As I’ve stated many times over the years, modular home factories don’t have salespeople, they employ business consultants. Unless you are a HUD salesperson that can call up a street dealer and give them a huge incentive to buy a couple of new homes for their lot, it just doesn’t happen to a modular home sales rep.
So why the term “Business Consultant?” That’s an easy one. The person that actually talks to the builder to help them make sure that they get the house that the builder’s customer wants do not ‘close the sale’. Instead, they are the middle person in the transaction with very little sales skills needed to do their job.
And like every good business consultant, they need to hone one skill above all others. They need to be great listeners. It is the Sales Manager’s responsibility to help their “Business Consultants” to learn to be better listeners, to hear what the modular home builder is really saying and then to react in a positive way to help the builder make his customer’s home a reality.
Here are 5 ways for you to become a better listener and hence a better representative for your factory.
1. Slow down the conversation
You tend to be talkative people with lots of ideas and opinions – a characteristic that can sometimes devolve into talking a thousand miles per hour.
Talking quickly can only hurt your relationship with your builder. They’ll either lose interest or get stressed out. Instead, articulate your thoughts at a digestible speed. Pause in case they need clarification, ask questions to guide and help shape what they share, and never interrupt them.
2. Stop Interrupting
Not only is it rude but it means you probably missed out on an important point about the house that will come back to haunt you later in the process. This is a really important point when sitting with your builder and the homebuyers.
Lose your fear of silence. You’ll find that if you pause when the builder’s customer is done speaking, they will often have something to add on that you never would have heard if you’d begun talking right away.
The only time it’s okay to interrupt is if you didn’t hear something or want to clarify.
3. Clarify and paraphrase
A big part of listening closely to someone is letting them know you are listening closely. The speaker will know you’re listening and will appreciate it, share more of their story, and they will find you more likable.
Try paraphrasing their thoughts in your own words to show them you care about what they’re saying, and also to make sure you understood them. Sometimes you might take away a message that was meant to mean something else without knowing it – this is especially common with communications between the builder and their customer. You don’t want to find out that you placed the wrong item on the materials list simply because you didn’t clarify a point. Don’t let important information get lost in translation.
4. People speak with their emotions
Words are not always an accurate representation of what a person feels. It can be especially hard to interpret conversation over the phone because you lose the ability to read a person’s body language – but it is possible.
Learn to “feel” their tone of voice and stress levels. Practice during your conversations with coworkers and learn to recognize how the volume, speed, and tone of people’s voices can indicate how they’re feeling. On every phone call, make it a goal to think about what the person might be thinking behind their words.
Emails are a lot tougher to listen to. Short, to the point, facts only emails could indicate that you didn’t listen to what they told you the first time. If a builder only uses couple words to describe his feelings about a serious service or material problem, it could tell you that the builder is pissed and you need to get on it right away.
5. Listen to their pain points
You know how important it is to ask questions to narrow down your builder’s pain points. Actively listening to people about their pains and needs and then helping them solve that pain and need makes you an indispensable part of the builder’s team.
Don’t assume anything! Fill any knowledge gaps by asking more questions. Follow-up questions show your builder and even their customer you are listening carefully and care about what they say.
Only once you understand pain can you begin to share information and help them get to where they want to be.
Armed with these 5 simple steps, you will find that becoming a Business Consultant to your builder will be much easier and I guarantee you will be one of their best allies in making their business, and yours, a success