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Construction Sales Tips to Maintain Sales Pace in 2023

By Victoria Ringhausen 9 min read

Happy new year from your friends at New Home Star! Since it’s officially 2023, it’s time to start fresh and kick off a new year of selling. Our version of March Madness — the most popular time of the year when people want to buy a home — is just around the corner. Being prepared to bring in the largest number of sales possible then, means doing the prep work up front now. 

The state of the current market will make it an especially critical year for home sellers to rethink their processes. Here’s what Redfin predicts for the market this year:

“We expect about 16% fewer existing home sales in 2023 than 2022, landing at 4.3 million, with would-be buyers pressing pause due mostly to affordability challenges including high mortgage rates, still-high home prices, persistent inflation, and a potential recession. People will only move if they need to.”

“We expect the median U.S. home-sale price to drop by roughly 4% — the first annual drop since 2012 — to $368,000 in 2023. That’s due to elevated rates and final sale prices starting to reflect homes that went under contract in late 2022.”

With fewer leads coming in, sellers must shift to being very proactive and make necessary adjustments to maintain pace with past years and bring in high-quality leads. We’ve compiled a list of seven places to start. 

Go back to the basics 

Now is the time to take your team back to learning the basics. Prioritize training and have even your most established sales counselors brush up on things they already know.

We’ve always turned to role-play to cement our team’s understanding of the market and how to speak to customers. It’s a tried-and-true tactic that puts sellers in buyers’ shoes to understand what they really need and how they’re feeling — especially in this market. 

Last summer, we hosted a series of trainings that focused on specific aspects of home selling. Here are a few examples of the weekly training topics:

Appointment setting at the turn of the market 
There is a moment in your career when you look up, and in a split second, everything has changed. What had become your normal routine no longer supports the market. Time to refresh on what it takes to set an appointment. Discover the new world we live in and help yourself set more appointments to get more sales in this ever-changing market.

Next-level questioning 
It is time to take time to talk to people. Say that five times fast. We know the market is shifting, and now is the time to slow down and dig deeper. We can no longer skate by on surface-level questioning. We need to be more effective and strategic. All these issues end today! Grow your skills to the next level.

Welcoming objections and getting them handled
Gone are the days of desperation for a home. No longer are people just buying any ol’ home off the block. Buyers are starting to have stronger opinions about what they want and what they need. Passing off objections is something you can no longer afford. Stop objections in their tracks! 

No matter how advanced sales agents might be in their careers, training is always critical to sharpen old skills and pick up new skills necessary for selling in a recession. 

Know what you can't control 

As a new home sales professional there are always factors out of your control when it comes to closing a deal. It’s important to know what these are and not spend your time worrying about them and trying to change them — when they can’t be changed! By knowing what you won’t be able to fix, you can focus your energy and efforts on what you can.

Some examples of things you can’t control:

  • The rising costs of labor, materials, and land
  • When the rates will fluctuate and how that impacts payments and affordability 
  • The economic conditions 
  • The time of year that dictates traffic due to holidays or weather 
  • When a home closes or needs to be pushed 
  • That the media is telling buyers now is the time to negotiate 

And know what you can control

While a lot is not within our power to manage, there are a number of elements in the home selling process that we do have the ability to control. We can educate ourselves on the market and the history of home selling during similar downturns, and we can have the right conversations with customers to ensure they feel supported in the home buying process during this time. 

Here’s what we can choose to focus on and manage: 

  • Our knowledge and understanding of why this is happening in the market 
  • Learning how this affects our buyers and role-play overcoming this objection 
  • Our understanding of the economic conditions and the changes that are occurring 
  • Our POS and how to make them feel okay about it 
  • Our communication and setting of expectations
  • How we train ourselves by watching videos and role-playing recent real-life situations that we’re dealing with in the model

Get credit for the things you take credit for 

When it comes to new home sales, you don't get credit with customers for the things you don't say — you only get things for the things you take credit for. What I mean by that: if you leave out details about a certain feature, you waste an opportunity to “wow” a customer with an element that could have pushed them to purchase. 

