Volume 37, Issue 10, October 2002
Tapping Into Your Local Glass Network
by John Baker
As a glass shop owner seeking to obtain more business, I’m sure you’ve asked yourself at least a few of the following questions when determining how to attract new prospects:
1. Who uses glass?
2. What contractors include glass in their projects?
3. Who else sells to these contractors?
4. What OEM manufacturers use glass (furniture, bullet-resistant, mirrors, etc.)?
5. Are building owners and property managers targets for you?
6. What networks include contractors, building owners and glass users?
7. Who can provide you with good, qualified leads and referrals? How can you meet these people?
Network, Network, Network
These questions can be answered by devising a good prospecting and networking plan. Consider the following:
Step 1: Have a clear, concise picture of your glass business, and be able to describe it to others. Tell customers what makes your shop special and unique. When doing this, remember that good service, guaranteed work and top-quality materials are worn-out phrases that your competition uses everyday.
Step 2: Determine your company’s mission and focus. Do you and your staff have a clear understanding of the marketplace and your various targets?
Step 3: Establish a prospecting plan and procedure for you and your salespeople. Following is a partial list of organizations that are associated with glass, many of which may have
chapters in your geographic area:
•The Construction Specification Institute;
•The American Institute of Architects;
•Building Owners and Managers International;
•Chamber of Commerce;
•Association of General Contractors;
•Kitchen and Bathroom Contractors;
•National Association of Women in Construction; and
•American Society of Interior Designers.
Most of the organizations you find will be glad to meet with you and will probably encourage you to join. You do not have to be related directly to that trade to join many of the groups out there. In fact, they appreciate related trades to join and participate as
While joining an organization will probably get you noticed by some new people, it will not get you any new job opportunities until you are perceived and accepted as credible and reliable. It is important that you find time to get involved and show that you’re honest and dependable no matter what your trade is. I have seen many businesses join the Orange and Anaheim Chambers of Commerce here in California, go to the local business expos and mixers and expect to receive instant hot leads and referrals—it’s not going to happen! You have to put effort in to get the results out.
It’s fairly easy to help with the annual golf tournament, Christmas party or special event, which is a hands-on opportunity to show that you have a good work ethic and run a strong company. You will make many contacts and some will develop and proceed through the following stages:
• Visibility: They know you, like you, and know at least a little bit about what your company does.
• Credibility: They trust you and would refer you readily to friends and associates. Word-of-mouth praise at this level is very powerful and is far better than most ad schemes.
• Profitability: These people find you jobs, bring you leads and dollars.
• Strategic Alliances: These are strong, mutual, ongoing relationships that generate good will and sales for both parties on a continuous basis.
Tradition is a good thing—if it’s working. But, if you want more sales, let’s try some new things, break some rules, find some new prospects and ultimately more solid, strategic alliances in your marketplace.
John Baker is an instructor for the Sanders Sales Institute in Irvine, Calif. Baker has been involved in sales training for more than 15 years and has several years of experience working with companies in the glass industry.
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