Blog for Building Materials Companies

Are Your Sales People This Bad?

  |  Posted in Sales

Are Your Sales People This Bad?

The performance of building materials salespeople continues to decline.

It’s getting so bad that your contractor, builder and architect customers are now reaching out to me to share their horror stories.

A Homebuilder’s Story

The head of purchasing of a builder who builds over 600 homes a year recently sent this to me.

I want to share this unbelievable story that happened to me today.

You know that (Company X) is trying to work their way into builders to have their product specified. Last week, the local rep called and wanted to stop in with the new national account manager for introductions. This is where the story gets good.

I greet them in the lobby, and I shook hands with each. The new guy said “nice to meet you” but never said his name. Back to my office, we go. The local guy and I start the typical non-business chat about how life is going. It leads to some discussion on challenges that we are having. This whole time the new guy has said about ten words. He sat there surveying all the stuff in my office instead of engaging with me and looking me in the eye. The local guy said that he would work to resolve our issues and asked if we would give them more business if he were able to get things handled. I agreed.

At this point, I realized that I had not shared my card with the new national account manager. I handed him mine while I was talking and it was very obvious that he did not hand me one. I asked for a card, and he said: “I would love to give you a card but I started three weeks ago and I don’t have them yet.” I looked at him and, in what my wife calls my smart-ass tone, said: “doesn’t your company know that business cards are very important and Vista Print can do them in 24 hours?” 

They both then went into defense mode about the need to have the cards on the correct paper stock and that the marketing department requires that they all come from the one printer. Then the new guy throws his company under the bus by telling me that the worst part about this is that his first week he spent at IBS working the booth and he had no cards. He agreed to e-mail me his contact info. 

After using 45 minutes of my time, they got up and left. He shook my hand and said thank you for meeting with them, and he enjoyed learning so much about my company. The fun part about “learning so much about us” is he never asked a question about us. The local guy asked our projected number of closings for the year, and that was all. He never asked what we build, where we build, who our customer is, or anything about what products of theirs that we use and how he could help us sell more of it.

I still have not received an e-mail with his contact info. I will never get back those 45 minutes of my life.

A Contractor’s Story

A contractor shared with me his recent experience at a trade show.

We purchased $300,000 of product from a manufacturer last year. I requested a meeting at an upcoming trade show to discuss some ongoing service issues. Never got a call or text or e-mail from them to meet. After three visits to their booth, I got to a Vice President of Sales who listened to my frustration, never introduced himself, and wrote nothing down. I am now actively looking for an alternative to this supplier.

I then walked into the booth of another company that I was interested in. No one greeted me; I had to interrupt the four reps gathered in a circle talking with each other. I literally elbowed my way into the middle of their coffee klatch.

I inquired about who carried their product in my area. The response I got was that “maybe they had a branch to service us.” And then I was told just as quickly that I should check out their website, find the closest branch and call them.

This happens all too frequently.

These frustrated professionals are referring to large, well-known building materials companies. Just like a proud parent, too many building materials executives believe that no one in their company would act like this.

The Bar Is Set Low. Set Yours Higher.

Salespeople like these have set the bar so low for how building materials companies treat their customers that it is fairly easy to become a rock star as a company and as an individual.

More frequently, low performance is more about the company and its approach or processes than it is about the individual salesperson. If your salespeople are this bad, take stock of what you’re doing and how you’re approaching sales. You need to start sending your sales team the right message and raise your expectations for them.

Set the bar higher for yourself and your company, and you will easily stand out from the competition.

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Thanks for the following comments.  I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.

“Mark as a Manufacturer Representative and business owner I could not agree more. Everyday I hear stories of others who either just want to tell their story and leave or come unprepared. Glad our team puts the customer first , understands that it takes preparation before a meeting and that
to create a relationship you need to ask questions and allow your potential customer a chance to speak to better establish a you are both a fit for each other’s needs.”
John Zinga
Creative Sales Source Building and Roofing Material Representation

“We talked with a distributor today who has some serious horror stories to tell. Sales people cold calling … no appointment. no agenda. No clue who the distributor is or what’s happening in their market. You can have all the marketing in the world, but you’ve got to have the people to deliver on the other end.”
Beth PopNikolov
Director of Digital Strategy

“Couldn’t agree more, Mark. There is definitely room for improvement in the industry.”
Chloe Clark
Inside Sales
Schindler Elevator Corp

What is the biggest challenge to your sales growth?

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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.