Headlines – Week of February 19, 2012

February 27, 2012

Second Home Market May See Increase

According to the S&P/Case-Shiller index, property values in 20 cities declined 3.7 percent from November 2010.

Rather than relocate, many homeowners are improving their existing residences, with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry expecting $113.6 billion to be spent on remodeling through the third quarter.

The article points out that despite the fact that 30-year mortgage rates are under 4 percent and home prices have remained low, many people still can’t to take advantage of increased housing affordability since their personal balance sheets are a mess.

But according to a recent article in Realty Times, the second-home market may be a shining star in the real estate market.

Experts predict a growing number of baby boomers will snap up vacation and rental properties in the coming years, with many planning to retire in these homes.

Second-home buyers tend to purchase distressed properties at a discount, but experts say the dwellings are vacant for 90 percent of the year and that buyers could be earning rental income. Second-home buyers should work with a professional to learn the opportunities available to them with regard to renting, as those who use the property for no more than 14 days per year can deduct as much as $25,000 for maintenance and other expenses.

 Full Article

Baby Boomers Geared Up to Move

So, as baby boomers retire, where will they go?

A new survey conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research for the Consumer Federation of the Southeast finds one in three could move out of their home state in search of low taxes, low housing costs, pleasant climates and quality health care. They also want diverse recreational activities, supportive senior services, arts and cultural opportunities, nearby beaches and access to education. The baby boom generation has 78 million members, and the first wave – those born in 1946 – reach the full age for Social Security retirement benefits this year. According to the survey, a full third of baby boomers are open to moving across state lines to find the assets they are looking for, including a mid-size town that welcomes a diverse population. Attracting even a small percentage of boomers can significantly impact a community. If just 0.3 percent move to a single area, it adds an estimated 1 billion per year in new economic income through jobs and new business.

Survey highlights

  • More than half (58 percent) plan to buy a house in their retirement relocation destination.
  • Some 96 percent of baby boomers surveyed say top-quality health care services are “very” or “somewhat” important to them in considering a relocation destination.
  • Affordable housing ranks second, with nearly 92 percent ranking that as a “very” or “somewhat” important criterion.
  • A warm, welcoming year-round climate is “very” or “somewhat” important to 85.5 percent – but a strong plurality of this group want their warm summers to be paired with a few cooler months.
  • Low local taxes are “very” or “somewhat” important to 81.1 percent.
  • Eight out of 10 relocating boomers want affordable recreational opportunities in a relocation destination, and about the same number seek strong local services for elder care.
  • Seven in 10 prefer a mid-size city or small town.
  • Arts and cultural opportunities are very or somewhat important to three in four.
  • Beaches or ocean nearby is very or somewhat important to about six in 10.
  • Educational opportunities are important to about half. A large university is a plus for four in 10 boomers willing to consider relocation.
  • Diversity in a location is very or somewhat important.

Almost 54 percent of respondents indicated that the weak economy was not delaying their retirement plans, but about 36 percent said that the economy had delayed retirement.

Pollsters asked respondents to name – unprompted and with no suggested options – a state they might consider relocating to for retirement. About 18 percent mentioned Florida as a top relocation destination.

Poll results

Florida Housing Market Upbeat in January 2012

According to the latest housing data released by Florida Realtors®, Florida’s housing market reported gains in median sales prices and a reduced inventory of homes for sale in January.

In both the statewide single-family and condo-townhome markets, pending sales were higher and the statewide median sales price rose – up 5.3 percent to $129,000 for single-family homes and up 18.8 percent to $95,000 for condo-townhomes.  

Improving the availability of affordable financing to qualified buyers and investors would continue to stabilize Florida’s housing market and economy.

The median is the midpoint; half the homes sold for more, half for less. Sales of foreclosures and other distressed properties continue to downwardly distort the median price because they generally sell at a discount relative to traditional homes.

The national median sales price for existing single-family homes in December 2011 was $165,100, which is 2.5 percent below the previous year, according to the National Association of Realtors® (NAR). In California, the statewide median sales price for single-family existing homes in December was $285,920; in Maryland, it was $222,934.

