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The Mill #4 – Why Sales Still Matter

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Last Updated Apr 22, 2022

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The Mill #4 Why Sales Still Matter

It’s like, wait, we aren’t selling you. We’re explaining how we can be the best supplier there is, but I need some information from you.

Hi everyone. I’m Taylor Poole, and this is Darren West, and this is today’s RMFP The Mill. So we’re going to be discussing today the different transitions of sales throughout the age and time in the building materials industry. And then the wide kind of range as far as how people do it in today’s world, whether it’s an old school boiler room or whether they’re new, modern kind of social media, different social media channels for talking to customers.

So Darren West is our VP of sales and he works with three different sales managers who correspondingly work with 19 sales guys. Is that correct? 19 right now? Five five and nine. So this is kind of one of his textbook areas. How long have you been selling Darren? 2003, I guess, professionally, but my whole life I had businesses when we were little, anything from a video store to a pet store.

And then, about sixth grade I started my own lawn mowing company and that’s when I started knocking doors. Okay. So fashionably 13 contractor sales since 2003. Yeah. So it’s definitely been quite a bit of a progression. Yes, absolutely. So today we came back from sitting down with a company about doing the building empires, sponsorships, like we’ve talked about once again, this all feeds off of our conference and some of the conversations that got brought up today were just some of the ways that the industry is changing, moving forward. Whereas, you know, a few years back, maybe you only had four or five total sales guys from the market size of Denver. Whereas today we’ve got 19. So I’m going to kind of pass it over to Darren here just to kind of get the ball rolling.

What are some of the big fundamental changes you’ve kind of seen tweak just over in the last decade? Something that we’re trying to tweak is for some reason. And I’m a salesman. I have no problem saying I have been for a long time, but there’s still this salesman becoming a bad word or no one wants to be sold.

I understand that. But at the same time, we are providing a service as we do. We are just selling one and done 70% of our business. If not more, maybe 80% are repeat customers. So we aren’t selling them, just materials. We’re selling them on the fact that we can be the best building suppliers with the right information.

So the selling these days is still yourself, your company, then the product, but it’s more and more to the company and the sales guy himself. And it is so easy to check out the ethics or the history of these companies now online, if you aren’t online with that information available, you’re already behind it.

So why do you, I think, I mean, you know, back in the 1960s, 1970s, even all the way up to probably the early nineties, a salesman by trade was actually a pretty popular thing. You were proud of it. Kind of talk to me about where the connotation, well, nobody wants to even put the term salesman on their business card anymore.

You know, I’m struggling with that. I really don’t know. I think it goes to the idea of the hard ball selling, the closing, the boiler rooms, the idea that he’s going to come in with his jewelry on or slick Willie, you know what I mean? His gold chain, and I mean, all of that is gone for the most part, but at the same time, salespeople are the most successful people in the world.

It’s a beverage selling communication. Communication is sales, communications, everything. So it’s, there still are the bird dogs, the killers we call them versus the order takers and this industry is big enough that there’s room for both, but we’ve seen everything from. The boiler rooms that I’ve been in, where you have to make 250 calls a day, all the way to some of these other companies, order takers, we call them, they sit there and wait for the phone to ring.

Well, yeah. That doesn’t last, we grew at 30% because of our sales team. One of the areas that we’re going to be having one of the largest speakers in the world on, can’t say his name yet, getting close to that over at build an empire will be on sales. And one of his biggest, that is the train that’s just right around the corner from us.

We’re literally probably 50 feet from it. Anyways, back to where we were. One of his token slogans is the Fortune’s in the follow-up. And I know you got some big feelings on this one and, you know, elaborate to me why that matters. Why in today’s modern world, you would think that even with all of our technology why it’s still important to follow up with somebody it’s a sales position.

So sales is different from any other because you run your own business. Most places don’t have a ceiling. Hey, you’re going to max out at this or he knows what he’s going to make this month, because he’s done the same thing every year. That’s not dealing with your sales, you can create the relationships that are going to keep coming back.

And that’s how you can build your book of business. As far as the evolution of it we’re going to have to cut folks. So let me kind of set back over that was one of the things that has been talked about in the panel that we were at a couple of weeks ago, the keep crafted live event.

One of the things that I’ve discussed with Tye is that in the construction trades and in our industry, it’s amazing how many people get the job just because they called somebody back. You know, we’re here. The followup, I mean, there’s a reason. He says the Fortune’s in the follow-up and that sees one of the biggest sales trainers there is right now.

And it’s true. So from an owner standpoint, he paid for that lead. Why aren’t you going to call it back? These are people that called us asking for something, whether it’s products, how to tackle a project, information on a project, whatever it is, these people approached us and asked us for something you spend your time to work up a quote, hopefully asked the right question.

So you do know what to quote. And then just let your price out there. Well, and that’s not being a good supplier just by letting that price go. Yeah. We’re mill direct on a few items. Local. It happens the same. We just got a local twenty-five percent rent increase. I let a price sit out there as a supplier.

