Third-party monitoring of sales performance is not new. First came paper-and-pen reports, then audio and, in recent years, secret shoppers equipped with tiny cameras and camcorders. Despite the potential to hurt morale, sales managers sign up for the service in droves, says Melinda Brody, who operates a video shopping firm in Altamonte Springs, Fla. It helps them verify that traffic is being registered and served correctly, she says.
Video shopping also should be used to accentuate the positive. Brody offers her builder customers a 25-minute highlight reel showing the "right" way to sell new homes. The edited tape shows each member of a firm's sales staff successfully overcoming objections, demonstrating product and asking for the close.
Brody recommends that each salesperson in a building company be "shopped" twice a year so skills and techniques can be critiqued and honed. She sends two copies of each videotape to the builder: one for the manager to review and one to the salesperson as a learning aid.
Salespeople get an opportunity to see how they normally perform. One video shopping report showed a salesperson who did not smile once during a 40-minute demonstration.
"She was happy to have that information as a basis for improvement," Brody says.