Florida statewide sales of existing single-family homes totaled 12,044 in January 2012, down 5.5 percent compared to the year-ago figure, according to data from Florida Realtors Industry Data and Analysis department and vendor partner 10K Research and Marketing.

Looking at Florida’s year-to-year comparison for sales of condos/townhomes, a total of 5,963 units sold statewide last month, down 22.6 percent from those sold in January 2011. According to NAR, the national median existing condo price in December 2011 was $160,000.

Even though closed sales are down from a year ago, the report highlights two bright spots in Florida’s housing market.  One is a significant increase in pending sales. In fact, pending sales have been up every month since May. The barrier that stands between pending sales and closings is the difficulty consumers are experiencing in obtaining financing.

The second positive is inventories, which are now at a point close to a balanced market.  The months supply of inventory stands at 6.4 for both the single-family homes market and the condos/townhomes market.

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of February 12, 2012

February 20, 2012

Time to Buy in Florida?

According to a recent article in Barron’s now may be the time to pull the trigger on a purchase in Florida.

Yes and No … depending upon the area, demographics, age of properties, levels of tourism, commerce and industry, as well as dozens of other issues that most buyer-owners and investors never bother to consider.

According to the author, don’t buy the hype. And beware of the “developers’ hype”, especially in over-condoed areas like Miami.

That being said, there is a positive reality. Don’t go out and buy the junk condos being peddled in Miami or one of the hundreds of single-family homes sitting empty in areas like Port St. Lucie and Cape Coral.

At the moment, Florida offers an unusual window of opportunity for individual buyers and investors.

While interest rates are low and prices are down by 50% or more the picture is clouded by the South Americans and Europeans, who fear currency collapses in their countries and are buying without regard for quality, maintenance costs or resale value. And Russians flush with cash are purchasing indiscriminately in South Florida.

Canadians, flush with the very strong Canadian dollar, are also buying, but they are far more discerning. For the most part, they are avoiding South Florida and looking for better value, more amenities and future appreciation north of there.

U.S. baby boomers on the edge of retirement and looking for serenity—not the hustle of Miami, Naples, Tampa and other overbuilt markets—also are buying.

Jupiter Island, toward the southern edge of Florida’s Treasure Coast, is among the areas worth considering, according to the author.

He also would consider looking at the barrier islands north of Palm Beach County, such as Hutchinson Island.  He doesn’t buy the story that Miami’s popularity will jump because of casinos as there is no infrastructure to build casinos in Miami.

Traffic and crime are already a problem there; the city doesn’t need more. If Florida licenses additional casinos, they will generally be in run-down areas where land is cheap and roads can be built to handle the traffic.

Biotechnology is actually Florida’s brightest star, getting brighter by the nanosecond. There are three main centers: northern Palm Beach County, St. Lucie County and the Orlando area.

If you want the best of all worlds, look at the area between northern Palm Beach County and St. Lucie County. In the middle sits Martin County, with good schools, a relatively low-growth market, a no-high-rise policy and magnificent choices for owners and investors.

Full Article

830,000 Completed Foreclosures in 2011

According to the December 2011 Foreclosure Report prepared by CoreLogic, completed foreclosures for all of 2011 totaled 830,000 compared with 1.1 million in 2010.

In December 2011 there was a month-over-month decrease in completed foreclosures to 55,000 from 57,000 in November 2011. The December 2011 completed foreclosures figure was also down from one year ago when it stood at 67,000. From the start of the financial crisis in September 2008, there have been approximately 3.2 million completed foreclosures.