Cause I don’t want to bug this guy. He calls me back in two weeks. He’s pissed because my price went up or I can’t honor that price. Yeah. Therefore you are not following up. You aren’t being the best supplier that you can be. You’re not doing your job. Your job is you’re supposed to help the customer get into the right product and purchase that product.

If you become a friction point, then you’re not, you’re not actually helping that customer in the way that they asked. It’s to respect your time. You gave them the time to talk to them, to work this quote up to, to check the mail, check the buyer, see what’s going on. You gave them your time, which is so valuable, especially in the summertime here when guys are doing.

2030 transactions a day. Well, so when you offer up your time and then don’t follow up to get something out of your time, that’s not a sales guy. That’s not somebody that’s not being pushy. It’s you asked me for something, there are some deadlines on my price or the product availability, whatever it is.

If I don’t relay that to your, who am I to say? I’m a good supplier. Well, yeah, because then if the material’s gone, I call you up and it is gone. I’m going to get angry at you. Why didn’t you tell me ahead of time, way more angry than getting two more follow-up calls from me saying, Hey, I just want to give you a heads up.

I’m running out of this material or the price is going up next week. It’s much easier to manage. So that’s where the younger guys that haven’t spent time in boiler rooms or knocking doors or the older school type of sales get on the phone. It’s that simple. Get on the fall somewhat.

This machine here at Rocky Mountain, the products are there right there. The product quality is there. The pricing is more competitive on most of it. If not very competitive, it’s staying in front of them. If we had a store on every corner, no problem. We wouldn’t have to, but when we lose fence packs and Aurora, because a lot of Home Depot is close.

No, we can deliver into Aurora. Cheaper than going to Home Depot. So it saved them time. Right. So you have to get to that point of having relationships with your customers. Look, how long does it take you to go pull a fence back over there? I’ll deliver it and you got to talk to them. Well, and that’s, like I said, that’s one of the things, when we talking about building empires, we’re looking for sponsorships between $50,000 of 1.3 million in these core, these core ideas.

And like today we’re sitting on sales.  It’s important for people to understand these. It’s important for the smaller contractor who maybe he’s going out and bidding all of this jobs himself, and maybe he needs to bring on another estimator or a followup guy, man, they’re worse than we are. No.

Yeah, no disrespect, but I get calls from contractors all the time. One, I liked doing improvements myself. I like seeing where they’re at. There’s a lot of stuff I can’t do. But I’m always amazed. Like again, these guys came to my house, spend an hour there, measuring stuff you never hear back from them. So that’s something else we’ve dabbled in here at Rocky mountain is the contractor assistant program where we’ll gladly talk about products. Lots of these guys. We don’t know how to build. We could figure it out. We know how to read. We’ve got YouTube, but that’s not our expertise.

Our expertise is moving material and getting the right material to the right job site. It kind of goes back to a good long long-term sales guy who can function in an industry for decades. He builds relationships. He builds those accounts and grows it. Well. It was one of the ironic things for a meeting today.

So we went out to a vendor. We spent probably seven figures plus a year with this vendor and we went out there and we walked around after we got done with their meeting. And we’re like, Oh, we didn’t know you guys carried that. We’ve probably been buying them from this vendor for 20 years plus, and that’s everywhere in our industry.

And that’s two things. One, there’s so much potential for all of us to get so much better, but that’s also what makes it attractive to these disruptors that we talked about with this company. That’s 118 years old. They’ve been ahead of everything. They’ve started so many things and now it’s just like, well, what’s social media.

It’s here. It’s not necessarily going, it will adapt and it’ll change and things are only going to continue to speed up and change faster than they have. I mean, the types of platforms and these companies like Amazon, they weren’t around a decade ago. Right. They didn’t exist a decade ago.

Prior to that was when we were, when the whole internet was just starting, new websites were coming out as Jesus was coming on aol.com. But you know, the old school you had to put the CD wrong in the computer to boot it up for your five minutes talking about yesterday. It’s just like, it’s not just our industry blockbuster.

And it’s evident with our little, not little, but our deal here at Rocky Mountain. And then what social media has done in the last year to eliminate print at a 44 year old company. Yeah. With 30% growth. Like there’s something to this. It’s just weird to be like myself when you were first starting to do some of this stuff.

Like what, give me a phone. Well, we need both. Yes. It can’t be either or it has to be both. Absolutely. Because there’s all different types of buyers. So there’s all different types. Everybody nowadays in the entire world is busy. We’re all busy. Right? Take the wheels on it. You in hell, man. As much as that kills me to say, we have guys that get email deals.

Going back to the building and the relationships with our contractors and the simplicity of it. It’s our top guys that make it look the easiest because they have the relationships with these guys are just texting in orders nowadays, so well, and it goes back to the idea of we’ve been in business for 45 years.

And what we did in the last 45 will not be the same, what we do in the next 45. And that’s not going to change forever. It’s always going to progress and, and sales will never go away. The idea of sales in what it is won’t go away, execute back to the big names that we’re talking about.

He’s not a soft order taker, he’s a salesman and he openly admits it. And there’s a reason he’s as successful as it is. So that tells you right there, the salesman is not dying. It’s just a perception of a sales guy, or for us, it’s like, wait, we aren’t selling you. We’re, we’re explaining how we can be the best supplier there is, but I need some information from you, right.

