In the not too recent past, building materials sales relied on salespeople visiting customers at their business to let them know about their products. Although the delivery method has changed, the goal remains the same: make the sale. These days, there are more ways to reach potential customers than ever. In addition, technology allows these sales messages to be delivered whenever and wherever potential customers want them. They get to choose the time, place, and format of the message.
Building materials companies continue to rely on outdated sales methods, which aren’t working as well now.
- People don’t pick up the phone anymore, so cold calls are often routed to gatekeepers who don’t pass on the message, or people answer but resent the interruption. Others don’t answer at all, for fear of spam calls.
- Mailing unsolicited samples is expensive. In addition, it can be tough to find the correct mailing address, the package may get lost or damaged, and it can be difficult to know whether the package was received. Starting a conversation is difficult when you aren’t sure if the prospect received the package or not.
- Personal drop-ins aren’t effective either, as many workers aren’t in the office anymore. COVID restrictions and personal levels of comfort have made physical meetings difficult to schedule on the fly.
- Inviting prospects to lunch or dinner isn’t as successful as it used to be. People have jampacked schedules, are overworked, and resent the demand on their time. In addition, the meal can be awkward when they know you want to sell to them.
In large part as a result of the pandemic, people generally have become more accustomed to interacting in a variety of new ways:
- Text messages
- Prescheduled phone calls and video calls
- Scheduled in-person meetings that follow safety protocols
- Finding the information they need on their own, when and where they need it
By acknowledging and understanding these new forms of communication, building materials sales staff can tailor their marketing for more success.
New sales approaches for building materials firms
Companies need to provide information in a variety of ways, so prospective customers don’t have to speak directly to you to research your products. This allows them to review the information when it’s convenient for them, whether that’s at 2 AM on Tuesday, 2 PM on a Thursday, or Saturday afternoon. Information should be provided in a variety of formats and be available in a variety of locations. It should be available on your website and social media sites and should include downloads, like digital catalogs and specification sheets.
If you insist that your customers communicate with you in a way that they’re not comfortable with, you will lose sales. For example, insisting on a phone call can lead to frustrating phone tag, as well as not acknowledging that some prospects don’t like to talk on the phone. Similarly, if you require a video call early on in the sales process, some prospects may drop out because they don’t want to be on camera, or it’s not easy for them to schedule that type of call. Offering a variety of communication methods helps overcome these concerns.
The key is to pay attention to how your prospective customers like to communicate, then make it easy for them. Don’t use systems that require special downloads, subscriptions, or a complicated interface. PDF documents, simple downloads, email communications, and photos and videos can be easily viewed by most online visitors. Samples and other more detailed documentation can be sent if the prospect requests it, saving postage expense and allowing you to indicate one-on-one.
Here are a few relatively new methods to communicate with your potential customers that can help grow sales opportunities:
Text messages are a simple and easy way to send out automated and personalized marketing messages. Many people prefer texting as it allows them to respond when they are able, as opposed to interrupting their work. In addition, text messages have an open rate of 99%, with 97% of them being read within 15 minutes of delivery.
Artificial intelligence can help answer questions through chatbot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Customers can get the specific help they need without involving a salesperson.
An Entrepreneur survey showed that 63% of prospects preferred email communications with businesses over any other form of communication. Artificial intelligence can be used to personalize emails so that your audience sees only what they want.
People spend a lot of time on social media, even when on the job. You can use paid advertisements to increase your exposure or create original content to gain organic search traffic. Make sure that your social media strategy includes providing new content regularly to keep things fresh.
In order to make a sale, building materials suppliers need to meet their customers where they are. These days, potential customers are looking to the internet and social media for information. By leveraging these tools, you can increase your sales and provide a better customer experience.