Highlights as of December 2011

  • The percent of homeowners nationally who were more than 90 days late on their mortgage payment, including homes in foreclosure and REO, was 7.3 percent for December 2011 compared to 7.8 percent for December 2010, and 7.2 percent in November 2011.
  • The five states with the highest foreclosure inventory were: Florida (11.9 percent), New Jersey (6.4 percent), Illinois (5.4 percent), Nevada (5.3 percent) and New York (4.6 percent).
  • The five states with the lowest foreclosure inventory were: Wyoming (0.7 percent), Alaska (0.8 percent), North Dakota (0.8 percent), Nebraska (1.0 percent) and Washington (1.3 percent).
  • Of the top 100 markets, measured by Core Based Statistical Areas (CBSAs) population, 34 are showing an increase in the foreclosure inventory in December 2011 compared to a year ago, an improvement from November 2011 when 46* of the top CBSAs were showing an increase in the foreclosure inventory compared to a year ago.

Full Report

Fannie Mae to Partnership with Investors to Sell Foreclosures

According to a recent announced by President Barack Obama, Fannie Mae plans to convert foreclosed homes into rentals through sales to investors hinges on offering concentrated packages of properties in areas such as Florida, Arizona and Southern California where a real estate recovery may happen soonest.

The mortgage agency, controlled by the U.S. government is inviting investors to apply to become joint-venture partners in the first bulk sale of some of its 122,616 foreclosed homes. It disclosed few details of a plan that is part of a series of programs unveiled this week aimed at lessening the impact of defaults on the housing market.

The portfolios of foreclosed properties will be geographically focused and consist of vacant or occupied homes, according to Fannie Mae’s website. Investors said they’re concerned that the first properties to be made available will come from the hardest hit areas of the U.S., which have limited appeal to investors because the prospect for population or employment growth restrain the outlook for a housing recovery.

GTIS Partners, a New York-based investment company, and GI Partners, a private-equity fund in Menlo Park, California, each announced plans in January to spend $1 billion on bulk-buying foreclosed homes as rentals.

GTIS wants to invest in Arizona, California and Florida cities with a high concentration of foreclosures and a strong likelihood of price appreciation. Financing from Fannie Mae will make the portfolios even more attractive.

Fannie Mae had 122,616 real estate owned homes, or REOs, as of Sept. 30. A minority of the properties will be offered in bulk to investors, while most will go to buyers who will live in them.

The REO strategy revolves around selling properties to owner occupants which the agency believes will help to stabilize neighborhoods and provides a better return to Fannie Mae and taxpayers.

California had the largest number of Fannie Mae REOs, with 6,987, followed by Michigan, Florida, Georgia and Illinois, as of Dec. 26, according to the FHFA.

It will be difficult for private-equity funds to generate high returns renting foreclosures because of the complexity and cost of managing single-family houses according to some experts.

Many doubt the ability to earn a profit if they have to create a whole organization to manage these homes since it requires a lot of personal attention.

Demand for rentals has risen as more homeowners lose their properties to foreclosure, prices fall and lenders tighten standards to qualify for a mortgage.

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of February 5, 2012

February 13, 2012

CMBS Delinquencies in the “Calm Before the Storm”

According to recent reports in both Trepp and Morningstar, CMBS delinquencies dropped sharply in November after rising the previous two months.  However, it may be the “calm before the storm” in this market as researchers expect that as 2007-vintage loans mature further delinquencies rise.

Through October, Trepp reported the CMBS delinquency rate at 9.77%, the second highest point on record trailing only July’s figure of 9.88%.  Morningstar, meanwhile, said the delinquency rate had hit 8.35% in October. Both firms measured rates rising in September and October after having fallen in August. In addition, Trepp’s latest report showed that the delinquency rate dropped 26 basis points to 9.51% in November.

Going forward, however, Trepp sees trouble.

According to their report, CMBS loans that were made at the height of the commercial real estate bubble will become distressed as they begin to mature. The 2007 vintage was the weakest in terms of underwriting standards and it is widely expected that many of these loans will have trouble paying off at their balloon date. In total, about $15.5 billion of these loans will come due in 2012, with the majority reaching their balloon dates over the next six months.

Full Article

More Than 750 Banks at Risk of Failure over Next Two Years

According to an analysis by Invictus Consulting Group, despite last year’s dip in U.S. bank failures, at least 758 lending institutions are at risk of failure over the next two years.  Invictus conducts stress and sustainability tests on all FDIC-insured banks for regulators, banks and investors.

