Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Attention Modular Factory Management: “Telling Ain’t Selling”

Being a modular factory sales rep has changed quite a lot over the past 30 years.

Prospecting for new builders used to easier because there were more independent site builders out there. Gas was cheap and that meant traveling, sometimes 2-3 days a week, was expected and on those trips you stopped and talked with prospective new builders while calling on your current builders.

Modular home factories sold modular homes not hotels, dormitories, condos and large apartment complexes. Business was good.

Then came cell phones and the Internet and everything changed. Travel was curtailed and replaced with email, texting and IM. Factories developed websites to attract new homebuyers and builders.


But something changed when modular factories began putting their sales emphasis through their website. The sales rep was pulled back from prospecting and told they really didn’t need to do that because that was the job of the website.

Let’s get one thing clear -  Modular home websites don’t sell, they only tell.  

With all the hype that modular construction has been receiving over the past decade one would think modular homes would sell themselves. Not true.

Your homes may be the best thing since sliced bread, but they’re not going to sell themselves. Irregardless of how many pictures of homes, lists of benefits and “about us” history you put in your website it still takes a certain set of skills to turn leads into paying customers for both the factory and the modular builder.

I was talking about this with a veteran factory GM recently who believes the reason modular home factories need commercial work is to keep the doors open as sales reps are no longer encouraged to prospect site builders. Instead we drank the “Selling 24/7” koolade promised by the Internet. Instead he thinks it is simply “Telling 24/7”.

Here are three things to add to your Marketing and Sales toolbox:

1. Telling ain't selling

When I first started as a modular sales rep, I often spent the majority of my day repeating the same laundry list of features. I would go into my ‘telling’ pitch explaining every button, knob, and switch until the prospect began to drift off into an afternoon catnap.

It doesn’t matter how amazing your homes are, simply telling someone about your home’s features and benefits is not going to make them want it. You need to create desire, and you can do that by getting a builder to tell you exactly what they want. By knowing what they want, you are now in a position to sell them on how your factory will benefit them.

This is perhaps why commercial developers are embracing modular. They don’t want to hear about all your wonderful processes and features. They only want to know if your factory can build their new hotel or apartment complex to “their” specs for the lowest price and deliver and finish it when they need it. That is not selling, that is simply hustling to see if your factory can do it.

Telling: "Our homes feature over 100 different features, standard items and options on our website including blah, blah, blah. Let me explain how each one works!"

Selling: "We have over 100 different features, standard items and options. What is important to you? What do you want to see?" This one on one relationship can’t be done on a website.

2. Always be closing - Not!

Every badass salesman will tell you that his/her mantra is "always be closing".

A modular factory website has never closed a sale. Unlike Amazon where the buyer knows what they want and are looking strictly for a good price and free delivery and then buy it, your website can’t do that and never will. The only way to close the deal with a new builder or any builder for that matter is one on one personal contact. All a website can do is grab someone’s attention long enough to make the visitor look at a few more pages and maybe fill out your contact form.

Listening leads to closing and that only happens when it becomes a one on one situation. Your website may be the first time they learn about your factory but it can’t be the only experience they have with you.

Instead of showing people all of the things they can cut with your awesome set of knives, be the guy who asks what they want to cut. Once you truly understand what they need and show them how your factory can help them, you've earned the right to close.

3. Your homes don't sell themselves

Deal with it. Your homes don't and can’t sell themselves.

Even if your product ends world hunger, people still need to be reminded that there's hungry people out there.

Your homes may have a hundred features, but it only takes one of them to get someone to buy. Find out which one that is.


Don’t think for a minute that this is just for factories. You also rely way too much on a “Telling” approach and need to begin taking a more active “Selling” one both in person and on your website.


Bill Hart said...

Gosh! Way back when, it was called talk about benefits vs simply features!

Anonymous said...

Been a sales rep back to the days of three cabinet this is experience talking.... A builder cannot just hang up on a salesman who is standing right in front of him...The personal connection is a very tough thing to break but the internet connection is broken by the stoke of a key...