Monday, November 14, 2011


There has always been a lot of discussion in our industry about how to get more sales.  Books, seminars, conventions, audio books, consultants, websites and one on one training is offered by just about everyone that has ever sold anything to anyone.  I'm even aware of a couple of great sales videos designed to sell more Girl Scout Cookies.

But how does all this help a small new home builder that is deep into one of the worst recessions in our history?  For the most part, it doesn't.  I read the articles and listen to the pundits wax on about sales as if it's still 2005.  One of the biggest problems for them is that they haven't actually had to sell anything but their books or audio tapes since the housing recession started.

So how is a new home builder supposed to find people to build for today?  If you are serious about getting more sales, first stop trying so hard to sell and start looking at the process in a new way.

Here are some steps to take to help make you better at marketing and in turn, make for more sales.

Think of marketing like going deep sea fishing.  You can't catch a marlin sitting on the dock reading a book about catching marlin.  You have to take some initial steps before you land that fish.  You have to charter the right boat, have a good rod and reel, good bait and the best place to fish.  Even then you might come up short but at least you're moving forward.  Once the marlin takes the bait, the rest is just hard work and lots of fun.

Marketing is like the prep work for fishing and selling is everything that happens after the fish is hooked.

Assuming (Yeah, I know the old saying) that you already know how to bring a prospect from interest to closing, let's look at how to find that prospect in the first place.  Each of these steps are easy and none should take more than 20 minutes.  If they do, you're over-thinking it.

First, make a simple spreadsheet.  List the buyers in the left hand column and create headers for each question below.  

  1. In the past 10 years, name some of your best customers.  10 or 20 should do it.  Put a little more weight to those that bought since 2007.
  2. How did they find you?  Referral...Newspaper Ads...Home Shows...Open House...Website.
  3. List all the things that made each of them memorable.  Were they easy to please, gave you no problems, listened to your suggestions, whatever it was, write it down.
  4. What type of home did they purchase.  Large or small, ranch or 2 story, stock plan or custom?  
  5. How much profit did you make on each of them?  
  6. What was their age group?  Boomers, Gen X, etc?
  7. Did they already own their land?  Did they need your help finding a mortgage?  Did they allow you to qualify them?

Now you have your target market.  Take a look at them and find common threads.  What do these customers have in common?  If most of them came from your website, then put that at the top of your list.  Looking at what made them good customers, you find the majority of them listened to your suggestions.  If they mostly purchased small 2 story custom homes, you are beginning to see the perfect prospect emerging.

By looking at your spreadsheet, it will start to show how to attract the fish (I mean customers) that will actually buy houses.  By concentrating on the things that made for successful sales in the past, you can narrow your marketing efforts to the point that everything you do and everybody you talk with will be part of your marketing plan.

Shotguns are great for trying to hit everything at once but seldom to they bring down big game.  If you talk to great sportsmen, you will hear the terms preparation and patience quite often.

Prepare you and your business by coming up with your target market and then have the patience to work your plan.  Hopefully you will stumble across more ways to attract customers to your business.

My biggest suggestion is to look at your website.  If it doesn't look clean, crisp and tell what you build quickly, you need to revamp it. 


Anonymous said...


In addition to what you say about marketing, there should also be a clear understanding by factories and or retail facilities that marketing and sales are 2 different things. In my experience I see them combined and they definitely are not the same function. Your point about website is also highly important as more people are going there first. I would also like to note that today the qualifying of the customer is more critical than ever. I have seen factories take on a project and do an incredible amount of work for the client only to be told...I did not get financing, no entitlements, my investors did not come through and so on. We can and should ask the critical questions. Do you have entitlements, financing based upon proforma,what IS the budget and so on. Noone has time or resources to "hope like hell" this works.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Anonymous about factories not knowing the difference between marketing and sales. If any factory actually started using a marketing plan, I would fall off my chair. And most Sales Managers are so bad that builders don't even want to talk to them.