Sales is about selling, yet many building materials companies seem to work with a different definition. In some companies, salespeople spend most of their time keeping current customers happy instead of finding new ones.
Other companies aren’t always much better. Their sales team is more like a bunch of cowboys doing whatever they want. They measure their success in terms of activity, like “How many people did you call on this week?”
Their approach is simple:
1. We have a product we want to sell
2. There are customers who should buy it
3. If we call on enough of them, we’ll eventually stumble upon someone who will buy our products
Simple, yes. But not very effective or efficient
Thankfully, there’s a better way.
How to make your salesforce more productive.
1. Give them something new.
I’ve never understood this, but salespeople who have called on a prospect don’t usually see a reason for another call. They feel that they’ve already made their presentation and there is nothing new to share. I disagree with this, but it is still a fact.
But if you have a new product or have made some improvements to an existing product, the salesperson now sees that they have something new to talk about.
So, send them a flyer promoting whatever’s new. Even if you’ve just change or improve something, call it NEW.
Now, I hate to see companies print anything, but in this case, it is a good idea. When you send them something electronically, it will often just get lost in their inbox. When you send a piece of paper, they have to deal with it. They can’t ignore or forget about it – it will still be there, staring at them from the top of their desk.
It gives them an “in your face” reason to make another sales call on a prospect that they might not otherwise have reached out to again.
2. Give them something old.
If you don’t have anything new to say, it doesn’t mean you have to stay quiet. Develop a flyer that is focused on an underappreciated feature of your product or company. Or put one together outlining why the prospect will be more successful when they buy from you.
It may seem like overkill, but I would develop a new flyer every month to send to your reps.
They are an inexpensive way to overwhelm your sales team with reasons to make more calls. You keep giving them new things to talk about.
3. Have their back.
Make it so easy for the customer to do business directly with you that they don’t need to see their rep.
Most building materials salespeople have to spend a lot of time acting as the conduit between the customer and your company. It’s easy to shrug and say “That’s the salesperson’s job.” It’s also very costly.
Salespeople are one of your most costly resources, so you should focus on helping them to be as productive as possible.
4. Give them someone to call on.
Inbound marketing or marketing automation is the hot new thing. You used to see every ad agency tout their branding expertise; now, they’re all inbound marketing experts.
And there’s a reason for that: it works!
Most salespeople still think of “leads” as worthless and not worthy of their attention. This is based on their experience with leads from trade shows and advertising. Most of those leads don’t pay off for the sale person. The result? Sales reps don’t follow up on most of the leads that are gathered this way.
With a properly implemented and maintained inbound marketing program, those leads are a lot warmer and more valuable. By the time a lead is sent to the rep, they’ve interacted with you several times and have expressed a real interest in your products.
Customers today, are going to find you online before you have a chance to find them. They’ll already have done their homework. When they’re ready to talk to a rep, they are already way down the sales funnel. Just the type of lead a rep loves.
Start making your salespeople more productive.
My first two ideas are easy to implement. They also don’t cost very much so they won’t put a dent in your budget. The most important part of these is the copy! Use a good writer and make sure they understand the purpose of the copy they’re drafting.
Idea number three doesn’t have to cost a lot, either. It’s more about changing culture and attitude. Everyone in the company should be focused on helping the salespeople by taking over once a customer has been sold. I see too many companies where the salesperson has to spend most of their time being a “fixer,” helping customers navigate the bureaucracy of their company. It can almost seem like the customer is dealing with a Third World nation, where unless you know someone or how to play the game, it’s a real struggle to get what you want.
These are small changes that can give you big results. If you try them out, you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it this way all along.