Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Four Common Mistakes Salespeople Make

I've had the good fortune to observe modular home factory sales reps in their natural environment; the company office. There have been many sales stars, some rising, some falling and a couple of shining stars but at one time or another, they have all made these common mistakes.

Poor communication skills.
Just last week I overheard three factory reps talking about March Madness and how their teams were doing. The phone rang for one of them and the receptionist announced over his phone's speaker that Xxxx from XXXX Builders was looking for him. The rep told her to tell the builder that he was on another call and would call him back later.

Not only did he go right back to talking basketball with his cellmates, he admitted that he still hadn't got around to finishing a quote for that builder. He told the boys that he would work on it that night at home and get back to him in the morning. I would love to know if that ever happened.

If you aren't willing to put in the effort to communicate with your builders, I heard there are job openings in the garden department at Home Depot. There you can talk sports with the customers while you work.

Make a sale, you'll make a living.  Sell a relationship and you can make a fortune. 
Poor salespeople focus on just closing the sale.   Successful salespeople focus on closing the sale and the relationship.  Which is your approach?

For many salespeople, the close of the sale, typically comes at the end of the sales presentation, which normally includes the quote and floorplan being approved. It represents for many, the final act in the sales process.  It is unfortunate that these poorly informed or trained salespeople, lack adequate understanding of the role of selling in today's competitive world.

Selling is not about only closing the builder’s current prospect on a particular house. It is about building a trusting relationship and partnership with them, by becoming a resource, and helping them solve their on-going problems, or satisfying their continuing and evolving needs and service issues.  Super stars know that the lifetime value of a builder is far more than the value of one sale or transaction.  They take a long view of the relationship.  It is not just about this sale but future sales, referrals and earning the builder’s trust and loyalty.

Builders buy when their customers are ready to buy not when you need to sell.
One of the critical concepts that sales super stars know is that their role is to help their builders close the sale with the builder’s customer and that just because they may be behind in their sales quota is not a reason why a builder should buy from them now. You don’t work in the manufactured side of the business where a community might call and order 15 single-wides just to help you out of your slump.

I have always found it amusing that sales manager after sales manager in the modular home business put pressure on the sales reps to close sales when the entire sale lies with the builder's customer. If anyone should be put under pressure to close the sale, it should be the builder. There are some superstar sales reps that enjoy being asked to sit with the builder and the customer to help close the sale by answering questions about quality and service and sometimes offering something to sweeten the purchase like an upgraded carpet or kitchen cabinet. These sweeteners are less than the factory owner would give the builder as a discount to close the sale.

When you sell price you rent their business.  When you sell value you own it.
Most poorly trained factory salespeople tend to lower the price when they receive price resistance. Any price, no matter how low, will always seem high to a prospect or customer if their perceived value is low. The key to effectively handling price resistance is to understand this simple, yet profound, concept.

Builders and their customers say they want low price, but what they really want is low cost. What is the difference?

Price is what customers pay for your product or service now. Cost is what the customer pays by buying late, not at all or wrong.  It is their overall cost over an extended period of time.

In most cases we get what we pay for. Buy cheap and you get less value or higher cost. This is not always true but tends to be true most of the time.

The sales super stars sell value and don't defend price. In the long run, it is much easier to justify a higher price if the value is there, than poor quality and constant product/service problems with a lowball price.

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