Last month, I attended NAHB’s midyear meeting in Miami and had the pleasure of sitting in on a presentation by Daniel Swift, president and CEO of Des Moines-based architecture group BSB Design.
New-Home Sales Experts Share Their Best Closing Techniques
Salespeople who take the time to gain the trust of their customers and help them solve their housing problems are the most likely to get the sale.
“My single most effective tactic in the past year has been to move the sales discussion out of the sales center as soon as possible and take it to a corporate conference room. Ideally, the building-company principal will be present at this meeting, along with a person in that capacity who is willing to engage customers and can do so with skill and grace. As customers and their representatives arrive, they are greeted graciously and offered refreshments, then asked to wait a short while until the builder’s rep comes in with files, calculator, etc. In the ensuing discussion, the rep adopts a genuinely appreciative and respectful position. Whatever can be done to accommodate the customers is done. Whatever is impossible is explained patiently. In 30 minutes, the customers will either have bought a home at the best possible price or they will leave knowing they had their best chance ever to buy a new home at the best possible price. None of this is to downplay the value of the builder’s on-site salesperson; rather, it is to recognize the extraordinary market circumstances many of us have found ourselves in recently.” — Bill Webb, MIRM, Principal, William N. Webb & Co., Amelia Island, Fla. (marketing consultant, sales coach, management team-builder and motivational speaker)
“Quit thinking like a home builder! Your next customer will not walk through the door today, tomorrow or the next day. However, your next prospect will. Take the time to understand their most pressing housing problems and help them find the people that can solve those problems. Become their housing resource and stage a follow-up experience second to none. Do this with enough prospects and the customers will appear.” — Rick Storlie, CSP, MCSP, CMP, Owner, New Home Sales Coach, Savage, Minn.
“Understanding the buyer is essential, but there must also be some urgency created based on limited availability and a unique selling proposition that differentiates you from the competition.” — Daniel R. Levitan, MIRM, IRM Fellow, CAASH, President of Levitan & Associates, Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. (residential real estate marketing firm)
“In a tough market, there is no better technique than the 'summary close,’ where the salesperson summarizes the most important aspects of the buyer’s needs and confirms that those needs have been met. 'Let’s see how we are doing. The floor plan is what you were looking for, correct? And the community is located where you want to live, right? And we found the right homesite? And this fits right into your price point, doesn’t it? Wow, it sounds like everything fits. Shall we make it yours?’ Everything shared is in the best interests of the prospect. It’s not pushy or manipulative, but the salesperson needs to ask closing questions throughout the process.” — Jeff Shore, Founder and CEO, Shore Forrest Sales Strategies, Auburn, Calif.
“List all the building materials that could provide a return on investment to offset the sale price. With a little product research, this can be done with easy-care, stain-resistant decking; energy-saving roof tiles; fiber-cement siding; etc. Plus, there may be lifestyle-enhancing features that are overlooked because they’re inside the walls, such as sound-resistant drywall. Milk it even if it seems small!” — Maureen Murray, President of Precise Communications, Morris Plains, N.J. (media relations representative for building-products company)
“The 'urgency close’ is used to encourage a customer to take action now and not procrastinate. There are certain dynamics occurring in the industry today that are time-sensitive, such as the tax credit and low interest rates. A buyer may be told that if he/she waits, history has shown that what is happening now will not last. However, to use this technique properly, a high level of trust must be achieved between the salesperson and buyer. Customers need to feel as though they are being advised by a trusted friend, not given the bum’s rush by a sales agent.” — Rick Fletcher, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, MBK Homes, Irvine, Calif.
“Having a resale program for prospects with a home to sell is a great tool. Many builders are paying for certified appraisals rather than accepting a realtor’s CMA on a prospect’s residence. They are also allowing prospects up to a year to sell their current home, subsidizing home staging and actively managing the sale of the prospect’s existing home. More recently, some builders have been offering educational programs to homeowners on ways to creatively use the tax credit to sell their home, and how to get the move-up tax credit when they purchase. I also think extended warranties (five to 10 years) are a great idea. They increase the builder’s credibility significantly and provide added security and added value to the buyer. A quality builder has virtually nothing to lose by offering it, and it is an incredible sales tool.” — Maryalice Widness, Associate, The Bernard Partnership, Simsbury, Conn. (residential marketing, research and sales management consultant)