Friday, January 18, 2013

How Not to Suck at Being a Business Development Rep

One of my first jobs in the modular home industry was as a Business Development rep and it seemed like I was hitting on all cylinders. I was meeting from one to three builders a day, asking questions and moving on to the next day. I was winning or was I really winning? NO I wasn’t. I was the Charlie Sheen of modular reps for several months.

I was clueless. Eventually I learned the business but through no help from my sales manager. I was taken aside by none other than Jerry Rouleau and told how to go about perfecting my trade. He shared his expertise with me anytime I called. I really miss Jerry and know that there will never be another person as respected in the modular housing industry as he was in marketing and sales.

Jerry Rouleau (1949-2011)
Here are the things he taught me that I still use today:

Be on time. The builder you’re meeting is not your mother and won’t forgive you. If you find that you are running late for anything other than you just forgot, send them an email on your smart phone, call them or send up smoke signals. Just let them know.

Learn about the builder. With websites like LinkedIn, Facebook, Google and Yahoo, there is no excuse to go into your meeting blind. Generally, a 10 minute search can yield all you will need to get the meeting off on a good footing.

Learn their pain. When setting the appointment, simply ask them what are the most important issue they are facing so that you can be prepared to help find answers.

Lessen their pain. If you do the two previous steps, you should be able to walk into your meeting with a plan to help lessen their problems and pain.

Have a ‘meeting plan.’ Walking into a meeting without an agenda is suicide. If you write out an agenda, even if it only has three bullet point topics, you’ll have more control over the meeting’s outcome. Preparing an agenda for each builder you visit could be the best 5 minutes you’ll spend.

Be Polite. Every builder loves it when you respect the time and effort they put into their business. If bullshit worked, you would be uber-rich. The worst part is that both parties know it’s BS. Politeness will take you further than BS ever will, especially at first.

Quality and less Quantity. Follow your agenda. Tell them how your factory can help them ease their pain, point out the steps needed to get there and keep it simple. Quality! Adding tons of fluff to the meeting just to fill their cup to overflowing rarely works. Quantity…thumbs down.

Know when to agree. This feels like a rookie mistake looking back. But I see tons of people make it, so it's worth going over. Just because you've already thought of the idea that the person you're meeting with suggests doesn't mean you can't let the builder think they came up with it for you. Why? Bonding. If someone feels like they've helped you, they're much more likely to engage again.

Take notes.  If you don't do this you're an idiot. Your brain can't keep it all in. If you felt it was worth spending 10 minutes of prep, 2 hours of drive time and 30 minutes of meeting time, you better be writing things down or recording them. Why wouldn't you want to be able to reference that same meeting 2 months from now?

Following up. I don't care if it was the best meeting of your life—or the worst—if you don't follow up you've just thrown away 50% of the value of that meeting. If it went well, re-affirm the action points/next steps. If it didn't go well, re-affirm that you were grateful for the meeting, and maybe take the time to recover from the mishap. Same day standard, it helps to write the follow up immediately after (if you have the time), and then send it a few hours later. This is why you have a smart phone, a tablet and a laptop.

Get to “No” quickly.  You don't want people to be afraid of telling you no, or telling you what you're doing wrong because they think it would hurt your feelings. In fact, the faster you can get to, "No," the better. Knowing what they don’t like just might be the ticket to a follow up meeting giving you time to address their objections.

1 comment:

James Brenner said...

Coach, I so glad that you mention Jerry in your article. He was one of the best people I've known in the manufactured housing industry. I first met him at one of his seminars and attended several more over the years.
Keep up the good work with your blog. It reminds me of Jerry's positive message for us.