Sunday, June 19, 2011


I was in the middle of writing an article about what customers (new home buyers) should look for in a modular home builder when my wife looked over my shoulder and said that these same things apply to the factory sales rep and their builders as well as the sales rep and their Sales Manager.

I took another look at the things I listed and decided that she had a valid point.  I know, I'll never live this one down.

So here is a list of 5 things that must happen in the interactions between these three sets of people.

1.  Listen intently to their concerns.  
Builders and New Home Buyers (B2NHB)  Builders must have both ears open when working with their prospects.  If the prospect is not happy with their present home, find out why.  If they have special needs, it is important to keep that at the front of your brain.  Prospects need to listen to the builder also.  Maybe the builder isn't capable of building what you need and tries to accommodate the needs anyway.  If the prospects don't listen to what the builder can do, they might be signing a contract with the wrong contractor.

Sales Reps and their Builders (SR2B)  Here again it is of the utmost importance for each side to convey exactly what they can and can't do for each other.  If the builder's request is beyond the scope of the factory, the sales rep must tell them.  Unfortunately, what usually happens is that the sales rep hears the request and puts on a dog and pony show hoping they can stall long enough to close the sale.  Builders on the other hand have selective hearing.

Sales Managers and Sales Reps (SM2SR)  Sales Managers are great orators but rarely are they great listeners.  Sales reps are great orators but rarely are they great listeners.  This is a recipe for disaster.  Two way conversations are hard to find in this category.  Usually both sides end up muttering to themselves as they walk away from each other.

2. Be reachable through multiple mediums.
(B2NHB)   Most builders say they want input from their prospects but only pay it lip service.  If someone is ready to spend $300,000 with you, shouldn't you be available both before and after the sale by phone, email, fax, social media, smoke signals or any other non-stalking way?  Builders have the same problem.  I've needed decisions made by customers and have had to wait days to get an answer from them which can hold up their job.

(SR2B)  This is one area that most sales reps and builders really do work well together.  Builders want to get their home on the line and delivered and sales rep want to do the same.

(SM2SR)  Sales Managers MUST be available to their sales reps, even at night.  Enough said.

3.  Admit when you are wrong.
(B2NHB)  Builders hate to admit they made a mistake and will go to great lengths to fix it before the customer finds out or they might just cover it up.  The problem arises when the mistake rears its ugly head and makes a stink.  That's when trouble starts.  Admit when you're wrong and work together to fix it.  Egg on the face is better than a lawsuit any day.

(SR2B)  Can you imagine if you were the sales rep that had to call your builder and tell them that you made a $5,000 mistake in pricing after the builder gave their prospect a quote?  In this tight economy, the factory isn't going to take that kind of hit and neither is the builder or their customer.  This mistakes moves to the next level.....

(SM2SR)  A good sales manager can make magic happen.  If a mistake is made, they have a lot of power that was given them to help work out an equitable solution.  The mistake can escalate out of control if the Sales Manager takes a hard nosed position and won't budge.  Mistakes happen.  If the sales rep continues to make mistakes, then it is up to the Sales Manager to find a replacement.

4. Immediate action required.
(B2NHB)  When the customer has a question about somethng concerning their new home, the builder should act promptly and professionally to handle it.  If something happens at the job sight that requires immediate action, get on it and find a solution.  If your customer isn't happen, you're not happy.

(SR2B)  Sales reps sometimes forget that they have three people they have to make happy.  The Builder, the Builder's Customer and the factory Sales Manager.  Being on top of situations and providing solutions will make for better relationships between all parties.

(SM2SR)  Sales Managers also forget they have to satisfy many people including the ones mentioned above as well as the factory owners.  Sales Managers without the ability to take action when it is required should be fired and replaced.  If the sales rep is the problem, the Sales Manager should work to help the rep or replace them.  The Sales Manager's position is not for the faint of heart.

5.  Promise Less, Deliver More.
It doesn't matter if you are the Builder, the sales rep, the Sales Manager or the factory owner, this is the most important thing to remember when entering into a contract.  No one ever got sued for delivering a better product than what was expected by the customer!


Doug S. said...

I believe your wife deserves top billing.

modular building guy said...

Under promise - over deliver is the basis of everything I taught my sales staff for the last 25 years.

Two companies deliver exactly the same product; one promised more the other promised less result: 1 very happy customer spreading the word to their friends & 1 very angry customer also spreading the word to their friends.