Monday, July 18, 2011

THE NEW AND IMPROVED FACTORY SALES PERSON

Have you ever thought how the onslaught of social media, content publishing and real-time search has rendered the need for the traditional modular home factory sales departments unnecessary and to that I still contend: sales still owns the relationship.

While content and context are easier to put out there, direct connection to the builder is still best supplied by a sales person.

So, the fundamental purpose of a professional salesperson has changed little, but the function of an effective salesperson in today’s content-driven environment has changed dramatically.

The skills once required, and sadly still modular home factories, are no longer applicable.  Modular home factories and their salespeople that get this are exploring, evolving and adopting this new style of marketing.

Below are five ways that content marketing has changed selling.

Listen over talk

Salespeople have always been taught to probe, listen and offer solutions. Well, in today’s world they must listen intently before they ever pick up the phone, send an e-mail or draw up a solution.

Salespeople must monitor the social network of a prospective builder in order to begin to mine for opportunities, frustrations and buying signals. They can explore problems that the builder is telling others and asking for help.  They must also be adept at constructing ways to put the pieces of information together in a package that opens doors and starts relationship building.

Insight over information

A great deal of the salesperson’s role at one time was to deliver information. Most salespeople today face the possibility that a prospect may actually know as much or more about the product, service or solution the factory is offering as the salesperson doing the offering.

Today’s salesperson must provide context and meaning, must aggregate and filter and must become a resource of insight for today’s information overloaded builder.

Proof over promise

Price is a direct reflection of the builder’s perceived value. This doesn’t always mean it’s a reflection of the true value or even rational reflection of value, but the ROI question will never go away unless, and until, an organization can show proof of value rather than promised value peppered throughout marketing materials.

The factory salesperson must commit to working deeply with his or her builders to help measure and communicate true value received as a completion of the sales process. With that piece in place, today’s salesperson can offer proof as part of the trust-building, lead-conversion process.

Publish over prospect

Modular home factory should be scrambling to feed the market’s expectation that they can instantly find content on any subject or need imaginable but sadly, they aren’t. Search engine usage has made consistent content production mandatory.

Few salespeople see writing content as a good use of their time, but it’s a skill that today’s successful salesperson has embraced. Not every factory will allow their salespeople to blog, but the ones that do have the opportunity to create a stream of content that is potentially informed with real-life customer stories and experiences. Smart salespeople have also begun to curate content as a way to become a resource for their builders as well.

Harvest over hunt

This last change probably runs counter to traditional selling as any of the others outlined above because it sounds so passive. Salespeople have been taught to hit the street, knock on doors and close deals.

The problem is the street is closed, the doors are made of bits and no one answers the phone anymore.

Working the soil, planting seeds and watering the harvest with care is the new metaphor for turning  “what can I sell you” into “try,” “buy,” “repeat” and “refer.”

2 comments:

Franklin said...

I wonder how many sales people actually realize the power that is at their fingertips when they search a new builder?
I checked on a builder a couple of months ago and found he had several liens and judgements against him and his business. I also found some complaints from people he built houses for in the past.
What I thought was a good lead given me by my Sales Manager was a total bust and I didn't even have to call him to find out. What a waste of time that appointment and factory tour would have been.

William said...

So Franklin you TOOK THE EASY WAY OUT! Instead of investing your time, which you probably have a lot of, you just went with what you found online or from others. You had no real face-to-face conversation with this builder to find out why he had the liens, judgements and bad report from past clients.
Likewise, do you know his annual volume? Do you know if he used mods before or his preferred method of building? Do you know his plans for the future? Do you know if he has current contracts to build home(s)? Some of my best builders came from those who other manufacturers threw away. Took too much of their time. Annual volume was not enough to offset the handling holding they required. etc, etc, etc. I bet if your sales manager looked at you the same way you looked at this prospect he might find you lacking. Maybe he has received complaints from some of your builders advising you were slow to react; did not followup on quotes, promises, etc.
Maybe you should rethink this and go see this prospect -- then make a decision ON WHAT YOU KNOW instead of what you think you know from reading what others had to say.