“Lone Ranger” or Team?
Al E. Bavry, CEO, Kimal Lumber & Hardware
Besides our customers at large, the most interesting group to work with would be our Sales team. I say that because unlike our industry’s salespeople of the past, nowadays it has become increasingly difficult for salespeople to do well, since the pace of change has accelerated and continues to do so. With new engineered products, composites, technology, and local/state/national building codes undergoing continual change—it all gets more difficult every year to understand and learn about what is “now.”
I remember how it used to be: As a salesperson who calls on a customer, the conversation would start, “Hey Bill…How’s the wife and kids? How’s that new Nine Iron working out for you? And by the way, are you ready to order that lumber pack?” Yes, we still build “relationships” and “partner” with those customers, but today it’s much, much more. A really good salesperson must be very product and systems savvy…And when asked “If you can get your pencil sharp”…they must have an arsenal of right answers as to why they may be a little higher in price then brand X down the road. It takes such an incredible amount of skill, savvy, and experience that no wonder the sellers in our industry feel they are set apart and stand out for what they know and do. Along with being that “right” kind of salesperson (a true professional), it’s reasonable to find that in most cases, they also come armed with a pretty big Ego! They are apt to tell the customer about all the service, help, advice etc. that they (personally) bring to the table. Maybe even brag a little on how sharp and well trained they are…it is all part of the convincing.
So, the other day, I happened to be sitting next to one of our salesmen, who was talking on his phone. This was Rodney, our top salesman (as it happens), whom I thought was carrying on a conversation with a customer. It took a moment for me to realize he was talking to a new builder in the area. The builder had bought some quality land and was working on his first model, and he was picking Rodney’s brain on local products used, features and benefits that his competition might have, etc. Rodney was providing good answers…But then he began to talk to the builder about the different Centers at Kimal, and quickly personalized his dialog: ”Yes, we have a state-of-the-art truss plant, ad our niche seems to be the tough, difficult sets…We have designers that have been with us twenty years…(mentioned them by name). And our plant manager is Lisa K…Great to work with and I’ll give you her contact information so you can talk directly to her when you get started.” Then he talked about our Door and Window shops, and named and “bragged” about some of the folks there…starting with Judy S., the Center Leader. He continued on, talking about our Lumber Yards and the “boutique” delivery service we offer with a forklift hooked on the back of almost every truck, so “We can put the material wherever you want it spotted.” And, you guessed it…Rodney mentioned the Center Leaders and team by names. Then it quickly hit me…For about ten minutes, he’d said almost nothing about himself, but everything about the fantastic team (by name, time and again) who would cover the builder’s every need. This new builder, I’m sure, quickly figured out that he wouldn’t be working with an ego-centric salesperson, but the whole connected Kimal family. And he already knew who to call–by name!
In my humble/simple mind, I was thinking, “Just doesn’t get any better than that!” And I’ll end with this: If there’s such a thing as a good “Elevator Speech” to have with a customer….whether it’s a current one, or a soon-to-be, brand new one, this speech would be at the top of my list. Because yes, Rodney’s dialog and praise of “The Team” surely earned the builder’s respect almost immediately, because the salesman didn’t focus solely on himself. And just so you’re not mislead…Rodney does have a (surprise) strong Ego, but he knows the art of “Parking his Ego at the Door” as he gets into these relationships. So I have to say thank you to Rodney, for showing me a good lesson to learn by all, including myself. Good, successful selling.