September 30, 2012


Since our last industry downturn at the end of the 80's, early 90's, during the time frame of 1993 through 2007, most sales representatives were mostly order takers. There really wasn't a glaring need for sales professionals. Wind shield time was critical in order to plan your day and a great working relationship with your company's staff assigned to help deliver product or service was a necessity (still hasn't changed).  Business was flowing, projects were flourishing, commissions were up and life was good. Slowly, the building slow down that started in 2005 was being felt by associates in late '06 and throughout '07 and almost three quarters of '08 . The proverbial well was drying up. But all indicators were showing a slow recovery. Happy days will be back before you..... September 2008.

Let's fast forward to 2012 and beyond because there is no sense in rehashing the industry depression we, some of us anyway, have lived through. Let's talk about the new industry and what it will be like for sales professionals and what will be needed now and long term.


Building Industry Sales Professional. 

OK, B.I.S.P. is definitely not a sexy acronym. I wasn't looking for sexy when I started this post; I was, am, looking for a separation. That separation being the difference between a sales representative, someone just looking to sell a product or service, and an industry professional, one who understands their customers' business and how the product or service works within the builders' project.

 I have met quite a few sales representatives in my career and I have met a fair amount of sales professionals as well.  The professionals are looking for long term, career making success. The sales representatives I have experienced are looking for short term, "need it now, might not be here tomorrow" gratification. I'm quite positive that most employers  just would like sales results and leave the sales techniques to the individual. Nothing wrong there, if that's your preference. However, I can guarantee you that your company is viewed by the employees you keep, your sales growth and retention is  directly tied to the professionalism of the representative. Sales professionals look for the opportunities for both associate and builder. Sales professionals perform at a higher level, and it shows. 
A typical sales representative will visit with builders, find out how many starts or projects they will have in a certain time frame, drop off numbers, company brochures, a credit application (if new account) and latest product information. Sounds like a good plan. Maybe. Let's check on the sales professional and his or her day;

  1. Before visiting with builder visit builders web page. Find out what type of product the builder offers.
  2. Visit a project recently built by builder. 
  3. Ask questions, regarding builder, of fellow associates who may have business dealings with builder.
  4. Find out who your competition will be, visit their websites, maybe even locations if applicable.
  5. Find out type of project the builder is asking you to come in to discuss. Preliminary conversation with builder is appreciated; builder knows you are serious about meeting.
  6. Understand what building industry issues are present that could cause your potential or current account problems with permits, bank loans, appraisals or other factors. Your local home builders association membership can easily provide that information.
  7. Day of visit all material that will be used is updated and relevant to the builders needs.
  8. Dress the part, both men and women.
  9. Do not waste the builders time in these meetings by being unprepared. Over the past several years, many builders have downsized to a point where they may have staff wearing many hats and can't afford any time in the day being down time or it's the builder making the decision but also selling the house, filing the permits, dealing with building departments, etc. Don't assume anything because nothing is as it was. 

I know this may be your style already, however, you would be surprised (maybe not) of how often the above does not take place. The day of the meeting, if the above has been given thorough consideration, is  the day you know if your a sales representative or sales professional. 
  1. Come prepared because you know the builder will not tolerate a wasted hour in their schedule.
  2. You deliver your presentation in a way that the builder feels like you are on their team already.
  3. You show the benefit of how your product or service becomes a value to the builder.
  4. You demonstrate how the builder can provide value, with your product or service, to the end user, meaning potential home buyer or current home owner.
  5. You will never be able to avoid price. Most sales gurus will say never discuss price because then it allows transfer of control of meeting. News flash..... price, in today's economically challenged world will be on the top of every builders mind. If you think I'm wrong you haven't been paying attention to the building industry or you have a product that is needed and have zero competition. It's how you deliver the price, tied in with benefit translated to value, that fades the possible price objection.
  6. Always ask open ended questions. Obvious I know, actually done, not so much. Keep the conversation flowing. Make sure you understand the builders needs and make sure you leave presentation knowing a direction for follow up or actual contracts being signed.
  7. Never say you "closed the deal." A sales representative looks at it as closing a deal. Unless your product or service is a one time purchase, with no need for additional contact, you are "opening a relationship."
The sales professional has opened up the relationship. The sales representative has closed the deal. The professional knows the hard part is now starting whereas the representative is content knowing that they have landed a new account and moves on to the next target.
Growing business is the objective but losing business while attempting to grow business is like spinning your tires in snow. They are moving but you're not. 
This next part is something I'm fond of explaining to new sales professionals;
"In the beginning, it was wonderful. Wine, roses, 4 star restaurants. Being attentive to her needs was of utmost concern. You propose, she says yes and you have 'opened the relationship' to the next level. What happens next is up to you but sometimes men let themselves go and what used to be wine & roses is now beer and the remote. The romance has faded to a distant memory and so, as happens so many times, has the marriage." 
My point; everything you have done to open the relationship with the builder has to be maintained after the relationship has reached the next level. Just like a marriage that gives the neglected or under appreciated spouse the opportunity to see what may be available elsewhere so will the builder if you neglect them or take advantage of the relationship. Whatever you did to earn their trust, stick with it. Improve upon it, maybe find new ways to keep the relationship exciting to both. The sales representative is laughing at my analogy right now. The sale professional's eyebrows have raised and they are nodding their head in agreement. 
Who do you think will be successful? 


