July 2, 2015

The Associate Whisperer: Selling to Builders

Most of us have heard of the term "the horse whisperer." But what does that term really mean? According to Dictionary.com, it means "a person who tames and trains horses by gentle methods and speech."
Associate members, I am in no way comparing you to horses but I am hoping to help turn you into sales thoroughbreds. What if I said that the only way to sell to builders is to have them give you methods and ideas on how to sell... to them. One of the greatest sales training opportunities we have as associates is the availability and extreme value of direct knowledge by our very own builder members. 
Think about this for a moment...
Have a builder from each discipline, wherever applicable, on a panel. I'm referring to;
  1. custom home builder 
  2. remodeler 
  3. mixed use builder
  4. multi-family builder (for sale)
  5. multi-family (rental)
  6. large volume (regional or statewide)
  7. national builder
Some states, like my state of New Jersey, have all 6 disciplines. You could throw in commercial builders but it is rare to have any as members as NAIOP handles that type of builder discipline.

Select a well known associate (could be a builder) to moderate the panel. Create a series of questions  for the panel's moderator. Suggestions but you can have your own or add to them;
  1. What does your bid process look like? 
  2. What are you looking for in a potential vendor?
  3. Should we have better products or services training for you to up-sell your customers?
  4. What makes you happy about a vendor's customer service?
  5. What makes you want to change vendors?
  6. How does a potential vendor break in with you if you have an established relationship already?
  7. Does being a member of the HBA have a value as a deciding factor in the awarding the bid?
 The conversations will flow and, while there may be similarities in answers, I can safely say that there are quite a few difference in how to approach, bid and conduct business with each discipline. Selling to builders is not difficult for those who understand.

The above will give you insight into what builders desire from a current or potential trade vendor. To take it one step further, placing you, the vendor, in the mind of a builder, I would also recommend that associates look into the Certified Graduate Associate designation program given through NAHB Education. One course in particular has a terrific value as it main thrust is to build your industry expertise; the Basics of Building. When you learn about the construction process you learn exactly where you product or service "fits in" during the entire process. Most important part? You have a greater understanding of what's going on inside the mind of the builder at any given time during construction phases and that is a huge help.

Getting by just to get by doesn't cut it anymore in today's building world. Knowledge is power and awareness is critical if you want to be successful. 

The worst that can happen is you learn. The best that can happen? That's entirely up to you.


Dianne Beaton said...

Great blog article Mike! We've got some new blood in NH and I will be sharing this with these future leaders....Happy 4th of July!

Michael Kurpiel, CGA, CGP said...

Thank you, Dianne. Happy 4th, be safe

Kavi Priya said...

Great post. I really learned some new things in here. So thanks.

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