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Who? What? When? Where? Why?

Make Time for Discovery

Q: Can you name the five features that top every new home buyer’s must-have list? 

A:         Of course not!

The most seasoned sales professional knows that customer wants and needs vary as widely as paint colors.  The examples below represent a very small portion of a very long list:

  • Family size
  • Social interests/Activity levels
  • Health concerns/Physical restrictions
  • Style/Color preferences

Q:  Is it possible to determine what your customer is looking for, how much they want to invest, what conditions may exist, who will be involved in the purchase, when a decision can be made, and more . . . just 20 minutes (or less) after saying, “Hello”?

A:         Absolutely!

All it takes is a little pre-planning on your part and – Voila!  Your job just got easier!

Discovery – Work Smarter, Not Harder

The Discovery phase is, and always has been, considered the most important part of the sales process, and those who incorporate this tried and true interview method into their strategy have the paychecks to prove it.  If you are not currently in the habit of asking critical questions prior to your presentation, chances are you won’t be happy with the score you receive on your next Video Shop Review.  Take a moment to consider the personal and professional benefits of working smart.

A skillful interview session will engage the homebuyer — determine what is driving her decision to purchase; what her priorities are; how her lifestyle could affect her housing needs; and, uncover any barriers that might prevent her from moving forward with the sale.  Simply put, she will tell you what and how to sell her!

Discovery – Timing is Everything

Without answers we are left to make assumptions, and we all know what that leads to, don’t we?  But timing is critical, as well, which is why Discovery is always the first order of business following introductions.

I have watched far too many Video Mystery Shops involving highly skilled sales associates whose review scores have suffered simply because they did not interview the customer before touring models or inventory homes.  One case in particular comes to mind in which a salesman conducted a lengthy tour of a $500,000 five bedroom, 3 bath model home that included every upgrade imaginable only to find out, after the fact, that our shopper’s price point was in the mid- $300,000 range.  He wasted valuable time and energy (both his and hers) by failing to determine the shopper’s investment level prior to the presentation.

Embarrassing scenarios like this one can be avoided by giving Discovery the priority it deserves.  Once introductions have been made, focus your attention on this very important, and often overlooked, phase of the sales cycle!

Discovery – Are You Listening?

As a general rule, you should spend 20% of your time talking (asking questions) and 80% of your time listening.  Take it from a chatterbox, this is no easy feat!  The trick is in asking open-ended questions that require more than one-word answers.  For example:  “Tell me what you would change about your current home.”  Or, “What would you like me to help you accomplish?”  Then prepare to let the customer have the floor.

I encourage you to take notes.  Customers view note-taking as an indication that they are important to you!

Discovery – Spread the Word!

New home builders are constantly seeking innovative methods of marketing their product to consumers.  The Discovery Phase provides an easy, no-cost approach to finding out which methods are most effective in bringing customers to your sales office.


  • Did the customer find you via the internet?
  • Was a flier or signage helpful in directing them to your office?
  • What information in an advertisement piqued their interest (i.e., logo recognition, an advertised incentive, energy efficiency, overall product value vs. the competition)?
  • Has the customer visited your competitors?  If so, what did they like/dislike about what the competition offered?


The Answers Are Right in Front of You

Unless you have a crystal ball (And if you do, please call me with next week’s winning lottery numbers!), you must ask questions!  Discovery prepares you to guide your customer toward the products and choices that best meet their needs, assist them in narrowing their options, and make them feel more comfortable with the process and their decisions.

What will it take to close the sale?   The answers are right in front of you.


Until next time…



The secret to knowledge is asking the right questions and being prepared for the people you encounter.  R. Allis