Lessons from The Road

I recently visited with more than 100 integrators in a three-week period, sitting down to discuss business in small groups and one-on-one.
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Developing Business Through Builders and Social Media

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Jeremy Burkhardt (jburkhardt@speaker craft.com) is president of SpeakerCraft in Riverside, California.

I recently visited with more than 100 integrators in a three-week period, sitting down to discuss business in small groups and one-on-one. I was posed with questions in almost every business meeting, most of them were about selling to builders and how to effectively use social media. Here are some ideas that I hope you will find useful.

Creating Business with Builders

The world works based on relationships, period. Everything you do is intentional from the way you talk, where you hang out, what you wear, and how you are perceived. I suggest meeting builders in their favorite places outside the jobsite or office, like the country club, a bar, or home building councils.

When you meet a builder that potentially could be a great partner, spend the time understanding the demographics of his clients and the houses he builds. Position your company as the solution for turnkey work. If you offer multiple solutions and are organized, then you just made that builder’s life easier. Ask many questions about what their experience has been with what you do; chances are they have worked with an installer in the past and had a bad experience. Explain how you will not be like the last company. Tell him how your systems will help him sell his house. Explain that the homebuyer wants integration, they want to be able to play their iPod around the house, and/or that they want a big display and outdoor audio.

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When you meet a builder that potentially could be a great partner, spend the time understanding the demographics of his clients and the houses he builds.

Always remember that you are a specialist and offer products that are not easily available to everyone. Don’t sell based on price, but instead on your ability to deliver amazing performance and to help the builder better serve his clients.

If the home is being custom built, then talk your way into getting a meeting with the owner. Often the builder asks what is in it for them. You decide if you want to give them a free system and then accrue a percentage toward their purchases with you. I also have seen people give a straight percentage to the builder. I like the idea of giving them a system, because they will be yoked to you for the life of the system, and you can show off how great the work is that you do.

How to Use Social Media

I am asked about social media daily. It is a hot topic, and I am blown away by how many people don’t know anything about it. USC has been my son’s home for five years, yet I feel very close to him and his friends because they are my friends in a social media circle. To develop a killer social media reputation for your business, however, you have to follow a few rules. People don’t want to be marketed to with products; you will only piss people off by pushing product with social media. How would you like to be sold first thing in the morning while talking with friends? You wouldn’t. Don’t pitch product and services; tell stories about what you do.

Don’t market your goods or services like you would through an ad. This is not a place to sell stuff. It is a place to build relationships and trust. Who are you, and what’s your business life like; what do you feel?

Continually create, share, and reinforce the value and mission of your company. Share experiences related to the products that you deliver. For example: “I am blown away by the bass response of the speakers we just installed. Our client was playing the new Odd World track, and the bass from the subwoofer was so heavy it shook the walls.” Just don’t write something like this: “The new SpeakerCraft Aim Five has a Kevlar driver and the sub was so good that our client was bumping it. Call for a quote today.”

When setting up a social media account, first add friends that you already know. The goal isn’t to get as many people as possible; it is to communicate with people you care about and consider your friends.

Don’t just post updates. Instead, have a strategy when you post comments and plan your posts to ensure that your communication is on point and hitting your objectives. Friends usually respond to notable contributions from others.

Your company has a great opportunity to gain business with new technologies and better products than ever before. Your dedication to being the “system doctor” will determine your success. Like a doctor, you have the ability to make sure your past clients are satisfied and to continually take care of them. Your new clients have yet to experience the amazing work that you can do, and you can exceed their expectations. They are your best advertising tools and will recommend you to their friends if you do a great job on their system.

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