"I've been recognized for my genuine friendships with my homeowners," says Hatter. "I have been with a lot of them after they have settled in their homes. But with a lot of other people, once you close the home and get your commission check, you usually don't talk to them a lot anymore."
Hatter, a sales manager at Pulte Homes' Washington, D.C., division, has consistently been recognized within the company and has won numerous awards locally. With this year's gold award for Sales Person of the Year, he's made it the Nationals.
"We felt it was time to put him up in the big leagues," says Shawn Evans, who is vice president of operations at Pulte Homes' subsidiary Del Webb's Mid-Atlantic Division and who nominated Hatter for the award. "He had a phenomenal year and sold 85 homes, grossed 60 net sales and over $27 million in real estate."
Hatter says he treats every sales presentation as if it were his first for the week. "I want each and every person I'm in contact with to know their current buying situation is ALL that matters," Hatter says in his nomination statement. "Gaining trust at the beginning is essential. ... I've learned with experience that listening first before speaking is far more important than any rehearsed presentation."
He tailors his message and media to his audience, sending text messages to younger prospects and postcards or handwritten notes to older ones who aren't as tech savvy. But without technology, Hatter says selling new homes would be far more challenging. He relies heavily on his Blackberry, enabling him to call or e-mail prospects any time of day. And he uses a computer tracking system to manage customer communication.
But as great as technology is, Hatter says at this time in the market you can't abandon the basics.
"You've got to do absolutely everything you can to create traffic," he says. "The more people that you see, the more homes you'll sell."
Co-op relationships with brokers are essential to Pulte's and Hatter's sales strategy. He takes advantage of every opportunity and methodology to make connections: e-mail campaigns, flyers, Realtor luncheons, broker presentations and even happy hours.
And it works: Hatter has Realtors bringing clients to him all the time. He's reaped similar success from his ongoing relationships with buyers. He's been known to have dinner with a different family every other week.
"I've had many a dinner [with buyers]," says Hatter. "They won't purchase again, but they have relatives and friends."
"Charlie is an amazing individual," says Evans. "He has the ability to bond with people and immediately form relationships. That has been the key to his success."
That bond extends to coworkers as well. Hatter says the people he works with are what he loves most about his job.
"When you work the weekends and put in the hours that we do, it's just good to have friends in the industry," Hatter says.
"He's the quarterback of our sales team," says Evans. "Everybody rallies around him. His talent and his character have really led to his success."