The Silent Sale Killer

It’s out there – you can’t see it, you can’t hear it, and you can’t feel it…but your customers can. In fact, chances are you don’t even know it’s there until it’s too late. It’s a silent killer – of sales, customer satisfaction and manpower, all of which impact your bottom line.

What possibly can be so detrimental to the success of your company?

The simple answer – the relationship of your sales center team.

Home building is a fast-moving competitive industry, even in slower times. Every builder is racing to be innovative, to improve processes, or to be the first to the market with special pricing or sales programs, but no one is racing to rescue the front-line sales people – from themselves.

This might sound a little dramatic but truthfully, it isn’t.

Let’s take into consideration the ‘all-too-common’ series of events that lead up to building a sales center team.

The builder needs an Area Sales Manager. The Sales Manager looks at the current team and decides to hire from within based on optimal performance. Sales Associate is promoted to Area Sales Manager. After much recruitment, a new Sales Associate is hired to complete the team. Now sell! Oh – and ASM… please train and mentor your Associate.

Herein begins the slow growth of a future issue simply because the new Area Sales Manager does not have adequate training to manage their Associate. And before long, when the newness of the sales team begins to lose its shimmer and it’s time to produce much-expected sales results, resentment begins to build within the ASM with every follow-up call not made by the Associate, with every registration not taken, every task not completed, every error made, and every personal text responded to.

Or alternately, the very eager and motivated Associate begins to feel underutilized by the ASM who does not delegate tasks or provide much-needed guidance with Associate responsibilities. This then slowly begins to breed animosity toward the Area Sales Manager and gently erodes the Associate’s ambition until eventually they decide to move on to greener meadows.

Don’t worry though, you’ll think it was them and not you when they provide notice and convincingly express how they were offered an opportunity that was “too good to pass up”.  And then before long the replacement Associate will begin their journey so the cycle can begin again.

This scenario isn’t at the fault of the Area Sales Manager as it causes great frustration for them. Rather it’s the result of the company not providing the training and tools to allow the ASM to be successful as a leader, and the company not recognizing a fragmented team or taking the time to understand the actual root cause of an Associate’s departure.

Area Sales Managers have sales skills training and the necessary tools to create a satisfying customer experience. And, equally of importance are the required skills to effectively manage the Associate for optimal performance, to set expectations, to find the balance between rewarding and correcting behavior, and how to mentor and support the Associate’s career goals.

While the impact of a faulty team relationship cannot be accurately measured because of the many variables involved, what we do know is that it can negatively impact buyer confidence therefore hindering the sale, it can impact the customer building experience resulting in lost referral and repeat buyer opportunities (more lost sales!), and it’s costing the company thousands of dollars in recruitment. You do the math.

While this may sound exaggerated, and you may think it’s not happening within your team, chances are it is. This is validated every time an Area Sales Manager sits across the desk from you or another Manager asking for assistance with their Associate.

With all of this, it is imperative that management take the time to understand the dynamics within the sales center teams. Watch for cues during sales meetings – do they sit together as a community team or at opposite ends of the boardroom table? Do they make eye contact and engage in conversation during the meeting or avoid each other at all costs? Be aware as there may be clear body language signals that you are missing.  If a flag is raised with your new awareness, it is time to check in with each team member individually and involve yourself in strengthening their working relationship.

And finally, invest in your Area Sales Managers and Associates to ensure they have the knowledge and tools to be successful in all aspects of their role. After all, the team success is the company’s success.