Historically, the pace of change in building materials has been slow. Very slow.
Over the last twenty years, however, the industry has started speeding up. Each year, it gets even faster. Just a few years ago, we were cruising at a comfortable 50 mph. Now, we’re zooming at over 150 mph, with 200 mph, 300 mph, and beyond just over the horizon.
Rate of Change in Building Materials
A Few Examples of This Rapid Increase in Speed:
- Customers now get their information online instead of getting it from salespeople
- More and more products are being purchased online
- Offsite construction is becoming the norm
- Reduced construction time is now more important than lower prices
- New construction methods and materials are being adopted more quickly
- Contractors, builders, distributors, dealers and architects have become much better businesspeople
- Mergers and acquisitions are changing the industry’s landscape
Building materials salespeople are faced with these changes and they have to adapt on the fly, often with little or no support.
1. A large distributor of your products was just acquired by a distributor who carries your competition. What do you do?
2. A project that would have been yours is now going to be built offsite by a company that has never used your product. What do you do?
3. An architect sends an inquiry asking why the information they need isn’t on your website. What do you do?
Most salespeople aren’t sure because they haven’t been prepared for these changes.
Building Materials Companies Need to React Quickly
Building material companies aren’t planning a war – they’re already fighting it.
They’re not planning a winning season – they’re at bat, facing down the best teams.
They aren’t strategizing a political campaign – they’re on the road trying to win over voters.
In that environment, speed matters. Salespeople know that. They’re at the frontlines, trying to keep up with the changes and figuring out new ways to keep customers interested.
Unfortunately, marketing departments still struggle with this. And a marketing that lags is going to cost you lots of opportunities.
If it takes six months to create a new website, you’re losing sales every day until your site is updated and live. Once it’s up, it might already be a couple of months out of date because a lot can change over half a year.
The result: you go live with a message aimed at where the customer was, not where the customer is. Your new website is only a day old and it already missed the mark.
Someone told me about a firm that specialized in designing landing pages. I was impressed with their site at first. Then I asked about their process and the timing. Once you provide them with your copy, the turnaround time for the landing page design is six weeks. Then it’s another six weeks to program the page.
That’s three whole months, which isn’t terribly useful when what you really need is someone who will create a landing page in three days.
Politicians these days have, at most, hours to react to changing situations. They have teams that can create television spots, online ads, email campaigns and landing pages in a matter of hours. They can put together an entire, comprehensive website in only a few days.
That’s the pace of things these days. Taking a few months to put something together is simply too slow.
Speed Up Your Marketing
The slow speed we’re used to seeing from marketing means that salespeople don’t have the support they need.
Salespeople appreciate the help they get from marketing. But that’s mostly because something is at least better than nothing. Unfortunately, most marketing departments aren’t much help with the day-to-day challenges that sales deals with.
Even with all of the wonderful things digital marketing can do now, you won’t make a sale without the involvement of a salesperson. No one is closer to the market and the customer than the people in your sales team.
That’s why marketing departments and agencies should work much more closely with sales. They should listen in on calls with the head of sales and the sales team to stay informed. Instead of looking for big projects, they can start looking for small but important opportunities.
When marketing is ready to assist sales, it will improve your odds of successfully converting customers and growing your business. It might be a social media or content idea that gets the right customer’s attention. It could be a really well-crafted email that speaks directly to the customer’s problems. It could be reviewing sales presentations and offering suggestions for improvements.
Marketing departments and agencies tend to look at these kinds of projects as being too small to be worth their time. They’re wrong. When marketing works in real-time with the sales team, it helps the company succeed and helps the marketing department do better on larger, longer-term projects.
Sales happen quickly. Marketing departments and agencies need to learn how to speed things up so they can work alongside sales teams instead of slowing them down.
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