Moulding the Future
For Wood Products
This is Not “Moulding 101”
by Kellie A. Schroeder
Value-added. Keep this short phrase in the back of your mind as you read this article. When someone mentions the wood moulding and millwork industry, what better jargon can you think of than "value-added?" Let’s make this a bit more personal. Do the words value-added come to your customers’ minds when your company name is mentioned? Are your salespeople presenting your company in a value-added light each time they call on or interact with your customers? If you are a builder, distributor or moulding manufacturer, the phrase value-added affects your company on a daily basis.
In business, we constantly seek the added value in every opportunity presented to us by our vendors and strategic partners. We instruct our accounting departments to pay invoices marked for a 1-percent discount net ten upon opening the envelope. We encourage our office managers to increase the order for office supplies so that we can redeem the $25-off coupon for orders totaling more than $100. When selecting vendors, we consider not only the price of their products, but also the service and reputation of the company as well.
Jack Frost Taps at the Window
This is the month of January. I equate this month with frost, fog, biting cold, unrelenting rain, and for some, snow on the ground and snow tires on the family vehicle. I also think of January as my value-added month in the wood products industry and so should you. The phones are still ringing and orders are still being placed, but not at the brisk pace our industry experiences during the spring or summer. Now is the opportune time to take a moment to reflect on your company’s image, products and services to identify what value-added items your customers perceive they benefit from in doing business with you.
As the building industry awaits spring, better weather and increased housing starts, your management and sales teams should be looking inward. If you are not aware of why your customers do business with you and the value-added services you offer with each transaction, you may find your customer base diminishing over the course of 2003.
Your customers are searching for value-added properties entwined in their business relationship with you. Remember that they meet with potential new vendors on an ongoing basis. Your sales team should emphasize the benefits you offer to your customers with each purchase order so that your company’s benefits are foremost in their minds when new vendors come calling. Invest the time now—at the beginning of the New Year—to analyze your strengths in product and services and to incorporate those items into your marketing campaign and employee training.
Sales Meetings Do Not Always Increase Sales
If your team can recite your value-added benefits by rote, then you should turn your attention to your sales team and invest in their training. Before I go on, I must relay that the standard, weekly sales meeting that takes place in the majority of companies, is a point of contention with me. It befuddles me that sales managers think, "when sales are down, a sales meeting will remedy the situation post haste." Here is the typical "How-to-Pump-Up-Sales Cake Recipe" that most sales managers bake: a short memo is sent out on the impending sales meeting; dire report on how low the sales numbers are as the meeting commences; stern looks with lots of waiving of profit and loss statements in the air; huffing and puffing until they reach 350° oven temperature; and then the final spreading of soothing white frosting all over with the words "WE CAN DO BETTER THAN THIS" in red piping. The sales manager then promptly cuts the cake, and it is served to the sales team. Milk, anyone?
If you are a typical forest products company, the majority of your sales team has numerous years of moulding and millwork experience tucked under their belt. How many sales meetings do you think they have suffered through? While you are calculating that figure, I ask you this—when was the last time you sent your sales team for training and motivation outside of your corporate climate?
Is it a Perk or is It an Investment?
If you are a manufacturer of wood mouldings and millwork, I have a gem of an offer for you and your sales team. Next month, the Wood Moulding & Millwork Producers (WMMPA) will be staging its 40th annual meeting from February 18-23 at the Chateau Sonesta on Bourbon St. in New Orleans during Carnival/Mardi Gras. Professor Robert Smith of Virginia Tech University has been engaged as the keynote speaker to present an advanced sales training seminar to the attendees. The presentation will be geared toward sales people who have been in the forest products selling arena at least ten years. Of course, newcomers to the position will benefit from the seminar, but the WMMPA’s goal is to challenge and motivate the seasoned selling veterans in our industry. This will not be "Moulding 101"—that I can guarantee.
Some of you may think that sending your sales staff to New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a perk. Others may see the training investment payoff clearly and view the fees associated with sending their sales team to such an event as a necessary business expense. I see it as both.
What better way is there to rejuvenate a veteran salesperson’s performance? First, you are sending an important message to your employees by validating in their minds that you view them as worthy investments. Secondly, your employee will benefit from the sales training course and the networking that the meeting will provide. Third, upon his return, your employee will be motivated to prove to you that your investment was not unwise. Is there such a thing as a value-added employee?
The Final Pitch with Sage Advice Thrown In
My point to this article is—and you knew there would be one eventually—that you have opportunities awaiting you this winter. Take advantage of the winter months to conduct your critical retooling of your company sales staff and your entire team.
Seek out the value-added benefits that are derived from a business relationship with a WMMPA member this winter. Seek the quality behind the WM™ logo.
If you are a manufacturer of wood mouldings and millwork, take heed. The WMMPA welcomes non-member secondary wood manufacturers to their meetings. For further information on how you can attend with your sales team in tow, ring me up at 530/661-9591 or send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I hope you see the added value in this offer.
Kellie A. Schroeder is the executive vice president of the WMMPA of Woodland, Calif.
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