The stark question virtually shouted at me from the bottom of page 38 in the July issue of Pro Sales magazine: “Sales Suck?” There it was, right there beneath a drawing of the Titanic slipping into oblivion.
For roofing contractors in many areas of the country, the type and level of business activity to which they have become accustomed have not been so terrific for some time now, and many are wondering when or if they ever will. The “Sales Suck?” themed ad is for Roofing Contractor columnist Rick Davis’ Building Leaders Inc. Davis writes, speaks, and consults with a variety of small to large businesses on the topic of sales leadership. He, and other consultants such as Roofing Contractor columnist Monroe Porter of PROOF Management Consultants, are no doubt staying quite busy assisting contractors with the task of finding new business opportunities. The ad does not just pose a question, it puts forward a challenge. The entire script goes like this: “Sales Suck? Do something about it.”
Lately I have noticed quite a bit of activity pointed in the direction of “doing something about it.” Guys like Davis and Porter tend to be on the leading edge of these kinds of changes, but for many others, especially roofing contractors in business less than 15 years, this is all new territory. Here are a couple of examples that I have witnessed recently.
Tom and I go back many years. He has been in the big truck maintenance and truck body business for around 30 years. Over the years he has seen his share of changes in the trucking industry, and most recently he has had to “re-engineer” his shop to match up with an overall tightening of the market.
Tom described a process to me whereby he measured every individual in his employ and how each of them returned value to the enterprise. He was amazed that the result was a reduction in force of five people who were no longer producing value. One was a friend and employee of over 20 years, which made this a very difficult process. The result was savings amounting to a small six-figure amount per year and an invigorated working environment as the changes resulted in new challenges and opportunities to those who remained on the team. Tom is convinced these changes will lead not only to lower costs but to improved customer service and sales.
Another great example was the roofing contractor who sent a special flier to all his existing clients - folks for whom he had installed a roof somewhere in the last one to 20 years. The flier announced his new initiative, offering owners the addition of “natural light” to their homes and small businesses. The skylight sales opportunity came when he struck a deal to work in partnership with a gentleman who had made his living working for home builders. This talented individual, like many others, found himself in a depressed new construction market. Now, together, they will mine the fertile field of potential buyers that are already comfortable working with the company, offering a turnkey skylight installation including interior finish. I am betting on this one.
Sales suck? Rick Davis’ simple advice is the best: do something about it. I veered into these two ideas without even looking; there must be hundreds of others.