I work with many building materials companies to help them grow their sales. I consistently find that building materials companies make the following mistakes and miss opportunities as a result.
It’s like they’re tying one hand behind their backs as they enter a very competitive and demanding arena.
I also see these as opportunities for improvement that don’t require additional spending in sales or marketing. They’re about redirecting expenditures, making cultural changes and developing higher expectations and a willingness to lead.
As you develop your plans for the coming year, consider these six steps to grow your sales in 2018.
1. Be Willing to Let Go of What You Know to Be True
You’re probably a successful company with a good product that you feel should be used by more customers. You know a lot about your business. To get where you are, you had to learn certain truths about your customers, your competitors and your sales and marketing.
You also acquired some beliefs about your employees, your operations, and your capabilities.
Because of those beliefs, you can easily fall into the trap of thinking you can’t-do more without spending more money.
I find time and time again that the majority of these beliefs are no longer true and that they have limited your ability to grow your sales.
2. Be Willing to Take Risks
There is no single reason why you’re successful. Your success is based on a combination of things that allow you to meet the needs of certain customers better than your competitors.
Other than your website and the unfortunate practice of customer rebates, there is probably not a single thing you are doing that is critical to your success. If you don’t exhibit at that trade show, you won’t lose anything. If you don’t print that catalog, nothing will happen. You will not lose any sales or miss any new business from cutting back in those areas.
If you redirect those budgets to newer, better, more effective ways to spend that money, however, it might be a game changer. Even if they don’t perform as well as you’d like, your sales won’t go down. Your sales simply will not grow as fast as you would like them to.
In building materials, there is little risk in deviating from the status quo, but there is a big potential upside.
3. Listen to Your Salespeople
There is an amazingly large disconnect between your salespeople and the rest of your company. That’s a mistake. They’re on the front line. They know what they need to grow your sales better than you do. Yet most building materials companies don’t pay enough attention to their needs and opinions.
4. Listen to Your Customers
More and more of your customers tell me the building materials companies they buy from have no idea how their business operates. Those companies don’t even know the real reasons their customers buy their product.
Every day, building materials companies make small changes that make their customers’ lives more difficult. Each of these small changes is like adding pennies to a piggybank of reasons not to do business with you.
Your customers also tell me that most of your marketing programs are ineffective and no longer meaningful to them.
Most of them tell me that the manufacturers they buy from are simply the best of a bad lot. You can do better!
5. Not Watching Your Flanks
If you’re the market leader, you need to watch your flanks for competitive threats. Most leaders are overconfident and only see what is directly in front of them. But the real threats aren’t straight ahead – they’re coming from your flanks.
Whenever I work with a company that isn’t the leader, my goal is to outflank, outsmart and outthink the leader. It is usually surprisingly easy.
The leaders are too comfortable. They’re not as worried as they should be.
6. The Right Message
The single most important way to grow your sales is to have the right message. When I look at the homepages, trade show exhibits, and even the ads of most building materials companies, what I see is a very weak message.
When I ride along on sales calls to builders, contractors, and architects, the sales presentations are surprisingly bland and infective. Even very good sales reps make too many sales calls that don’t get results. They either end up being more of a social call, or they’re a sales call with a message that the customer tunes out.
Whenever I work with a building materials company, the two most effective things I do for them are give them new copy to cut and paste into their website and a new script for their sales people.
Make 2018 Your Year
If you recognize yourself in any – or all – of these six points, don’t feel too bad. You’re not alone, and this is a great opportunity to get more out of the money you already spend. Fixing these six mistakes is a simple solution that will finally give you the sales numbers you’ve been looking for.