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Set-up for Sales
By George Porter
A few months ago I had the privilege to do a seminar for the
North Carolina Assoc. Steve Zimiara called and said that they
needed a continuing education class for installers and he was
interested in a class for sales people as well. It is the law
in N. C. that as a sales person, you have to have so many hours
of continuing education to maintain your state license. This class
was near the deadline and I think most of them were there because
this was the only way left to get the ticket punched, so to speak.
The #1 question that day, even before we got started, was "
how can knowing about installation help me make more sales?"
The answer to the question is another question, "what is
the #1 best way to get more customers?" That answer was easy;
it's called referrals from former clients. Every salesman or saleswoman
worth their salt is 100% aware of this. It does not matter who
messed up the buying experience, it is the salesman who will not
get a positive referral.
Basically you have to look at sales as a process that starts
in the factory; has a milepost when the keys and title are transferred
to the new homeowner; and never really ends. This may seem like
a long time but exactly when did you want the referrals to stop?
A salespersons job is much more satisfying and lucrative when
his clients never become disappointed with the product they bought
from him. Installation is how this becomes possible and a salesperson
really can help an installer make this happen by asking a few
- For instance:
- 1. Is the lot suitable for the home?
- 2. Will the installer be able to make the home comply with
the laws of the state under these lot conditions?
- 3. Will there be any especially heavy furniture or equipment
in the home that may need some extra support?
- 4. Can you advise the consumer about decks and porches or
- 5. How can you give a client a price on a home if you don't
have some fairly general idea of what it costs to install it?
- 6. Do you know what it is going to take to even get the home
to the lot?
- 7. Are you familiar with the three HUD Code maps?
- 8. What is FEMA?
- 9. Do you or the consumer have any idea of the load bearing
capacity of the soil?
- 10. Etc. etc. etc.
Selling Manufactured Housing is more like selling heavy equipment
than selling ordinary automobiles, you have to make it fit the
client's needs and in order to do that you must know a bunch about
the product. Otherwise you just sell them something and maybe
it will work for what they need and maybe it won't. You have to
know the questions to ask and what it takes to make it turn out
right. If the customer is pleased with your recommendations then
you prosper, if not, well you don't.
Most of the folks in the class seemed to understand that this
really was in their own best interest and also that of their customers.
Many of them have a new way of interviewing their buyers. Here
is how some of them talk to their customers now:
"So.. This is the home that you want; let me ask you a
few questions that will make it so you will like it even more.
Do you have any hobbies?
Really, Tropical fish!
Do you have a big tank for them?
Wow, a 200 Gallon aquarium!
Where would you put that in your new home?
Right there between those two windows, Humm, let me make a
suggestion. Would you like it sort of in the center of the home
against the bedroom wall there? Let me tell you why, first the
sunlight next to the window will make the algae grow like crazy
and the two steel beams under it there will help hold it because
it is going to weigh about 1000 plus pounds when it is full. But,
if you want it over there by the window then we will have to install
some extra piers under it so it is nice and solid. And oh, by
the way, you will have a full cover on it so the evaporation won't
affect the home won't you?
So.. You play the piano; do you have one you are going to put
in this home?
Really! A baby grand (about 1200 lbs), Wow, they are pretty
big! And only three legs with tiny little wheels. Let me help
you position it in the big room there so each leg is on a floor
joist and we'll put a four inch square piece of wood, stained
to match either the piano or the carpet, about 1 inch thick under
each wheel so it won't damage the floor. I know most people don't
do this, but your floors have a little flex to them and when you
have a big weight on the same spot for years it can hurt any floor
in any home. If you ever decide to move it somewhere else you
will not have dents in the floor where it was.
So.. You have an upright player piano, (about 800 lbs) how
neat! Where would you want to put that in here? Ahh, I see, right
between the windows. (See the aquarium scenario above)
So You have a large antique oak chest with overhead cabinet
(1000+ lbs) and you are going to fill it with your grannies dishes
(100's of lbs). Aren't you lucky! And where would you put it?
Got the idea now?
Think this generates referrals?
Each of the questions relates to the structure and/or setup
of the home. In some cases what people think they know about houses
doesn't work on a manufactured home. The sidewalls are the weakest
part of the floor and the center is the beefiest. This is exactly
opposite from a "conventional" home. Our foundation
is mostly under the home on the beams not at the edges. When you
put something heavy out there on the sidewall or a marriage wall
(which is really two sidewalls put together) if it is over 400
lbs, then the floor out there might need help.
This is just one example of what we covered that day and I
think everyone got something out of it. Remember, without sales
there is no setup, and without proper setup there are far less