(Summary of David F. Parker presentation to Jacksonville NAHB Sales & Marketing Council, 10/12/12)
Many new home and general sales agents fail to reach their potential because of misinterpretation of the scope of their chosen occupation. They have learned that their objective is to assist a potential home-buyer with finding a suitable house. Pursuing this objective often results in general real estate agents assuming the role of tour guide to introduce the consumer to a list of available houses for sale selected by price range and geographical area. New home sales agents often adopt a similar misinterpretation by focusing on demonstration of the merits of their model homes. Both approaches fail to optimize the agents’ sales potential by not following the three fundamental rules of selling new homes.
- Know Thyself. A common misconception of sales people is that revealing their charming personality and energetic, friendly manner, coupled with conveying knowledge about residential real estate and/or new home offerings, will provide a bond with new prospective purchasers resulting in that consumer’s reliance upon the agent to transact a favorable purchase on their behalf. The successful sales professional, however, knows that forming relationships must include a comprehensive understanding of the behavioral characteristics, household needs and family preferences of the potential prospect – information that only can be learned through an extensive dialogue in which the sales professional probes these important personal areas of information for a thorough understanding of each consumer and the best means of satisfying their desire for the “perfect” home. As Joan Rivers would say, “Can we talk?”
- Know Your Customer. Every person has a personality created by their past experiences, both in terms of the behavior of their parents and siblings as well as the societal era of their upbringing. An “Ozzie and Harriet” family of the 1950s and 60s is a far different influence than a digital-base family of the 1990s. These generational characteristics get shaped by a variety of external influences to create social groupings of behavior that are used in market research to guide advertising and social media campaigns to influence public actions. Sales professionals use these same techniques in less-structured ways to understand the motivations of their prospects: are they status sensitive achiever personalities who will react positively to high-profile neighbors and community attractions, or are they value-sensitive realist personalities who need to understand the tax base and mechanical systems of a potential house purchase. What is the right type of product to satisfy their preferences?
- Know Your Product. Too many sales persons retain the historic idea that they are in the business of selling houses, whereas sales professionals understand that the sale has other dimensions equally important to the physical building on a lot (or in a condominium). The three most important factors in addition to the charm and functions of the house are Nature, Neighbors and Amenities. Nature includes the micro-climate of the neighborhood with respect to mature trees, hills and adjacent bodies of water – the environment encompassing the house. Neighbors tend to be households like theirs or not: new friends are often scrutinized in mirror-like fashion, with those appearing similar to the consumer are best. Amenities include parks, playgrounds, community centers as well as schools, churches, medical centers, public safety facilities and convenience shopping. The consummate sales professional is knowledgeable about all of these living components and conveys them to the consumer at appropriate times and in ways that influence their behavioral characteristics. Many successful sales people rely upon Google Earth graphics to highlight these essential neighborhood elements.
Selling homes is a huge business in this country and around the world. Compensation can be highly rewarding for successful sales professionals. But, of equal or even greater reward is the satisfaction of knowing that you have used every element available to find the best home for each prospect that you serve.
David F. Parker, October 2012