center than if you just send them a brochure or a standard response – hoping that this is sufficient to answer their questions.

In fact, a generic, one-size-fits-all, standard response may be the expiration of your e-lead.

Instead, say that I receive an email request for information, and I email back and thank them for the inquiry. I state that we have several homes and floor plans that we offer. I mention that in order to help them and provide the answers they are looking for – especially when the request is for general information – I need a little help. So I ask a question about the size of home, investment amount, included features, delivery schedule, or something else to which the answer is not “yes” or “no” – even if they’ve already indicated something on the “contact us” survey.

Next, I want them to respond. They can call or they can email. They can ask questions or provide more clarity about their needs. Then I can make the fourth contact and include a call to action.

This is how an e-lead is kept fresh and turned into a customer.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Monday, March 3, 2008

Goal Setting Starts with Being Specific

Goal setting is important. No one will argue with that. However, there are many theories of how to set goals and how to work toward them.

A few weeks ago, I talked about New Year’s resolutions
, but these are more of a general guide to behavior or desired outcome than a specific plan to achieve results – as attested to by the quick demise of so many resolutions.

To me, the most important aspect of a goal is that it must be specific. Other wise it is more of an affirmation.

For instance, if you want to be able to run a mile (in whatever time – let’s start with the distance first) and you have trouble even visualizing yourself running more than a few yards, that’s OK.

Here, your goal is to run the mile. It has to be a specific distance. If you want to enter and complete a 3K or 5K run, the same thing applies. It will just take a little longer to get ready.

You can affirm all you want “I am now running a mile with ease and can even run farther.” This won’t get it done. If you never take that first step, it’s not going to happen.

So it looks like action is important in achieving goals. How can you run a mile if you can even get around the block? You might need some short-term intermediate goals to help you accomplish your larger goal.

Break up the task. If running a mile means that you have to run down to the corner first, then down to the corner and back, then 2 blocks, then 4 blocks, and then more until you work up to the mile, that’s OK. Accomplish your smaller objectives first.

Another critical step of achieving goals is that they have to be measurable so you’ll know when you’ve achieved them. In the above example, if your goal was just to “get in shape” or “jog a few blocks” how would know if you had done enough to consider your goal accomplished?

Then after you accomplish your goal of running a mile maybe you want to set a goal of how quickly you want to be able to run it.

One more thing about goals – they must be realistic. Sure you can stretch your abilities or find strength in areas where you didn’t know you had it, but you have to be sensible. It took years for anyone to be able to run a 4-minute mile, but running it in 3 minutes isn’t likely to happen no matter how hard anyone wants it to or how hard they train.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Brochures Don’t Sell and Neither Do Websites

Brochures don’t sell your homes – anymore than websites do. They open the door, they generate interest, they describe what you’re offering, they remind people of what you’ve already told them, and they give people another opportunity to familiarize themselves with you and your product.

In short, they generate the contact or provide a reference point.

People expect to receive a brochure from you and they expect you to have a website, but they don’t make a decision based solely on either one.

They may eliminate several builders from further consideration based on what they see as appealing to them in a brochure or on a website, and they may create a “short list” of places they want to visit or re-visit, but the purpose of having a website or a brochure is not to make a sale – it’s to create the contact to or to stimulate the visit or re-visit.

You must generate the personal contact in order to make a sale. People need to meet you. They need to see what you’re offering firsthand. Selling homes is very relational.

Put enough information in your brochure or website to show what you offer and make it seem exciting. Stand out from your competition, but don’t count your brochure or website as being a surrogate salesperson.

I’ve often said that if brochures were such a great sales tool we should just mail one to everyone in town and be done with it. Then people who were interested in what we offer could simply make a decision from the brochure and stop by to do the paperwork or mail in their check.

Obviously it doesn’t work that way, so why are we so concerned with giving out brochures or having them available for download on the website?

Let’s focus on meeting people and addressing their needs. The website can generate the initial interest and brochures can remind them of what they experienced and help maintain their level of interest. Either way, it’s up to you to take it from there and make the sale.

* For more information about my consulting and coaching services visit my website

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Roy G. Biv and Your Sales Presentation

Often there is more to something than it first appears. After you learn more about it or investigate it a little, it becomes clearer what the overall situation is.

Let me illustrate with light – good old sunlight.

You might remember using a prism in your high school science or physics class. If you did you’ll remember that what appears as white light can actually be broken into various component parts through the use of a prism.