So, you know, what’s important to you, what you’re doing. And then I will, with my knowledge, product knowledge, industry knowledge, sales knowledge, explain what I can provide for you at what price. Well, yeah, I mean, if, if we don’t get the proper information, we’re going to sell your product. That’s not going to perform correctly and that’s on us.

Yeah. And that that’s our fault for not asking those questions. And then when you come back to me a year later, because you’re treated deck boards that we put down in Colorado completely chipped off and broken. Yeah. Shattered. You have to tell a sales guy. I told you so, or you were right. That happened all because you were from a different part of the country.

Yeah, exactly. And that’s just Denver being the market. It is, there’s so many folks from out of state, myself included. There’s boards that they grew up building with that worked great in the South, but they don’t work here. No, it doesn’t. There is a climate, especially when we’re, you know, 5,000 feet down here, we’re delivering into 10,000, 8,000 feet all the time.

You got to know the material for your climate different games. So that’s not selling. That’s just like, I’m not selling you that I have the best it’s explaining, no, this is the best material for the climate. And we’ve done research for 40 years. We don’t pick up every little thing that comes through.

So it’s weird. So for our contractors in our other vendors that are watching this, are any of the other professionals watching us? Why would it matter? I mean, because what we’re talking about is more specific to what we do as a dealer. Why does it matter to every single company to actually be able to look at these different nuances to qualify that customer properly.

Why does it matter to the contractor? Same thing. If you knew more than your competitor about what’s important to this potential home builder or customer of a new home, you’re going to get the deal. You’re going to know how to pitch. The design of the house or the product of the house, based on what they’ve told you, that’s where everybody says, how have you done what you’ve done in sales?

Or, you know, can talk, well, yeah, I can talk, but I can listen. I take more pride in listening than I do talking or being able to relate with folks because if you aren’t listening, you shouldn’t be in sales either. So, again, it’s important for the contractor just to listen to open-ended questions.

Tell me what’s important. And then I’ll see if I can match it with the house or for us, a job pack, signing back deck pack, whatever it is. But it’s the guys that, Oh, I can’t ask him that. Well, why not? Yeah. Well, he just wants a price on the deck board. You know, there’s so many decks boards out there.

We’ve got 40 years of open door experience. We’ve got hundreds of years of knowledge in the room. Well, part of that comes down to how that product is going to last long term. If you put the wrong product in, and the thing fails, they’re going to think of it as your craftsmanship.

Not necessarily the product that goes through the same thing. So these builders from out of state that worked there, but they have to go show you range, fly homes, you build differently in evergreen. Then you wouldn’t know Maura. So  it’s knowing. You know, the land in a sense could be his product.

So he knows that land and how to build up there. He’s going to know how to ask the questions to folks that are building an evergreen and a lot of those different ways how builder’s quote unquote built brand. I think it’s funny cause we get stuck on the term brand so much, but a brand has a reputation.

That’s really all stuff. Absolutely. The best old school guys, we will say that probably won’t get on Instagram. Cause they’re about out. That’s back to word of mouth. I haven’t advertised in 10 years. Okay. And there’s guys that operate like that, but not anymore. And then if you do take a guy that does have that kind of reputation and then put it online or companies explode, if that’s what they’re looking for.

One of the things that’s been said repeatedly by many experts in the marketing world is that social media. Like it’s actually the streamlined version of word of mouth. So what we started with right then that’s what it is. It’s, it’s still your buddy saying, Hey, these guys are good. Give them a shot.

If you’re building a home, you take it just the same. You didn’t talk to him, but that is the new word of mouth. It’s just word of mouth a million more times. However, many followers are seeing that instantly. And it works. I mean, there’s like you said, is Instagram going to be here in 10 years?

Who knows? If that’s the name of the platform being used to spread all this information will be there. So it’s, like I said, it was tough for me to even be like, all right, we got to do this. And now it’s like, man, did we make it in time? Yeah, no, I didn’t read certain things on time. Yeah. But again, that’s back to the industry as a whole. There’s people that are the most authentic that do have year-long waiting lists because of their reputation who do grow 30% on their 44th year. Yeah. There’s lots of this going on and it’s just like, man, we could come together, keep this industry alive. That’s one of the oldest and it makes it better.

They asked us today, why are we doing this simple? And I think we kind of baffled them by how simple there was, mine was freedom. His was for his family. Yeah, that’s why we’re doing this. Are we, some of these bajillion dollar companies don’t need protection, but should they be aware of this? Absolutely. So that kind of ties into how do we find the other thought leaders of this industry?

Let’s do this and make it even a bigger, more profitable industry then than it already is and keep it. No, I think that’s a good closing statement. So lastly, once again, building empires conference, we’re putting on next year for all the construction and building materials industries here in Denver. You can give us a call at (303) 625-6442. Once again, that’s three zero three six two five six four four two. To ask for the marketing department, look, get you to the right place. And we are looking for sponsorships between $50,000, upwards of 1.3 million. My name is Taylor Poole, and this is Darren West with Rocky Mount Forest Products. And that was today’s The Mill.

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