Selling from Home? Consider These 12 Work from Home Tips for Manufacturers.
April 2, 2020
Working from home is the new normal right now, and for sales reps used to getting out in the field, selling from home can present its own opportunities and challenges. Our in-market specialists know this well, which is why they’re here to offer advice on how to keep connecting with residential new construction builders from your home office.
We’ve got 12 tips that range from industry-specific to the personal so you can maximize your time home while navigating this new terrain.
Tip 1: Keep those calls up.
Spring, with its favorable weather and real estate rush, is typically a busy time for home builders. Now, there’s a new host of challenges: continue building, keep workers healthy, navigate state restrictions, handle disruptions and more. With all that in mind, it’s not surprising if builders are a little distracted. But that doesn’t mean you can’t reach out especially if you’re offering welcome news, like a special offer on your products.
Sam Stephens, our lead gen specialist, says he has better luck contacting builders in the afternoons earlier in the week and in the mornings later in the week, while Nate Sallach, one of our regional market specialists, recommends reaching out from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. Ty Seamons, another regional market specialist, says he’s seen good results by first calling at 10 a.m., then following up with an email the same afternoon if he doesn’t hear back.
Sallach also recommends always following up with an email and cautions that it could take several calls before you get the results you want. “Persistence pays,” he said.
Tip 2: Keep it human.
It’s only natural that messaging is going to change because of current events, and immediately starting in on a sales pitch looks tone deaf. Just ask builders how they’re doing, Kyle Ott, our market specialist out of Florida, advises. “Let them talk,” he said, and look for ways to help.
Susan Gearhart, our market specialist based out of Texas, concurs. Everyone has plenty of concerns on their minds right now from kids to supply issues, so let them vent a bit, she says. Keep it personal and remember that they’re human too and experiencing the same things you are.
Stephens also advises to keep your candor. “It’s appreciated,” he says.
Tip 3: Put your best foot forward.
That is: get dressed and actually put shoes on. “Get up every day as if you were going into the office,” Gearhart says. Stephens also finds it helpful to put shoes on — even if it’s to walk down the hall to your office, dining table or the corner space you’ve carved out for yourself. “It helps me stick to normal rhythms,” he says.
While sweatpants are comfy, normal work clothes can help imbue confidence into what you do and delineate between your work time and your off-the-clock time.
Not yet a HomeSphere partner?
HomeSphere manufacturer partners have access to the largest community of home builders in the United States.
Tip 4: Do what you can.
Even though face-to-face meetings have largely stopped, there are still plenty of ways to stay productive while at home. So, you can’t hop in your car with the best sales material in hand, but you can set up a virtual meeting and email your assets to contacts.
You can also take advantage of the fact that lots of people are also working from home too and “hit your lists,” as Ott puts it.
That includes reaching out to new builder prospects and looking for opportunities with existing customers. There’s nothing wrong with just checking in and seeing how they're doing.
Inside Tip for HomeSphere Partners
Use HomeSphere-IQ to identify new builder opportunities based on who’s most likely to use your products. Additionally, determine which of your existing customers are due for more one-on-one engagement based on their brand usage history. Want a tutorial? Let us know.
Tip 5: Think in positives.
You caught us, we’re getting feel-good, but keeping your glass half full is the best way to handle new situations. You can't get a virtual meeting? That’s okay, because that means you can talk to a builder on the phone while having full access to your computer, Ott says.
Missing face-to-face contact? Stay in touch with your peers through phone or Facetime, Gearhart suggests. Swap tips and share experiences so everyone can pursue best practices.
Tip 6: Perfect your voicemail pitch.
Chances are you’re going to get a lot of voicemails based on our sales teams’ own experiences, so better perfect your voicemail pitch.
As Stephens notes, everyone is dealing with information fatigue right now, so don’t overwhelm them with even more to take in. Keep your message short and digestible, but make sure you still have a purpose for your call.
Tip 7: Communicate up-to-date news.
If you’ve got positive news to share about your products — like your supply chain hasn’t been interrupted, so distribution isn’t an issue — absolutely share it. Tell your existing customers and let builder prospects know too.
If you are dealing with issues on your side, you should also share that, at least to the extent that you can. Builders have deadlines to meet and will appreciate the transparency. The point is to stay communicative because it’s a day-by-day process for everyone.
Tip 8: Send emails with gusto.
David Ziolkowski, our regional market specialist on the east coast, noticed that prospects don’t have as many questions over the phone as they do in in-person meetings. This means there’s less conversation on their end.
He suspects it’s because they’re not in a group setting where talking flows more naturally. So, to counteract any awkwardness, he prefaces conversations with personal emails that include information or attachments on what he’s going to discuss. That way, his contacts have something to review and reflect on before they talk.
All of our market specialists agree on the importance of a personal email that adds a human touch to their outreach — whether it’s their first point of contact or a follow-up from a phone call.
Tip 9: Keep a schedule, which includes deadlines.
It’s also agreed that keeping a normal schedule is important, and that includes sticking to deadlines. Sallach says it’s helpful to also communicate deadlines to the builders you’re talking to — i.e. “I’ll do [this action] by [this date] and get back to you.” That way, you’re teeing yourself up while also giving them something to anticipate.
And that’s important in staying communicative: always have an action item you’re working on and can keep your contacts updated about.
Tip 10: Work your network.
Sallach also points out that builders talk to their distributors a lot. They work with them to bid their projects, work with superintendents and manage their accounts. So, it follows that establishing a relationship with their distributor will be in your favor.
If you’re not sure who their distributor is, you can ask or try to research through contacts. If you’re a HomeSphere partner, our regional specialists like Sallach can help with this intel. The point being that you can use your at-home time to strengthen your network within the residential new construction industry.
HomeSphere also offers rewards for any distributor who refers a builder to our program as an added incentive.
Tip 11: Give yourself a break.
Working from home when you’re not used to it is challenging. It’s easy to feel like you’re not as productive as you once were — keep learning and take a walk when necessary.
Don’t worry about your kids making a surprise appearance in a video call. For all you know, the person you’re talking to is holding their boisterous three-year-old back too. And that leads us into our last point.
Tip 12: Remember that we’re all in it together.
This is a weird time. There’s no way around it. But you’re not alone in feeling off (unless you’re thriving, in which case, good for you). The best way we’ll all get through this is to do it together. Rely on your friends, coworkers, business partners and, most definitely, your local grocer and health professionals through this time. Stay safe, and know we’ll all bounce back one way or another.
Now that we’ve shared our tips for working from home, let’s hear yours.