Return on Partnership Investment
There are many kinds of partnership, both personal and professional. In business, you typically think of partnering with people you already do business with, but some people, those who see the long-term strategic benefits of partnership, find ways to be a partner even to those they want to do business with. Brandon Franks, director of national accounts, Goodman Manufacturing, is one of those people.
“I think partnership is immensely important related to our goals and our ability to achieve those goals,” says Franks. “Partnership is one of the ways we can disrupt the procurement channel.”
The conventional procurement channel tends to work well for many kinds of purchases, but it falls short when a solution needs to be highly engineered or customized or in any case where success rides on the service provided with the solution. In Goodman’s case, they had the ability to provide an exceptional solution, and what they needed was the opportunity to demonstrate the service they could pair with that technology. That’s where Franks came in.
“We sell a solution, but we don’t want to see just a box or widget. We want to provide value,” says Franks. “In order to provide value, you have to understand the people you’re selling to. That’s where ExecutiveXchange is so instrumental for us: understanding the people. It allows us to learn more about them, what they want and need, put a face to the name and demonstrate that we’re people, too. You have to know and actually care about the people on the other side of the table.”
This isn’t a big secret: many people in sales understand that they need to get to know the people they’re selling to, but Franks takes that wisdom a set further. He understands that there is value in investing in partnership long before someone actually becomes a partner.
“Some of my strongest relationships, they don’t currently buy from us, but I know that when they need something we offer, when they have a challenge, they’ll thinks of us.”
This isn’t just something Franks believes. He’s got experience to back it up.
In 2014, ExecutiveXchange had not yet started, and Franks was calling on an account the old-fashioned way: flying up several times a year to meet in person with the fourth largest home builder in the U.S.
“I would make a point of meeting face-to-face with the SVP of procurement, and he was always cordial and took the meeting, but he was blunt,” says Franks.
“He said, ‘Thanks for coming, Brandon, but we’re in an exclusive agreement.’ I said ‘Fine,’ and I continued to meet with him.”
The thing about partnership is that its value often becomes the very clearest when a problem arises. And in the world of single and multifamily homebuilding, a “problem” can become very serious very quickly.
“One day, the incumbent had a catastrophic product issue, and I was his first call,” says Franks. “They were still in a contract, but they need a new months’ help until the dust settled and would then have to go back to the incumbent.”
It sounds like a risky proposition, but, demonstrating a true belief in partnership, Franks and his team jumped in. In just 30 days, Goodman fulfilled the backlog of 6,600 units across the entire eastern seaboard.
The return on that investment? Today, that builder does 22,000 units with Goodman. Knowing that they have a true partner who will come through in any crunch, they have become a $45 million account for Goodman.