Since we’re at the New Year, let’s make a resolution, as salespeople, to sell to a process in 2007. The process is not revolutionary; it’s not even new. The most common name for this process is the Critical Path. I have modified it slightly, based on new home sales, but really this process works for any line of sales.

Here it is (in chronological order):


            1. Preparation  

            2. Greeting

            3. Needs Analysis

            4. Presentation

            5. Demonstration

            6. Select One

            7. Objections

            8. Finance

            9. Closing

            10. Follow up

            11. Due Diligence

            12. Referrals


The top 5% of new home salespeople understand this process and follow it perfectly. We call them Consciously Competent, that is, they always know where they are with each customer in the sales process. The customer can throw anything at them, they handle it, and go right back to the sales process.

As you may have noticed, we have 12 steps and ironically, 12 months in the year. Any worthwhile transformation is a series of small, incremental steps. This month, we will deal with Preparation.


“95% of the success of today’s new home sales professionals is directly attributable to what they do when they are not in front of the customer.” -Rick Storlie


Preparation is the step most often skipped by home builders and salespeople alike. We all want to rush into our model homes, have tons of traffic and immediately sell some homes. Yes, this did work for a number of years but alas, no more.


Think of how top athletes prepare for their sport. An Olympic sprinter will train for 6 days a week, for 1,200 days, 6-10 hours a day for a race that lasts less than 10 seconds.


During Lance Armstrong’s 7 year Tour De France win streak he trained 344 days a year riding 60-120 miles a day for a 30 day race. A boxer will train for 1,000 minutes for every 1 minute in the ring.


The idea is this, we as salespeople need to spend dozens of hours preparing for our weekend traffic and sales presentations. Imagine how good we could be if we did the following preparation:

            • We understand who our buyers are, what they want in a home and how much they are willing to pay for it.


            • We understand our own personalities and learn how to identify our customer’s personalities. In other words, we sell the way the customer wants to be sold, not the way we like to sell.


            • We know our top 3 builder competitors better than they know themselves. When a customer mentions their name, we immediately know how to differentiate our builder from them.


            • We have a sales environment within our models that makes it easy for customers to buy from us. Studies show that 89% of the buying decision for new home buyers is based on the believability of what they saw in the sales centers. Most models I visit may have a plat map on the wall. Believe me, you need a lot more visual aids that that to create value for your customers. Who is the builder? What is special about the community? Why would I want to live in this neighborhood? A salesperson must take ownership of those three things and transfer that enthusiasm to every customer as they present the product (and you can’t tell them, you must show them!).


            • We work on our sales presentations weekly, perform market research monthly and report our findings back to our builders so they can re-position our product.


            • We continually invest time, energy and resources into personal development so when that customer comes through the door, emails us or calls on the phone, we give them 100% of our energy on helping them make a good informed decision.


Zig Ziglar has a great quote about success, “The elevator to the top is out of order but the staircase is always open.” Preparing for greatness means having the ability to do what you have to do, when you have to do it, whether you feel like it or not. It takes work, discipline and an attitude that says ‘I will do whatever it takes to be the best!’


Do something different this year. Look at your community, neighborhood and homes through your customer’s eyes. Would you want to live here? Make a resolution to provide written market facts to your builder on a monthly basis. Do you have the right features? Are you doing all you can to reach your target audience? Are you priced competitively within the marketplace?


Try writing out and recording how you greet, qualify and present your product. Listen to the recording and honestly critique yourself; would you buy from you? Merillat cabinets just completed an in-depth study showing today’s consumer will spend just under 9 minutes in your model. That is all the time you have to make a great impression.


In life, we always have pain. Your choice is to decide living life with the pain of regret, or the pain of discipline. My wish for you is to chose the latter!