Tips for maximizing sales

I advise clients daily on how to increase visibility and communication with customers. The building materials sales cycle has many partners including consumers, dealers, national accounts or retailers, fabricators and installers throughout the channel, and it is critical to understand and work with each partner effectively for the best results.

Here are five questions sales professionals should ask themselves to better understand and maximize the sales channel.

Do you……

Know your customer?

This sounds simple; however when your product and service is part of an “installed sale” the answer is not so simple. Consider your product or service was sold to a consumer who was influenced by an architect, designer, or builder and that same product and service was sold by a builder, home center, dealer, or fabricator, who was supplied by a distributor, who was supplied by a manufacturer. Not to mention your product or service being used in a prefabricated product and sold without any identification at all.
Do you know the consumer, architect, designer, builder, seller, distributor, and manufacturer? You should! Invest the time in getting to know the key players in your field or market and communicate with them – personally or in an email or social media campaign.

Know what your customers are buying and at what price or promotion?

Again a simple concept; however in a complex transaction each partner in the sale has a selling price and a cost. The selling price is often guarded; however knowing the selling price at each level of the sale is important to provide maximum value throughout the entire channel. Understanding your costs may be the difference between success and failure.

Know where it was sold?

Depending on your role in the sale you may or may not know where the sale was actually made. Who made the sale and who influenced the sale would be very helpful to encourage more sales. It also helps with follow up, should an issue arise. Both negative and positive experiences are learning opportunities and the more information you are armed with, the better prepared you will be.

Know when your product was sold?

Have you ever heard the phrase “You want what, when”? Well this regularly occurring request is often times the result of a sale that happened some time ago; however it lost its visibility. Whatever the reason for the delay, whether due to construction tasks or poor scheduling; after the delay is removed, you may be next to be expedited. Knowing when the sale was made and what the next scheduled steps are will provide you with better lead time planning. Also, note this may work both ways, instead of holding constrained material for a later delivery you may be able to reassign the material until needed.

Know why it was sold?

Knowing which market segment was responsible for the sale helps you make decisions about where to best dedicate your marketing dollars. Determine if your product was used in a commercial job, residential project, or any variation of market segments; to plan for future investments and sales.

Why is this important?

It takes time to know your sales channel intimately and we all fall victim to not having enough time to pay attention to the details. Being proactive, not reactive, can be the difference between gaining market share or not being able to recover.

  • Remember, the consumer is king; he/she spent the money and most likely is a repeat buyer and a great influencer for your more of your products and services. Additionally, the consumer most likely expects some kind of warranty and always appreciates a thank you for the business.
  • The architect, designer, or builder may have influenced the sale. Knowing who they are is equally important so that you can recognize them for their valued advice.
  • The seller conducted the sale. He has his reputation on the line and usually the first contact with the consumer and the source for repeat sales to the consumer and other consumers.
  • The distributor is vital to the process to insure they have the product ready to ship when needed. How many sales are lost due to poor inventory planning? Like the manufacturer, the distributor spends money promoting the product and service and needs to know the return on his investments.
  • The manufacturer of the product spends millions of dollars building product and brand awareness and needs to know how effective his investments are. As with the distributor, keep the manufacturer informed of specific information on the product(s) sold to insure product is available for future sales.

Randy Olejnik is the founder of Brookfield-based Cilio Partners Portal, one of the first cloud-based applications that automates sales and purchase order management for partners in the retail, distribution and manufacturing industries.

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