Thursday, February 23, 2017

Why Modular Home Factories Need Sales Training Programs

If you are the Sales Manager, a member of senior management or the owner of a modular home factory, you already know how important it is to send professional sales rep into the field to work with your existing builders and prospect for new ones.


You also know that they have to be trained in the art of selling to builders as well as being the builder’s direct communication conduit to every department in the factory. You also know that in-house training for new sales reps is almost non-existent in our industry.

When a factory needs a new sales rep they begin the search by looking at the current sales rep base that is already working for other factories. Since most sales reps know their contemporaries at the competing companies, having your sales rep approach the other rep with an inquiry is the time tested way of hiring someone that you don’t have to train.

I’ve worked at several factories where the training included being introduced to the head of Engineering, the Sales Manager, The GM and a couple of others that would prove to be invaluable to me. The only training I received from any of them was how to fill out a quote. That’s not entirely true, I was shown where the literature and sample rooms were so I could learn the standard product, the optional items and the plan books.

All that happened within the first few days and after that I was “on my own”, given a map, thermos of coffee and a list of my builders. "Go get ‘em"

Not having a true training program in place for ALL your sales reps has 4 main risks that can hurt your business in many ways.

Risk 1: New employees learning from your bad apples.

Can one bad apple really spoil the whole bunch? Without a solid learning strategy, you have no control over how your employees learn. Bad habits are hard to fix and without providing the proper learning support to help sales reps reach their potential, you risk them learning all the wrong things from all the wrong people.

Risk 2: Higher chance of turnover.

An unorganized, incomplete and lacklustre learning strategy is often the leading cause for sales reps to rethink their decision to stay with a factory.
Disengagement from inadequate support leaves sales reps feeling resentful and lacking confidence in their role. It’s time to realize that a strong learning strategy is the number one reason top talent comes to work for and stay with you.

Risk 3: Poor customer service and damage to brand reputation.

You only get one chance to make a first impression, and as cliche as that is, a negative first impression can have long lasting repercussions. Putting untrained or under educated sales reps in front of builders tarnishes their experience and your company’s brand.

Risk 4: Slowed ramp time.

Without effective learning support, sales reps can suffer long learning curves with drawn out time to productivity rates. This drives up costs for idle time and increases the risks associated with trial and error learning. It takes an average of 6-8 months for a sales rep to go from first contact with a builder to having the house go to the production line at the factory.

Within little or no training, the sales rep could have made a lot of mistakes during that time that might cost your factory a sale simply because they appeared uninformed about things.

If you think continuous training is expensive, I wonder how much more you will lose by not teaching them how to be better sales reps.

1 comment:

Harris - Finish Werks said...

I recently took a job in which the owner had been given the run-around by the mod builder. Turns out the builder was specifying the most expensive countertops and hardwood flooring (among other finishes) the factory offered. Why? Two possible explanations:

1. The builder was an idiot - did he not realize you can source granite for one FIFTH what the factory was charging for Zodiac?

2. The factory rep was incapable of pointing out "his" pricing was in fact "go-away" pricing, and that the builder should source and install onsite the overly expensive features.

Regardless, what was nearly the result was a lost modular client. He was so exasperated that until he came to us, and we identified the problems (the price was double the standard spec!), he was going to sh#*can modular and stick build.

Lesson: the one factory rep (not ours) was pushing up his commission at the expense of lost sales. I'll bet he doesn't do more than 5-6 homes per year. Why?

Because any new-to-modular builder that realizes the shafting he received would never order another modular home from him. And possibly, any modular factory.

The sales manager should have been scrutinizing this reps behavior and seen the patterns. It's not that hard to catch - particularly when the rep is a known add-on junky.

It's better to get 50% commission on more sales than to get 100% commission on ZERO.