Three Housing Giants share their sales successes, challenges, and
strategies for growing their businesses in the recovering housing market.
In my continuing editorial series on sales and management for Professional Builder, I have stressed the critical importance of focusing on the fundamentals of sales and sales management, whether you are a small- or mid-volume builder or one of the Giants. I have urged PB readers to avoid quick-fix approaches (e.g., reliance on social media and discounting) and encouraged them to stick with what works.
To coincide with PB’s annual Housing Giants report , I thought it would be helpful to reach out to a few Giants to see which sales strategies have worked for them and learn about their plans for improving sales moving forward. Here is what they had to offer:
Jagoe Homes, Owensboro, Ky.
(Housing Giants rank: 145) — David Crowe, VP of Sales
Our focus, streamlined processes, and commitment to elim–inating waste in every area of our organization have proven to be the foundation that has seen us through the tough times.
Housing Giants Report Contents
• Introduction 
• Housing Giants Rankings 
• 5 Takeaways From the Housing Giants Report 
• The Innovators: Great Ideas From the Giants 
• Next Move: Giants Share Their Top Opportunities for 2012 and Beyond 
• Sales Strategies: What’s Working for the Giants 
With respect to the sales staff, we simply refuse to participate in the belief that people will not buy or build a brand-new Jagoe home. This alone is not enough, but it all starts with the right attitude. In the past year, we have had to make some tough decisions in regards to our sales staff and how we sold in the past. Through needed downsizing, we graded our sales force and kept the best. Then we made a commitment to make sure they received the right support and tools to do their job effectively. We made sure all of them were operating with the best sales presentation possible and then had everyone video shopped. The video shops gave us a great benchmark and provided an extremely valuable coachable situation.
Instead of hoping, wishing, or praying for more traffic, we improved the experience, follow-up, and follow through. As a result, we are converting more of the traffic we generate.
Ideal Homes, Norman, Okla.
(Housing Giants rank: 122) — Vern McKown, President
As the market tightened over the past few years, our ability to maintain sales did not come from a secret formula or new gimmick; it came from a commitment to execution on the small things. We always find ourselves going back to the sales basics. Specifically, we’ve emphasized training on the closing process.
We increased accountability on follow-up by implementing a new CRM system and creating a culture of discipline around long-term contact with every prospect.
In addition, we’ve taken a dynamic approach to Realtor relations, focusing on building deep relationships in lieu of tracking the quantity of activities a sales rep makes. Our sales managers no longer ask, ‘How many sales meetings did you attend this week?’ Instead, they ask, ‘What can you tell me about the Realtors you are working with?’
Arthur Rutenberg Homes, Clearwater, Fla.
(Housing Giants rank: 77) — Arthur Rutenberg, Chairman
Our sales are directly proportional to the number of model homes and sales teams we have in the field. Metrics have always been important to me, so we pay close attention to the ratio of visitor registrations to first proposal or quote, and then sale. We work hard to recruit and select top-quality sales teams for each model, and because value is the key to sales success in today’s market, we make sure we give our franchise owners leading-edge tools to reduce their direct costs, and hence their ability to offer lower sales prices. Every item that goes into building one of our homes is being bought at the right cost by one of our 31 franchisees. Our best tool is software that lets each franchisee see the costs being obtained by the other 30.
Bob Schultz is president and CEO of Bob Schultz & The New Home Sales Specialists, a management consulting and sales firm based in Boca Raton, Fla. He can be reached at email@example.com .