It’s easy to see how the past year has dramatically transformed the way building materials are sold. In reality, all they’ve done is accelerate some of the changes that were taking place anyway.
Most of us thought we had at least a couple more years to adapt. Now those changes are already in place. And the most important ones all have to do with how we and our customers make use of our time.
Many building materials companies make the mistake of not considering how changes to our personal lives will also affect our business lives.
Our personal lives have become extremely efficient. We can communicate online with multiple people at once. We can go days without having to actually talk to anyone if we don’t want to. Sometimes, we have to get on the phone or a Zoom call, but we can often get everything we need with a quick email, text or a visit to a website.
Contractors, architects, builders, dealers and distributors are taking these practices from their personal lives to their business lives – and they’ve significantly cut back on wasted time because of it.
1. Zoom Selling Is Now an Essential Skill
I was interviewing architects on behalf of a client and all of them told me that they welcome (and usually prefer) meeting with manufacturers virtually. It’s a much better use of their time and it frees them up to do more of the research and design work they do best. They can also involve others who may be working from home or from another office.
They also regularly meet with their clients virtually and have put in an effort to make their virtual presentations as effective as they can.
A global advertsing agency recently won a major new account with a virtual presentation. This is equivalent to a building materials company converting Home Depot or a large builder with a Zoom call.
This new skill set requires building materials salespeople and leaders to go beyond the simple tips I have recommended for getting better lighting, sound, and appearance on Zoom calls.
2. Response Time Is Speeding Up
Another way our personal lives have changed is that we’ve become more impatient. We expect a level of speed and convenience that wasn’t even possible ten years ago. If it takes more than a few clicks to get something, we often don’t bother.
The business world is moving in the same direction. The longer it takes for you to respond to a customer’s inquiry about a product, the less likely you are to make the sale.
The optimal response time is under five minutes. The average response for B2B businesses like building materials is 42 hours. And that’s if they even respond – some companies never do.
3. Amazon-Style Product Pages Have Become Essential
We all use Amazon and use it often. We’re accustomed to the way Amazon presents product information.
That’s something building material companies should take advantage of. Even if you don’t sell online and have a very technical product, the product pages on your website should follow the Amazon formula.
It works like a funnel providing a top-line view of the key information a customer needs to quickly determine whether your product is the right one for them. It lets them make a quick-fire decision before clicking away. If they want to learn more, the rest of the page provides more depth and detail to help convince them to buy.
Building materials product pages are rarely that effective. The customer has to wade through more information than they need. It requires too much effort and they’re more likely to leave the site and see what your competitor has to offer.
That’s another topic we’ll be covering at the Whizard Summit. Zach Williams from Venveo is going to show you how to improve the product pages on your website for a better customer experience.
Keep Up with Customer Expectations
Even when you’re selling to businesses, you’re really selling to people. And like everyone else, those people have new expectations.
They expect Amazon-level convenience from the websites they browse. They want quick answers, even if they have to get them themselves. And they want the option to do everything online.
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