In the October issue, we announce the winners of this year’s National Housing Quality Awards: gold award recipients DSLD Homes and EYA, and silver award winner French Brothers.
Sales All-Star: Debbie Melloh
Like many of the other sales all-stars, Debbie Melloh, a 12-year veteran of M/I Homes, likes to sell by building relationships that tend to increase a buyer's comfort level.
Company: M/I Homes, Indianapolis
Awards: Numerous company awards
2001 net sales units: 75
2001 net sales dollars: $11.5 million
Average appointments per month: 21
Buyer referral rate: 50%
Cancellation or bust-out rate: 30% “due to a high number of credit declines”
Like many of the other sales all-stars, Debbie Melloh, a 12-year veteran of M/I Homes, likes to sell by building relationships that tend to increase a buyer's comfort level. This is rare given Melloh's consistently high volume and wide range of price points. The community she is selling now offers homes that start in the $90,000s and go up to the $260,000s. Rarer still for a person who sells 75 homes per year, she makes it a rule to not have a "sit-down" conversation with a prospect on the first visit. She prefers to make an appointment so she can spend an hour-and-a-half with the person.
"When they come in, I've got time to spend with them going through things and try a series of mini-closes to find out what they like," Melloh says. "Which of course gets us to the next process, where we create a cost estimate on the house, go through all the upgrades and learn what is important to them. Through this process, I make sure that the whole time we're having a conversation with each other, not a sales presentation."
Dealing with multiple price points and buyer types requires different conversations, and Melloh is careful to educate whenever it might help the buyer. For first-time buyers, Melloh says she spends a lot of time explaining the credit-reporting process and how their scores measure up. For move-up buyers, she might spend time reining in their vision of a new home to something more in line with what their income information indicates they can afford.
Melloh takes the same proactive approach to buyer's remorse. "I warn customers that once they go home they are going to say, 'Oh, my gosh, what did I just do?' and I tell them that it is natural and that it will go away very quickly." All of this attention to customer comfort pays off in referrals, says Jerrod Klein, vice president of sales and marketing for M/I Homes. He says 50% of Melloh's sales come from referrals.