Based on all publicly available data on banks for the third quarter ended Sept. 30, 2011, absent corrective action to raise capital or merge, the 758 banks it identified are unlikely to remain viable primarily due to the weak recovery, which could trigger a new wave of loan defaults. Approximately 200 of these banks are subsidiaries of publicly traded bank holding companies.

After stress-testing all FDIC-insured banks using its own proprietary model, Invictus found 758 banks with total assets of around $440 billion, or roughly $580 million on average, at risk.

That number of banks is nearly double the total number of banks that failed in past three years. Over the past three years, 389 banks and thrifts failed, including 90 in 2011, according to FDIC figures.

What makes this situation even more dire is that the demise of any of these banks would adversely affect local communities, especially smaller business people and those seeking to buy or improve their homes.

The state of Florida has the largest number (72) and highest share (31%) of vulnerable banks among its institutions. Those banks have average assets of $539 million each and represent almost 25% of Florida’s total bank assets of $158 billion.

Other states with the largest number of most vulnerable banks include Illinois (69), Georgia (66), Minnesota (37) Missouri (33) and Tennessee (31). The only states with no banks rated at risk by Invictus are Alaska, Hawaii, New Hampshire and South Dakota.

Full Article

Four U.S. Cities Classified as Having ‘World Class’ Recoveries

According to The Brookings Institution in its Global MetroMonitor, the world’s 200 largest metro economies continued to drive global growth.  The study reveals that emerging-market metro areas in Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe were the fastest growing last year, while most American and Western European metros struggled to rebound from the Great Recession.

The analysis of per capita GDP (income) and employment changes in the 2010 to 2011 period for 200 of the world’s largest metropolitan economies, which account for nearly one-half (48%) of global output but contain only 14% of world population and employment, reveals the following:

  • 90% of the fastest-growing metropolitan economies among the 200 largest worldwide were outside North America and Western Europe. By contrast, 95% of the slowest-growing metro economies were in the U.S., Western Europe, and earthquake-damaged Japan.
  • The U.S. and United Kingdom collectively accounted for one-half of the bottom 40 metro performers, which registered either lackluster growth or small losses in income and employment.
  • Only two metro areas in the U.S. – Houston and Dallas – ranked among the 40 strongest economies in 2010-2011. The World Bank rated these developed metro economies highly for their recent strong performances relative to regional peers, including expansion in high value commodities, manufacturing, and business and financial services sectors.
  • The report also noted, however, that income and employment grew much faster in 2011 than the year before in Seattle and Milwaukee. Both markets benefited from resurgence in manufacturing, according to the report.

Less than one-half of the 200 metro areas surpassed their pre-recession levels of employment and/ or income by 2011. While nearly all developing Asia-Pacific and Latin American metro areas achieved new highs in both income and employment in 2011, Houston was the only North American metro area did so.

Developing countries should prepare for further downside risks, as Euro Area debt problems and weakening growth in several big emerging economies are dimming global growth prospects, says the World Bank in its newly released Global Economic Prospects 2012.

Full Article

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Headlines – Week of January 29, 2012

February 3, 2012

5 Housing Markets Expected to Outshine All the Rest

Inman News recently released a report highlighting metro areas that are expected to “outshine many other markets in real estate performance this year.”

Inman searched metro areas with populations over 150,000 to find where real estate sales volume is rising, job markets are growing, foreclosure activity is low, sales prices are appreciating, and home affordability is at high levels.

The following are the metro areas topping the list, including the third quarter 2011 median sales price and the percentage change in sales price year-over-year.

