Were you born ready for success?

“I was born ready” – I am certain that you’ve heard this cliché in dozens of movies including Big Trouble in Little China, Oceans 13, Just Friends, Blade Trinity and New Jack City.  It makes a good and sometimes even great line of dialogue in a film but I have my doubts that it is true in real life.

I know that in my own life I was certainly not born ready for almost anything – for school, for marriage, for parenthood, for growing older, for caring for senior parents, or for any aspect of my business career in the homebuilding industry.  In every situation I have had to learn and then learn even more and experience life’s lessons and even then I am not certain that I ever have been truly ready.  A little more knowledge and a little more experience would always have made me more ready.  And I am continuing to learn every day. So I am somewhat cautious when I hear someone say that he or she was “born ready”.

Last month I was assisting a client in interviewing a sales staff for a new residential community.  The local housing market was well on the way toward recovery.  I had examined this market in early 2011 and identified the potential opportunity and my client had been working diligently for the past eighteen months to implement that strategy by searching available sites, negotiating the purchase, obtaining zoning and other governmental approvals and preparing new home designs and was now almost ready to go.

We were searching for a talented sales staff and had placed ads on-line in several of the job boards (Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn), in the local paper and in the local Realtor and HBA publications and web sites and we had received well over 200 resumes which we had reviewed and culled to the 25 most promising “potentials” which we had scheduled for 30 minute qualifying interviews.  We were utilizing a three interview system, “screening”, “qualifying” and “selection”, done by two separate people using a format that I had developed over 25 years ago at the Greenman Group. Although a little dated in parts, the format still works today and if you would like a copy please send me an email and I will forward the form to you. 

My client and I had shared the screening interviews during the prior week and had now reduced the number of applicants to what we believed to be 9 good prospects.  We were now jointly conducting the qualifying interviews and our second candidate of the morning, Kimberly, a young lady who had recently been the sales manager at a local development built by a national homebuilder, appeared to have great potential.  She presented herself well and had considerable experience in on-site new home sales and sales management in the local area. 

I asked Kim to tell us how she had gotten into the sales side of the homebuilding business and sat there agape as she responded that she believed she was born to sell new homes (a variation on “I was born ready”).  Not being a newbie in hiring salespeople, I have had a lot of “smoke” blown at me over the years but this was the first time I could recall that anyone had tried that line on me.  So I smiled and asked her to expand on that answer and was treated to a three minute monologue on how she always had been outgoing, loved to introduce people to new products, enjoyed being the leader that everyone followed, was a high school cheerleader and then a Mary Kay representative. 

That’s not necessarily a bad prescription for a new home sales star but I wanted more detail so I inquired as to who had provided her with the best sales training or education and her response was that all of her sales training had been provided “internally” by her previous employers without any specific names being provided.  She had never attended a local, state or national SMC or HBA sales program and never been to IBS as her previous employer did not belong and, apparently, she did not think it was worth her time, effort and investment to do so on her own.  Similarly she had never been to a training program by the local Board of Realtors.

I asked her about several of the prominent sales trainers in the homebuilding industry with whom I have had the pleasure of working and although a few of the names were familiar, she had never been to one of their programs, bought one of their books, listened to one of their tapes or watched one of their videos because, in her own words, “her employer did not provide them”. 

She did not have the CSP, MCSP, CMP or MIRM designation nor any of the NAR designations and had never taken a single course in sales.  Apparently she never considered it worth her time to investigate any of the tools that were readily available to improve her skills, increase her sales performance, enhance her value to her employer or maximize her income.

She may have been born ready to be a great cheerleader and even a successful Mary Kay representative but she was no Jack Burton (Big Trouble in Little China) and not ready to sell our homes.  That’s just my opinion but that opinion was also shared by my client and we did not hire her.  Fortunately, the next candidate (who was not born ready) had invested the time and effort to become ready.   

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And if you are planning to attend IBS (the International Builders Show) in Las Vegas, please consider adding an event on Tuesday night, January 22nd and attend The Nationals – the National Sales and Marketing awards that will recognize the best and brightest in the housing industry.


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