Time is your most valuable asset. And at the end of the year, when energy and time are both at a premium, you want to make sure you use each minute as effectively as possible. If you’re a production builder, you’re probably building almost the same house as most of your competitors—all of whom are also in a race to meet year-end goals. Your product is unlikely to distinguish you, so you better focus on the things that can really set you apart, such as the sales process, sales presentation, and salespeople. These are where coaching time yields the most returns and is mostly likely to build a solid, results-oriented team.

Speaking of results, forget them. Focusing on the end result will not get you to the end result. Seriously. I hear, “Selling is a numbers game” all the time. It is, but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find that the best (though counterintuitive) answer isn’t to increase the numbers.

I’ll explain. I usually hear it something like, “For every 10 people I call, I get about one appointment. For every 10 appointments I set, I get about 1 sale. I need 5 sales, so that’s 50 appointments and 100 calls.” It’s an okay approach, but instead of focusing on leading the team to make 100 calls, lead them to get two or more appointments per 10 calls. Upping the conversion rate is like compounding interest on your investments. I’m not saying there shouldn’t be minimum goals. We do need a minimum, but beyond that, we need to focus on effectiveness and improving the quality of the calls and/or sales presentations.

Activity-based coaching has the leader focusing on the team members’ behaviors—such as setting appointments, completing loan applications, and making phone calls. It’s a highly common, highly ineffective approach. Covering circumstances (economy, traffic numbers, etc.) and results (number of sales, whether the salesperson expects to meet monthly/weekly goals, etc.) is not the most productive use of time and energy.

Digging deeper is where the magic happens. In process-based coaching, the coach analyzes where the sales process could be improved. For example, when you identify a pattern (like that a salesperson ends up consistently stuck at the loan application), you can focus on coming up with a different approach so that the salesperson makes it past that roadblock more often.

Presentation-based coaching focuses on identifying clients’ unique desires and selling to those desires, rather than simply pitching features. To discover whether salespeople are thinking along these lines, coaches may ask, “What was your selling message with the prospects?” or “Why do they need a home to improve their life?” If the salesperson doesn’t know, then she won’t be able to pitch the features and benefits that are most motivating to the client—the ones that will bring them closer to their goals.

Similarly, people-based coaching gets to the crux of the sales professional’s goals and motivations. It is the deepest and most effective level of coaching because it taps into the salesperson’s goals so that they are personally driven to perfect their sales presentations, move prospects forward in the process, and earn what they’re worth. Questions to ask include: Why do you need to reach your sales goals this month? If you were your own coach, how would you advise yourself to improve your last customer presentation? What do you hope to accomplish in your career in new home sales? What part of the sales process makes you the most uncomfortable?

Along with the holiday busyness that the end of the year brings, builders are racing to meet year-end goals. Ain’t nobody got time for ineffective coaching. Be effective. Leave shallow coaching to the amateurs, and coach deep.

Video: Jason Forrest - Budgeting Time Management