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What Residential Builders Want From Building Material Manufacturers

Builders across the country may experience different challenges, but they all share one common hurdle in particular: deciding whether the benefit of a new building material product is worth the risk of working with a new manufacturer.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

Zach and Beth discuss the results of Venveo’s Marketing to Builders Research & Trends Report by highlighting fresh insights and providing effective marketing techniques that can help manufacturers gain new builder clients.

More About This Show

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales, and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

Zach and Beth talk about some of the most surprising results of our builder’s survey and tell how to download the entire report for free.

Download the Marketing to Builders Research & Trends Report


Venveo’s Marketing to Builders Research & Trends Report involved interviewing over 100 residential builders across the country in order to help building material manufacturers learn how to target them more effectively in their marketing efforts. It was a diverse group of builders who construct anywhere from a handful of homes to 500+ homes each year. You can download the full report to get more details on the demographics of our survey respondents (link in show notes below).

We found two overwhelmingly common themes throughout the survey.

#1: Builders view risk of the unknown as the biggest hurdle to overcome when considering switching to a new product.

We’ll show you how to mitigate this risk in just a bit. In fact, you can address this concern directly and actually use it to your advantage.

#2: Residential builders use the manufacturer’s website as the primary source for product information.

We go into more details in the report on how to help builders find your product online.

Both of these themes came up multiple times throughout the survey, so now let’s talk about the big unknown for residential builders across the U.S.: how to find enough value in a new product to outweigh the risk involved for the builder.

Create a Plan Specific to the Builder

In order to grow sales with builders, it’s important to make them feel like you have a plan for them specifically. Your marketing may be tailored to builders as a whole, but when you’re having a one-on-one conversation, make sure you understand the type of homes they’re selling and their geographic market. This is the best place to start for both sales efforts and marketing efforts.

We talk about this more in our podcast interview with Jon Vaughan from Brand Vaughan Lumber, which you can find a link to in the show notes below.

Another part of this customized pitch is understanding what other builders are doing in their market so you can help them stand apart from the competition. You need to demonstrate how your product meets that builder’s needs.

Our survey respondents said that they feel like manufacturers are there just to push their product. What you need to do is treat them like a person and understand their problems. From there, you can give them a plan to help solve those problems using your product.

The Risk Builders Take in Trying New Products

Here’s a huge takeaway from our builders report: when it comes to switching to a new product: they have much more to lose than you do. Why?

It’s their reputation that’s on the line both in the short-term and the long-term. Here’s a direct quote from one of our survey respondents: “If the products I use are working, why would I switch to something ‘better’?”

You as the building material manufacturer need to answer those questions and figure out a way to deal with those objections ahead of time.

This is where the honesty factor comes in. Be upfront with a residential builder about where your product works and where it doesn’t. Also, don’t ignore the risk they’re taking. Address it and then show them why your product is worth it. Even if your prospect doesn’t mention their risk out loud, they’re thinking it, so take control of the situation.

You can even lead with discussing why a builder might not choose your product. Deal with the objections first and talk about what kind of builder actually is a good fit for your product. This strategy helps build trust and shows that you understand the bigger picture from the builder’s perspective.

What You Can Do to Sell to a New Builder

The most important aspect of your pitch to a residential builder is having a bullet-proof offer. You need to know the objections someone might have, then come in with a plan that focuses on solving those objections for them.

We heard multiple struggles from builders when considering a new product:

  • Warranty
  • Reliability
  • Performance
  • Front-end and back-end costs
  • Honesty
  • Availability and lead time
  • Expectations on post-delivery or post-installation for the product

That last one is incredibly important. Builders want to know that you’ll be available to help them after the sale. Incorporate solutions to some of these struggles into your offer to show how you’re going to mitigate those risks. You’ll have a much more effective pitch when you do this.

Also recognize that you’re not the only manufacturer having a conversation with the builder about switching to a new product.

Here’s a great response from one of our participants that can help you better understand their perspective: “We have been burned by being the guinea pig.”

Maybe your product really can bring the builder a lot of benefits. But they’re talking to building material manufacturers on a regular basis. Think of their situation more broadly than just getting your product in the door.

Another important component to consider when selling to builders? Over 90% of our survey respondents actually help choose products. What that means for you is there are a lot of people you need to market to within a single building company. Know what matters to each person in the whole process, from purchasing to installation, so you can address relevant concerns with the right player.

5 Key Drivers On Residential Builders’ Minds

Our survey revealed that builders have a lot on their minds when it comes to materials. Here are a few factors to think about from their point of view so you can make an easier sale.

#1: Time

This refers to a few different things, including the time it takes to install, the lead time, the time from ordering to deliver, and product availability.

#2: Cost

Again, builders think about cost from a few different angles. Not only do they want to know how much your product is going to cost today to purchase, they also want to know how much it will cost to install. How much time will it take? What’s the cost of ownership for that product? Remember, the products they specify can impact a builder’s reputation for years.

#3: Impact on Other Materials in the Home

Builders want to know how switching to your product will affect the other materials they use in the home. Address this head on so they know exactly what to expect when selecting other related materials.

#4: Curb Appeal

Show builders how your product is going to help them make more money and sell more homes. This is important for both aesthetic and structural materials. A great insulation that saves on energy costs, for example, can be a major selling point for potential homeowners.

#5: Tell Your Product’s Story

When pitching your building material, give your builder a story they can sell to homebuyers. Homeowners love to offer details on their homes, so make sure you have a narrative about how your product adds value to the home as a whole. One of our respondents said, “Cost is extremely important, but not critical.” If you can demonstrate tremendous value to a builder, the cost can be justified.

Builders Want Incentives to Try New Products

Homeowner aren’t likely to remember the names of products that are used in their new home, but they will remember the builder. So when a material fails, whether within a few months or after a few years, they’ll blame the builder — not the manufacturer.

When you do land a new builder client be sure to give them tons of attention during the first three to five homes you build with them. That offers them a fantastic incentive to keep working with you because they know you’re going to support them in the future.

You can also offer support before the product is even delivered. Don’t oversell your customer service, because you’ll just disappoint your new customer if you can’t deliver. Think about how you can realistically guarantee delivery to make the builder’s timeline work. This is especially important if the homeowner is already part of the process. You need to guarantee your product’s fill rate, availability, and delivery time.

On top of that, make a plan surrounding how to mitigate these problems if they do happen to come up.

Common Tools for Marketing to Builders

The report also revealed helpful tools that builders look for when considering a new material. They love to see things like case studies and testimonials because it shows them how the product actually works before, during, and after installation. Also have information on hand regarding your product’s warranty and installation process.

Calculators are another helpful tool to incorporate into your website. They can help builders determine anything from how much product they’ll need for a particular job, to how the product works through the life cycle of ownership of the house. All of these things help project the value of your product.

You can also create marketing materials that show builders how your product enables them to stand out against their competition. Think from the perspective of both the builder and the homeowner to make a strong case.

When you provide builders with these tools to help them succeed, you’ll win in the long run as well.

Show Notes:

Podcast Episode 16: How to Grow Sales with Dealers & Distributors (interview with Jon Vaughan of Brand Vaughan Lumber

Download the Marketing to Builders Research & Trends Report for free