Shopping has certainly progressed over the last few decades. In the old days, we had to find a big straw purse to hold a big metal cassette tape recorder. We would take out the carbon paper to type up the report and package them up in big bundles via Airborne and other now defunct carriers.
Ahh, digital age. Mystery shopping has grown from about a dozen to over 1,000 companies in just the last 15 years. It’s so much easier now. Shoppers have a hidden, wireless video camera to capture everything from outside parking lot, the smile on a pony-tailed greeter, the accuracy of the register transaction, even the charred fringe on the edge of a cheeseburger. Competition is fierce to sell the best cheeseburger at the best price in the US of A, and hundreds of thousands of hamburger joints are shopped on a regular basis.
Those are fun shops and I’ll do just about anything for a free burger. But my expertise is new home mystery shops. And my industry has much more at stake than a $6.99 sale. A new home will be the biggest purchase most consumers make in a lifetime. In our industry, you may only have one shot to make that sale.
The new home industry is at an interesting crossroads. The bottom fell out so quickly in 2008, countless were left unemployed and eventually left to find other pursuits. We lost many of our best sales managers, trainers, and new home sales agents. We lost a lot of our best tradesmen, our small business vendors, our construction teams.
So here we are, ten years after. The recovery ironically stalled because of our most precious loss –people. We struggle to find experience within that void. And slowly it builds back. Homes can be produced again, and so the race is on.
Some builders are in primo positions. They were able to take financial hits by just sitting on All. That. Land. For a decade, they suspended building. They grabbed up other smaller builders who weren’t able to make it and added Much. More. Land. Reputations untarnished, those builders can recruit the best of the best when it comes to employees and subs.
Others are struggling. If you did make it out alive, your staff has been decimated and you may not get the first-round draft pick. How do you quickly assess and catapult your sales team into what is now a highly competitive market?
Sales training comes in all kinds of packages now. But we’re a big believer in the basics. The “critical path” of new home sales can be known by all kinds of bells and whistles. It all boils down to two keys of success:
- Above all else, value people.
Look at it from a Shopper’s point of view. As a typical prospect, we might view four communities in the Happy Ranch master planned community. Four different builders with similar, beautiful new home product. The sales rep who stands out will be the one who is sincere. Who takes an interest in our “why” and genuinely makes us feel welcome and wanted as a home owner.
- What makes your community special?
Most likely, every builder will have a beautiful gourmet kitchen upgrade. Every builder will have walls and floor plans and front yard landscaping and blah blah blah. Which is what happens with an information dump; the prospect just shuts down. Rather, sales reps need to pinpoint their competitive edge and make sure that sticks in the mind of the buyer. If you can determine the “why” you can match with the “how” that your product provides.
Kathy Kelly has been a New Home Mystery Shopper for over 45 years. Her team of shoppers and evaluators at Personnel Profiles continue to provide the highest expertise in the new home industry.