Monday, September 23, 2019

Sales Reps Key to Modular Factory’s Success

Just a short time ago sales reps were hired to simply call on modular home builders that were already the factory’s customers, take orders and price out houses using the factory’s standards and options price list. Not much more than that.

The New Sales Reps

I started my modular housing career working for a factory that sold both manufactured and modular homes built on the same production line. One month our sales manager came to our offices on the last week of the month and said we were short 15 homes short for the month and does anyone have contracts coming in?

As a modular sales rep I had none that were that close but one of the manufactured reps simply called a dealer and got an order for 15 single wide homes. Ahh! The good old days!

Then the 2007/8 housing recession hit and the vast majority of those sales reps lost their jobs. With nobody buying new houses it was a terrible time for modular home factories and a lot of them closed their doors forever.

But something came out of that mess that has and will be changing our industry forever. It brought in the age of the informed sales rep.

Before the recession all a sales manager had to do was hand the sales rep a thermos of coffee, a road map and a list of potential new builders to sell modular homes.

Today sales reps need to arm themselves with more than that. They need to be the home builder’s expert in code restrictions, marketing on social media, allowable options, how to work with set crews and much more. In other words, they now have to work with the builder for a sales contract.

There are a few lone wolves or cowboys still out there flying by the seat of their pants but nothing like in the good old days. Now we see sales reps working together to help each other. Sales managers no longer throw a new sales rep into the field with little knowledge of what the factory offers.

Many sales managers now have an assigned sales rep using the buddy system with the newbie taking an active part in their training.

Every modular factory is different in some aspects of how and what they build and it’s important that the sales rep knows these nuances. They are encouraged by many sales managers to work with the builder and their customers from the first interaction to delivery and beyond.

That was unheard of when I was a sales rep.
Many modular home builders are in their 50’s, 60’s and beyond and they rely on their sales rep to help with marketing on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. This gives the Millennial sales rep a huge advantage over their older counterparts.

Builders also rely on their sales reps to help them understand the ever-changing methods of construction the modular industry is using. Builders need the sales rep’s help in understanding if their factory is using any of the following:
  • Green, sustainable and High Performance products;
  • Closed cell vs open cell foam insulation;
  • LVL vs TJI vs Open Joist floor systems

and so much more.

And let’s not forget the latest innovations coming on line for our industry such as BIM, Virtual and Augmented Reality, drones, automated processes and who better to explain these than the sales rep that calls on the builder.

Today’s sales rep is the most important link in the chain between the modular home factory the builder and that thermos of coffee is now a Double Double Fudge Bar Frappuccino from Starbucks enjoyed at their workstation rather than on the road.

The new sales rep uses the latest ways to connect with their builders instantaneously. The conference call is now a Zoom conference and the email is now a text.

If you are still “selling” to builders and not partnering with them to get sales, your days as a sales rep could soon be coming to an end.

1 comment:

Dusty said...

Hi Gary,

Great post! As a marketing manager for a modular home manufacturer, I couldn't agree more with this post. My job is to bring the leads in, but without our sales team to close the deal, we would never build any homes.

Keep up the great work!