Monday, February 20, 2017

Becoming a Great Factory Rep

2017 looks like it will be a good year for modular housing. Factories are revving up for more houses and commercial work. Builders seem in a better mood than ever with their sending more quotes and deposits flowing to you.

Are your personal sales growing faster than last year or are you simply counting on the rise in construction activity to grow your sales?


Or maybe you have hit a barrier to your sales growth and you’re not benefiting from the growing demand for new homes?

If you’re not satisfied and know your sales could be better you need to take a fresh look at your builders and change the rules you have followed.  

Your builders are changing faster than you realize and the role you play in their business is very different than it was five years ago. Even the reasons they prefer one factory over another have changed.

They are demanding more from you the way they want to be reached and sold has turned upside down. In order to grow your sales, it helps to stop and take a good, hard look at your approach to your personal sales and marketing.

You will identify many things that shouldn’t be changed. You shouldn’t change the parts that not only got you to where you are, but are still working.  And you shouldn’t change the parts that represent who you are as sales rep.

But the most important result will be identifying the parts of your business and sales strategy that are no longer serving you and need to be changed.  

When was the last time you took time to think and ask yourself:

⇒  Why am I doing what I do?

⇒  Is my approach still effective or is it just comfortable like an old shoe?

⇒  When was the last time you took a fresh look at the needs of your builders as they change?

⇒  What builders do I have that are ready to retire?

⇒  How can I separate myself from the other factory’s sales reps and get customers to prefer me?

Brutal questions for sure. Let’s expand on each of them.


⇒  Why am I doing what I do?
The real easy answer is that you are making a good living from being a modular home factory sales rep. But let’s be very honest here. If a better job outside the industry was offered to you, would you be tempted?

For many the answer would be a quick ‘yes’. For a select few, the offer would be turned down. Why? Because you are good at your profession. You love the challenge, working with your builders to help make sales for them and even solving their problems with the factory. Almost every factory has at least one or two that feel this way.

But what about the people that said ‘yes’ to my question about changing jobs. Why are you doing what you do? Selling modular homes sounded great in the beginning and it was. Then reality began to set in. You found that you had to meet sales goals, handle problems and look for new builders without much help from the Sales Manager.

Frustration and stress set in. Nobody really cares. Not the Sales Manager, not the factory owner and certainly not your builders.

Brutal question: Why am I doing what I do?

old shoe.jpg

⇒  Is my approach still effective or is it just comfortable like an old shoe?
Here are some sales techniques you need to stop using right now.

Cold Calling
If your factory’s main way to make sales is through cold calling, then you might not be able to just quit using this technique—your sales manager won’t let you stop calling up leads. But if you have free reign to use the selling techniques that work for you, then this is definitely one that you should ditch. Cold calling is interruptive and it’s also a waste of time. Calling up leads when you really don’t know anything about them except their names just isn’t an effective way to sell. These leads aren’t qualified so you don’t know if they’re able or willing to buy what you’re selling. Plus, it starts your relationship off on a bad start because you’re interrupting that person’s day with your unwanted call.

Newbies and old school sales reps still think the pitch is everything in sales. They think if they have a great product pitch, they can close deals left, right, and center. However, pitching is no longer in line with today’s sales process. You have to realize that your prospects don’t care so much about your home’s features, your factory’s awards, and your factory’s reputation. What they really care about is their own needs, wants, desires, and pain points, which is what you should be focusing on. So stop pitching during a sales presentation and start having real conversations with your prospects to discuss their wants and pain points in order to better meet their needs. The sales call should be about them, not you.

Never Answering Questions that Weren’t Asked
It’s probably been drilled into you not to answer questions that your customers didn’t ask. But this sales technique is built around the concept that you should get the sale at all cost and not care what happens afterwards. Today, your role is to help the customers reach successful buying decisions—ones they won’t regret. So if there’s information that’s relevant to your customers’ needs, then feel free to speak up. If you know a product really won’t work to solve their problems, say so. Otherwise, the customers won’t trust you and they’ll feel used; they certainly won’t be loyal to you in the future.

