The first hint Wausau Homes got that they needed real sales help came during the Great Recession in 2007. A company that had been offering custom-built homes in a factory setting since 1960, this Midwestern staple had quite a market share when 2007 took nearly every company by surprise. They’d even taken on some overseas projects.
When the Great Recession hit, though, the company took it in stride and looked to redefine and rebrand itself. Instead of simply offering their standard product, they decided to work with independent builders in certain markets who would literally build the entire house with consumers. To make that happen, they partnered with some of the best builders in the country and worked to create a process that consumers would enjoy when it came to designing their new homes. The problem? Very few builders have any real sales training, and that’s when Wausau homes realized just how much help they needed to get the tools and training out to their builders. After taking a look at a number of different sales training companies, they found the Samurai Business Group (SBG) and quickly realized just how powerful this sales training resource could be.
The Real Issue At Hand
The problem at Wausau Homes was a clear one. They were working with custom builders across the United States, and the goal was to change the entire customer experience to fit the Wausau mold. Because they recognized that the reason more people don’t build new or custom homes is the stress and anxiety that goes with the process, the team’s goal from the beginning was to remove the stress. Teaching the builders to do that, though, was complex. Wausau Homes, after all, doesn’t market directly to consumers. The builder markets directly to consumers, so they had to make certain that all of their builders weren’t averse to learning new things or using the technology to move the business forward. They had to have several core values including integrity, humility, stewardship, and a passion for the business. Once they found the right builders, they needed real help to get them to understand how to sell Wausau Homes.
In 2008, Len Kats and his team took the time to sit down with the executives at SBG, and it wasn’t long before they realized something was really different about this model. All of the students inside were sales managers or sales executives trying to figure out how to take their teams to another level. Len had a chance to sit down with some of those students to ask about the results they were seeing from the SBG model.
Every single one of them shared a story about how SBG had positively impacted their business and increased their sales. When they debriefed with the SBG executives later, the team realized that they weren’t telling them anything about sales that hadn’t already been said before. Instead, what SBG had managed to do was package it in a way that made it far easier for students to understand and quickly apply it in the field to see real results. If Len and his team were going to be able to make a big difference and create a journey to train their builders throughout the United States, this perfectly packaged model was the best way to do it.
Getting Numbers to Back Up the Idea
Wausau Homes loved the idea, and in the original class, there were fifteen Business Development managers trained to work with their builders to instill in them everything they needed to know about developing trust with every customer. Out of that group, two won the Samurai Blackbelt award, which it meant a lot to the company. They have been able to train many others within the organization to better market Wausau Homes. By utilizing methodologies and techniques like Socratic questioning, the discovery and human behavior model, and others, they were able to develop a sales map that the builders could put into practice with potential clients. It had the potential to seriously impact sales activity, and it certainly did. From 2013 – 2019, they say a 25% year-over-year growth in sales volume. The growth range for the rest of the industry, however, was just 8 – 11%.
An Ongoing Trend
Today, Wausau Homes incorporates best practices into everything they do. Instead of a typical meeting atmosphere, you see the idea of seeking to understand before trying to be understood. The entire culture is one of “How can we get there?” The Wausau team has created a way to learn from each other and move quickly forward within the industry.
The Right Way to Package Training
Wausau Homes now not only works to train their own builders, but they regularly work to let others know how helpful SBG can be. Len Kats said, “There’s a lot of businesses out there that have good leaders, but they just haven’t really refined their leadership and skillsets and these are typically small businesses. They are under $30 million in sales and they just bootstrap themselves. They’re growing slowly or struggling to grow and they wish they were growing faster. There’s a lot of opportunity in their market but it seems to be herky-jerky or cumbersome. Getting connected with SBG to get some processes in place would be exactly what they need to do.”
For SBG, it’s not just training salespeople. SBG also covers HR-related topics, growth strategies, time management, and more. Len’s most recent class he took was on succession planning. His advice is sound for almost any company today.
“If anybody is considering this training, look at your business and ask yourself: Are you growing faster than the market? If you’re not, this means you’re not gaining market share and you are losing sales. You may be seeing your sales increasing, but you may be losing market share because you are not increasing at the right pace. If your answer to this question is, “We need to grow more” or “We need to go faster,” then you need to reach out to Samurai and let them meet with you and let them do discovery with you. Let them understand what the problem might be and have them put together a training program that can help your team. This is my best advice, and maybe you just try one piece of it. If you need some sales help, do a sales module. Just try it. Just try it. You’ll have results if you follow through,” Kats said.
Wausau Homes is confident in the decisions they made when they sought help from Samurai Business Group. Contact Samurai today to learn how they can help your business.