We had the opportunity to attend the Hanley Wood “Builder Connections” conference in Dallas recently. It’s a great concept. The basic principle is a speed-dating-type meeting between building product manufacturers and builders. This year they also added dealers as a separate focus to the event.
Speed-dating for builders
Picture a room with 40 tables. There’s a chair on one side for the builder, and two chairs on the other side for the manufacturer. Each manufacturer gets 15 minutes with about 20 of the 50-plus builders in attendance, with a 5-minute break in between. That’s 15 minutes on, 5 minutes off, 15 minutes on…over and over for a full day and a half.
The customer experience challenge
Interrupt was asked to be the featured speaker, and we spoke on how to “Escape the Sea of Sameness with a Killer Customer Experience.” Our job was to get the builders, dealers and manufacturers to rethink how they approach their business and partnerships, and to set up the next day and a half as something deeper. Our goal was to get these participants to see the value of using their 15 minutes NOT for negotiating on price and cost out, but to spend those valuable 15 minutes in collaboration.
We challenged the builder to define their brand promise story in the first couple minutes and then the manufacturer to share theirs, then work collectively to identify ways to work together to create an incredible homebuyer experience.
15 minutes is nothing
While at the event, we talked to several manufacturers and asked them about how they planned to approach their 15-minute discussions. Their answers were very telling. Of the eight we talked deeply with, more than half admitted that they were just going to focus on product issues and pricing. Two of them even said, “It’s only 15 minutes, it’s not enough time to do anything, so we’re just going to wing it and see what happens.”
The other half of the manufacturers were truly prepared, had a plan, and could talk through their value and what the builder and they could do differently out in the market together.
15 minutes is everything
One manufacturer in particular stood out. Their attitude was, “If we can’t tell our story and provide suggestions to better the partnership in 15 minutes, then we don’t know ourselves or our customers or prospects well enough.”
This manufacturer had prepared in advance, doing research out in the specific markets of the builders they were going to meet with, and showing up with insights and specific suggestions on how they could win together in those markets.
Are you preparing for fortune or failure?
Whether you have 5 minutes, 15 minutes or 15 hours with your customer, what’s important isn’t how much time you spend, but the value you’re able to deliver. Have you prepared to deliver insights and recommendations that will enhance your customer’s value to their end customer?
At this event, the 15-minute time limit forced the conversations to be concise, on-point and value-added. Those manufacturers who came prepared were able to clearly differentiate themselves as a strong partner from the 19 other “dates” the builder would have that day.
What would you do with 15 minutes of face time with your most important customers? And would your decision bring your business (and theirs) greater fortune…or failure?