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