If you are still using any of these, please stop now.

Brutal Question: Is it time for a new pair of shoes?


⇒  When was the last time you took a fresh look at the needs of your builders as they change?

Your builders are looking for a different buying experience in 2017. It's time to get out in front of these changes and adapt to their changing needs, wants, and perceptions.

Whether you've noticed or not, your builders' preferences, needs, and perceptions are changing. Even if the building contractors you've been selling to for the last 10 years are purchasing the same types of homes and relying on you for the same technical support and expertise, something is inherently different about they way they transacted with you in 2006 versus how they do it now. The changes are taking place across the board—from how they do their initial research, to how they communicate with you, to how they expect issues like service and warranties to be handled. Just how you react and adapt to these changing needs and perceptions is up to you, but one thing is certain:  Burying your head in the sand and hoping it will go away isn't the answer.

You need to ask your builders these questions:
  • What are you looking for now that you didn't want or need five years ago?
  • What's different for you today?
  • Why are you buying this way today compared to five years ago?
  • What do you need now going forward from us that we're not providing you?

"The answers that you get may be eye opening,

Brutal Question: Are you avoiding learning what your builder really needs?


⇒  How can I separate myself from the other factory’s sales reps and get customers to prefer me?

The best salespeople are always looking to improve their game, never satisfied in their progression as a sales rep.

Great sales professionals are purpose-driven; they focus on the success and happiness of their prospective clients. This means they want, and are able, to see the world through the eyes of the other party.

Knowing the unique characteristics, goals, aspirations, challenges and current affairs of your builders helps you determine how your solution can address existing needs and priorities.

No two builders are the same, so you must personalize each sale. Find out what makes the builder successful, what keeps the builder busy and what makes the builder tick. By trying to find answers to these questions, you’ll uncover what really matters to your builder.

Blaming others is an easy way to make yourself feel better when things aren’t going your way; however, it’s not a productive method for improving your results. If you’re really serious about boosting your numbers, don’t focus on who or what is holding you back – think about what you can do to alter the dynamics of the current situation. Rather than blaming a builder for being overly concerned with price; work on addressing those concerns. A skilled sales representative will find a way to convince that person of a your factory’s value. Regardless of who is ultimately responsible for a decision or action that will benefit you, look for ways that you can influence the outcome.

To reach your true potential as a sales representative, you need to be fully aware of your strengths and weaknesses. To that end, it’s crucial to review every builder interaction you have to identify what you did well and what you could have done better. Going easy on yourself won’t do you any favors; you have to carefully dissect your performance to find areas of opportunity.

One thing that distinguishes the highest-performing sales representatives from the rest is a commitment to continuous learning. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve read or sales techniques you’ve mastered; as the modular housing continues to grow and evolve, there will always be new tools and best practices that you can apply to take your career even further. You may be intimately familiar with how to sell products in your industry; but are there insights you can glean from expert sales representatives in other disciplines?

Now is the time to learn about High Performance, HERS Ratings, new state codes, Inclusive homes, ADU’s and other subjects that can and will be needed by your builders.

Brutal question: Am I doing everything I can to be the leader of the sales pack?


Anonymous said...

Coach, what a great article. Like you point out, being a sales rep is not easy. Everything from handling service disputes to helping my builders with their website is fair game today. Builders are expecting more and more from the factory and I am one both the builder and my sales manager contacts with every little thing. 16 builders times at least 3 contacts a week on average is almost 10 interactions a day and the time devoted to each is more than ever. What 8 or 10 hour days? Sometimes it seems like I am working 16. This is the best thing I've read on how to improve my performance.

Steve L said...

You missed one important point:
Would you sell something you would not live in yourself? When you approach a potential customer and he/She asks do you live in one? How do you answer? Do you walk the walk and talk the talk or is it just a commodity sale? Passion sells in a product line not fully understood by the public