March 18, 2012

"The Value of NAHB: Volunteerism as a Benefit"

Two weeks ago, I published an article by NAHB's CEO Jerry Howard highlighting (click here)"The Value of NAHB Membership." The article described several areas where builder members benefited, financially, by NAHB actions. On the surface, an associate would remark, "that's great but what benefits do I gain by being an NAHB member?" I won't go into detail here, as I have written in past blog articles, but as I am known to say, "if it affects builders, it will affect associates." Let's move from the legislative benefits that provide sales opportunities and let's look at the "other" benefits of membership for an associate. If you look closely, these types of benefits are rewarding IF you take advantage of all the HBA has to offer you and your company. Past articles, here on "Association Maximization," such as (click here)"Social Capital" can  help you understand the value of NAHB membership. Read the article, then come back and continue reading.

Hopefully you read the article and I won't go into the details except for highlighting the key point  of the article; joining a committee. Understand that you cannot USE the HBA for business because that method will derail your efforts. What you are actually doing is helping the HBA through committee work and, through your efforts, you will be able to UTILIZE the HBA. 
Once you have joined a committee of interest, and are comfortable with the committee's focus, direction and who the main characters are, become actively involved on that committee. As I wrote in the previous article, other members will get to know you on a personal level. How you interact goes a long way in determining  how much trust they have in your abilities, your commitment and, most importantly, your follow through.

The obvious question that you have for me is "Mike, how can I derive valuable benefits, that will help me with a return on my HBA investment, from joining and participating on a committee?" Keep in mind that I will answer this question by focusing on associates working with other associates. The value of working with builders on committees is in the article I asked you to read.
Here are some guiding points that I believe will help you understand. :

  1. You will meet, and work with, other associates who are from different building industry disciplines but share a common interest with you; current book of business and gaining opportunities to do additional business with builders, or other associate members. This is the start of building your social capital.
  2. By growing your social capital you will be actually increasing your sales efforts. "How?" Imagine how much time and effort it takes to perform the dreaded cold call. Once you figure out the gate keeper, which could be a person or the hated voice-mail, and you have direct contact with the potential customer, you then need to convince the them to meet with you. They may very well have an existing and established relationship with your competitor(s). 67% of all cold calls take 10 months or longer to deliver business. 10 months OR LONGER. How much is that worth to you in dollars spent with regards to time and lost commissions? Developing friendships through committee involvement could help you shave off months of time because those other associates may have relationships already with your targeted potential accounts. Instead of a cold call you are personally introduced to, in most cases, the decision maker by the associates you work with at the HBA. The laws of reciprocity always apply, make sure this is a two-way street. Other advantages of utilizing other associates would also include gaining knowledge of builder job starts/projections, volume of associate company's sales and if the builder/associate is a solid account.
  3. This also applies to building relationships with the HBA executive officers. These professionals are at the forefront of our industry, know the business-active builders, as well as associates, and most likely can help with introductions. Again, reciprocity; the EO will be more inclined to help those who help the HBA. It's only human nature but mutually beneficial.
In a proverbial nutshell? You expand your sales efforts, through your social capital connections, thereby increasing your visibility and, by extension, your company's brand. The average HBA membership is approximately $650.00. I'm assuming that that may be, in some cases, less that a week's salary. Again, think about how much time it takes to develop a relationship with ONE potential customer through cold calling. I emphasized above 10 months of the 67% of the time it takes to sign up a new account. That approximately 40 weeks, take a few days or so. Is one week's salary invested to save multiple weeks of cold calling worth it? Did I mention that time frame is only for ONE potential customer?
You may say "Mike, I will be losing sales time by being involved on a committee." Yes, you will absolutely lose time if you don't utilize the committee's overall benefits and just go through the motions of volunteerism. Stop looking at it as a loss of time and become aware of the time saved by having help from fellow members. 

No one can force you to take my advice. Understand that the "potential wisdom" in my advice came from watching and learning successful associates over my past 25 years within NAHB.  All sales professionals will try and find the right angles in successful selling. At the end of the day relationship selling will always win. This is just one potential benefit of your membership investment. Next week we will discuss the potential benefit of knowledge.

Submitted by: Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP


Anonymous said...

These are excellent points. For the associate looking for business from the association I can think of no better way!

I don't know where you get the energy to keep us all informed. Thank you!

John Scott, BRHBA said...

Fantastic article--totally agree with the idea of associate to associate realationships increasing business with buidlers--been preaching this for years!!!