Steps to Success [Download PDF]

How do we set the expectations for our salespeople as sales managers, directors, and vice presidents in these uncertain times? Salespeople are conditioned and battered on the front lines and need to feel as though there is a light at the end of the tunnel. First, we need to hire the right salespeople from the very beginning. Salespeople who have the desire, passion, and willingness to succeed–regardless of their experience level–are those who will listen and strive to be the best. Passion and desire are lacking in our profession. Coaching, training, and motivating our salespeople and setting individual goals for them is a must.

Jim Capaldi Looking at professional sports, these athletes have trained their entire lives and continue to strive for excellence. They are measured by their successes. A good coach will understand his or her athletes' weaknesses and strengths, and will primarily focus and improve in the areas that need the most attention. Everyone is different and responds differently. Excellent coaches will understand this and will adjust to individual personalities to maximize their potential–just as an excellent salesperson will recognize the needs of his or her customers and guide them through the home buying experience with ease.

Planning, accountability, and execution are critical to a salesperson's success. At times we are unfocussed, complacent, and lazy. It's up to management to keep the growth and momentum going without burning your people out. Each neighborhood should have an individualized business plan encompassing guest card management, follow up plans, a customer satisfaction plan to maintain satisfied buyers, e-mail programs, broker programs, site demonstrations, and model demonstrations. Every salesperson should be measured by this criteria to determine what their conversion rate is.

For example, every 20 traffic count, 20 follow-up calls, 30 thank-you notes, 100 e-blasts, five model demonstrations, and three site showings equal one sale. Knowing your salespeople's conversation rate will allow you to focus on the areas needed to achieve the desired growth.

The more effort you make toward providing excellent customer service on the sales floor, the more benefit you will receive. The balance of success is giving and growing. If you're out of balance, you will be unfulfilled. The key to selling is exercising the fundamentals everyday. Go the extra mile, and the rewards will take care of themselves. It's not about the floor pop! It's about doing it right today, and tomorrow will take care of itself. You are where you are at today based on what you did yesterday. Most importantly, what you do today will determine your results tomorrow.

Build passion and desire, plan, and execute.

Business revolves around two concepts: filling the need of customers and solving customers' problems to improve their existing situations. Without these practiced concepts, business would cease to exist or–at best–would stay flat and decline. These concepts remain true when it comes to excellence in the selling process. Add calmness to this turbulent market, as your customers need this from you.

Jim Capaldi is the broker and director of sales for Standard Pacific Homes' Ventura and Bakersfield divisions and author of "The Ultimate New-Home Sales Success Manual." He may be reached via e-mail at