or him?



Next week our Sales 101 series will break down today's post and deliver continuing building industry education
advise, utilization and implementation. Education is never ending and changes in the building industry are constant. Professionals keep open minds and welcome career shaping habits. Education, if delivered properly, can be habit forming.

If you have any comments or extra advise on this or any blog articles, you are welcome by posting below or in the comments section of the social media site you may have found Association Maximization.

If you have any suggestions for articles in the future, or you would like to be a guest blogger, click on my name below and contact me. Posts must somehow be relevant to our NAHB membership and not a commercial for your product or service.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

NAHB 2nd Vice Chairman Membership Committee
Past NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman
Past NAHB National Associate Chairman

(click here) NAHB Advocacy - The Passion of an Industry podcast

September 23, 2012

"The Basics of Selling to Builders 101"

Today's post announces a series of educational blog posts designed to help associates understand their career and those they need to have a successful career. The posts will go "old school" on some occasions and "21st century" on others. 
As the building industry begins its ascent from the deepest bottom we have ever experienced some will be experiencing something that hasn't happened to them yet; a need for a product or service. Some may remember what it was like when busy meant writing orders or signing contracts, not busy just looking for opportunities. Some may have had a "book of business" and have had successes but the industry has changed dramatically and what had worked to bring, maintain and grow business, may not be the "new" building industry's way to continue with what was.

The first post, starting next week, will describe the differences between a sales person and a "B.I.S.P." (I know you're curious about the "B.I.S.P.") Then our topics will take us to what impacts builders have experienced, your competitors, the sales cycle, must do's and absolute don'ts as well as relationship selling (yes, it's always going to be about relationships).

Enjoy your first full day of Autumn, everyone.

If you have any suggestions for articles in the future, or you would like to be a guest blogger, click on my name below and contact me. Posts must somehow be relevant to our NAHB membership and not a commercial for your product or service.

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

Past NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman
Past NAHB National Associate Chairman

(click here) NAHB Advocacy - The Passion of an Industry podcast

September 16, 2012

NAHB Associate Members Committee Update

Today's guest blogger is Dianne D. Beaton , our 2012 NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman. Dianne is one day back from NAHB's 2012 Fall Board Meeting that was held in Austin, Texas. As the saying goes "everything is big in Texas" and Dianne is here to deliver big news.....
NAHB Associate Members Committee Update
by Dianne D. Beaton, CGA, CAPS

Dianne D. Beaton, CGA, CAPS
Over the past few days many of your associate leaders came together in Austin, Texas to discuss topics that help to improve your membership experience.
Some of the topics discussed;

1. Strengthening our involvement in housing advocacy and "in district workweeks" with your congressional delegation.
2. The Designations & Training subcommittee made a recommendation to standing committee to rename the "designation renewal fee" to an "online promotional fee."
3. Leadership & Recognition subcommittee completed the revisions and updates to the chairs, vice chairs and subcommittees duties as well as responsibilities. In addition, they completed the first revision of National Associate Chairman duties and requirements with additional suggestions that were presented during standing committee meeting. The team is working on the revisions of the Associate Members Committee and Associate Outreach Network Reference Guide.

The most exciting section of our meeting was the election of our 2013 National Associate Chairman. We heard from our candidates, Kathy Craven-Snodgrass, North Carolina, and Monica Sommerfeldt-Lewis, Wisconsin. They both gave compelling statements of why they would be the best nominee to represent associate members from across our Federation. 

