How to Pay Yourself First if You Work in Building Materials
Most successful people have learned the value and importance of saving for the future. Too bad we can’t say the same for most building materials sales and marketing people. If they know how important this is in theory, they don’t actually do it in practice.
Instead, they flail away and spend a lot of energy with lots of activities when they could be more successful with careful planning and less effort. More sales calls, more ads, more phone calls, more emails and more marketing will get some results, but it won’t work as a long-term strategy.
People who don’t save all have, deep down, the same problem: they are into instant gratification. They go for what feels right at the moment, and don’t pay attention to the costs they’ll have to deal with in the long run.
Four Problems with the Instant Gratification Approach to Sales and Marketing
- Inefficient – Your cost per sale when using this approach is higher than a more planned approach. This scattershot method wastes time by calling on many of the prospects when they are least interested.
- Not scalable – You can no longer afford enough sales people or have the marketing budget to reach all of your potential customers. There are over 100,000 homebuilder and architects in the U.S. and you’ll burn through your resources before you reach even a fraction of them.
- Not sustainable – Every day you follow the “what did we sell today?” approach will be less effective than the one before. You will soon burn through the customers who respond to this approach and your sales per call ratios will decline.
- No Loyalty – Customers who buy based on this approach are just as easily sold by the next sales or marketing approach, you either have to spend time and money protecting your customers or hope that you’re adding new ones faster than you’re losing them.
It’s not effective.
A Smarter Approach
There’s a slogan that personal finance experts like to use when they talk about saving for the future: “pay yourself first.” That kind of long-term thinking applies here, too.
It works. People who pay themselves first will be able to retire with a comfortable nest egg. And when you change your habits and start paying yourself first as an approach to your business, here’s what can happen:
- More customers reach out to you when they have interest. They are pre-qualified in that they have an interest in talking to you.
- Many people say that relationships don’t count anymore. But when you pay yourself first, you’ll discover that that’s just not true. Relationships do count, and you can even build relationships with customers you’ve never met in person.
- You become a trusted expert that customers will want to buy from.
A Simple 15 Minute Exercise
So, what does paying yourself first look like in practice? Here’s an example of paying yourself first that is easy to do and only takes 15 minutes a day.
Your average sale to a distributor, dealer, architect, builder or contractor is probably worth anywhere from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
For this example, I’m going to keep it simple and set the value of a sale at $100.
It usually takes multiple sales calls to make a sale. Let’s say it takes five. That means each sales call is worth $20.
A customer inquiry from an inbound marketing campaign is worth $5, in this example.
If your company has an effective content marketing and SEO program, each piece of content is worth $X.
A sales person can start to pay themselves first just by taking a few minutes each day to add 10 cents to their social media piggy bank. Once you’ve banked up 200 pennies or so, you can land an additional meeting.
Here is how to easily and quickly add pennies to your sales piggy bank if you’re using LinkedIn or Twitter.
On LinkedIn, you add a penny each time you:
Add a contact
Wish someone a happy birthday*
Congratulate someone on a new job*
Congratulate someone on a work anniversary*
Congratulate someone on their promotion*
Like something they have posted
*LinkedIn shows these to you every day
There are also things you can do to double your money and deposit two cents:
Share something (anything) – it can be a news story, a blog post from your company, a photo from a company or customer event or a trade show.
Share an article of interest to your customers, such as “Builders Facing Labor Shortages,” and add a comment.
When you see a customer post something, comment on it. If they write, “Our latest project was completed today!” at the very least say “Congratulations!”
When you see a customer post something, share it with a comment.
Join groups on LinkedIn like a builder, architect or contractor and actively participate.
If you’re on Twitter, you can add a penny every time you:
Follow more customers
Like their tweets
Share their tweets
Comment on their tweets
Each of these activities will add a penny to your sales piggy bank, and each deposit is taking you one step closer to that $100 sale.
You’ll be surprised at how many of your customers have social media accounts. They also tend to closely monitor them and will notice if you liked, shared or commented on their posts.
The person in charge of social media shares this with the owners of the firms you are calling on.
Everybody likes to be recognized – and everyone notices when they’re not getting that attention.
The companies and sales people who have followed my social media advice get more inquiries and have stronger relationships with their customers.
Your customers are now expecting this but a lot of companies are still lagging behind. I recently had the CEO of a client tell me that he had gotten a call from a large builder who wanted to know why his rep wasn’t liking their posts on social media. The CEO told me that the rep had no use for social media.
Whenever the builder opens a new location or announces a new model, they post it on social media. They now expect their major suppliers to like their posts and, ideally, add a comment.
It doesn’t have to take long, and it can even help you get your name out there: “Congratulations to Jones Homes on your location. We’re proud to supply the windows that make Jones a better home.” It is very likely, in today’s world, the CEO of Jones Homes is shown a report of which building materials companies and reps are engaging with them and supporting them on social media.
The world of sales and marketing is changing rapidly, and having a social media presence is no longer an optional extra. Social media is now an important part of the building materials industry.
Start paying yourself first by taking a few minutes every day to put some change in your piggy bank. Tally things up in 60 to 90 days and see just how much these small investments have paid off.