The job of senior management is to look at the big picture and identify the best opportunities for growth and increased profitability. Consequently, senior management teams at many of our manufacturer members are redirecting resources and hiring new staff to pursue the opportunity to increase business in the home building space.
They also are creating promotional campaigns that include some form of direct content marketing. It’s a great strategy for pursuing such an attractive growth opportunity, but execution is the key.
Does your team have what it needs?
Middle management takes the builder sales strategy and develops the plan for the sales and marketing team to execute. Too many times, the change in strategy is conveyed to the larger team without supplying the tools or training needed for execution.
This can happen for a few reasons:
- Middle managers may have a clear understanding of the changes required by the new strategy and believe it is obvious to everyone within the sales and marketing team.
- Middle managers may lack experience working closely with home builders since it has not been a focus for a large part of their careers.
- Budget constraints may also hamper efforts to prepare their team for execution.
The five basic steps manufacturers need to take to prepare their sales and marketing teams to pursue the growing home builder market are:
1) Clarify what it means to focus on home builders. If a manufacturer sales team has typically pursued direct/distributor sales channels, reps will likely be confused or hesitant about calling on the customer of a dealer or distributor. The team needs to know that their goal is not to change the distribution of products, but simply to drive the builder to update their selections to the manufacturer’s product.
2) Clearly explain the focus on home builders and why is it in the best interest of the team. The sales and marketing teams need to be on the same page regarding the objectives for the change in strategy.
3) Clearly identify the target market. As with consumers, builders are not all the same; they have different needs and buying hot buttons which are not always obvious. As the sales effort transitions to focus on builders, the sales and marketing teams need to know how to recognize the differences in builders, segment them, and modify the message to appeal to each segment.
4) Create the product message to deliver to the builder. Every manufacturer and every product have certain strengths and attractive characteristics; these likely are not appreciated universally by builders, dealers, and distributors. The team needs an understanding of the best message to deliver to each type of customer.
5) Compensate the sales team to support the objectives of selling to builders. Many factors go into driving a conversion at the builder level. Specific sales are hard to quantify since the transaction does not typically occur between the builder and the manufacturer. Anyone who has ever been a sales rep or who has worked with sales reps knows, the pay plan drives pretty much everything. Especially in situations where sales reps are required to divide time between calling on builders and calling on dealers, they will spend their time where they can see the greatest connection with compensation. Manufacturers need to ensure the compensation plan is set up to encourage their sales team to call on builders.
Manufacturers that invest time and a bit of money in preparing their sales and marketing teams to pursue their new construction strategies, will see significantly larger benefits than their competition. Don’t wait to take advantage of the opportunities created by the growing housing market.