Houston-based sales management guru Tom Richey provides five keys to getting new hires off to a fast start, a significant training challenge because so many builders recruit salespeople from other industries:
1. Contract knowledge. Prepare a manual of all forms - filled out - as a guide. Role-play contract documentation. Do not assume a new hire has a grip on contracts and paperwork until 10 sales are documented. Emphasize the importance of accurate registration card information.
2. Financing knowledge. Use a five-step process. A) Prepare an explanation of each financing plan. Make certain the hire can use a loan qualification worksheet if the computer goes down. B) Have the trainee spend a day or more with a lender's loan officer. C) Provide a glossary of lending terms. D) Practice writing financing programs on the computer, making sure the new hire can work the numbers to the buyer's advantage. E) Test/ train/test to run the hire through the paces. Perfect practice makes perfect.
3. Product knowledge. Every new hire needs to know how a house is built, including exclusive building points that create competitive advantages. Options, upgrades, fit and finish detailing, neighborhood and home site, the company history, and warranty and service knowledge are critical. Tour competing projects to show a shopper's perspective.
4. Counselling skills. New hires must understand their counseling role in the buying process, how to ask the right questions. Richey recommends a full training module, complete with progress tests and a final exam before new hires hit the sales office.
5. Follow-up system. New agents should have a manual method of prioritizing and retaining information. Prospect cards are the first line of data gathering. They should allow space for marketing information filled in by both the prospect and the sales counselor. Work with new hires to develop follow-up discipline - five calls of actual contact, minimum, four days a week.