Secrets of the Sales All-Stars

All good home building organizations have them: A players whose consistently high performance drives their company forward, year in and year out.

By Patrick L. O’Toole, Senior Editor | July 31, 2002

See The Stars

Barry Bright Judy Coffey Cydne Combs
Jeff Kaizer Jim Lee Kelly Lucente
Mike Martin Debbie Melloh Tim Moncrief
Gail Ringwald Linda Russel Eva Walker
Professional Builder’s Sales All-Star Criteria

All the sales all-stars were vetted to ensure that they excel in the following qualitative and quantitative categories supplied by Organizational Development Associates.

Qualitative (as judged by their managers): sales skills, market knowledge, product knowledge, organization, administrative tasks, sales office/model appearance, internal relations, Realtor relations, customer relations, follow-up skills, problem-solving ability and financing knowledge

Quantitative: net sales units, net sales dollars, customers’ willingness to recommend or refer, average number of appointments per month, average number of follow-up calls per month, mortgage company capture rate, and cancellation or “bust-out” rate

All good home building organizations have them: "A" players whose consistently high performance drives their company forward, year in and year out. These perennial all-stars excel at what they do, wherever they go. Lucky are the builders with standout performers in the critical roles of construction superintendent and new home sales specialist.

Of all the trades and professions involved in home building, sales and superintendent pros are special. They are role players whose contributions directly affect short-term profitability and whose daily interactions with buyers put them in a position to dramatically affect customer satisfaction and ultimately the company's reputation.

The following pages are devoted to the stories and processes of sales all-stars. In its September issue, Professional Builder will present the superintendent all-stars.

We chose to highlight just sales and superintendent all-stars because turnover in both of these crucial fields is the highest in the home building industry, according to management consultant Martin Freedland of Organizational Development Associates in Atlanta.

With this in mind, PB partnered with Organizational Development to arrive at fair criteria by which to identify 12 sales and 12 superintendent professionals whose talents and skills best represent the hundreds of all-star-caliber players in the industry.

The Selection Process
Our 12 sales all-stars were selected from a group of 50 nominated by several well-known new home sales consultants: Rick Heaston of R.A. Heaston & Co. in Greenwood Village, Colo., Tom Richey of Richey Resources Co. in Houston, Bob Schultz of New Home Specialist Marketing Group in Boca Raton, Fla., Beverly Koehn of Beverly Koehn Associates in San Antonio, Bill Herring of Herring Institute in Merritt Island, Fla., and Freedland.

Each of the 50 and their managers were interviewed using quantitative and qualitative criteria (see box on page 48). The goal was to find individuals who are well-rounded high performers in every area of new home sales.

The resulting dozen is a group whose collective wisdom on selling was the subject of a July 15 roundtable discussion that can be heard on the Reed Residential Group Web site,

Similarities Abound
Some of the 12 sell in red-hot markets, while others stay on track despite slow traffic and weak market conditions. In locations as diverse as Orange County, Calif., and suburban Philadelphia, and with price points ranging from less than $100,000 to nearly $1 million, a handful of overarching successful practices emerged despite the differences.




  • They generate referrals from their existing customers.



  • They cultivate mutually beneficial connections with the Realtor community.



  • They manage time extraordinarily well.

    More important, however, are similarities in the way they sell, which could be the biggest secret of all. While many referenced traditional "critical-path-based" selling processes as a basis for what they do, nearly all seem to have moved to a more "relationship" and/or "teaching-oriented" style.

    Chances are that if 12 sales all-stars had been selected a decade ago, most would have been dyed-in-the-wool critical-pathers. Today, the standard techniques of meet and greet, qualify, demonstrate, site and close have been altered to allow time for the prospect to "feel comfortable," "become a friend" and ultimately buy "when it makes sense."

    "When I first came into this business, I heard that the three rules of real estate are location, location, location," explains sales all-star Mike Martin, with Del Webb's Sun City Hilton Head community in Bluffton, S.C. "But my three rules are get them talking, get them talking, get them talking."

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