Recently I visited a host of builder sites in Florida. My objective was to have a direct comparison of many builders’ models, sales personnel, sales process and overall experience. It’s been a while that I actually walked dozens of builder models over a 300 mile geographic area in a relatively short period of time.
I anticipated reviewing homes of builders that had survived our industry’s economic disaster and assumed that these same builders would all be demonstrating efficient and effective practices just too still be in the game.
Here’s what I discovered that had a consistent theme across all builders.
1. Sales personnel were incapable of asking me any probing questions to qualify me as a buyer. In all cases, I dominated the conversation with questions about cycle time, price and elevations. I left the models without the sales person even getting contact information. Only one builder‘s sales person ask me to complete a sign in form, when I suggested he take my business card instead, he agreed.
2. Sales people continue to use the phrase “they” to explain what was happening at the builder. If asked about quality of build, opportunities to submit change orders, etc, the salesperson always referred to “they” being the owner and their staff as the resolution to an issue.
3. No one was able to articulate the value proposition for their builder. I heard nothing different form one sale person to another. It was about the best price, the best quality, nothing to give real identification as why their builder was different.
4. Even though we are in Florida and expect more casual attire by sales personnel, I was surprised that the majority of sales people were disheveled, untidy and in some cases wearing stained polo shirts.
5. Every model I visited had landscaping that was not well kept, and foliage that was dying
So we all ask ourselves, how could this be? How can our homes be portrayed by our sales people in such a poor way especially in this tough economy? Don’t sales people understand the urgency and professionalism that is required to stay alive in this industry?
Unfortunately I would suggest that several things are at play in my example.
- Many of the sales people were retired from another profession. Every one of them told me they were getting a pension from their past employer and the common explanation for doing what they were doing was to stay away from the honey do list at home. Guess how motivated these people are in representing their owner’s interest?
- There was varying levels of knowledge possessed by the salesperson from one builder to the next but generally speaking most sales people were ill-equipped to answer basic new construction questions.
- Sales people don’t have a concern about being shopped today. There thinking is that was for the good old days when my builder could afford to do it
- Accountability in qualifying every model visitor doesn’t seem to exist with these sales people. To the reader, the only conclusion I can reach is management has not defined this as important by actually inspecting this process.
This is not to say that all salespeople are conducting themselves the way Ihave described but at a time where we all are looking to scrape our way back to 2002 levels of sales , I was floored that a consistency of these bad behaviors exist . Don’t assume your sales people are representing your product and your business professionally, get out there and find out what’s happening. Be engaged all the time and your people will be engaged.