Does knowing about your competitors really make you a better sales person? Can we rely on the Internet to gather data for our competitive market analysis? Is Internet research alone good enough or do you actually need to visit those communities? Sandy Sakalian, Christopher Arvanities, Suzette Collins and Diane Vanasco sit down with John Rymer to answer these important questions.
Sandy Sakalian: You have to know your competitor's model(s) like your own model. I know my competitors inside and out. I know their homesites.
You have to visit your competitors and see what your prospective buyers are seeing, hearing and feeling.
As part of my discovery process I ask prospective buyers where they have looked. They say, "I have been to 'x' builder down the street." I follow up with, "What did you think?" "What did you really like about their floor plans?" If you have a similar floor plan, you can fine-tune what you offer. You might have better incentives.
Christopher Arvanities: Shopping your competitors is crucial. I learn based on what I see when I get there. For instance, how does the salesperson react to me when I walk in the door? Did he or she greet me warmly? You have got to know what your competition is offering. I mean it is just that simple.
Suzette Collins: Knowing your competition is critical. I think at a minimum, you should touch base with your competitors monthly. You need to know if they changed a model. Have their standard specifications changed?
Whenever a prospective buyer speaks about a specific community you can say, I know exactly what you are talking about. Most of my buyers will surf the Internet before they come to any of our communities and I will ask them what else they are looking at. They will tell me "this community, that community." My response is to ask why the prospective buyer liked the community.
They will tell me why and I might respond with something like, "Oh you are right they do have a nice community center, but did you know that we have one and it is open 24 hours?"
Diane Vanasco: I think that it is extremely important to know your competition. Price is one reason, but not just home price. It is also the homesite price. I learned a valuable lesson when I went out and found that we were underpricing our homesite premiums. We weren't charging enough. Our competition was getting a lot more then we were.