At New Home Star, we’re very big on sales training, no matter your skill or experience level. Why? Training is critical at every point in your career. As the market changes, it’s necessary to understand what you need to change about the way you sell to meet customers where they are at any given point in time.
Many sales teams opt for quick training sessions or boot camps on a quarterly or yearly basis. This method doesn’t help pave a pathway to long-term sales success, because the learning doesn’t keep pace with trends. Things in the market change faster than that, and the best teams are constantly learning to keep pace.
Here are eight myths about new home sales training that every new home sales company and builder should be looking out for and combatting this season.
Myth #1: Setting customer expectations isn’t something salespeople can really control.
The market is shifting fast, and the best new homes salespeople are shifting with it. Training needs to focus on what sellers need to do to help reset customer expectations in a tougher market.
The biggest change happening right now: agents have to be a lot more skilled in discovery and helping customers reset their expectations on what they thought they were going to get in a house. Because of rising interest rates and house costs, prices have gone up, and this impacts what people can afford. Most people looking can still afford to buy a house; they just need to reset their expectations. Training needs to account for conversations sellers can have with customers to help them realize this fact. Instead of buying a house for the future, they need to buy for what they need now, and agents need to be flexible and nimble in training to be able to adapt to these conversations.
Myth #2: Need-development questions are only helpful for salespeople, they don’t do anything for the buyer.
Need-development questions get to the core of why something matters to a buyer. They’re not only helpful for sellers to understand, but they’re helpful for buyers to also understand what they really want and need in a new home.
Some examples of need-development questions include:
- So, you two are getting married, when is the wedding?
- When does your child’s school year start?
- What change in life got you thinking about moving?
Moves are inherently complicated, and there is lots of input from external parties — parents, friends, Realtors, websites — flooding into customers’ minds. Sellers need to spend time talking to buyers through need-development questions; this will help customers understand their core needs and think thoroughly about what they’re doing. Need-development questioning should be a big part of training at any level.
Myth #3: There’s no right way to ask sensitive financial questions.
In the process of buying a new home, people are going to give away lots of vulnerable information — always be aware of the fact that it’s sensitive and approach with caution.
New home sales training right now should focus on discussing sensitive financial subjects and questions with care, especially in this market.
A few phrases and lines that come to mind that are ideal to bake into conversation and representative of a thoughtful discussion with a buyer:
- “Wherever you’re comfortable is totally fine - how did you come to that number?”
- “I’d love to find you what you want for 250 and make that possible”
- “I don’t want to make this too complicated, but I’m getting to a point that I think is relevant”
- “What we do at New Home Star is we want to lower the costs for you”
- “If all-in cost of ownership is less, would you in that case be ok going to 290 comparatively?”
Proceeding with care and caution on tricky subjects is critical at any time to build trust with buyers and a lasting relationship.
Myth #5: You shouldn’t teach sellers to bombard buyers with questions.
Ask all of the discovery questions! It’s imperative that training teaches sellers to ask as many questions as they need to understand the broader buyer needs and set them up with a house that makes the most sense for them.
Discovery is a core part of training that needs to be taught, as there’s a specific way to ask questions to help sellers get the most from their conversations. Training should teach sellers that discovery is a way to help a customer understand if a home is right for them or not — and that it’s totally ok at the end of discovery if they’ve decided it isn’t!
If that’s the case, the seller at least knows exactly what will make the buyer happy and can look for other options with that information in mind.
Being thorough at discovery questions is the best ROI you can possibly have as a seller. After discovery, everything else in the process gets a lot more straightforward.
Myth #6: You should be doing the majority of the talking as a salesperson.
Let people say, “school is going back in session so that’s why we need a new home.” Let people tell you about their job, or that their wife’s transition from teaching during the summer is the reason they’re deciding to look for a house now. Most people will open up if the salesperson has been trained to ask the right questions that help them feel comfortable doing so!
Training should show sellers to ask authority-driving questions to help buyers better understand themselves and do most of the talking. It’s also important that sellers know to take time during the process to gather input from everybody; it’s always better to assume everyone in the party has a say vs. the opposite.
Myth #7: There’s no way to get around certain objections.
Today’s new home sales training should be highly focused on combating objections since there are many objections buyers can share in the current market.
There are a few core ways to overcome objections that resonate in this market:
- Sidestep it: Don’t say anything about it or acknowledge it at all. Move on to presentation, keep going through demonstration. Trust that if the customer cares, they’ll bring it up again.
- Acknowledge it: Take a second, turn your body towards them, and tilt your head —just so they talk back and give you the real answer. Then, they’ll explain it. Give them space to say more, and they may talk themselves right out of the objection they communicated.
- Repeat straight back to them in the form of a question: Ask a question and put it back on them. “Oh, this bathroom is too small?” They’ll explain why it’s the case, and again, may talk themselves out of this objection.
- Question it: Hunt for the motivation behind it. “Is it too small to fit a piece of your furniture? What do you have now in your house comparatively? Help me understand why this is a problem for you.”
- Answer it: Give them an educated answer. If they say the bathroom is too small, say the builder put most of the square footage in the main living areas — which is probably a better fit for how they actually use the home.
- Gain agreement: If you give a good enough answer and educate, then you can agree to move on to the next subject. “This answer I gave, is this satisfactory / does this settle this issue for you now?”
- Redirect: Move on physically from the place in the house. Don’t stay in the physical space. The more the customers stand there, the more reasons they’ll think of as to why they don’t like that thing they had a problem with and it may get worse.
Keep a running objection log, because over time, sellers learn to reply quickly to any objection with practice. Overcoming objections should be a top priority for role play in training, especially in today’s environment when objections are extremely common!
Myth #8: The best training only happens in person.
We believe the best training is a mix of in-person and online activities that spur conversation and encourage collaboration across teams. We’re lucky at New Home Star to have a fantastic training platform, New Home Connect™, that engages our sellers across the country to keep up with training and learn directly from salespeople at all levels. There’s a peer learning section that enables sellers to go in and describe a real-life instant concern or problem and gain instant access to feedback and insight from others. One of the 300 agents across the US has likely encountered the same issue and can provide help on the spot!
While in-person training is also great, this platform gives us the flexibility to change with the market quickly, adding new sessions that people can watch remotely and comment on without needing to plan a big gathering or training boot camp.
It can be a big investment for new home sales companies to put time and effort into training, but it’s well worth it to ensure your team is ahead of the game when it comes to anticipating needs in the current market. Any builder looking to work with a new home sales team should ensure they have the right training practices in place to cater to today’s customer needs and adapt to change.
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