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.
Secrets of the Sales All-Stars
All good home building organizations have them: A players whose consistently high performance drives their company forward, year in and year out.
See The Stars
|Barry Bright||Judy Coffey||Cydne Combs|
|Jeff Kaizer||Jim Lee||Kelly Lucente|
|Mike Martin||Debbie Melloh||Tim Moncrief|
|Gail Ringwald||Linda Russel||Eva Walker|
All good home building organizations have them: "A" players whose consistently high performance drives their company forward, year in and year out. These perennial all-stars excel at what they do, wherever they go. Lucky are the builders with standout performers in the critical roles of construction superintendent and new home sales specialist.
Of all the trades and professions involved in home building, sales and superintendent pros are special. They are role players whose contributions directly affect short-term profitability and whose daily interactions with buyers put them in a position to dramatically affect customer satisfaction and ultimately the company's reputation.
The following pages are devoted to the stories and processes of sales all-stars. In its September issue, Professional Builder will present the superintendent all-stars.
We chose to highlight just sales and superintendent all-stars because turnover in both of these crucial fields is the highest in the home building industry, according to management consultant Martin Freedland of Organizational Development Associates in Atlanta.
With this in mind, PB partnered with Organizational Development to arrive at fair criteria by which to identify 12 sales and 12 superintendent professionals whose talents and skills best represent the hundreds of all-star-caliber players in the industry.
The Selection Process
Our 12 sales all-stars were selected from a group of 50 nominated by several well-known new home sales consultants: Rick Heaston of R.A. Heaston & Co. in Greenwood Village, Colo., Tom Richey of Richey Resources Co. in Houston, Bob Schultz of New Home Specialist Marketing Group in Boca Raton, Fla., Beverly Koehn of Beverly Koehn Associates in San Antonio, Bill Herring of Herring Institute in Merritt Island, Fla., and Freedland.
Each of the 50 and their managers were interviewed using quantitative and qualitative criteria (see box on page 48). The goal was to find individuals who are well-rounded high performers in every area of new home sales.
The resulting dozen is a group whose collective wisdom on selling was the subject of a July 15 roundtable discussion that can be heard on the Reed Residential Group Web site, HousingZone.com.
Some of the 12 sell in red-hot markets, while others stay on track despite slow traffic and weak market conditions. In locations as diverse as Orange County, Calif., and suburban Philadelphia, and with price points ranging from less than $100,000 to nearly $1 million, a handful of overarching successful practices emerged despite the differences.
More important, however, are similarities in the way they sell, which could be the biggest secret of all. While many referenced traditional "critical-path-based" selling processes as a basis for what they do, nearly all seem to have moved to a more "relationship" and/or "teaching-oriented" style.
Chances are that if 12 sales all-stars had been selected a decade ago, most would have been dyed-in-the-wool critical-pathers. Today, the standard techniques of meet and greet, qualify, demonstrate, site and close have been altered to allow time for the prospect to "feel comfortable," "become a friend" and ultimately buy "when it makes sense."
"When I first came into this business, I heard that the three rules of real estate are location, location, location," explains sales all-star Mike Martin, with Del Webb's Sun City Hilton Head community in Bluffton, S.C. "But my three rules are get them talking, get them talking, get them talking."