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3 Tips for Selling Building Products to Home Builders

home builder at a construction site

Aren’t you tired of being dictated to by the top 100 production builders? Of being beaten up on price—and competing with other suppliers for shrinking margins?

It’s time you looked at the builders we refer to as The Forgotten. The smaller builders. The regional builders. The custom builders. The green builders. The businesses that altogether represented a cool 46.37% market share of the U.S. home building market in 2015.

For The Forgotten, it’s all about value—not price. About being problem-centric versus product-centric. When these builders are looking for solutions to their problems, you must be found. You must be there with the knowledge and expertise they need.

But you’ve got a problem. Your sales team barely knows building, much less The Forgotten. Yes, it’s time to go back to basics and utilize 3 tips to build loyalty and sell to home builders.

Tip 1: Get To Know The Builders You Want To Sell To

You can’t talk solutions if you don’t know what the problems are. And you can’t be problem-centric unless you’re builder-centric.

So do your homework. Get your salespeople out to meet with builders. Get ‘em talking one-on-one, asking questions. And get ‘em visiting job sites, model homes and sales centers.

Here are a few of the kinds of things you need to learn about the builders you’re targeting:

  • What type of home builders are they—custom, production, green?
  • How many homes do they build a year and at what price?
  • Number of employees—and is there a core group of trades they use?
  • Who’s their target audience—Boomers, first-time buyers, the luxury market?
  • How do they sell—a sales center with models, spec homes, realtors?
  • Who’s the competition—and who’s zooming who?
  • What are their business threats? Their pain points? What keeps them up at night?
  • What do they read? Where do they go for information? Are they into social media?
  • How do they get training on new products or installation methods?
  • What do they expect from brands?

Armed with this information, you’ll know what problems need solving. And you’ll be able to create a personal connection by engaging your builder targets as often and as differently as possible to add value.

Tip 2: The Approach

So now you know who you’re talking to, how do you approach them? You can do it directly. And you can do it digitally. But no matter how you do it, remember you’re selling solutions to home builders, not products.

Directly: Visit the people in the builder’s organization that can directly impact the sale: the purchasing agent, the construction manager and the head sales/marketing person. Find out their problems.

  • Yes, the purchasing department is all about price, but if there’s a problem with quality or service, you may have an in.
  • Construction managers are focused on productivity, which can be affected by quality, service, installation problems and callbacks. He may be happy, but can you make him happier?
  • It’s the job of marketing and sales to differentiate the builder. How can you help with that process?

Digitally: Digital marketing is excellent both for showing what you know and building relationships. You can do this on your website, through contractor-focused marketing automation programs and content that positions you as an expert—for example, articles about building science, tips on troubleshooting, installation checklists or online training. Develop a content strategy that helps niche builders communicate with their homebuyers. Or you can use social media to connect, collaborate and converse.

Tip 3: The Offer

According to Mark Mitchell, a sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, the goal for brands today should be “to be a respected expert in your category and deliver builders a powerful story that is focused on making them more successful.”

How do you make a builder more successful today? By helping to differentiate him and the homes he builds. For instance:

  • If yours is a trending product—like a NEST thermostat—or if you have a respected brand name recognized by consumers, suggest the builder add it to his model home and promote it when potential home buyers tour the house. It will create the kind of word-of-mouth that will differentiate.
  • If your product is not “sexy” but still offers clear advantages for the homeowner, supply the builder with a display for the model home and suggest he include it in his presentations as a differentiator.
  • Encourage the sales team to do more than talk countertops and windows at the model home. Craft a presentation for them that focuses on the small things—the hidden details that can make the builder’s house stand out in the eyes of the consumer. Choose a format for the presentation that works well before a crowd—such as PowerPoint—and also can work on the builder’s website as a downloadable pdf.

Conclusion

You don’t have to beg for business from the top 100 production builders—you can help your sales team enter the 21st century and engage the Forgotten 46%. Brands who use both personal and digital connections can build winning relationships with builders by demonstrating genuine interest in their success. It’s about being there with the knowledge and expertise they need to solve problems. Building the relationships and the loyalty that will ultimately grow your market share.

Looking for more ideas to connect with and convert niche home builders before, during and after the home building process? We’ve got the answers in our new e-book, “Marketing to the Forgotten Builders.”

This resource, developed by Point To Point, illustrates marketing strategies for building products brands seeking to increase brand loyalty, build trust and increase product sales among niche homebuilders.  

Get the details and focus on this untapped market, download our e-book now.

Topics: Building Products Manufacturing