1. Raleigh-Cary, N.C.

Median sales price: $224,300

Median sales price change year-over-year: 7.3 percent

2. Wichita, Kan.

Median sales price: $120,900

Median sales price change year-over-year: 5.5 percent

3. Rochester, N.Y.

Median sales price: $123,400

Median sales price change year-over-year: 1.4 percent

4. Des Moines-West Des Moines, Iowa

Median sales price: $157,900

Median sales price change year-over-year: 0.8 percent

5. Chattanooga, Tenn.-Ga.

Median sales price: $128,700

Median sales price change year-over-year: 7.3 percent

To see the full article and the other cities that made the top ten list click HERE

MSAs with the Fastest Rising Median List Prices

In related news, Inman published a table from Realtor.com data showing the Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) with the fastest rising median list prices in 2011. The data comes directly from actual listings posted on the site by 933+ multiple listing services throughout the country.

Note that the Fort Myers-Cape Coral MSA ranks number three on the list with a compound growth rate of 1.73%.

MSA January 2011 December 2011 Compound Growth rate

  1. Miami, FL ($200,000 $265,000) –  2.59%
  2. Boise City, ID ($128,000 $154,900) –  1.75%
  3. Fort Myers-Cape Coral, FL ($190,000 $229,375) –  1.73%
  4. Punta Gorda, FL ($150,000 $179,000) –  1.62%
  5. Daytona Beach, FL ($154,900 $179,900) –  1.37%
  6. West Palm Beach-Boca Raton, FL ($188,894 $219,000) – 1.35%
  7. Naples, FL ($315,000 $365,000) – 1.35%
  8. Washington, DC-MD-VA-WV(DC) ($320,000 $369,000) – 1.30%
  9. Sarasota-Bradenton, FL ($209,000 $241,000) – 1.30%
  10. Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland, MI ($119,900 $137,000) – 1.22%

CoreLogic Releases 2011 Home Price Statistics

CoreLogic recently released its December Home Price Index (HPI) report. Including distressed sales, home prices in the U.S. decreased 4.7 percent in 2011 compared with December 2010. Florida, however, fared a bit better than the national average with a price decline of only 3.3 percent. According to CoreLogic, 2011 was the fifth consecutive year for a decrease in the HPI.

The HPI also calculated price changes if distressed sales are excluded. Nationally, prices declined just 0.9 percent after backing out non-homeowner sales in 2011. Florida matched the national average with a 0.9 percent drop for the year. Distressed sales include short sales and real estate owned (REO) transactions.

The report also shows that national home prices decreased 1.4 percent in December compared to the month before if they include distressed sales – its fifth consecutive monthly decline. However, national home prices actually rose 0.2 percent month-to-month if distressed sales are backed out of the equation. It’s the first time the price non-distressed sales rose for the month since July 2011.

Highlights as of December 2011

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Montana (+4.4 percent), Vermont (+4.0 percent), South Dakota (+3.1 percent), Nebraska (+2.5 percent) and New York (+1.7 percent).

• Including distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Illinois (-11.3 percent), Nevada (-10.6 percent), Georgia (-8.3 percent), Ohio (-7.7 percent), and Minnesota (-7.5 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the highest appreciation were: Montana (+7.7 percent), South Dakota (+3.5 percent), Indiana (+3.3 percent), Alaska (+3.1 percent), and Massachusetts (+2.9 percent).

• Excluding distressed sales, the five states with the greatest depreciation were: Nevada (-9.7 percent), Minnesota (-5.2 percent), Arizona (-4.9 percent), Delaware (-4.2 percent) and Michigan (-3.5 percent).

• Including distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the national HPI (from April 2006 to December 2011) was -33.7 percent. Excluding distressed transactions, the peak-to-current change in the HPI for the same period was -24.0 percent.

• The five states with the largest peak-to-current declines including distressed transactions are Nevada (-60.0 percent), Arizona (-51.9 percent), Florida (-50 percent), Michigan (-43.7 percent), and California (-43.5 percent).