Example: say a home has brand-new energy-efficient windows, but the seller doesn’t go into any more detail than just stating the presence of the new windows. The customer might be happy but also might not understand the benefits and return on investment that can come from purchasing a house with these windows. Instead, the seller should take credit for the window benefits by sharing details about why they’re great: they’ll reflect sun during the summer, provide strong insulation during the winter, and offer gorgeous year-round sunlight. Most importantly, the buyer will have extra money to take the kids on a camping vacation with the money that will be saved on energy bills. 

Paint a picture of what the buyer’s life could look like in this new home and make sure you gain credit for the amazing features that make the house stand out. 

Drive new leads in new ways 

You don’t just have to go to real estate events to meet new prospective buyers and network. Think outside the box and start considering other ways you can drive a big impact. A few that come to mind: networking and connecting with Realtors on LinkedIn, joining local Realtor Facebook groups, and hosting open houses. If you can create a way to track people to walk through open houses and demonstrate interest, you can follow up with them and start building relationships that way. You could also create QR codes for those who walk into inventory homes. View more ideas for marketing to home buyers and see additional ways to strengthen your Realtor marketing efforts by checking out the linked articles.

Don't end the meeting without setting an appointment 

Don’t let the prospective buyer leave without setting an appointment. Sellers have to be okay with hearing the word “no” and pushing for the final reason the prospect doesn’t want to purchase. 

I always reference what our Founder, David Rice, thinks about setting appointments: when you’re in a closing situation, someone is closing someone else. Will the customer close on you and not buy the home, or are you going to close on them? Our team practices aggressive closing techniques and being upfront about asking for appointments (and not being afraid of hearing no once or twice before landing the appointment.)

Know your hot buttons, feature + benefit = emotions (FBEs), and target customer profiles (TCPs)

It’s important to be diligent in knowing your customer inside and out to ensure you can target their needs appropriately and sell to the unique features they need. 

Here are a few ways we look at defining customer needs and preferences as we sell:

Hot buttons: Hot buttons are elements that are especially important to your home buyer. The list of 12 buyer hot buttons we use at New Home Star was inspired by a University of Michigan study detailing the 12 psychological factors that drive people to make a purchase decision, and it was personalized for the home buying journey by our team of seasoned sales experts. A few examples: family, investment, convenience. If sellers can understand customer love language and what really resonates, they can learn how to speak to that customer in a way that inspires trust and action. 

FBEs: It is a faulty assumption to believe that your customer understands the benefits of a feature. Similarly, buyers won’t automatically tie your features to their emotional needs. As a sales associate, it’s your role to connect all of these pieces. Leading a customer to desire what you offer requires that you fill the gaps between the features of your offering, the benefits produced by these features, and the fulfillment of the customer’s emotional needs. You must understand and memorize the following sequence as you guide your customer through the most favorable thought process: a feature translates to a benefit, which elicits an emotion. 

TCPs: Know your target customer profile (who you’re trying to sell to) and cater your selling to that specific profile. For example, say you know that the target customer profile is a family and the family hot button is big for one prospect in the pipeline. If you know this ahead of time, you can lean into selling features that will appeal to the customer. You can talk about the gorgeous expanded kitchen island and add emotion to it — “can you imagine your kids all coming home and sitting at this island being able to spread out all of their homework?” You can talk about cooking together and sharing memories with them. 

It’s all about personalization: if you can make the buyers envision their personal lives and families in certain homes, they’ll feel more connected and invest in the right purchase (even during a tough time). 

Staying ahead of the down market and preparing for what’s normally the busiest selling season in March means taking the right steps to make sure your sales team is ready. You can have a fruitful selling season, but it requires more proactivity, personalization, and preparation to ensure the team is ready to face obstacles and pushback. For builders, it’s critical to partner with the right sales team who has experience weathering any economic change and can ensure customers feel fully supported and ready to buy at the time that’s best for them. We’re here to help.

Originally published Jan 13, 2023 under Explore the latest topics, updated January 23, 2024

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