Guest Blog: Beyond The Builder StorySeptember 21, 2017
Welcome to another Thoughtful Thursday! Every Thursday we feature a guest blogger. I’m only choosing FANtastic bloggers who know the ins and outs of sales and marketing. If you are interested in being a guest blogger, please drop us an email. So grab a cup of coffee and dive in! You’re sure to learn something new.
When I started my career in onsite sales one of the first things I learned was the importance of telling the Builder Story. Specifically, the importance of telling it well, making it compelling, and maybe even a bit personal. It quickly became my favorite part of a planned sales presentation because it’s an early chance to connect with the prospect. Connection is kinda my thing. The Builder Story is not only an opportunity to share what makes the builder special, it is also a chance to share a little bit about why you chose to work for the company. Maybe even something you love about working there which, hopefully resonates with the prospect and kicks off the process of building a relationship that results in a sale.
Nearly every builder out there is telling some version of a Builder Story but I think there are a few more levels to storytelling that many builders are afraid to explore. And one thing I know for sure, one builder’s fear is another builder’s opportunity. With that, I present to you three more stories you need to start telling your prospects if you want to take your Storytelling to the next level. Storytelling is a powerful sales tool. Learn to harness it and you might even book the 10 AM spot at your local bookstore. Dare to dream.
1. Stories from behind the scenes on product development
Think of a brand you love. A brand you know enough about to be a fan. For me, I love J.Crew. A few years ago when their catalog started featuring stories about the inspiration behind their collections and the personalities of their stylists and creative leaders, I went from being a fan to being a super fan. Trust me, I have the credit card bills to prove it. I felt like I got to know them and I was an insider. I mean, it went so far that I thought if they knew me as well as I “knew them” we might even be friends.
That sounds a little pathetic but stick with me here because you have the same opportunity when someone walks in to your sales center. You are their gateway to all the stories that take place behind the scenes. The story of why your builder chose that particular floor plan to model. The story of how the builder created the collection of homes you’re selling. What was their inspiration? I’m not talking about the stuff they can read on the brochure. I’m talking about the stuff that will make them feel like an insider. Did the designers initially want to go a certain direction with merchandising that was edited or redirected? Was it perfectly hideous because that will make for a memorable story. Did the construction manager have to build the home in 60 days? Trust me, there are stories to be told on an expedited build schedule.
We once created a collection of homes called the Mixtape Collection. We named each plan after two to three word song lyrics. We were so enamored with the community and the developer where we were about to build, at a certain point we just had to cop to a full on buildercrush. Back in the day, what did you do when you had a crush on someone? You made them a mixtape of course. Hence, the Mixtape Collection. That’s behind the scenes, insider info.
2. Stories about your trade partners
Have you ever been to a chef’s table at a restaurant? It’s usually a little table crammed into the kitchen right smack dab in the middle of all the chaos. It’s not particularly fancy but for foodies, it’s spectacular. You feel special. You feel like you get to be part of the fun. You meet all the faces you never get to see: the chef, the line cooks, and all the people that make the magic happen. It adds a whole new dimension to your dining experience. If you’ve never been to a chef’s table, fear not, it’s not required to pull off this level of storytelling. You can still create a virtual chef’s (read: builder’s) table for your prospects and homeowners and add a whole new dimension to their homebuilding experience.
Do you know the names and faces of some of your trade partners? If you don’t, and it’s perfectly normal if you don’t, this is an area where you can not only improve your storytelling but also grow your career. Getting to know some of your trade partners by name is the first step.You don’t have to know all of them. Pick a trade partner that interests you – are you fascinated by intricate tile installation? Are you picky about drywall and paint finish? Do you drool over kitchen cabinets or countertops? For me, it was the framers. The music was playing, they were working hard while laughing and joking with each other. And don’t get me started on how fun it looked to swing a roof truss! I was dying to get in on that action.
Ask your construction manager to introduce you to some of the people that make the magic happen. Then, get to know them. For real. Find out how they do their jobs, where they’re from, what’s their story. Do they love their job? What do they think about your houses? Is there a plan they love to work on? Is there one they don’t like to work on? There are characters and stories on every job site. Now, think about walking up to a job site with prospects and greeting trades by name. Introducing your prospects to the people who actually work on your houses.Or calling a buyer under contract with a status update and telling them that the concrete crew they met onsite will be working on their home this week. It’s incredibly powerful. This step is about connection and as I mentioned earlier, it’s kinda my thing. Don’t do this to sell more houses, do it to create more meaningful connections with the people around you everyday. The results will speak for themselves.
3. Stories about mistakes
I’m totally serious about this one. In fact, if you only take away one new story to tell from this blog, make it this one. Unless you’re building a perfect home, and I don’t know anyone who is, then you need to start telling stories about mistakes you’ve made. If, in fact, you are building a perfect home, please call me because I’d love to learn how you’re doing it.Common mistakes, expected mistakes, big mistakes, little ones…mistakes of all shapes and sizes. The real value of telling stories about mistakes is the story about what happened after the mistake. How did your company respond? How did you communicate with the buyer when the mistake occurred? Chances are, your prospects, should they choose to build a new home with you, will encounter some of these same mistakes. And when they do, you’ve already set an expectation that this could happen and given them a window into how your company might respond. The story you told them during the sales process instantly puts the present mistake in context and can also keep that molehill from turning into a mountain.
Buying a home, specifically, building a new construction home can be an incredibly intimidating process for your prospect. Telling stories about mistakes takes humility. It takes authenticity. It also takes confidence. Admitting mistakes happen all the time on new homes doesn’t make you a careless builder. It makes you a real one. Your prospects are looking for someone to trust, someone to bring their dream home to life…if you’re setting an expectation for a mistake-free experience, then hold onto your hat when that first mistake happens and that all-caps with everyone cc’d email gets shot over the bough!
Talking about mistakes can be very tricky so I suggest discussing which stories are the best candidates to enhance the experience for the buyer. The goal is not to scare them off. The goal is to set good expectations and let them see a little bit more about the builder you really are. Not just the one they can read about on the brochure.
So there you have it, storytellers…three new ways to connect with your prospects. Tell your tales and whenever possible, find a way to connect. You can make it your thing too.
Meet The Author – Alaina Money
Alaina Money is a Partner at Best Work, the holding company for Garman Homes, Fresh Paint by Garman Homes, BH&G Go Realty, Durham Building Company and the Go School of Real Estate. Prior to her current role, Alaina served as Division President of Garman Homes and Fresh Paint by Garman Homes.
She is responsible for land position, acquisition and strategic vision. Her most important professional role is procuring the leadership team at Garman Homes and creating a culture and work environment where Rock Stars can do their best work.
Alaina began her career in real estate over 13 years ago in onsite sales, working for two large national builders before starting the sales team for Garman Homes as employee #3. During her time at Garman Homes Alaina has managed both the sales and construction teams, documenting every success and failure in her award winning blog, Build Like a Girl. Her writing has been featured in Building Women Magazine. Alaina was named to Professional Builder’s list of 40 Under 40 for the class of 2015 and was awarded Builder of the Year for 2015 by the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham County.
Alaina holds a Bachelor’s degree from Saint Mary’s College at Notre Dame and a Master’s degree from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She served as the Builder Liaison on the executive committee for the Triangle Sales & Marketing Council for 2015, and is also a member of Professional Women in Building, the National Home Builder’s Association, and the Urban Land Institute serving the RNDC Blue Flight.