One of the biggest mistakes building material sales and marketing people make is promoting the wrong benefit to the wrong audience.
When companies improve on a product, it’s almost always an improvement in its performance. That performance benefits two people: homeowners and building owners.
That’s fine, but the problem is that owners are not the real decision-makers. Architects, builders and contractors are, and they don’t really care about the long-term performance of the building. They don’t own it. They don’t pay the maintenance costs. They won’t be on the hook for repairs.
Obviously, they still want to build the best buildings they can. If you ask them, they will tell you how they deliver a high-quality project. They meet building codes. Their success is based on having many happy customers.
The reality, though, is that they have hundreds of decisions to make with every project. They have to decide on the type of roofing, windows, HVAC, cladding, flooring, air barriers and countless other things. To manage it all, they don’t start with a blank sheet of paper with each project. That may be ideal, but they can’t afford to devote that level of detail to every building.
Instead, they start with the products that worked in the past. Then they’ll deal with a few unique issues that come up with each project and may require a new type of solution.
The problem is that you’re probably selling one of those products the decision-maker doesn’t see a need to change, even if they recognize that your product is better.
Converting those customers isn’t always easy, but there are two keys that will improve your chances.
1. Keep the Effort in Mind
Recognize how much effort it takes your customer to change to your product.
Do they have to switch distributors or dealers? Who is going to install your product? What other changes do they have to make?
A home builder has to do more than 15 things just to switch from one faucet manufacturer to another.
Taking steps to understand the issues your customer has to deal with when converting to you will help you be more successful. If you can find ways to make that switch easier, they’re far more likely to seriously consider your product.
2. Focus on the Right Benefits
Look past the features of your product that mainly benefit the owner. Look at each decision-maker and find how switching to your product can help them be more successful.
Here’s a list to get you started:
- Forget about a lower price. The most successful customers look past that. You want those customers to first recognize that you are the best choice and then hope that you aren’t too expensive.
- Help reduce waste and inefficiency. How can your product make your customer more productive? Here are a few ways it might:
- Labor – Can your product be installed faster or with lower-cost labor?
- Time – Can a project be completed sooner by using your product?
- Callbacks – If your product is in a category that regularly requires a costly callback to fix an installation error and your product reduces this, promote this.
- Customer service – Since 2009, the level of customer service from building materials companies has been declining. If your customer service is designed to help your customers, you can use this to convert more customers.
Whether you are in sales or marketing, have a fresh look at the reasons why a customer should switch to you. Sometimes, all it takes to make the sale is a little more emphasis on the benefits that actually matter to them.