Some years ago when I was looking to build a new home, one of my biggest concerns was building next to commercial property. My husband and I fell in love with a new master planned community, but the first phase backed up against an empty field. When I inquired about this and told our home salesperson I did not want a shopping center in my backyard, he assured me the land directly behind our lot was not zoned for commercial property.
We built a beautiful home and had a smooth building experience. A few years later, however, a developer built that dreaded shopping center almost in my backyard. While it wasn’t directly behind our lot, it was just a few lots over, and the parking lot lights and view of tall buildings wasn’t what we had in mind when we’d purchased our lot a few years earlier.
While I understand salespeople don’t always know the answers to customer questions, it’s nevertheless their responsibility to find the information clients request and to be honest when an answer can’t be found.
While I’m hesitant to question our home salesperson’s integrity, I am confused about why he didn’t just point out where the commercial zoning was or simply say “I’m not sure, but can find out.” However, in his effort to please me and make a sale, he violated a critical quality in strong salespeople who earn repeat customers and referrals: honesty.
Sales are the lifeblood of any business, but in new home sales, your sales staff can quickly make the difference between soaring success and broken client relationships and poor brand image. A home purchase is generally the largest single purchase a person makes in his or her lifetime. If that experience is a sour one, you can be sure it will put your company’s reputation and long-term viability in serious jeopardy.
With this in mind, we asked several new home professionals what they believe are the most critical qualities a salesperson should exhibit. Some of their responses won’t surprise you, but others definitely will. Read on!
A salesperson’s credibility and reputation are paramount to his or her success. Professional ethics and the ability to empathize with and understand a customer’s needs and wants can help your sales team turn a quick sale into a lifetime client.
“I truly value honesty above everything,” says Carolyn Morrison, MBA, vice president of sales and marketing at Lokal Homes in Englewood, Colorado. “Honesty fosters trust in our team members [and inspires it in] our home buyers. ”
2. Competitive Drive
When the going gets tough, the tough keep selling. A successful home salesperson has the drive and fortitude to become top dog by generating more prospects and increasing sales regardless of the market. Whether it comes to negotiating a deal or closing the sale, having highly motivated sales team members who enjoy the thrill of selling and competing can be key to success.
“A competitive sales person will constantly measure himself or herself against not only other salespeople but against proven goals and statistics with an eye on consistently exceeding everyone and everything around them,” says Burk Moreland, owner of Rainmaker Builders in Houston, Texas. They don’t like losing, so they will go through the ‘uncomfortable’ conversations and ask the ‘difficult’ questions that lead to a closing question, that lead to discovering objections, that lead to overcoming those, and that lead to a mutual agreement that this is or is not the right home for the customer.”
Most salespeople can learn new skills or pick up tricks of the trade, but it takes a certain type of professional to maintain the right attitude during difficult situations or after making a mistake. Intangible traits like attitude, coachability, and a sense of humor are key indicators of a high-potential salesperson.
“If you show up to work and have a positive attitude, I can teach you the rest,” says Chris Hartley, vice president of operations and marketing at Trendmaker Homes in Houston, Texas. “On the flipside, you can be the most intelligent salesperson out there, but if your attitude [stinks], I don’t want you on my team!”
For Brian Keller, area sales manager at Taylor Morrison in Naples, Florida, attitude and persistence are a winning combination: “Attitude is something that cannot be taught yet must be nurtured by leaders.”
A good salesperson isn’t afraid to get things done without his or her manager hovering. Professionals who take the initiative to close sales or develop prospects give you more time to focus on leading and growing your business.
“I think that initiative is the number one quality because it allows managers to focus on how to help support the sales team in their professional growth and problem solve individual opportunities rather than micromanage processes and procedures,” says Sales and Management Consultant David Wilcox in San Antonio, Texas.
5. Problem Solving Skills
There are several working parts when it comes to selling a home, which means there are plenty of opportunities for something to go wrong. Having a salesperson with the creativity and critical thinking skills to solve problems on the fly makes your life as business owner or manager much easier. You don’t have to step in every time there is a challenging customer and can have faith that your salesperson has the skills and conscientiousness to handle difficult situations with grace.
“The most significant quality that seems to lead to success is to be a problem solver,” says Al Garfal, regional sales coach at Lennar in Media, Pennsylvania. “That quality will lead a salesperson to ask a lot of questions to understand a customer’s needs and will help the salesperson to direct the customer to a satisfactory solution to his or her situation.”
If your people don’t enjoy what they’re doing, then they’re in the wrong profession. Effective salespeople must be passionate about their jobs and helping their clients. Clients will easily notice lack of enthusiasm or desire, and few things will turn them off faster than working with a home sales professional who isn’t genuinely interested in their needs and excited about his or her job.
“If you are not passionate about what you are doing, what you are selling, and most importantly, the clients you are assisting, it will be written all over your face,” says Allie Aldridge of the Nicole Freer Group with RE/MAX Fine Properties in Katy, Texas. “A passionate salesperson will make you feel secure and confident in your decision to buy, and most importantly, with passion, the chance of rejection is minimized.”
Any salesperson can be lucky once in awhile, but it takes real entrepreneurs to change a business’ trajectory. Sales teams that work in an entrepreneurial environment are much more likely to maintain focus on critical areas like driving traffic, conversions, closings, customer service, and referrals.
“Valuable sales team members have an entrepreneurial spirit and take the community assignment they are given and approach it as if they were given a business loan by the ‘Bank of X Home Builder’ and maximizes ROI/ROA,” says Dana Spencer, national vice president of sales at K. Hovnanian Homes in Phoenix, Arizona.
She adds, “This quality will have them selling by strength (not weakness) and approaching every part of their daily work life with accountability-based activities to return the best ROI/ROA.”
Even when everyone has an equal playing field and the same level of technical skills, marketing reach, and leadership support, some salespeople will succeed while others fail. Finding the traits that make the difference in a potential new hire is typically a greater indicator that you have a potential superstar on your hands than education and experience alone.