October 28, 2012

"The 9 Traits"

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” - Dr. Suess

I like that quote, a lot. And the meaning really is truer than true. One area that separates people from each other are individual traits. This is particularly evident in the sales arena and what separates the "haves from the have nots."

 A trait is a distinguishing feature of a person's character. Having quality traits that can translate into business success is an added benefit to you, if you truly want to separate yourself from the pack.
There are two kinds of traits; inherited and learned, meaning you may not have the below traits inherently passed on to you but you absolutely can learn these traits. How? Through making a conscience decision to incorporate these traits into your day to day life and business practices. 
"9 Traits of a Building Industry Sales Professional"
  1. Self awareness - carefully making a first impression is a trait that you must have in order for initial success. Look at yourself in the mirror; would you do business with you? How people see you is how they will view you. Understand the initial meeting and look the part. How you speak, as well as your mannerisms, plays a huge role in first impressions.
  2. The thirst for knowledge – striving for knowledge is just as important, if not more, than having knowledge. Don't you want to expand your mind? The thirst for knowledge is a driving trait that will deliver you success time and time again. If you are the "go to" person that everyone (meaning your accounts) calls, they are doing so because of what you bring to them.
  3. Integrity – can your customers trust you with their prized possession which is their company? Think about this for a moment; would you let someone handle your savings account or retirement plan if you didn't trust them?
  4. Attitude – sometimes I wake up in the morning and I don’t “hit the snooze button” I punch the living s#@t out of it! Make sure that you are in the right frame of mind to conduct business because #1 on this list never ends. Being a positive, "glass is half full" type of person is someone EVERYone wants to be around. Start your day off by looking at positive news reports or stories. Reading feel good quotes can help as well. Smile.
  5. Vision – you need to focus on today but if you only look at today you will miss tomorrow and the trend will begin where you'll be weeks behind. Be prepared for anything in our industry, within your own world.
  6. Tenacity – sales have been hard to come by this past few years and as we see the end of our housing depression we will see a more cautious and frugal customer. How do you react when you get knocked down? Do you bounce back? How do you respond defines a building industry sales professional in your ability to keep going and self correct along the way. 
  7.  Communication – Yes, this is a trait as long as you understand that communication doesn't mean how long you can talk but the quality and usefulness of your words. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Communication absolutely means listening. Listen with sincerity, ask open ended questions, fully understand your accounts' needs and make sure they understand what your needs will be to deliver success for both of you.
  8. Sense of urgency – today’s builder is lean on staff and has a timed calendar; are you “on time?” If you don't have a sense of urgency you surely will see the negative results in your sales totals. Procrastination is one of the death blows for a sales professionals. Prioritize your daily to do list. 
  9. Follow through – If you say you will, then perform with energy and excitement and execute better than “advertised.” Under promise and over deliver will only further your reputation as a sales professional.

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. 

October 21, 2012

"The Attainable, Intangible Sale"

It is a product that is a service.
Can you see it? Can you touch it? How do you know it's there?

When selling a product or service that is optional for an account how do you demonstrate the the value of  "it?"

 Sales representatives will highlight features. Building industry sales professionals will have the customer envision what this product/service will bring to the customers company and help them experience the benefits. Today's blog features John Sizemore, Risk Management at 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty, from Kentucky. John will utilize his product/service as the example in today's blog. John's product is mandated in only a few states so for the vast majority of the time 2-10 professionals are delivering.....

