Blog for Building Materials Manufacturers

How Commercial Building Materials Are Sold

  |  Posted in Commercial

How Commercial Building Materials Are Sold

The channel is especially important in the commercial building materials market.  The owner or end user is even more unlikely to worry about an individual product than a residential homeowner.  The building owner relies on the architect in most new construction; the general contractor in design/build projects and the contractor for most repair and remodel projects.

Unless you sell direct, the distributor is incredibly important because if your product is not easily available it probably won’t be used.  The distributor is also important because many contractors are more loyal to their distributor than to a particular product brand.In commercial repair and remodel, the contractor is the gatekeeper who decides what product is used.  Many building owners and facilities managers rely on contractors to handle a project and decide what products are used.

Owners and facility managers are too busy to be experts in all the components of a building.

Half of the solution to a project is labor and the other half is product.  Experienced owners and facility managers understand that the labor half is where most of the problems lie.

They would rather put the labor and product selection responsibility on the contractor.  If they tell the contractor what product to use for a repair and there is a problem, the contractor can now blame the manufacturer.  This creates a costly and time-consuming mess for the owner to sort out who is really at fault.

The owner also knows that he is potentially much more important to a contractor than to a product manufacturer.  Most owners own multiple buildings, which means an opportunity for repeat business for the contractor.

It may be the architect, the distributor or the general or subcontractor or a combination who can make or break you.  Once again, it’s all about the channel.

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About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.

  • Tim Seims

    Mark, your insights are spot on regarding the current state of LBM distribution in the commercial channel. The channel has been the strength of the industry, but it is more of a liability than asset going forward. I’m excited for building owners, Architects, Designers, GCs and Applicators, though. With the dilution of qualified labor, easier access to manufacturers, and pressure from end users, contraction of the supply chain is inevitable. More and more manufacturers will sell direct. This give both the end user and manufacturer more control over process, pricing, product and – yes – people. There is so much duplication and margin tied up in distribution, leading to inefficiency, high cost and low margins. Right now it is all about the channel, true, but those days are waning.

  • Tre Bischof

    Excellent article.