Fast Tracking Solutions Blog
Recently, I visited a host of builder sites in Florida. My objective was to have a direct comparison of many builders’ models, sales personnel, sales process and overall experience. It’s been a while that I actually walked dozens of builder models over a 300 mile geographic area in a relatively short period of time.
I anticipated reviewing homes of builders that had survived our industry’s economic disaster and assumed that these same builders would all be demonstrating efficient and effective practices just too still be in the game.
Here’s what I discovered that had a consistent theme across all builders.
- Sales personnel were incapable of asking me any probing questions to qualify me as a buyer. In all cases, I dominated the conversation with questions about cycle time, price and elevations. I left the models without the sales person even getting contact information. Only one builder‘s sales person ask me to complete a sign in form, when I suggested he take my business card instead, he agreed.
- Sales people continue to use the phrase “they” to explain what was happening at the builder. If asked about quality of build, opportunities to submit change orders, etc, the salesperson always referred to “they” being the owner and their staff as the resolution to an issue.
- No one was able to articulate the value proposition for their builder. I heard nothing different form one sale person to another. It was about the best price, the best quality, nothing to give real identification as why their builder was different.
- Even though we are in Florida and expect more casual attire by sales personnel, I was surprised that the majority of sales people were disheveled, untidy and in some cases wearing stained polo shirts.
- Every model I visited had landscaping that was not well kept, and foliage that was dying
So we all ask ourselves, how could this be? How can our homes be portrayed by our sales people in such a poor way especially in this tough economy? Don’t sales people understand the urgency and professionalism that is required to stay alive in this industry?
Unfortunately I would suggest that several things are at play in my example.
- - Many of the sales people were retired from another profession. Every one of them told me they were getting a pension from their past employer and the common explanation for doing what they were doing was to stay away from the honey do list at home. Guess how motivated these people are in representing their owner’s interest?
- - There was varying levels of knowledge possessed by the salesperson from one builder to the next but generally speaking most sales people were ill-equipped to answer basic new construction questions.
- - Sales people don’t have a concern about being shopped today. There thinking is that was for the good old days when my builder could afford to do it.
- - Accountability in qualifying every model visitor doesn’t seem to exist with these sales people. To the reader, the only conclusion I can reach is management has not defined this as important by actually inspecting this process.
This is not to say that all salespeople are conducting themselves the way I have described but at a time where we all are looking to scrape our way back to 2002 levels of sales , I was floored that a consistency of these bad behaviors exist . Don’t assume your sales people are representing your product and your business professionally, get out there and find out what’s happening. Be engaged all the time and your people will be engaged.
I recently made the decision to relocate from Rochester, New York to Sarasota, Florida. Leaving annual accumulations of snow averaging 130 inches along with 80% of my days under grey clouds was my family’s motivation for the move. We couldn’t be happier. One of our new founded traditions is to be beach side every Sunday. Looking over the Gulf of Mexico is a certain fix for a hectic work week.
I wanted to share with my readers that I have come to appreciate a phenomenon that exist on the beach that is strangely similar to what you, as a leader, face every day in the workplace.
Majestic brown pelicans are often seen perched on channel markers or swooping inches above the rolling waves. Great Blue Heron standing at up to four feet in height can be spotted wading along the shores of Sarasota’s waterways and coastlines. Add to that hundreds of seagulls and you get the picture.
I noticed early on that these creatures seemed bothered. It appears to me that these birds have the entire natural habitat available to identify food sources but are reluctant to do so. Why? Because human species has been intentionally or unintentionally feeding them for years and, consequently, the birds have no motivation to seek food on their own. Additionally, if for some reason the birds are unable to feed on something provided by a beach goer, they begin to act erratic. I know it sounds crazy, but you can actually see their frustration. Instead of them searching the natural habitat for food, they wait irritated that the entitlement of their next meal has been disturbed.
In this country and in our workplace we have a similar story. In the US, how many people are so accustomed to receiving handouts generation after generation that the thought of dismantling Obama’s social giveaways would be paramount to a heart attack. We also sometimes find our people, even in this economy, feeling as though they are entitled. Employee’s who are so self-centered that nothing you provide them is good enough. These people are typically only interested in what the employer can do for them and will only participate within the company norms as long as it also serves a purpose for them. Sometimes, leaders ignore these traits because the employee is talented or has the potential of making money for the company. In most cases, their self-absorbed behaviors begin to blend into the culture as others decide that maybe they should also mirror these “me” behaviors.
My advice is to remove anyone in your organization that is not a team minded person. We can’t afford this type of virus to permeate our culture and to drive the entitlement mentality into our work environments.
Stay away from conditioning your employees towards entitlements as my bird analogy indicates and you will have a team who is optimizing your ROI.