Friday, November 6, 2015

Modular Factory Salespeople Should be Eliminated

Now that is quite a statement…”Modular factory salespeople should be eliminated.”

The dictionary defines Salesperson as a noun meaning ”person who sells”  It also lists the definition of Selling as 1. “give or hand over something in exchange for money” and 2. “persuade someone of the merits of something.”

Thinking along those lines, any number of store clerks and car salesmen come to mind. But is that really what the Sales Department at any modular home factory does? Do they actually sell something? Is there any need for a Sales Manager in the modular home industry?

Before you jump to the conclusion that Modcoach is saying to get rid of the factory sales department and replace them with robocall phone systems, let’s take a look at what those men and women we call salespeople really do.

First, they don’t sell. Not one of them could call up any of their builders and persuade them to buy a home if the builder didn’t have a customer. What modular home builder in their right mind would agree to just buy a house because their ‘sales’ rep said they could save a lot because the factory was having a 20% sale? That happens on the HUD side of housing, not the modular side.

Factory sales reps do not sell anything.

Instead they are a breed of special people that without any specialized training from their “Sales Manager” have to become business allies with their assigned builders. The successful ones have developed common traits that they instinctively learned over many years and by now are so unaware of them that new “sales reps” view them as arrogant or unapproachable.

Traits such as:
  • Assertiveness
  • Self Awareness
  • Empathy
  • Problem Solving
  • Optimism

How many Sales Managers still hold regular meetings where they ask..”How many sales did you make this week?” The right answer is ‘none’ every time. Instead, Sales Managers should be asking “how are you helping solve your builder’s problems”, “how many builder’s questions did you answer this week” and “what were your successes this week?”

The actual sales process happens many miles from the factory in the builder’s office after they have met with their clients over a long period of time nailing down designs, land problems, local codes, financing and lots of other things too numerous to mention. Then and only then is the sales transaction completed. In the builder’s office and between them and their client.

The builder’s ‘sales rep’ has been working with the builder to help with designs, make sure the builder’s questions are answered, working out logistics with the builder and solving problem after problem until everything is in place for the builder to order the home from the factory.

To say that the ‘sales rep’ is simply an order taker does a huge disservice to the rep. A lot of hours and lot of communication has occurred between them and their builder and maybe even a plant tour for the client.

It is time to modular factory owners to eliminate the term ‘sales rep’ and replace it with something more appropriate which identifies the work these people do to ensure the factory receives the builder’s order for a new home.

Some factories already know that their sales reps are professionals that help builders move their homes through the maze of everything the factory needs to build a house and are not  just order takers.

They use terms like:
  • Account Achievement Visionary
  • Account Associate
  • Account Consultant
  • Account Executive
  • Account Growth Manager
  • Account Manager
  • Account Representative
  • Account Specialist
  • Business Developer
  • Business Development Specialist
  • Builder Advisor
  • Builder Growth Specialist
  • Relationship Manager

My favorite is “Builder Liaison Specialist.” The definition of liaison is the "communication or cooperation that facilitates a close working relationship between people (builder) and organizations (factory).

This brings us to eliminating the title “Sales Manager.” If there are no sales reps, there can’t be a Sales Manager overseeing sales.

Coming up with a new title and job description for this integral part of the building process is something left for another day.

Suffice it to say that the terminologies and responsibilities of these two key positions in the builder/factory relationship deserve more attention than most factories have ever given them before.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

“Builder Liaison Specialist” ??? Not, from what I witnessed. I have been watching the progress, or lack thereof on a modular home in the field. Its been a comedy of errors that could have been caught on the production order and prints. I looked at the prints and laughed because this house was built previously for another customer, mistakes just duplicated again.

The house has been on the foundation for months now and still is a month or better away from completion.

I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the vanity light hung right against the crown molding on 9’ wall, not only was it incorrect vertically, but off center horizontally as well. Think I am being picky, not really b/c there a many numerous other mistakes.