A prism is simply a solid triangular or pyramid-shaped piece of glass that interrupts the incoming light and bends it. Some of the light has a relatively short wavelength and others are longer. The colors range from red to violet, with orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo in-between. In fact, you might recall “Roy G. Biv” as the way to remember the colors.

So what does this have to do with sales? Everything.

When people contact you or walk into your sales center, at first everyone seems relatively the same with no distinguishing needs or issues – until the conversation starts. Then you can begin separating people according to their needs, level of interest, and ability to make a decision.

In effect, your initial discovery questions act as a type of prism to begin sorting your customers according to their abilities as you find out how you can help each one and learn who the more serious ones are.

Certain parts of your presentation may be essentially the same regardless of the customer – your location, your chief features, your builder story – yet most of your presentation and conversation with your customers will need to be tailored to their personality, what they are looking for in a new home, and how soon they are prepared to act.

This can only happen after you learn something about them.

Just remember that when people walk into your sales center or contact you by phone or email that some will be very interested in what you have to offer and some will have almost no additional interest. Some will need a home or be willing to purchase within days and some never will. It’s up to you to sort out which person is which – much the same as a prism separates light by its various wavelengths.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Did You Get My Email?

How many times (show of hands please) have we sent someone an email or been told that they sent us an email only to find out it never came?

I wonder where all of those thousands (millions?) of emails end up when they aren't delivered properly.

It turns out that spelling is crucial – any mistake is a big deal. Same with punctuation. Ever type a comma for a period? Guilty.

Then there’s the “dot-com,” “dot-org,” “dot-us” thing.

Whenever you send an email that really counts, you might want to check on it’s delivery. Oh, those “receipt for delivery” options are quite undependable. I don’t ever use them anymore or respond to them. They aren’t always delivered in a timely manner (or at all) and you need to send the receipt when you open the email – before you ever read it. Thus, it’s no guarantee that it was ever read, only opened.

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Sometimes Hearing the Word “No” Is a Good Thing

In sales, we deal with a lot of objections and reasons why people aren’t prepared to make a decision or why they don’t like a particular home or location. As a result, we often associate hearing the word “no” with a negative experience.

Consider this, however. There are many discovery, trial closing, and final closing questions that you can ask your customers where the answer you are looking for is “no.”

Depending on what you’re showing them and other questions that you’re asking them, such “no” questions can signify that they are interested in what you are showing them, that they are capable of making a decision, or that they’re ready to make a decision.

Here are some examples of questions that you can ask to which you would love to hear “no:”

Would you need to sell your present home before deciding on your new one?

Would you need to finance a portion of your new home?

Have you seen a home anywhere else that meets your needs as well as this one?

Have you seen any floor plan anywhere else that you like as well as this one?

Have you met any other builder who can build your home with more quality and attention to detail?

Have you seen any other homesite that you like as well as this one?

Have you seen any other neighborhood that you like as well as this one?

Do you feel that you need to look at anything else before making your decision?

Do you have any other questions before we get started with the paperwork?

Is there any reason why you would not want to go ahead and acquire this home today?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Your Email Address Should Look Professional

Today people rely on the internet and email for listing, selling, and searching for properties – as well as communicating with each other.

If you're going to be in sales, I believe you should look like it every chance you get - including when you’re using your email. Save the inventive names associated with your yahoo, hotmail, msn, gmail, aol, and other accounts for personal use or when you are trying to maintain some level of privacy or anonymity.

You are working hard – or at least you should be – to sell yourself to your customers and make a credible impression with them. Therefore, when you communicate with them by email, your address should include your name or your company name so that they can tell that it’s from you.

Unless you are known by your nickname and it appears on your business cards, it should not appear anywhere in your email address.

Let's look for a second at why you send someone an email – to have it opened and to have your message read. This means that (1) the intended recipient has to get it, and that it has to get past the spam or junk filter and (2) they have to open it and read it, which stands a greater chance of happening if they recognize who is sending it.

I'm not saying you shouldn't have a yahoo, gmail, hotmail, aol, msn, or other account. However, compare "" or "" with "" In the first instance, you (or my customer) might not recognize or know who it's from. In the second, it's identifiable as a business email.

Now, you may not have a company domain or website to use as part of your email address. If this is the case, use your whole name (first and last) or the name of your company with the public email address.

If you have a registered domain name, use that in your email - people will more easily understand who it is from and you'll get another opportunity to brand you, your company, or your community.