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Building the Perfect Sales Robot

Before I get in to the details of the M.S.R. process (Acronym for the highly scientific process of Making Society into Robots) let me tell you a little bit about my background.  I have been in the Property Management industry for 25 years and in Training and Development for the past 10 years. I am also certified as a Professional in Learning and Performance through the American Society of Training and Development.  My main role has been to develop, deliver and measure sales and customer service programs.

 

As a trainer, I found one of my biggest challenges (and personal pet peeves) was trying to implement a new process to improve performance and getting no buy in from the field.  It didn’t matter what it was; a phone script, a mystery shop job aid or a four step process for success.  The response was all the same, “We don’t want to do that because we would all sound like robots. We don’t want to be robots.” 

 

For years I have defended myself and my other Training and Development peers by reassuring onsite associates that “We don’t want you to be robots. You could never be robots. We hired you because of your individuality.  We want you to bring your own personal style to the process.”  And did that work?  Well…sometimes, but mostly people went along with the new process because they had to; it was something corporate mandated they do.  Yeah for us!

 

Recently, when discussing our region’s customer service results with my regional team, I suggested implementing a set of service standards to help improve our customer satisfaction scores. The response from one of my team was, yes you guessed it; “We don’t want our people to sound like robots.”  I thought I was going to lose it.  Really?!  Now I was hearing this from a member of leadership. 

 

But then a funny thing happened.  Instead of reverting to my normal defense it dawned on me, why hadn’t I asked the most obvious question, “What’s wrong with robots?”  After all, what is a robot? It’s a machine, right?

 

Like the Terminator.  The Terminator was programmed with one goal in mind, to kill John Connor.  No matter what got in his way or how badly he was damaged he never veered from his objective. When he said; “I’ll be back.” He was!  In at least three or four more movies as I recall.

 

A robot! Think about the possibilities. If our associates were robots they would be customer service and leasing machines!  

 

Just imagine, when programmed correctly, these robots would be able to deliver a consistent and successful sales process over and over again.  They would never stop until their goal was attained; the sales or a satisfied customer.  They would diligently and possibly literally follow up with a prospect until they leased or died.

 

This would not only financially benefit the said robot, but the property as well.  And in a customer service situation they would never quit until they made sure they customer was satisfied.  Think about it.  They would never get tired, call in sick, complain or make excuses.  They would never stop; never give up!

 

Wow.  I am getting a little teary over here. I may need a moment to collect myself. Whew, that’s better.  Managers out there, I don’t know about you but so far having robots is sounding pretty good to me.

 

Now for those readers that are thinking I have forgotten the obvious, I haven’t. 

 

I know that robots are devoid of emotion and empathy, although I have seen many an office associate that I can say the same thing about. 

 

Robots cannot think out of the box, adapt and improve.  Although with today’s technology of iPhones, iPads and iChats;  iThink we could make a robot that could do all of these things.  The Terminator could.  However, I am guessing a Terminator is probably not in this year’s operating budget.

 

But you are right, robots are not human.  They are not you!

 

And that is why no matter what we in the Training and Development field teach or implement we will never be able to make anyone a robot. 

 

It is not possible. You are all internally wired differently.  You come from different backgrounds, have different beliefs.  You are different sizes, colors, shapes with distinctly differently personalities.  You never can or will be robots!  And that has never been our goal. We love your individuality and style.  We have never tried to change the person just the process.

 

The thing to remember is perfecting the sales and service process doesn’t mean becoming a robot but it does mean making a change in the way you currently view the sales and service process.

 

Striving toward perfection in the sales or service process is easy and can be attained in two easy steps:

 

Step 1: Embrace the process!   Take those steps, scripts, or job aids and make them a part of your everyday interactions until they become a habit.  According to Steven Covey in his book the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, it takes 21 days for anything to become a habit.

 

Step 2: Take it to the next level.  Elevate the process to the next level by interjecting your own personal style.

 

Take for example Annie.  Annie viewed each prospect as a member of her family.  She warmly welcomed them into the office with her southern brand of hospitality.  She listened attentively to everything her customer shared with her about their move, apartment preferences and many times their life story.  Annie made every customer feel like “sittin” a spell on the front porch drinking lemonade, eating peach cobbler and chewing the fat.

 

Janson viewed each customer as an opportunity; an opportunity to make a sale.

A problem solver by nature, Janson made it his personal objective to solve the problem of every customer looking for a home that came through his door.  It was a simple solution, find them a home!  His competent down to business style made customer’s feel everything would be taken care of for them.   All they had to do was sit back and let Janson take control.  And take control he did!

 

Greg loved puzzles.  He made it his personal goal to analyze the needs of each customer and place them in a home that was a perfect fit.  His style was slow and methodical.  He strategically worked the numbers so that every customer left feeling they were saving money money even when they ended up spending more than they originally requested.

