20 Years in Sales: The More Things Change, the More They Stay the SameMarch 18, 2015
When asked to offer my perspective on how the insured warranty industry, particularly on the sales side, had changed over the last 20 years my first thought was something along the order of “Has it really been that long?”…and then, ” just how has the industry and the sales process within it evolved over the last two decades?” The short answer is that many of the important elements have changed dramatically; however, the most necessary elements have remained the same. How so?
It’s always been important to understand the ways we reach builders, both prospects and existing customers. These pathways have grown exponentially over the last two decades. Reflect for just a moment on the embryonic tool of email 20 years ago compared to its essential role today. In a broader sense, social media, the Web, texting and all the trappings of multi-platform modern communications allows us, particularly the younger and more technologically nimble among us, to reach our desired audience in multiple effective ways unknown a generation ago.
Similarly, the broader role of technology as applied to organizing sales activity, researching potential clients, planning sales campaigns and being efficient on a daily basis has allowed hugely important increases in productivity. (Imagine sales in our industry without laptops, smartphones, etc.?) Email direct mail campaigns and efforts like this blog now complement and, in many cases, replace more expensive direct mail efforts as a way to bring attention to your product offerings.
Speaking of product offerings, how could we not mention the expanding roster of value-oriented services offered by the industry? What started as a “simple” new home insured warranty product has matured over these decades to a broad array of risk management tools including access to real General Liability insurance, online construction process administration services, virtual new home warranty manuals, extended warranty options for systems and appliances, and a whole host of services to address the changing landscape of new home building and buying. So yes, many of the really important aspects of the selling process in our industry have changed dramatically in the last two decades. However, amidst all this change, what “necessary” elements have stayed the same?
I believe the sales process itself is essentially the same as it has always been…in this industry or others…you have to identify a builder prospect, gain enough trust/rapport to win an audience, uncover the real needs of the builder and match something you can offer to something he or she needs to make their business less stressful, more profitable, or both. All the technology in the world will not save you if you fail to present a coherent value proposition and do what you say you will do, when you said you would do it. Builders are very busy folks who get called by probably dozens of would-be sales persons on a daily basis; the need to prove you are worth a few moments of their time has not changed in 20 years. Persistence, short of pestilence, is still required at times to get that audience, and then it’s up to you…the core necessity to believe in what you do, put your customer’s legitimate needs first, and fashion real solutions to his or her problems never goes out of style and will always be essential to success in our industry.
Vince Chiarello, Regional Sales Director
Professional Warranty Service Corp.