As a child, the only part I liked about going to the grocery store with my mother was picking out our box of cereal for the week. It’s not that I was overly fond of cereal, but more the rush of excitement I felt when looking over all of the brightly colored displays to see what toy would be at the bottom of the box. Of course my mother could save a few bucks with an off brand that tasted the exact same, but the name brand cereal came with a glow in the dark tattoo!!
Then life forced me to become an adult….
During my training as a new sales rep I was exposed to the wizard behind the curtain and soon became very jaded with all the advertisements for outrageous sales and free gifts with my purchase. If that sofa could be marked down 50% just for Labor Day, then why were they trying to rip my head off the rest of the year? That “free” sound system looks nice, but how much is that truck marked up to cover the cost of your generous gift?
I would venture to say that in the factory built housing industry, this practice of enticing a customer to make a life changing purchase with the lure of an exploding one time offer happens more than anywhere else. Of course a few customers still sign on the dotted in exchange for a “free” washer and dryer, but more and more, customers are getting wise to the games and gimmicks that have made up the bulk of the sales process in this industry over the last decade. Search engines and social media sites have given the customer the power to do their research and identify their desired home before they even engage a sales rep. The more empowered buyers have been shopping for a factory built home for some period of time then they’ve more than likely realized that there is a new sale every month for some reason or another. If they haven’t made a purchase yet then there is some problem that a “free” flat screen TV just will not solve.
The problems our customers have are not unique to them. Every home buyer that purchases a manufactured or modular home has to find solutions to the same set of issues before they can move forward with a home purchase:
- Can I even get approved for a home loan?
- Ok I’m approved, but will the payments fit my budget?
- Great I know what price I need to stay under, but no one has pricing on their websites!
- Where am I going to place my home?
- What site work do I need?
- How do I get started?
- If a dealer in this industry cannot help their customers identify solutions to these basic problems then no amount of freebies will entice someone to move forward with their purchase.In today’s market, sales teams need to be trained on immaculate follow up and how to flush out the customer’s problem. The factory built housing industry as a whole deals with entry level home buyers so our customers, more than any others, need someone who will walk them through the home buying process. They are looking for a consultant, not a sales person. Someone who will help identify and solve problems they didn’t even know to ask about. The gimmicks and freebies come across as desperate, not something a professional would do.
Good customer follow up is all about helping people identify problems that need to be solved. If you and your customer have already found the right home and your best possible offer did not entice them to buy that day, then simply ask the question, “What do you need my team working on to earn your business.” Most customers appreciate that approach and will be happy to have an expert helping them work through whatever issues are holding up their dream of home ownership. High intensity voicemails about the new special of the day and how all of sudden the same home is thousands of dollars cheaper just makes customers question the integrity of the initial offer and therefore the integrity of the sales rep.
People buy from those they trust. This is a fact in any sales related business, but especially true in an industry where customers are counting on their sales rep to help guide them through the most stressful and significant financial decision of their lives. When you genuinely care about those you help this becomes easy. Helping your customers solve their problems is a sincere gesture and is thus perceived as such. There is no need at this point to hide behind gimmicky sales games and free gifts. After all, home buyers are looking for problem solvers – Not Santa Claus!
–General Manager at Mobile Homes Direct 4 Less