I frequently see experienced building materials sales people hit a barrier or a plateau that stops their sales growth. Or they are unsuccessful when they try to sell a new product.
I also see marketing people and agencies develop a marketing solution or campaign for a building materials product that falls on it’s face.
These situations remind me of a lesson I learned from my wife. A few years ago we were in Las Vegas and I thought it would be fun to take her to a race driving school. We started the course in a classroom, where they taught the basics. My wife really paid attention, took notes and asked questions. I, of course, already knew how to drive fast as evidenced by my speeding tickets and “Risky Business” types of behavior when I was younger, so I didn’t pay too much attention.
We then got in the cars that were real race cars that looked like an Indy race car with a smaller engine. We did some practice laps and then we sped up to see how fast we could go. We weren’t racing each other; we were racing the clock to see who could get the best lap time.
In case you haven’t already guessed what happened, much to my surprise, my wife beat me! My cautious never speeds, wife got a faster lap time than I did. After she rubbed it in with a smile, I realized what big lesson I had been taught.
I let my experience get in the way of my success. I didn’t see the value or need to learn anything new as I thought I already new everything about driving fast.
I see building materials sales and marketing people, doing the same thing. The fact is you can never stop learning, or you will become less and less effective. Another reason we are blind to this is that it happens slowly over time. When we finally notice that we aren’t performing like we used to, we tend to blame it on things like changing customers, anyone but ourselves.
There are many ways to stay sharp. The most effective way to improve is to stop taking your customer for granted. I don’t mean you don’t care about your customers; I think of it as a marriage. After years together, you think you know everything about your partner and the romance is no longer part of the relationship.
Here are two ways to put the romance back in your customer relationship and not let ignorance cost you sales.
- Ask your customers. Schedule meetings with them, in which you aren’t trying to sell anything. Ask them what has changed in the last few years. What concerns them now that didn’t in the past? What frustrates them about suppliers? Who are their best suppliers? You get the idea. Take what you learn and see how you can improve your approach.
- Read my book! I know I am promoting my book, but it works. I frequently hear from building materials sales and marketing people who tell me how much reading my book helped them gain a fresh perspective and grow their sales. You can order it here.
Contact me if you’d like me to teach your team to go faster like my wife taught me.
Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.
“Be a continually learning pragmatic-romantic traditional non-conformist with courageous humility. Good stuff!”
Field General, Inc.