Full Report

Posted by Scott R. Lodde

Hotel Selling’s ‘S’ Factors: Six Serious Selling Sins & Sound (Rx) Solutions

February 3, 2012

by Ed Iannarella
January 2012

1. SKIPPING RAPPORT: Would we BBQ chicken without 1st greasing the grill? No way! Too sticky a situation. Same applies to all other aspects of selling without 1st establishing rapport. For most selling situations, whether we like it or not, whether it’s fair or unfair, a good rapport is the single most important part of the sales process. We naively think of closing as wearing that label, but study after study shows that human connection reigns supreme in selling. Did you know that of all customers who left for a competitor, 80% of those said they were satisfied with their previous purchase (source: Harvard Business Review)? So, satisfaction does not translate into loyalty. But bonding emotionally is at the heart of rapport and loyalty. That same Harvard source reports that 97% of loyal customers are loyal for life! Although there certainly are other reasons people buy from us especially in a difficult economy (e.g., discounts we offer, their addiction to our brand or location, they literally must have our product/service due to a command from above or a demand from their client base, etc.), people typically “buy” us before they buy what we’re selling. Buyers like to buy from people they like, feel comfortable with, and/or trust. This is the essence of rapport.

Let’s recognize that although rapport building is generally taught as the 1st step in a sales call, it must be an ongoing process throughout the entirety of any sales interaction. Yes it’s often difficult to do with some prospects who are just different from us or who won’t allow us to bond for any number of reasons. Sometimes, lack of time inhibits our ability as well. Researching your prospects (via Linked In, social media, organizations’ websites, addictomatic.com, and even listening to vocal clues about prospects from their voice mail messages) can often offer opportunities that may give you an edge to connecting with them. As other studies tell us, words (i.e. verbal communication) are the weakest way to connect with others. This tells us we have to master the other 2 “V’s” of communication: Visual (body language) and vocal (voice related) clues that comprise 93% of our effectiveness as salespeople (check out FAQ’s on nlp.com).

2. SUBSTANDARD “ASKING” SKILLS: As doctors (and great salespeople) all know, “prescription” (solutions) without proper diagnosis (qualifying) is malpractice (poor selling).

To get what we want from someone (like a prospect with roomnights), keep these principles in mind: We have to ask specifically by stating exactly what we want, do it quickly, and ask at the right time (in the selling cycle and when the prospect is ready, willing, and able). We must also learn to ask for the same thing in different ways on occasion, and always ask someone who can actually help us (decision makers/influencers)! Quick tip: Never ask, “Are you the decision maker?” If they are, they may think you’re challenging their authority, and if they’re not, they may feel humiliated. Much better is to ask, “Who else, besides you, is involved in the decision-making process?”

3. SALES PRESENTATION “ERRORS OF OMISSION“: We’re all sometimes guilty of “errors of commission,” things we did wrong such as mentioning too many features, addressing the wrong needs, and taking too long to address the correct needs. However, far more frequent are “errors of omission,” things we neglected to say or do. Here are some of the most common (and dangerous) errors of omission: not addressing the prospect’s most important needs first (or worse yet, ever!), not directly comparing ourselves to other prospect options during our presentation, missing prospect “signals,” passing on the chance to validate our worth, and not asking for confirmation from our prospect before closing.

Diffuse stress associated with a prospect’s most important needs by tackling them before other, less critical needs. Don’t shy away from direct comparisons. Instead, “Dare to compare!” We owe it to our employers and fellow workers who depend on our revenue-generating skills. Remember to point out your product (amenities/services) and your personal points of differentiation (what makes you different/better as handlers of their account). Be sure to include your “USA’s”: Unique Selling Advantages© especially if the competition offers similar things. Notice prospect signals by closely observing them through active listening to their tone as well as watching their body language. Validate during your presentation by offering 3rd party testimonials (what others said about you/your hotel: provide visual proof later via e-mailing attached testimonials) as well as by mentioning any awards you/your property/brand has recently won. Verify prospect receptiveness on occasion during the presentation (How’s that sound so far?) and do so at the end of this “meeting needs” step before quoting rates and attempting to close.

4. SELF-DESTRUCTIVE LAST IMPRESSION: We’ve all heard about the critical 7 seconds of an initial prospect interaction, but equally important is the way we exit (a phone call, an outside appointment, a site tour, a group presentation, etc.), as it’s pretty easy to undo an otherwise good call with a weak parting handshake, a lack of eye contact, or a far-too-casual “See you ‘guys’ later.”

