|FloorPop||FloorPop (Flôr-pop) n. 1. The homebuyer who visits a Builder's community and writes a contract for sale the same day. 2. The sound made by a salesperson clicking their heels high in the air and returning to the floor after a prospect signs a contract the day they first meet.|
Centex's earnings are off 31%, D.R. Horton's are down 21%, Pulte's are down 20%, and the sky is falling!
It's okay to read the newspaper, but stop talking about it. While we are unaccustomed to down cycles, the sky is not falling. However, if we talk to sales people about unfavorable conditions or focus attention on lower traffic, we only perpetuate the problem.
The market has changed. Now we have to as well. But what to change? Let me share sagely advice from some of America's best sales trainers.
We need to stop talking about the market. I spoke with Myers Barnes of Myers Barnes Associates, about the market and what he felt builders should be doing. As for the market, "It only gets bad because we perpetuate it." said Barnes. I'm not saying you should stick your head in the sand, but when we focus on the negative news, it becomes an expectation.
Next, we need to get our sales teams selling effectively again. After several years of a remarkable market, it has come as a shock to many sales people that they are not prepared for a changing market. Is it the sale counselor that is the issue? According to Barnes, "The truth of the matter is there are no bad sales people. The truth of the mater is that there are only bad sales managers. They placed them there. They hired them. They trained them." Or, as the case may be, they did not see the need to train them.
Johnny can't sell. Is it Johnny? Is it the market? Is it the builder down the street putting on a fire sale? No, we need to look in the mirror. According to Tom Richey of Richey Resources, "Sales management is the Achilles heel of the building industry." Where you find ill-trained, ill-prepared sales people, you find ineffective sales management.
Do you feel your sales team is not prepared for the change in your market conditions? I asked Richey what a builder should do. Here's his prescription:
Take heart, as Barnes sees it, "You are not part of the problem. You are the solution." So, let's get focused on solutions:
What's Barnes prescription for a turn around?
Jeff Shore of The Shore Company, has strong opinions about how to get your team moving again. He sees the weak state of sales performance attributable to executive and sales management. "Sales management is not holding salespeople accountable." But why?
It's too easy to point fingers at sales management. The fact is, the role of sales management has changed. In response to a good market, executive management has mandated many changes in the way sales counselors are managed. "The sales manager's role over the past 5 years has been radically redefined as problem solver, magician, keep all the balls in the air, firefighter, everything except lead conversion expert."
Shore thinks our training needs to redefine the market. Too often the market is defined in terms and concepts that are totally out of the control of sales counselors. How does Shore define the market? "One sales person plus one customer, that's the entire market." Shore believes that if sales counselors treat every customer interaction as the whole market, then they will come to maximize every opportunity to make a sale. "Everything boils down to the customer in front of them."
So, what's Shore's formula for a turnaround? He focuses on 4 key points:
Now is the time to assess your land positions, your product, and your people. It's time to refocus on the training that will help change behaviors and power your sales through any market. Hire an in-house training manager or find a sales training partner you are comfortable with. Then stick with the program long enough to produce the strong results you deserve.
Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop and plays free safety for Crozier & Henderson Productions' Realty InfoLinks Division in Dallas, Texas. He can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Are you still trying to figure out how to assess your sales team?
Mystery shopping can give you insight into sales counselor performance. Be sure to read FloorPop next month we explore mystery shopping best practices with Melinda Brody, President of Melinda Brody and Company.
Tom Richey, Richey Resources, Inc. can be reached at 713-622-0877 or via email at email@example.com. His website address is