If you want to grow your sales to homebuilders, knowing how to work with their purchasing department is critical. I surveyed the purchasing leaders of 30 builders to find out what they look for from a manufacturer.
Here are my questions and their answers:
1) What do you want from a building product or supplier sales rep?
a) 90 days advance notice of price increases, availability issues or product changes
b) More knowledgeable reps that understand their own products and the business of homebuilding
c) Reps who listen first before they start selling
2) What’s the best way to sell you a new product?
a) Show me how it will differentiate me or help me improve my profit margin
b) Offer me promotional pricing or even free product to try the product
c) Tell me how other builders are successfully using the product
3) What are your biggest concerns about new products
a) Will they increase my costs?
b) Is there a perceived value? Will the homebuyer pay for it?
c) How long has it been in use? What problems will arise?
4) What is the best way to convert you from another supplier?
a) Let us try you out on a project or development and show us how much better it will be with you
b) Provide equal product at a better value (Notice they didn’t say lower price)
c) “I’m lazy (very busy) so give me a compelling reason to change and make it easy for me
5) What’s the best way to keep your business?
a) Competitive pricing (doesn’t have to be lowest)
b) Don’t take us for granted – stay in touch and act like you want our business
c) Do what you say and tell us the truth
6) What frustrates you most about a manufacturer or supplier?
a) Unexpected price increases or product changes
b) When companies just sell me and forget me
c) Uneducated high pressure sales people
d) Companies that sell us new product and then don’t support us with sales or installation training
7) What do your best suppliers do?
a) Give me great reps who
i) Are knowledgeable
ii) Are empowered to solve my problems quickly with a minimum amount of corporate bull shit
iii) Don’t surprise me
iv) Act like they are committed to my success
Sure there are shortsighted purchasing people and builders who are only focused on price and have no loyalty or appreciation for your extra effort. These builders don’t deserve your time and attention.
If you go after the more successful builders, you will find they are more sophisticated and will value your efforts, as they outlined in their responses above.
The two biggest takeaways are how much the builder’s purchasing teams value great reps and advance notice of changes, especially pricing.