Sunday, April 23, 2017

Modular Factory Sales Reps the Key to Fishing for New Builders

The 2008 housing recession has had a huge impact on home building. Fewer independent site and modular home builders are building homes. Modular factories were shuttered or sold across the nation while the modular single family home share of new homes built dropped to 3%.

As often stated, many modular factories that survived the recession added commercial work to keep the production lines working. For some factories the mix of commercial to residential modules grew to a high of 70/30. Recently I’m hearing that ratio has changed to 50/50.

Even though the residential side of modular for these factories is increasing there is only so much the core of dedicated single family builders can do to increase their business.

What needs to happen next? Factory Sales Reps must become better at finding “new to modular” home builders. There are plenty of fish in the pond to catch but few are caught and converted to the modular way of building new homes.

It is common knowledge that educating this new builder about modular has been lackluster at best but this article is about the process of bringing that new builder into the fold in the first place. Finding a single new builder and working out a plan to attract them to modular is tough today. By using the following approach, sales reps will have a much better chance of not only landing the builder but keeping him around and buying modular homes for a long time.


You are already busy handling your current builder’s wants and needs so how can anyone expect you to prospect for new ones? Actually, it’s easy if you concentrate on just one fish in the pond instead of trying to catch several. One fish caught at a time. You decide how many new fish you can bring in. One a year, two or more. It’s your call. But you do have to start fishing.

Here are five important things to remember when “fishing” for a new builder.

Relationships take time. Resist being disingenuous as it can be a severe put-off. Instead, take the time to get to know your client, learn their pain. Remember that your efforts for this builder is paramount in building a relationship. At the end of the day, no amount of personal connection can substitute for great work.

Fishermen don’t wake up in the morning, put on their gear, head out the cabin door, stand on the front porch looking for fish on the grass and not seeing any, go back inside. No, they prepare for a day of fishing by first heading to the stream. And that is exactly what a sales rep must do.

You have to find the area you feel will give you the best chance of finding a ‘new’ builder, learn all you can about what they are currently doing, understand what keeps them up at night, and cater your interaction and offerings accordingly.

Go the extra mile.
When you have a particular company or person in mind to approach about becoming a modular home builder for your factory you must remember that no two are alike. With the knowledge you’ve gained from visiting their website and reviewing it extensively, from Googling them and also learning what the market is in their area, you should have the start of a good plan to begin the process.

Canned presentations and throwing a bunch of literature at them is not the right way to bring in a builder or someone that wants to become a modular builder. By only working on one new prospective builder at a time, you will have more time to devote to them and go the extra mile to bring them on board. You are their only real link to the world of modular home construction so take your time and do everything you can to help them understand the benefits.

Respond promptly.
When a prospective builder emails you, acknowledge the receipt of the email as quickly as possible, even if you do not have the answer they are looking for. You will give them comfort by simply acknowledging the receipt of their request and by communicating that you’re on it. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I often see sales reps worry about having the right answer, and as a result, they forget to acknowledge that they are on the case.

Be more than an email address. Despite its prevalence in business today, email communication can often be misconstrued, especially during stressful situations, if senders and recipients do not know each other well. Use other channels to help shed light on who you are.  Consider a phone call or an in-person meeting to put a face (or voice) to a name. Often the phone gets a bad reputation, but if used for good news, a phone call is a great way to build a better relationship with your ‘new’ builder.

Always summarize next steps. No matter how quick or trivial a meeting seems, always recap the conversation with next steps.  Many sales reps skip this basic step. You think you’ll remember all of the details, and maybe you will, but your prospective builder may not. Aligning on the same page with next steps prevents a lot of confusion down the road.

Time to go fishing.

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