Dianne D. Beaton and  The 2013 National Associate Chairman, Kathy Craven-Snodgrass

We would like to congratulate Kathy Craven-Snodgrass who was selected by our committee to lead our associates and will be installed during the 2013 International Builders Show, Las Vegas, Nevada.

I would like to personally thank Kathy and Monica for stepping forward. Both ran exceptional campaigns. As with any contested election, emotions run high and each handled the pressures of this process with grace and professionalism.

At this meeting we opened up nominations for the 2013 Associate BUILD-PAC Chairman officer position. Please send request to me (click here) by September 28th, 2012 along with a bio and reasons why you believe you would be qualified for this role.

To end our meeting we heard from Steve Holzer, NAHB BMIT Integration subcommittee. The IT Integration Subcommittee of the Business Management and Information Technology (BMIT) committee has identified Building Information Modeling (BIM) as an advance in technology that will greatly impact our industry in the near future.

The Building SMART Alliance (a council of the National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS) is charged with the development of the National Building Information Modeling Standard for the United States (NBIMS-US).  The Building Smart Alliance is also a chapter of Building Smart International, an ISO Standards body. They are working to put in place a Memorandum of Agreement between the Building Smart Alliance and NAHB. This agreement would give us a seat on the Board of Directors of the Building Smart Alliance as well as (5) additional memberships that we can utilize to have our members participate in the workgroups to develop the next version of the NBIMS-US (Version 3).If you are interested in learning more about the Smart Alliance please get in touch with Stephen J. Holzer.

We look forward to hopefully seeing as many of you as possible at our next Associate Members Committee, also during the 2013 International Builders Show.

 If you have any suggestions for articles in the future, or you would like to be a guest blogger, click on my name below and contact me. Posts must somehow be relevant to our NAHB membership and not a commercial for your product or service.


Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

Immediate Past NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman
Immediate Past NAHB National Associate Chairman

(click here) NAHB Advocacy - The Passion of an Industry podcast

September 9, 2012

"The 'Other' NAHB Associate Leadership Position"

The "other." To have an "other" there must be another. Associates, at the NAHB level of leadership, have as a junior officer position the National Associate Chairman. This position is the highest level, at least at the moment, that an associate can attain in leadership volunteerism. The "other" refers to the leadership position for associate members within BUILD-PAC, our national political action committee. Both positions have the two associate leaders engaged with builders, sharing associate view points within their respective areas and initiatives.
Today's guest blogger is Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis, NAHB's Associate BUILD-PAC Vice Chairman. Monica first took her seat with her fellow BUILD-PAC officers, all builder members of NAHB, at the 2011 BUILD-PAC Trustee Meeting. Advocacy is the NAHB's number 1 priority for the benefit of all members, builders and associates. Monica would like to share her thoughts on this position and, as her two year term closes at IBS 2013, hopefully shed light and give advice for anyone interested in heading down this path of leadership.   

Reflections on Filling an Associate Leadership Chair
By: Monica Sommerfeldt Lewis CAPS, CGA

As the first BUILD-PAC Associate Officer, I wanted to share not only what this position is, but my thoughts on what this position means. At IBS 2013, I will complete my two year term serving in one of the new, and maybe the longest titled, NAHB leadership positions – Associate Vice Chair of the Executive Committee of Build-PAC. The selection of the next Associate to fill this term will be done prior to IBS, so now is a great time to explain this position and invite interested Associates to step forward.

A little history on this position, BUILD-PAC policy was changed in 2010 to create the Associate BUILD-PAC Officer. Mike Kurpiel, who worked with the Officers to create this position stated, “If it affects builders, it will affect associates. Understanding this critical component to an entire building industry effort in advocacy was the driving force in working with the 2010 BUILD-PAC Officers to bring an associate to their team and to continue the position into the years to come”. Tom Woods, BUILD-PAC Chairman when the position was created, also talked about Associates and Builders being on the same team, stating that, “We have to work together if we are going to win. Since Associates make up 2/3 of our Association, it was important that an Associate was on the BUILD-PAC Officer team."

