How do you screen candidates for sales positions? Sales pros, by their very nature, should be able to sell you on themselves—which is why you need to see past the pitch and grasp the depth of the person’s skill and potential. After working with hundreds of them over the years, I have some advice for what to look for in a new home sales professional.
We hear about passion ad nauseum. It’s a word, like “quality”, that is overused and has become devalued. I’m talking here about someone who isn’t spouting their passion for selling new homes but oozes it. Their enthusiasm is unmistakable. The right salesperson will talk about the satisfaction that comes from helping people find the right place to call “home”. They enjoy the discovery process and asking the right questions of a buyer. You can see in their faces that this career choice brings them such satisfaction that they are self-motivated. The new home sales professional you want on your team is the one who is eager to learn, knowing there is always room for improvement.
A curious listener
The discovery process in new home sales is the first step in establishing a relationship with your buyer. Some salespeople jump right into extolling the virtues of their product, without taking the time to learn what the buyer wants and needs—even more importantly, what they DON’T want and need. Knowing which questions to ask of a prospective homebuyer and being an active listener to the responses is an important first step in guiding a buyer along the path to purchase.
How can you tell if your candidate uses the right discovery questions? Ask them about their sales approach. How do they greet a buyer? What steps do they take to get to know them? What are the questions they ask? If this salesperson starts out by talking about the product, the interview can end right there.
Well-versed in financing
Your new home sales professionals should be well-rounded in all aspects of the buying and building process. That includes financing. Build a sales team that is familiar with the various mortgage programs available and the basic requirements. This knowledge builds on their role of trusted advisor. A sales pro who is knowledgeable about financing can identify how to handle these bumps in the road, like instances when a buyer isn’t quite ready to move on to the purchase. Maybe a prospect needs more time to improve their credit rating or save more money for the down payment. Or they might need a different, more helpful lender to talk to.
Ask each applicant you’re considering for a sales role about their financing knowledge and experience. Find out if they are interested in learning more or simply prefer to hand it off to a lender. If nothing else, you’ll learn how much effort this individual is willing to put into helping a customer.
A person who accepts responsibility for their actions has integrity. Someone who delivers excuses or places blame is a detriment to any team. Seek team members who demonstrate total accountability. Start by asking them to explain their problem-solving process and use a real-life example to show how they applied it. If somewhere in that explanation, you hear an excuse or blaming someone else, don’t expect them to reflect responsibility once you’ve hired them.
Follows up with purpose.
It would be a world of unicorns and rainbows if every prospect who walked in your door bought a home on the first visit. But the reality is that it takes effort.
A disproportionately large number of salespeople, across all industries, fail at follow-up. They either don’t do it at all, don’t do it in a timely manner, give up too soon, or use a canned pitch that disengages the prospect.
Even in the pandemic-driven frenzy for homebuying, selling a new construction home requires follow-up. During these times, it might not be the most pleasant conversations, but good communication builds trust, which builds relationships.
A real pro in new home sales knows enough to have solid reasons for following up with a prospect. “I just wanted to follow up” is weak. Instead, try “I heard about a mortgage program we hadn’t discussed and thought it might be interesting to you” or “We’re getting ready to launch new homesites so I wanted to be sure to give you advance notice.”
Ask your possible new home salesperson how they handle follow-up. Do they use a CRM? What’s their process? This is a critical step in selling a new construction home. You can certainly teach someone to do follow-up the right way, but wouldn’t it be great if they already bought fully into it?
Invests in referrals.
Here’s a sales area, like follow-up, that is too often overlooked. Building and maintaining a referral network is as easy as asking. Satisfied buyers, lenders who are busier than others, and even non-buyers with whom a salesperson has expertly followed up are the low-hanging fruit on the tree of new home leads.
When you’re interviewing a new home salesperson, talk about their referral process and network. How do they actively work it?
Fear of rejection is the biggest cause of failure in the sales profession. A pro makes sales happen by asking for the sale. They accept that rejection is part of the business, and don’t take it personally. In fact, obstacles—objections and rejections—are opportunities to learn and become better at their craft.
It’s easy to gauge an applicant who is fearless. Like passion, you see their face light up at the idea of handling rejection.