Home Building Sales Plan your sales journey

Plan your sales journey

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Plan your sales journey

You don’t close sales deals in the LBM business; you open relationships. You don’t want a single transaction from a buyer; you want to develop loyal customer relationships that endure for years. If you agree with these first two concepts, then you should probably agree that selling must be more than a quick “bid and pray” process.

Price-based selling leads to bad results even when you get the sale. A quick sale earned by a single interaction with a prospect is a bad sign. It means the buyer might be disloyal and lost as quickly as found. It could be a sign of bad credit or perhaps a sale produced because you made a mistake on your price.

A business relationship should be mapped out like any journey toward a destination. For most salespeople the journey is a meandering process where the destination is reached serendipitously. Instead, it should be an intentional journey you map out before the process begins. The journey starts with lead generation, which is more than a name of a prospect. A lead is a dialogue with a potential buyer who has expressed an interest in meeting with you. More importantly, it is a buyer with whom you want to do business. A lot of sales organizations are derailed because they haven’t defined their target audience. Define your target and seek to open meaningful dialogues.

The first dialogue should achieve a fundamental understanding of the buyer’s business challenges. It is the only way you can determine how to apply your products and services to benefit the customer. This leads to the next step of providing valuable resources that position you as a positive contributor by becoming an unpaid employee and providing tangible resources that help your target customer sell better or operate more efficiently. Yes, I am suggesting that the relationships and contributions you offer start prior to the first transaction.

The initial transaction comes after a credible proposal is delivered, which is the next step on your sales journey. A credible proposal includes information that proves to the buyer you understand their goals, challenges, and operating

procedures. Your proposal should define predicted outcomes—e.g. deadlines met, cooperation with subcontractors, and returns on investment your buyer will get from you. The proposal should also include an action plan that lists mutual responsibilities for order processing and payment terms. Naturally your proposal should include a price, which you should expect to hold firm if you’ve built the proper journey and relationship with your buyer.

The last step in the journey is actually the most difficult. This is the execution where you take a leadership role to ensure the first transactions are fulfilled accurately and on time. Your initial orders should be treated as an onboarding process to minimize surprises early in the relationship.

I built my first intentional sales journey early in my career as an architectural sales rep. My first meeting was to discover if I had found the right type of residential architect, specifically one who designed upscale custom homes. I delivered my company’s thin brochure and scheduled a follow up to deliver technical support information on the subsequent call. During that second call, I shared a bit more information and sought to discover any projects in the design phase where I could be of help.

Subsequent calls were planned to deliver samples, color swatches, and project-specific resources. Eventually I volunteered to provide light and vent schedules for windows along with consultation to ensure egress codes were met. By the time I met with the builder, relationships with the design and construction team were well established and the transaction was a foregone conclusion. It was a process that I repeated systematically. I have since mapped journeys in every sales role including the one I occupy today.

The sales journey is a very real evolution that occurs from the start of a relationship through fulfillment. I encourage you to map out a journey you can to build with your target audience. The journey may have some detours along the way and can happen by accident, but controlling the journey on purpose is the better way to go.

Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders, is a premier sales trainer in the building materials industry. His latest book, Sales Economics: The Science of Selling, is now available at buildingleaders.com. Rick can be reached at rickdavis@buildingleaders.com.