At first glance, modular homes would seem like a simple product from a sales point of view. While an architect must spend hours with potential clients, sketching and re-sketching original home designs, modular homes are constructed from a limited set of preexisting components. The design possibilities are restricted.
The reality, however, is that as a product, modular homes are surprisingly complex. The number of options available to be combined is often significant and not all available options pair successfully. The number of components combined with potentially void combinations can slow down the sales process.
The challenges of creating valid modular home combinations make this niche industry an ideal target for product configuration software. Product configuration programs can reduce the time spent training employees, rapidly crosscheck orders for unacceptable unit combinations, and speed billing and delivery. This is the power of configuration software.
The Making Of A Modular Home
Many people are unaware of what really goes into designing a modular home. While the potential choices of material and design are fewer than what buyers might see when working with an architect, modular homes are more than just readymade buildings dropped onto a lot. They’re more like Lego sets – a lot of options, but not infinite ones, and not all sets fit together.
Take the eco-friendly PATH homes from Philippe Starck. These homes allow buyers to choose their own combination of roof type, material finishes, and fixtures, as well as features like wind turbines and rainwater collection systems. Taken as a whole, these homes have the potential to be more complex than your average suburban ranch house with aluminum siding and shingles from Home Depot. That complexity makes training employees to recognize all valid combinations an arduous process, involving labor that could be better spent elsewhere.
Instead of training all sales representatives to recognize invalid home orders, configuration software allows modular home companies to target training so that it focuses on product features, benefits, and upselling.
It’s more valuable to have employees who can speak knowledgeably about different roofing options or describe the benefits of including wind turbines in a home than it is to have employees who can tell clients that their chosen rainwater collection system can’t be combined with their chosen roofing option. The computer can do the latter, but the expertise and CRM value of the former rest squarely within sales representatives’ job descriptions.
Preventing Problems Before The Happen
Most people today have used configuration software at some point to make a purchase. When you try to purchase a shirt that comes in several colors, for example, after selecting a color, certain sizes may be eliminated from the menu because they’re out of stock. This is configuration software at work – it looks at the available options and prevents a problem or conflict before it occurs.
Modular home companies can use configuration software in one of two primary ways: customers can place an order independently, with the software guiding them through the process as described above – eliminating incompatible possibilities as the customer places their order; or manufacturers can require buyers to work with the sales team. In this scenario, buyers list their criteria to a team member who uses the configuration software.
The second model allows sales team members to work clients through the process. When features are incompatible, the sales representative can describe alternatives and help the customer pick the best one. This is a great way to harness configuration software for upselling – negotiating a sale for a more costly or additional product, a practice that’s much more effective when handled by a knowledgeable representative than when it’s merely a possibility offered by your sales system.
Perfect Pricing Every Time
Finally, in order to accurately price modular homes for customers, sales representatives need to know that the order is a valid combination – a problem when working with orders placed outside configuration software. This is also one of the main factors slowing down the sales cycle for modular home businesses that don't use configuration software.
Without configuration software, sales team members must review every modular home order piece by piece. Sometimes spotting inconsistencies or invalid combinations is easy – the buyer has chosen two facades or requested two pieces at the beginning of the order that can’t be combined. In other cases, however, it can take an extended review or even modeling the home before staff can identify a conflict. This also means that modular home manufacturers can’t officially invoice for a sale until a full review is completed.
Of course, certain errors may slip through the configuration system, such as a set of components that are too large for the intended property or incompatible with local utilities or regulations. Sales representatives will need to remain alert to such conflicts.
Property conflicts notwithstanding, configuration software can help both manufacturers and buyers determine the final price of a modular home, or at least the final price for all components. It can be harder to estimate the cost for connecting utilities, building permits, landscaping, and other additional factors necessary for completing the process and customers should be made aware of other costs as they are finalized.
Smoother Sales Ahead
Configuration software is just one part of comprehensive configure-price-quote (CPQ) software. CPQ software is helping companies across a wide range of industries boost sales and beat quotas like never before by enabling sales representatives to hone their expertise on product features instead of order compatibility concerns. This frees up representatives to do valuable CRM work that falls beyond the scope of software.
If your company is ready to test what CPQ software can do for you, contact iQuoteXpress today to begin your free trial. Our team of professionals can help you set up customized configuration settings, moving your customers from proposal to end product faster than ever.
As more businesses embrace the power of CPQ software, those without these facilitation features will fall behind.
Stay ahead of the curve with iQuoteXpress, the software you can trust.