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Sales Leadership

Growing Your New ...

Growing Your New Home Sales Career: How to Thrive in a Downturn (Part I)

By Star Report 5 min read


Let's face a perceptual fact. When the market is thriving, as a sales agent, you don’t get a lot of credit for driving excellent sales results. The expectation is that sales will be there and when they are, of course, you get some kudos and recognition for that but there’s typically a sense of placation in the tone.

To view other parts of this article series, click on the links below:

During these high tides of the market, you wisely spent it learning to drive traffic through low to no cost marketing initiatives, you studied and practiced new sales techniques, you memorized your product and your competition, and offered a comprehensive business plan to create change to better position your community to sell. In fact, you did make a difference. What you also did is prepare yourself for the swing in the market. When you make a difference between a community selling three homes versus one with six homes, it’s a big deal to the builder. However, it’s a game-changer when you make the difference between selling homes and not selling homes. The down market separates those who have been honing their skills from those who made their living taking what the market would give them.

This article will serve to outline two key areas. The first is what you should do to prepare for the next down cycle in real estate. If you don’t yet feel prepared, don’t panic, it’s not too late to prepare your survival kit! The second is to offer suggestions on what you can do to truly thrive in your career during the downturn. In other words, how to apply those acquired skills to separate you from the rest.

Let’s start with the survival kit. Driving traffic using low to zero cost initiatives is a must-have in your tool kit. The market may produce fewer buyers as a whole, but if you have the processes and skills developed to ensure that every buyer that is in the market knows who you are and what makes you unique and valuable, you can maintain a consistent sales pace while taking market share. Learn how to drive your own traffic from the sales seat, and you’ll be one step ahead.

The second item you need to place firmly in your survival kit falls into the category of continuous learning and knowledge. You will often hear the term “buyer’s market” when the market is softening. What this means, essentially, is that buyers have more choice. More choice means you have to do more to separate yourself and your homes. Understanding your product inside and out is critical in these times. Learn each and every step of the construction process and know the construction products and processes that separate your builder from all other builders and be a wealth of knowledge in construction. Customers will assign trust and value to knowledge to be the very best in this department. It’s entirely in your control and will help you demonstrate and create value in the areas that your builder thrives. Without this knowledge, you are left to compare the basic commoditized areas of the home, thus eroding your builder’s margins.

While being an expert on your product is critical, being an expert on the entire process from purchase, permitting, and financing through to title work and closing is also critical. New Home Star’s third Guiding Principle states that we have to help the buyer want it and then help them to feel that it’s okay to have it. The second part of that guiding principle becomes more important as the market turns less favorable for builders. More buyers will feel that perhaps it's not okay to be buying a home or spending more for a new home in a down market. Your ability to understand payments and help customers make informed decisions based on the total cost of ownership versus just the price of the home are absolutely essential skills to helping customers understand that it's okay to have a new home.

Finally, the last lesson you should apply NOW as we prepare for the downturn is to save your nest egg for yourself personally. We know the markets are cyclical and there will be years where we make a whole lot more than other years. If you have a nest egg saved during the good times, you won’t feel “desperate” during the down years. Selling with desperation is never as effective as it devalues you and your product. The best way to stay away from this sales pitfall is to not be desperate in the first place! Put a little money away so you’ll be in a position to sell from strength, knowledge, and handwork without letting the cyclical nature of our industry affect your sales style.

As a final thought, just remember, a down market is where you get to demonstrate that you truly are the difference-maker. If you persevere and succeed when others don’t, the wisdom gained will be invaluable in your career. Many promotions and advancements were earned during the last downturn. Those that gave up the built-in excuses of the market and decided to get creative and succeed anyway, they are the ones paving the way forward in the industry today. Get on a team that will support you through the downturn, and you will put your professional experience into hyperdrive. Be the difference!

Originally published Apr 17, 2019 8:01:37 PM under Sales Leadership, updated November 23, 2021

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