RECEIVING AN INDIVIDUAL AWARD AT The Nationals is a career-defining achievement for a new-home sales professional, whether the recognition is national or regional. Each year, only a handful of sales pros are chosen for the honor.

So it stands to reason that the winners of The Nationals have a few tricks up their sleeves that have helped them make it to the top of the field. We managed to get four of them to stop moving long enough to answer a few questions about the qualities of a great salesperson and to share some of the strategies they use to stay on top of their game.

In no particular order, here are some of the strategies, processes, philosophies, and attitudes that have helped them achieve their stellar success.

EMILIE EPELMAN, a sales associate with New York City–based The Marketing Directors, tied for the gold as the 2005 Rookie Sales Person of the Year.
EMILIE EPELMAN, a sales associate with New York City–based The Marketing Directors, tied for the gold as the 2005 Rookie Sales Person of the Year.

Confidence counts. The most important personality trait for a successful new-home salesperson is confidence in yourself and your product. If you know yourself and you know your product, you will always win.—N.K.

Trust is No. 1 in the relationship. The most important qualities of a new-home sales professional are strong ethics and empathy for the buyer. Customers value trust in a relationship. You need to see the customers through. If they come to you with a question after they're living in the development, put them first. Don't forget about them.—E.E.

Tailor your presentation. Treating every customer how you want to be treated is better than nothing, but the most respectful and the most successful interaction with a customer is based on how they want to be treated. Some need more information; some need more guidance; some simply need you to get out of your own way. Learn to read body language, dress, speech, and other observable cues. Tailor your presentation and all your service based on who they are, not who you are.—P.H.

Train, train, and train some more. When he's not golfing, what do you think Tiger Woods is doing? How often do the Yankees train? The best athletes and entertainers practice and train to improve their skills before they compete or perform. Team training should be done weekly. Anything less is a waste of team talent. Beyond that, provide opportunities and suggestions for individual training in the form of professional reading, online courses, or motivational CDs and tapes.—D.H.

PATRICE HALL, the 2004 Sales Person of the Year for Region 2, also working at the time for Western Pacific, now is a sales executive with D.R. Horton in Los Angeles/Ventura.
PATRICE HALL, the 2004 Sales Person of the Year for Region 2, also working at the time for Western Pacific, now is a sales executive with D.R. Horton in Los Angeles/Ventura.

Find a point of connection. Customers value someone who is honest, funny, and can relate to them. If you can connect with something that you both like or have done before, you are in. People buy from people they like.—N.K.

Everyone is a “be back.” Treat every prospect like a “be back.” Give them your best work, even if it is their first visit and they may never come back or buy. Don't assume that buyers even need a second visit to make a buying decision.—P.H.

Be passionate. When someone comes into the sales center, be enthusiastic and excited that they are there. You need to be passionate about what you're selling and believe in the product.—E.E.