TARA WEBB, A SALES ASSOCIATE with Florida builder Greater Homes, recently found herself working with a potential buyer who wanted to negotiate—and negotiate, and negotiate. Coincidentally, the very day before she met with this high-energy negotiator, Webb had viewed a five-minute streaming Internet video that provided tips from some of the best new home salespeople in the country. The video's topic? Price negotiation.
But perhaps it wasn't so coincidental that the topic matched her immediate needs perfectly: Webb views a sales video every week. She recently signed up for www.newhomeknowledge.com, a service that provides subscribers with a weekly three- to five-minute video on the latest home sales tips. As an experienced salesperson, Webb probably would have known how to handle the buyer without the help of the video, but the show nevertheless brought certain techniques front of mind and provided other takes on such a situation from successful salespeople, instantly giving her fresh perspectives.
“I didn't necessarily change my approach, but it just kind of gave me reminders,” Webb says. “These people under normal circumstances [might have] swayed me and tried to make me put an offer in that I normally wouldn't put in because they were kind of tough negotiators. So it was just helpful to be reminded that you've got to help build the value.” Throughout the encounter with the buyer, says Webb, the video program “was playing in the back of my mind, without a doubt.”
Newhomeknowledge.com is the brainchild of John Rymer, president of real estate sales and marketing specialists Rymer Strategies, and formerly the head of national sales and marketing for Morrison Homes. While Rymer himself is an expert at selling—he says that in his former life at Morrison he oversaw more than $5 billion worth of sales directly under his supervision—he stresses that part of the program's appeal is that the information comes directly from the viewer's peers.
“We wanted it to be real-life circumstances,” he says. “We didn't want it to be, ‘John Rymer gets up in front of you and starts preaching.'”
That, says Rymer, gives the show a whole new dynamic. “It gives additional reinforcement because it's coming from your peers. I'm not telling you, ‘This is what you should do.' [The salesperson] is telling you, ‘This is the way I became successful.'”
Tackling a different topic each week, the show gets to subscribers via an Internet link sent right to their e-mail inboxes. “It's a weekly reminder of things that you've probably been told, but it's probably repackaged in a way or said in a way that you might not have thought about,” says Rymer.
ORIGINAL PACKAGE Part of the appeal of the offering is, in fact, the packaging. Rymer says he finds the best new home salespeople in various markets and, camera in hand, he interviews them on a given topic, asking about five questions. He then goes home and edits the interviews to turn the best-of-the-best answers into a tight, bite-sized show that lasts three to five minutes. Some of the topics covered include slow-selling communities, how to handle the issue of less-than-stellar schools, closing techniques, and phone follow-ups. The brief but knowledge-filled packaging is designed to fit the needs of the on-the-go salesperson whose time is money.
“I would love to be able to stop and take the time to read things and catch up on closing tools and those kinds of things,” admits Webb. But as any frenetic salesperson knows all to well, reading the latest selling tome is usually just not in the schedule. “I've always liked [the Internet] for getting that information out to busy salespeople,” she says. “E-mail is something that we check daily or hourly. You can do [the video] on your own time.”
Rymer was in the perfect position to develop such a program. As a consultant, he travels all around the country every week working with salespeople and other industry professionals. Before going to a given market, he finds out from his contacts on the ground which salespeople are the biggest sellers—and then those are the people he seeks to interview. “Every one of them is a multimillion dollar seller,” he says. “These are people who are making $200,000 a year; they're the very best in the industry.”