 

Kristen viewed every tour as an opportunity to make a new friend.  Touring with Kristen was like being invited to the most exclusive party where you were the honored guest.   She made sure everyone knew they would be a perfect addition to the community and all of the exciting activities that were available to them simply by becoming a resident.  Her motto; “It’s not worth doing if it’s not fun!” was apparent in the smile or sometimes all out laughter from each of her customers. 

 

Each of the associates mentioned is successful both on the sales floor and in meeting the company shop score expectations.  So what do these associates have in common?  No, they are not robots!  These associates were able to make the connection; insert part A into slot B as it were.  They were able to take their company sales expectations /processes and infuse it with their personal brand of flair. 

 

What does it take to make this reaction happen?  What did each of these individuals do to create their personal sales style?

 

Well it’s not rocket science or robot science, it just takes experience and practice. **

 So the next time your company rolls out a new customer service initiative or sale process keep this in mind.  Program yourself to deliver the process, and then perfect the process by bringing in your style!

 

 

** See more about how to create your unique selling style in Becoming the Chameleon.

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Implementing a new idea is never easy if you start at the top and work your way to the onsite team, in my opinion. This is an erroneous way to gain the buy in.

'As a trainer, I found one of my biggest challenges (and personal pet peeves) was trying to implement a new process to improve performance and getting no buy in from the field.'

When you present a new policy, procedure or goal, a "strong decision means disappointing somebody," ~Geoffrey James said. Why not instead, take it to those Superstars you cite and get the first "buy in" from them? I have never understood why onsite team members who are MANDATED to use a script, for instance, are told to do this with no warning, often in a policy directive received via email.

Perhaps it is just my natural inner Southern Rebel to "rebel" against the machine when I have not been approached for my input. I prefer to go directly to onsite team members myself and ask their thoughts and ask what tweaks can be made to a leasing presentation, rather than arbitrarily dictate it to them. But that's just me. In person communication is always better than some email arriving at the end of the day on a Friday that you must now implement this or that the next day or on Monday with your onsite Leasing Professionals.

Working with team members and helping them discover and name their strengths will help them embrace their personal style in their interactions with our Residents and Prospects. Focusing on each person's weaknesses only serves to lower morale and it instills fear that they are "doing it wrong" and the next shop report will reflect that. Some people need to be taught how to use their personalty in their every day conversations with others. It does take practice, but it is also up to the Trainer to be patient, attentive and sensitive to that person's vulnerabilities, especially if you want that person to become an outstanding performer.

You get the buy in when you give those who have to buy it the reasons and...

Implementing a new idea is never easy if you start at the top and work your way to the onsite team, in my opinion. This is an erroneous way to gain the buy in.

'As a trainer, I found one of my biggest challenges (and personal pet peeves) was trying to implement a new process to improve performance and getting no buy in from the field.'

When you present a new policy, procedure or goal, a "strong decision means disappointing somebody," ~Geoffrey James said. Why not instead, take it to those Superstars you cite and get the first "buy in" from them? I have never understood why onsite team members who are MANDATED to use a script, for instance, are told to do this with no warning, often in a policy directive received via email.

Perhaps it is just my natural inner Southern Rebel to "rebel" against the machine when I have not been approached for my input. I prefer to go directly to onsite team members myself and ask their thoughts and ask what tweaks can be made to a leasing presentation, rather than arbitrarily dictate it to them. But that's just me. In person communication is always better than some email arriving at the end of the day on a Friday that you must now implement this or that the next day or on Monday with your onsite Leasing Professionals.

Working with team members and helping them discover and name their strengths will help them embrace their personal style in their interactions with our Residents and Prospects. Focusing on each person's weaknesses only serves to lower morale and it instills fear that they are "doing it wrong" and the next shop report will reflect that. Some people need to be taught how to use their personalty in their every day conversations with others. It does take practice, but it is also up to the Trainer to be patient, attentive and sensitive to that person's vulnerabilities, especially if you want that person to become an outstanding performer.

You get the buy in when you give those who have to buy it the reasons and purpose for the change, ask for their honest feedback, and quit judging them on the script. Honestly, there are plenty of leasing professionals who have high closing ratios because they listen to their Residents' and Prospects' wants, empathize with their stories, and they put themselves in the other person's shoes. And as Trainers we should willingly teach those skills and develop these team members. Then they will buy "it" hook, line and sinker.

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  Mindy Sharp
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Mindy thanks so much for sharing your point of view!

  Pam Sanders
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great blog, Pam!

  Brent Williams
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

I enjoyed the post Pam! I think I recognize a person or two in the blog as well. (=

  Rommel Anacan

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