John Sizemore
"The Attainable, Intangible Sale" 
by John Sizemore, CGA, CAPS
2-10 Home Buyers Warranty 
There is a unique challenge in selling a service; yet, a very much needed commodity for businesses for several reasons. There are a few key areas that should be focused on to help make the decision for a potential customer easy; why the company offers the service, what the service can do for a potential customer’s business and how the service works. 
Why was the service created? Most service products are created for one specific type of customer, unlike mass produced tangible products that can easily tweaked and mass marketed. For example, before home warranties were developed, homeowners of newly constructed homes were having quality issues with their homes and having to fight with their builder to get repairs made. Performance guidelines needed to be put in place to protect homeowners and legal documentation was needed to protect the builder from being sued; which is what a home warranty can help do. This is the opener to the story of the product. 
What does the service do for a potential customer’s business? Efficiency is one of the greatest benefits that a service can add to a business mix. They can save a customer time instead of doing the leg work themselves and/or money from having to pay an in-house salaried employee to do it. For example, a home warranty reduces unnecessary callbacks to a builder’s warranty department. This gives the builder more time in the field and leaves the end user, the home buyer, with a peace of mind knowing that their new home investment is protected with a third party insurance-backed warranty.  Potential customers can also benefit from a service product as they offer a personalized experience and are focused on relationship building. In most cases, services assign a representative or account manager to a customer (company) who takes the time to understand and know your business. This gives the service personality and makes it more relatable. For example, instead of referencing a warranty company as 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty®, it’s referenced as John from 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty.
How does the service work? The story has been built up; a need has been created for the service. This is where a run-down of the service is explained. Many service products offer tangible products as well for an added benefit, such as marketing materials to help educate consumers. In most cases, the materials help to highlight why a consumer should go with that particular company because of the added benefit of the service product. This helps put the potential customer at ease knowing they have materials they need for implementation of the service product.  To view examples of the 2-10 Home Buyers Warranty builder marketing materials visit warranty.2-10.com/member-marketing-materials
Answering the questions above can help in developing the persuasive case for the service product being sold. Whether intangible or tangible product, there is a story to be told. 

 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

October 14, 2012

"Social or Successful? Yes, You Are"

Remember "back in the day" when you met business peers and connections through the good old fashioned general membership meeting?  How about when your business contacts learned about you through face to face conversation or hearsay? Extended contact? Emails and never changing websites. Our marketing universe has gone supernova in making an impression and extending a relationship through the online world. In fact, the world is alot smaller these days.
Today's guest blogger, known as "The Visionary Diva," is Dianne D. Beaton from New Hampshire. Dianne is opening another path towards becoming a building industry sales professional, a path that if learned and applied correctly, can give you, your product and your company a powerful marketing arsenal.

Dianne D. Beaton
"Social or Successful? Yes, You Are"

                         by Dianne D. Beaton, CGA, CAPS
                              2DiFore Marketing Solutions

Are you just “fitting in” your social media strategy or do you have a plan?

Social media….. You’ve heard about it, but you may not really understand how it works. You probably participate on Twitter and Facebook, but what about some of the others like Google+? Oh no…now, Pinterest? What’s a company to do? 

First of all calm down. You don't have to be on every social media platform. In fact, one of the worst things you can do for your company’s brand is to join a new platform and then give up on it because, either you don’t have the time or your message goes out to the wrong audience.
Look at each of the social media platforms, what they have to offer, and then decide if they will work for you. Do you want your customers to comment or engage in discussion? Then Twitter and Facebook might be the best avenues for you to pursue. Does your business have a niche? Technology seems to flock to Google+ while those businesses that rely on visuals and graphics seem to be doing well with Pinterest
Understand your audience and then use that information to target your message by only joining social networking sites that are relevant and natural for your organization’s message. When you start participating in social media, understand that your goal is to become a valued member of the community. Embrace the culture, jump in, and start sharing, communicating and giving your audience constant value. 

Whichever platform you decide to use, bone up on the platform’s protocol, for example, Twitter uses 140 characters per message – make them count and don’t just cut up a longer message and send it out as separate tweets. Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes you look more like the awkward elephant in the playground than acting like one
Familiarize yourself with each of the platforms – enough that you get a good grasp of the lingo used and its landscape and culture. There are enough free e-books written on each of the platforms to help you understand how they work.
Next, take a look at what your competition is doing in these social media spaces. Where are they hanging out? What are they using each platform for (publication, promotion, conversation)? You can get a quick sense of what's working for them by paying attention to where they spend their time and effort.
Lastly, be clear about your social media goals. Not to be zen on you, but if you want to participate in social media, then you have to participate in social media. A tweet once or twice a day announcing a new blog post is not engaging in social media. A tweet on a new blog post, followed by a question, followed by pointers to additional information, followed by replies to any responses you may get – now that’s engaging in social media. You should establish set times and frequencies for your social media. You shouldn’t be spending your entire day responding to various posts, but you should be checking in on a regular basis and your customers should get the impression that you are actively engaged in the conversation. 

It’s not about you
Social media is like any other networking exercise.  You have to go into it saying, "What can I contribute?" rather than, "What can I get?"  If your social media strategy, either personally or as a company, is just about spamming your message outward, it will not be effective.  However, if you use social media as a way to listen to your customers, market, and respond in a helpful way, then you can positively impact your personal and professional brand in a way that will benefit your customers and get you noticed.

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