What's it really like?
Lynda has been working in Edinburgh as a sales negotiator for a leading Scottish builder for seventeen years.Prior to starting work as a sales negotiator, she worked in admin for six years for a printing company. She became involved in the new homes industry after starting work at an estate agent. Lynda has always had an interest in property and has been able to boost her natural flair for making sales by undertaking training courses in subjects such as customer excellence. She has also undergone training in aspects of building, healthy and safety regulations, and several other subjects.
During a typical day at work, Lynda opens show homes, checks her e-mails and telephone messages, attends meetings to check the state of play of various potential sales, follows up calls to recent visitors, produces competitor reports, deals with client’s issues, checks stock homes, and takes reservations for houses. When reservations are taken, Lynda goes through a checklist with the client, which includes aspects such as landscaping, specific procedures involved in buying a new home, and other helpful information.
On reservation day, Lynda sends contracts to a solicitor. There is a fourteen day reservation period for contracts to be dealt with and after this point, she is responsible for making appointments for clients to come back to the sales centre to choose all the finishes for their new home. These may include tiling, floor coverings, and curtains. This is usually wrapped up within two sessions, which last roughly three hours. Upon handover, Lynda familiarises clients with their new homes.
Lynda is the one point of contact for clients for a two year period following handover. The aftercare service offered by her company is excellent and great for the clients. For instance all appliances and heating systems are covered for two years and she also deals with any minor issues which are frustrating the clients.
Lynda loves the entire process of selling homes but she particularly enjoys meeting new people and being able to make the experience of purchasing a new home pleasurable for the client. She finds it very rewarding to build a rapport with each individual client. With regards to career progression, Lynda would like to finish her working life in the role she currently occupies, since she finds it so rewarding.
Lynda also had some useful words of advice for those wishing to become sales negotiators. She believes that it is important to treat the role as a career and not just a job since you will have to be very committed and enthusiastic if you want to be successful in this industry. Individuals should be prepared to immerse themselves fully in their roles and should also have an interest in the building process which will enable them to have all the answers to queries from clients at their fingertips.
A sales negotiator is responsible for promoting and subsequently selling a new home to a client, whilst building and maintaining a close relationship with them. They also sell commercial property or negotiate leases on them.
Sales negotiators perform an important role within the building industry. Their role differs from that of an estate agent since they exclusively sell new homes to clients with whom they develop a close relationship. Whilst estate agents may be able to develop good working relationships with clients, sales negotiators often make friends for life whilst dealing with individuals hoping to purchase new houses. Estate agents are primarily involved with selling houses, most of which will already have individuals living in them, whilst sales negotiators help clients to get the most out of the whole process of buying a brand new home. They are responsible for exceeding the expectations of clients and making sure that every aspect of the new home meets the particular requirements of the customer. For example, the sales negotiator will work for hours making sure that the client is provided with the exact shade of desired curtain material.
Some people are born to be involved in sales and these individuals will be able to build an instant rapport with clients. Salespeople are, perhaps unfairly, often associated with dodgy dealings and manipulative sweet talk and are often represented as individuals who will do anything to secure a deal. However, this is far from the truth when it comes to sales negotiators. The relationships that they build with clients are based on truth, trust, and absolute integrity. Clients will remain in close contact with sales negotiators for several years after contracts have been signed and properties officially handed over, so it is important that this relationship of trust and honesty is maintained at all times. Aftercare is an extremely important part of the process.
Sales negotiators are also responsible for selling (or negotiating leases on) commercial buildings, including newly-built office blocks, factories, shopping centres and industrial units.
Many sales negotiators are paid partly on a commission basis and salaries can be very high, depending upon the nature and the location of the company employing the individual. Starting salaries can, however, be relatively low, sometimes less than £15,000, but this figure can rise rapidly if sales negotiators work hard and secure numerous deals with clients. Salaries of approximately £50,000 are not uncommon in this role and senior sales negotiators could earn even more than this.
ResponsibilitiesThe typical tasks performed by sales negotiators include:
- Meeting with clients
- Assessing their particular needs
- Showing the clients around show homes
- Explaining building issues and regulations to the clients
- Responding to queries via e-mail and telephone
- Attending meetings with other individuals involved in the sales and building process
- Liaising with solicitors
- Arranging for the clients to sign a contract
- Helping clients deal with the intricacies of the contracts
- Dealing with issues which have arisen in the new homes of clients
- Making regular contact with clients to make sure that everything is going smoothly in their new homes
- Maintaining good relationships with clients following sales
- Promoting properties via different mediums
- Reaching and trying to exceed sales targets set by the company
- Taking responsibility for a particular geographical area
- Trying to build the client base in this area
- Making sure administrative records are kept up-to-date at all times, even in instances where no actual sale is made
No formal qualifications are necessary, although a good standard of education is expected. Holding a relevant degree such as business studies or anything which proves a good commercial awareness will further boost your chances of getting a job, since this role can be very competitive. Alternatively you may decide to study for a relevant NVQ such as that offered by OCR in Sales. This is designed for individuals working in a sales environment and individuals working towards this qualification will need to show evidence of self-improvement, the ability to build good working relationships, the ability to provide good follow-up service, and the ability to organise an effective work schedule.
Once sales negotiators have gained a position, they will be expected to remain up-to-date with news and changes in the industry and employers may well choose to pay for their sales negotiators to attend relevant training courses.
SkillsSales negotiators will need to possess the following skills:
- Excellent communication skills
- Excellent interpersonal skills
- Excellent customer service skills
- The ability to inspire trust from clients
- A warm and friendly nature
- A professional attitude to all dealings with clients
- A positive attitude
- Honesty and openness
- Good negotiation skills
- Good business awareness
- An interest in the sales process
- An interest in the building process
- A persuasive nature
- Tact and diplomacy
- A desire to exceed expectations at all times
- Good problem-solving skills
- The ability to cope well under pressure
- Good literacy, numeracy, and IT skills
Sales negotiators spend much of their time working in a comfortable office environment but they will be expected to travel frequently to housing developments and individual houses to show clients around. They usually manage to work to a nine to five timetable but weekend work is commonplace since many potential clients are only able to meet at week-ends. The job can be stressful, particularly when sales negotiators are trying to reach and exceed quotas and expectations. They are also the first point of contact for clients when things go wrong, which can add to the stress.
Experience in a sales environment is useful when applying for a job as a sales negotiator, as will any previous experience in a property-related environment, such as an estate agent role. Good customer service skills are simply a must-have for this role, so any evidence of using these skills in a previous position will also prove useful.
Major employers of sale negotiators include companies responsible for building houses, office blocks, factories, and other developments. These companies include Barratt Homes, Crest Homes and Mactaggart and Mickel.
Sales negotiators may choose to become estate agents if they wish to perform a related but different role. Alternatively, there are other opportunities available in numerous sales positions. Sales negotiators may choose to become sales managers, who are responsible for organising an entire team of sales representatives. These individuals will retain more of a focus upon marketing responsibilities.