Practice a sincere “Thank you for your time” and a reasonably firm handshake, or if you dare to emulate me, “mirror” their handshake to establish “physical commonality.” Sound too “New Age” for you? Call me for a 1 minute explanation or purchase/download “Reading People” by Jo-Ellan Dimitrius and delve into the area salespeople MUST master to be at the top of their profession: Neuro-Linguistics (NLP).

5. SLIGHTING (OR TOTALLY) IGNORING MENTORS: There are 2 basic ways to learn anything (including how to be the best salesperson we can be): 1) experiential which is learning from our mistakes or 2) through being mentored. The 1st (AKA trial and error) can teach us things we’ll never forget, but all too often that’s due to the high price we pay in excessive time, money, and hardship required. We are taking the test 1st, and learning the lesson second. Being mentored saves us time and usually reduces the pain of making unnecessary mistakes. Here, we learn the lesson 1st (from others who have excelled at the task and are willing to help us succeed), and then take the test second. Sadly, so many of us still choose to do things the hard way, only to find that there are plenty of painful experiences for us compliments of prospects, clients, co-workers, and bosses. Ouch! Why be a grouch? Be a “mentee!”

If you’re lucky enough to have access to live mentors, don’t think twice. Just say yes! These can be supervisors at your hotel, elsewhere in your management company, or at the brand level (if applicable) who can make themselves accessible to you on a consistent basis. Ask 100 questions, take lots of notes, try their suggestions on for size ASAP, and report back for a critique to discuss what worked and what didn’t. Ask your mentor if you can do anything for them in return. But what if no actual (or willing) mentors are available? All is not lost especially with recent enhancements in technology and communication. Simply look for virtual or surrogate mentors to fill the niche. Available surrogate mentoring sources include CD’s from subject matter experts (surf the American Hotel and Lodging’s Educational Institute), live seminars or classes, webinars, and downloads (audible.com is great!). If you’re part of a chain, tap into your brand’s many e-resources. Remember that many programs are archived in case you were unable to “attend.” And speaking for other live mentors, we can’t compete with the 24/7 availability factor offered you by CD’s, archived sessions, and downloads. Find your mentors and start your learning engines right now. Learning isn’t a spectator sport!

6. SHOWING LITTLE OR NO RESPECT: Even if we have a great product or service to sell, or if we have excellent sales skills, we may finish last in getting a prospect’s commitment if we’re initially perceived as selfish or uncaring before or during a sales call. We may not even get to do a call if we seem disrespectful.

Begin with the end in mind. When calling someone to qualify, to present, or to simply introduce yourself, try this question (or a close variant) immediately after you identify yourself: “Is this a good time or a bad time to speak with you about your …(upcoming conference/business travel, hotel needs, etc.)?” Some prospects will say it’s OK, but due to suspicions about salespeople (compliments of our selling ancestors back in the last century), most will tell you it’s not a great time and even give you a reason or 2. This is potentially a good thing for you as you reply with, “No problem. I respect your time and that’s why I asked. When would be a better time for us to speak?” Though not always, prospects frequently will then offer an alternate time frame (and despite not verbalizing it, they will be pleasantly surprised at the respect level you demonstrated and that’s about as good a 1st impression as you can expect!). And, by the way, you went from a cold call to an appointment call (ending with your “OK great. I’ll try you Thursday after 1:00 and thanks for your time, sir.”), and your prospect set the appointment! Remember that you “never get a second chance to make a first impression.”

About the author:
Ed is President of Stonehenge Consulting Group and an affiliate of the Alliance Group.  Stonehenge provides hotel sales performance and top line revenue consulting.  Ed is a frequent speaker/trainer at national brand and management company conferences, HSMAI chapters, and U.S. Navy-operated hotels. People from over 30 countries have attended his U.S.-based selling workshops, and he has delivered hotel sales training in 8 countries.

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