For those or us old enough to remember, sales was often viewed by millions as something you did to someone, rather than doing something for someone. Sales was seen – and taught – as a kind of manipulation. A person or a company wanted to manipulate their way into a sale, they did it via a process. An example that comes to mind might be the time share industry. Let's take a look, because understanding this principle will be key to the much of what follows. You will see the application and power this can have for the manufactured housing industry. Don't be surprised if an "aha!" moment or two comes your way that will make you or an associate of yours some good money.
Let's start by using the time share example. You get someone into an appointment, often through a promise of a discount at a resort or some gift or a chance at a prize. You then put the prospect through a long sales processes that is virtually choreographed. "You say this, when the prospect says that." Much is scripted.
There are values to scripts and memorization. But one problem is what happens when a person goes off script? What happens when the prospect is to some degree "in the know" as to what you are going to do, as in fact began to happen in the time share Industry? Over time, you dry up your target market, because more and people realize what will happen and so they want no part of it. They either don't come, or they simply "just say no" because they don't want to be manipulated. The wrong intention kills it all.
The above example makes a few key points that at first may seem contradictory to some things we have written and said. Let's take a step back, to understand a key relationship, and then return to the point.
Marketing should set up sales with a prospect, that sums up the goal of marketing. Marketing doesn't sell, it delivers a prospect, and hopefully a steady stream of them. Once you get the prospect, sales takes over. In the modern era of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), prospects may move fluidly in and out of sales and follow up marketing, as with an email campaign to prospects and clients.
But obviously the job of sales professionals is to the MAKE a sale. Many of them!
Some MH Retailers – for example – in their haste to be "unsales-like" and not turn off a prospect, use no sales process. They let the customer wander around open, model homes, hoping they bump into the house they want and magically fall to the floor, open a checkbook and say, "sell me this one!" It can happen, but not often enough. I recall a successful retailer who went from 5 locations to 4, then 3, 2 and 1 doing this. Finally – of course – the last location closed. No system, insufficient sales, overhead far outpaced the sales which took place. They were done.
They had gone from a system, to no system. From success to failure.
But on the other end of the spectrum are those retailers who had a highly scripted process. It was much like a time share sales system in that sense. I am thinking of another example, in another market from the one above. The retailer had good product, somewhat high pricing, did a lot of marketing, had overall good locations (meaning, high traffic spots off major highways in good towns). But as the highly scripted systems became better known, guess what happened? The company I am thinking about in a good state, in better economic times than these are, went from 5 locations, to 4, to 3, then to 1 and done. Their lack of a customer-friendly process made them fail.
As in much of life, the answer is simple. The Solutions are always there if you look for it! Another example or analogy will make the point.
Imagine a professional football team that didn't practice. They had no play book. They had no process for success. How long would a team like that last? Not long! Even great players need a plan! Great players need coaching and play calling. So training is fundamental and a having a process are both critical. The same is true in selling.
Great sales talents realizes their potential precisely through training that is ongoing and routine, just as great teams keep training season after season.
Let's circle back to the top.
The sales process MUST begin with the right intention! If you are trying to manipulate someone, the intention is wrong. Over time then, the sales process that seeks to manipulate will self-destruct.
What works is having a process that is user-friendly for the sales person, and user friendly for the customer.
Now we get to a profound key! Don't sleep, don't snooze, or you will miss it!
Coach Lou Holtz said the following, in his three rules of life:
Three questions people ask you (either openly, subconsciously, or often to themselves):
1) Can I trust you?
2) Are you committed?
3) Do you care about me?
When companies, politicians, sales professionals and others get these 6 points down, look out! Good to Great Results wills follow! And so long as such principles are put into place and set in motion for the long run, long term success will follow!
But notice how all 6 points go back to the intention. If you intend to serve, if you want to serve well, you are setting up the other 6 rules. Coach Holtz started simply with, Do What's Right. The Right Intention, the Right Training will yield the Right Results for the customer AND for the company alike!
The 21st century has more ways to communicate than we never would have dreamed about at the dawn of the 20th century. We had person to person, signs, books, newspapers and magazines 100 years ago. So telephones, radio and TV were all on the horizon a century ago. Those innovations were followed by cable, cells, satellite and finally in the 90s we saw the rise of the Internet. Today we see branches of online, with tablets, text and smartphone use, social networking and more.
We have an amazing ways to reach out and touch someone. But how we do what we do is the difference between long term sales success and eventual failure. And in the end, for a big ticket product like a modular or manufactured home, it still comes down to one on one with people.
Factory built housing is an amazing product. Imagine what would happen if you had two cars, both had the same features, but one was 25% less in price than the other. Which would sell more? All things being equal, the less expensive one, right? With the HUD Code you have entry level VOG homes, and you have more 'residential' tape and textured/finished drywall styles of construction. So you can hit a variety of price points and target markets!
Then why doesn't that make a huge difference in manufactured housing sales? Aha! Therein lies a different subject for a different time. Don't worry, we will continue this periodic series.
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(Editor's note: see more of Tim's columns in the Words of Wisdom and in our Feature Articles section of MHProNews.com. See our news by scrolling the center and left side columns on our home page, and keeping up with Tony Kovach's The Masthead blog.)
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