The Housing Chronicles Blog: Builder's brands not relevant in today's market?

Friday, May 2, 2008

Builder's brands not relevant in today's market?

According to an article posted at, today's buyers not only don't care about a builder's brand, they don't even want to hear about it, which should tell you something about the uphill PR hill builders will need to climb in the next few years. What they DO want is a sales agent who appears to be a good listener:

Sales consultants advising home building CEOs about their salesforces have a buzzworthy catch phrase, “You were born with two ears and one mouth, and you should use them in that proportion.”

Harsh? Maybe. But to sell in today’s housing market, salespeople need to start conversations with clients, learn about them, build relationships, and by doing all of that, sell the right house to the right buyer, home building sales consultants say.

Customers don’t want to feel hustled, says Jon Fogg, former vice president of sales for Centex Corp. and now a partner at consulting firm The Berke Group in Atlanta.

“Customers have told us they are offended by this process and would like [salespeople] to spend time learning about them and their problems, not dump a bunch of features and benefits on them,” Fogg says.

Potential buyers also don’t want to hear about the builder’s brand, says Berke Group founder and CEO Martin Freedland.

“They don’t give a damn; it’s the nicest way I can say it,” Freedland says...

Selling homes with a system that worked wonders during the boom years, by greeting prospective clients, qualifying them, and constantly trying to close during initial conversations is now a doomed strategy, Freedland says...

Builder salespeople must get their heads around not trying to force transactions. Sales operations and strategies must be ­customer-based and geared toward selling to customers’ wants and needs, versus selling the builder to the customer. Salespeople have to earn the right to sell a customer a home, Freedland says...

Salespeople weren’t the only ones disinterested in improving sales skills during the boom. Builders did not feel the need to spend a lot of money or time on sales training. Now they must invest in training their salesforce to become better listeners...

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