Building materials customers want more than a good product at a good price. Here are the three key things contractors, builders, architects, dealers, distributors and even big boxes want from manufacturers nowadays.
1. Expertise: You’re the expert—they depend on you to know more about your category of products than they do.
Your customers have to keep current with industry changes, too. Plus, they need to be on top of the project they are working while deep into planning the next one. They’re problem-solving and overseeing.
In other words, they don’t have time to keep up with trends in your product’s materials, technology, and applications.
If you want to be the go-to person for your customers, you need to play the role of adviser, not just supplier.
- When you have news about your product, it’s your job to put that news in front of the customers with whom you want to partner. Don’t wait for them to stumble on it or worse, learn about it from your competitor.
- Make sure you understand and can communicate with your customer how your product intersects with the project as a whole and, specifically, with other building products they are likely to use.
- Be ready to talk about all aspects of your materials and finished product, along with the other benefits of using your product.
Playing the role of adviser communicates to customers that you are the expert and that you can help them to better plan and solve product issues.
2. Efficiency: It’s always crunch time. Treat customer’s time like gold.
If you’ve been reading my blogs, you’ve seen this mentioned before. Your customers don’t have a minute to spare—for planning, problem-solving, or any of the other ten tasks they have to juggle at the same time. If it looks like they have an attitude, know that they just don’t have time to spare.
What does that mean for you? They want you to be mindful of their time and to show it. Save them time and you’ve made their day. Make their day a few times and you’ve built a partnership.
- If you aren’t already efficient in your business practices, get there. Manage the contracts you have by staying proactive.
- Stay on top of deadlines without their help.
- Don’t request special delays, communications, or changes unless something came up that you had no control over.
- Be ready with product availability and answers to questions about product details.
3. Easy access: Keep in touch via an online presence that is fast and accurate.
That juggling act your customers do includes looking to solve problems ASAP. Your website has to be updated and accurate, yes, but you no longer can stop with just that.
Take a moment here to step into your customer’s shoes. He’s multitasking like mad, maybe a bit behind on the latest project and trying to make up the time, and all of a sudden, an issue crops up. If it’s a new problem to him, what does he do? He is likely to whip out his smartphone and look for a quick solution online.
That’s where your savvy online presence comes to the rescue.
- If you have product videos on YouTube, do you also have a very brief video that can walk a customer through an issue with your product?
- Does your product have an app to help the customer in a pinch?
- Does your website have a “faqs” page (frequently asked questions) that is easily skimmable for clear solutions to common questions?
- Can your customer get a quick text message to you or your rep and a guaranteed quick response with the answer he needs?
Expertise, efficiency, and easy access—those are the three keys to partnering with building materials customers today. Each of those keys really is about solving a problem right now! for the customer, which will lead to your becoming—and remaining—a trusted and reliable partner to them.
New Building Materials Sales Book Coming Soon
If you like the idea of becoming a business advisor to your customer and not just a vendor with the lowest price, you may want to read my upcoming book that I coauthored with Carlos Quintero. Click here if you’d like more information and to be notified when our book is available.
If you’d like to start growing your sales today, contact me.