What is the difference between sales and marketing? This age-old question has plagued the building industry for years. Sales and marketing play different roles in business however, it is important that the two coexist in a mutually beneficial way as they work towards a common goal – creating customers and generating revenue.
To put it simply, sales refers to activities directly leading to the signing of contracts – it’s when leads or enquiries are transformed into jobs. Marketing involves all actions and initiatives aimed at attracting people to your business in the first place – because if nobody is interested in you as a builder, you’ll have a pretty hard time convincing them to choose you for their project. These two arms of a business are designed to work hand-in-hand – marketing attracts leads to your company and sales closes the deal, converting enquiries into tangible jobs on site.
In the building industry, nobody understands the nuances of this relationship better than Fred Abu-Elias from Spectrum Coach. With over 20 years of industry experience, Fred offers his consulting and coaching services to builders looking to improve their business model and outcomes, with a primary focus on sales.
Read our Q&A with Fred below.
Sea Salt: What is your background and what’s your career highlight?
Fred: I started as a mortgage broker working alongside a volume builder, then I went on to work in sales and sales management with Metricon and Burbank. The highlight of my career hasn’t been achieving a title or selling the most amount of homes in a year – it was seeing small to medium-sized builders grow year on year. Being part of that growth is definitely one of the best parts of my career.
Sea Salt: What inspired you to start Spectrum Coach?
Fred: I spent five years as a National Sales Manager for Hotondo Homes supporting small to medium-sized builders. While I really enjoyed it, I needed flexibility for my family – so I started working for myself. I had also noticed there was a gap in the market for affordable guidance at a micro-level – someone who was involved in a builder’s business on a regular basis.
The business setup was quite easy – I needed some clients, which I got through networks, and I had to be able to sell my offering. At the start that was all I did – just one-on-one coaching. As I dealt with my first few clients, I looked at what I needed to grow and what would be involved with that. I started with a business plan and through this identified my business model. Having a strong social media presence and networking with people in the industry was very important throughout this time.
Sea Salt: For those who don’t know, what does a sales coach do?
Fred: Sales coaching predominantly teaches and mentors salespeople or managers/owners on how to be better salespeople. We do a deep dive into their sales process and leads and give them strategies to improve their outcomes. However, I take it a step further and help them to implement these strategies into their business.
A sales coach is different from a business coach as the former is purely focused on leads and implementing strategies to convert leads into sales and jobs. A business coach on the other hand is about overall business strategies that allow you to run an efficient and profitable business.
Sea Salt: What do you see as the key difference between sales and marketing?
Fred: For me, marketing makes the brand look good, delivers leads and overall showcases what the brand is about. Once leads come in, sales take over and deliver a product to the consumer.
Sales and marketing need to have a strong relationship, and we need to understand and respect what each department does and delivers. Marketing drives the brand or product, and sales are needed to deliver. The marketing team can only do their job properly if sales feed information regarding the target market, competitors and so forth.
Sea Salt: Is it common for builders to be lacking in sales training?
Fred: Definitely. Builders are great at building homes and giving technical information to a client however, they often don’t understand the methodology behind sales and need to be taught. Of course – the best person to sell a home building service is a builder, especially in a small business, so it’s important that we provide access to this kind of training.
Sea Salt: What’s your top tip for converting enquiries into signed contracts?
Fred: Always set expectations, always close for the next process and make sure the client understands exactly what is happening at all times to ensure you have trust.
When you build a house, the supervisor goes by a set of working drawings – a plan or process that they follow to build the home. Sales is no different – we follow a process to get to the end result, which is defined along the way, dependent on the client and their needs.
Sea Salt: How many enquiries should builders be aiming for a month?
Fred: This is dependent on how many builds they want a year. I always go by conversions – say you want to build 50 homes a year and successfully convert 10% of leads into sales. You would then need 500 leads a year, which divided by 12 equals 41 enquiries a month. Just aiming for a number is not enough – we also need a strategy around achieving these numbers.
Sea Salt: Should small to medium builders hire a sales rep?
Fred: Hiring a salesperson is a yes and no answer, especially in tough times. You need to look at a few things; the lead generation and conversion actions that the business is currently undertaking, their cash flow, and establishing a breakeven point.
The business owner needs to ask themselves if they can handle sales on top of the rest of their workload. What happens often is the owner tries to do too much and sales decline as this is not within their skillset. Business owners always say, ‘what’s a consultant going to cost me? I don’t think I can afford it!’ Instead, they should ask themselves – can I afford not to have one?
Sea Salt: It’s been a tough year for many business owners, but particularly builders. If you could give one piece of sales advice to those going through a hard time, what would it be?
Fred: Remember why you do what you do and who you do for it – the rest will fall into place. Stay true to your vision and culture and we will all get through these tough times.
If you’re interested in learning more about the difference between sales and marketing, get in touch with the team at Sea Salt Marketing today. If your building business needs help from a sales consultant, get in touch with Fred at Spectrum Coach today!
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