The sales process is not just about receiving orders or taking your customers out to lunch — not if you want to keep your contractors’ business.
The most important component in keeping a contractor’s business is making sure that he or she receives what they want when they want it. That can require many moving parts, and it is your job to make sure that everything flows seamlessly through your supply chain.
If you have a heavy-volume customer, your role becomes more like that of a sales manager, making sure the customer is satisfied with how everything is running and diving in to iron out whatever issues may arise so that your customer has only to click a button or make a phone call in order to receive the product the next day. You want to make it seem extremely simple and easy for your contractor.
I do think it is important for your contractors to understand all the moving parts involved with getting them taken care of so that they can respect the hard work done behind the scenes, what it takes to service their accounts, and that your job is to make sure that everything runs smoothly.
I like taking the time to walk a customer throughout our building, giving them a complete tour of our facility so that they can see how large our shop is and how many people are working behind the scenes to receive incoming product, load trucks, and move product. Our warehouse is well staffed and hums along nicely as we turn complex ordering and shipping into what may appear to the customer on the outside to be a very simple process.
If you are not in constant contact with your customer, you will not know when there has been a breakdown in the system and when they are unhappy with the service until there is a problem irritating enough for them to complain about. By that time, their business is at risk. You should stay in regular contact with contractors who are placing orders regularly to make sure that everything is happening the way the customers had envisioned.
You, of course, also want to bring out representatives from your vendor partners to introduce new products and services so that you are constantly providing extra value to your contractors. It is always the value-added services that set any company apart. Contractors can purchase HVACR products from a variety of wholesalers, so it is up to you to separate your company from the rest by providing outstanding service.
If you bring out your main vendors, it will also give your contractors the opportunity to discuss anything and everything that they would like to see from those vendors. I try to bring out as many vendor reps as will make sense for my various customers, so that they can communicate directly. I find that my customers appreciate the opportunity to learn about the latest and greatest products and chat with the reps, from whom we and ultimately they will buy product.
Providing this level of support shows our contractors yet another layer of service that takes place on a regular basis as we work alongside our vendors throughout the year. The other important aspect of bringing out a vendor is being able to discuss the amount of inventory a contractor would need to qualify for a shipment directly from the vendor. Your sales volume can pick up greatly if this is discussed between contractor and vendor. It can also improve profitability if your company doesn’t have to handle the materials itself. Direct shipments can be wonderful tools that can increase sales, service, and overall profitability. This typically does not happen without the contractor meeting with the vendor and working through the specifics.
If you can provide your customer with products and services that they didn’t even know they needed, then you become a trusted advisor, which is the Holy Grail in HVACR wholesaling.
Good luck and happy selling!
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