Tammi Emerson makes a la mode history

Ellana Walker, our Chief Marketing Officer, interviewed Tammi Emerson on the day she hit 10 million in sales.

A little over seven years ago, Tammi Emerson joined our sales department. Many of you probably know her from talking with her on the phone and seeing her at Conventions. When she first started here, she was still in high school – one of the only two high school students working here. She’d do anything asked of her with a smile, whether it was running to the office supply store, calling appraisers whose memberships were five years expired, or wiping down tables in the company cafe.

Back then, I was in telemarketing with her and we all kind of scratched our heads. Here she was—a young, non-technical high school kid, yet her sales numbers blew everyone away. But, there’s never been a huge secret to Tammi’s success… She does exceptionally well thanks to hard work, an intense understanding of our customers, and a genuine care about the success of their businesses. It's that personal connection that's made her hugely popular with our customers.

It's no wonder that when you fast forward to today, she’s the first ever salesperson to hit 10 million dollars in sales. That’s a monumental achievement, so I sat down with her to get her thoughts on how her job has changed over the years and how she has stayed so competitive.

How did you hear about a la mode?

My friend was washing her car, talking to me about how much we didn't like our jobs and a lady there told her to apply at a la mode. They were looking for new sales people.

What did you know about the real estate market before joining a la mode?

Absolutely nothing! I was only 17. I have learned everything I know from working here.

How is your work environment different than it was when you first started?

Really, it’s about the same. Even though we have triple the amount of people, I don't feel like it. It’s still really personable. It’s not like a corporate, "scared to talk to your boss" type environment. It never has been.

What does this milestone mean for you?

That I'm getting older! Honestly, more than I thought it would. I used to be, really, just a kid. Now, I'm making company history. That's huge! This is one of the biggest accomplishments I have had happen to me.

What do you think makes you a good sales person?

I'm competitive, I'm real and honest. I think I am more of a consultant, than a sales person. I try not to be a pushy sales person, like a used car salesman. I don't take the first “no”, as the final answer either.

What’s a normal day like for you?

Every day is different, but the same. That probably doesn't make sense, but I can't really explain a normal day.

What’s the most memorable thing a customer has ever said to you?

There have been a lot of them from going to the conventions. But, a customer in California, the very first new customer I have ever sold, sent in an email about how non salesy I was. I liked that because I don't want to be a salesy type. And, now every time he calls, he'll say "Hey chief, or hey buddy" and I know exactly who it is.

What’s the most memorable thing a co-worker has ever said to you?

Dave sent me an e-mail like 6 years ago telling me how my work ethic and knowledge was beyond my age and that it would take me far here and in life.

What’s the best thing about working here?

The company and people that work here, the atmosphere, and the relationship I have with some customers.

You talk to more appraisers than anyone. What’s your advice to struggling appraisers?

Get a website, whether it is an XSite or not, you have to be on the internet these days, read Appraisal Press and think outside the box. What worked 3 years ago, more than likely, won't now. Just like our marketing strategies have changed... appraisers' should too.

You’re selling to people hit by a down market. How has your strategy changed?

That's hard to explain too. It kind of goes back to thinking outside the box. I talk to the friends I have in the industry (brokers, agents, and appraisers) and ask them questions about the business, what type of appraisals they are doing/ordering, and then relay what I know when I talk to an appraiser.

Some appraisers say that a la mode is just successful because of big marketing budgets and aggressive salespeople. What do you say to them?

I'm far from aggressive. Marketing works though. That's how all businesses grow. Marketing helps lead to referrals, too. Marketing isn't just e-mail advertisements. a la mode wouldn't be successful just because of e-mail promotions we send out. But, if the appraiser honestly feels that way, maybe they should be aggressive and market too.

We have proven to our customers that we are worth investing in and have "put our money where our mouth is" as Dave would say, and that's why we are successful. Our "aggressive marketing" just emphasizes/remind people of that, in my opinion

What’s the biggest misconception about your job?

That I am on commission and just want the sale. That's far from the case.

What success stories are you hearing?

I have several. One that sticks out right now is a customer I kept trying to get to start using the website finally did. Their office went from almost shutting their doors in March or April, to having a record breaking month in June, just from using the website and sending out emails. See marketing works!

A lady I just talked to said her website was the best investment she made in all of 2007. She went in and took the classes we had on driving traffic to the website. She also reads all of the “how to” e-mails we used to send, AppraisalPress articles, and implements what suggestions we have. She said it has more than paid for itself.