So what does being the Associate Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee of BUILD-PAC mean? First, there is no cool acronym, like AVCECB or anything. Most of the correspondence that goes out from the BUILD-PAC Officers just says Associate Chairman after my name. The position is different from the Associate BUILD-PAC Trustee (Sean Olin), or Associate Members Advocacy Subcommittee Chair (Diana Lucero). We all have different job titles and descriptions, but we are all involved with increasing Associate involvement in advocacy and BUILD-PAC. My position serves with the BUILD-PAC Chairman, 1st Vice Chairman, 2nd Vice Chairman, 3rd Vice Chairman, and the Immediate Past Chair as Officers of BUILD-PAC. All Chairmen except the Associate Vice Chair are Builders appointed by an incoming Senior Officer of NAHB and climb the ladder each year with the Builder that appointed them. The Associate Vice Chair is selected by the appointed BUILD-PAC Officers to serve a 2 year term, with no ladder.

As an Officer we administer the BUILD-PAC funds. This includes controlling disbursements of PAC dollars, monitoring Trustee obligations, and fundraising efforts. Most funds are disbursed based on requests from BUILD-PAC Trustees appointed by each State. The Officers review the total dollar amounts of requests prior to the Trustee meetings held in conjunction with NAHB Board Meetings. Depending on where we are in the fundraising cycle, we have asked Trustees to limit amounts requested or postpone requests.

We also handle compliance of Trustees with their obligations. This is a fine line of diplomacy. Trustees are appointed by every State, plus several of our Councils have Trustees (PWB, Associates, Remodelers, etc). For the last two years, there has been a concerted effort by the BUILD-PAC Officers to enforce the commitments each trustee accepts with their position. This has required making outreach calls to help get state events planned and scheduled.

In addition, the Officers preside over the BUILD-PAC Trustee meetings. During these meetings, reports on the status of the PAC funds and the business of approving PAC requests are done. The Officers also have monthly, and sometimes biweekly, conference calls to discuss fundraising initiatives, handle emergency requests, oversee our Club events, and discuss legislative and NAHB issues.

What was an unexpected feature of this position? As Officers, we are so engaged with NAHB’s Government Affairs Staff. They are on all of our calls and at our meetings. They keep us apprised of legislative issues, campaign issues, state issues and provide key information necessary to distribute BUILD-PAC funds to candidates. This last election cycle saw redistricting, retirements leading to open seats, and contested battles of incumbents. Mix that with a really bad economy and a housing crisis - their input was invaluable. By the way, we have incredible Government Affairs Staff at NAHB. Our lobbyists know who and what is happening and their insight into DC politics is better than any TV or radio show!

The Officers I serve with are an impressive group, also. These Builders take advocacy and NAHB seriously. Their commitment, dedication and knowledge are why several of them are or will be Senior Officers in the near future. Most also serve as NAC’s (National Area Chairmen) or State Reps and have chaired Federal Government Affairs. Serving at this level with these NAHB leaders is truly challenging and motivating.

So, how can you be the next Associate Vice Chair at BUILD-PAC? First, to qualify for the position the Associate Vice Chair needs to maintain a Gold Key Club commitment. There is also a time commitment. We meet every month via phone call, and sometimes biweekly. We also have BUILD-PAC Officer meetings in person during the week of NAHB Director meetings. These are normally held on the same day as the NAHB Executive Committee meetings which is a day earlier than subcommittee and Associate Outreach Network meetings. You are also required to be at Legislative Conference.

And last, but most important, this position is responsible to actively fundraise for BUILD-PAC, especially among Associates. When Granger McDonald, Chairman my first year, was asked why an Associate position was created, he responded, “When the vast majority of our association is made up of associates, and the associates make up a huge percentage of the BUILD-PAC contributors, it only seemed reasonable to put an associate in the mix.” This basically sets the tone for the position. While Associates do not contribute as many large dollar amounts as Builders, the lists of members who give at the Club 2012 and Century Club are filled with Associates. The Associate BUILD-PAC Officer needs to make a big commitment to helping the Associate Members Committee get the BUILD-PAC message back to the members in their States and Locals.

It has been my pleasure and honor to serve as the first Associate Vice President at BUILD-PAC. If you are interested in knowing more about this position or how you can get involved, please contact me at:

 If you have any suggestions for articles in the future, or you would like to be a guest blogger, click on my my name below and contact me. Posts must somehow be relevant to our NAHB membership and not a commercial for your product or service.


Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP 

Immediate Past NAHB Associate Members Committee Chairman
Immediate Past NAHB National Associate Chairman

(click here) NAHB Advocacy - The Passion of an Industry podcast