If only we were clairvoyant
Back in 1949 Arthur Miller wrote a play with a title that seems very apt for today’s business world – particularly the Glazing and Door industry – the play “Death of a Salesman”
Sales methods have certainly changed since 1949 we have gone from the “personal touch” where nothing was too much trouble for the prospective customer to the digital age of sales where the customer does all of the work themselves with the simple click on a mouse or touch of a screen.
As to which is better it is probably an “age thing” the younger generation who have grown up with computers consider online purchasing “the norm” but those of a slightly older generation still crave not only the personal service but also to experience the touch and feel of the product.
When it comes to the Glazing and Door industry memories are short – back pre 2000 the industry had a terrible name for its Sales techniques – Salesmen who would sit in your home until you threw them out – the never to be forgotten “one day only Managers Discount” etc.etc – a considerable number of these so called “salespersons” were in it for the commission and their product knowledge in many cases was limited to the pretty pictures in the brochure. – was that kind of service really that good?
The beautiful song “The way we were” (Memories) as sung by Barbra Streisand in the 1973 film of the same name- captures the feeling perfectly in the lyrics –
“Oh can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
And if we had the chance to do it all again
Selling in its simplest sense can be defined as offering to exchange an item of value for a different item, where the original item of value being offered may be either tangible or intangible and the second item, usually money, is most often seen by the seller as being of equal or greater value than that being offered for sale. Or to put it another way – the value of anything is only as much as anyone is prepared to pay for it.
The Salesperson is (or was) the facilitator of this exchange) – that’s the way it used to be-
In today’s digital world the today’s more discerning public have access at their fingertips to information re product specification quality and performance that they would previously have had to drag out of the Salesman if he even knew such information. In the increasingly competitive market that exists today customers frequently want to know the product facts first before they consider the price – in many instances the “Showroom Salesperson is only there to verify the information which the internet has already provided them – the only real plus such Sales persons have to their advantage is those customers who want to get the chance to see the product first hand.
Amazing as it seems even in 2015, so much of the Glazing and Door industry still refers to its sales force as salesmen or saleswomen but are they really selling when so much of the work has already been done for them by trade literature and worst of all – the INTERNET. Love it or hate it the INTERNET is here to stay recent statistics suggest that there were “half a billion” new worldwide users in 2014 alone and that represents one very powerful sales tool.
Have we now reached a time where the title of Arthur Miller’s play is not a futuristic statement but an actual fact – is person to person selling a rather dated practise, coming from a world where consumers didn’t really know that much about the products they were purchasing whether they are doors, windows or any other commodity?
Technology and the internet in particular has become such a powerful tool providing so much information that one has to question does the Salesperson as we know them still have a role
The window and door industry now compared to even just a dozen years ago is a completely different market place where home owners know their rights and they know what they want and the internet, websites and web tools provided by those in our industry who have embraced the digital era allow them to narrow down their choices and figure out exactly what they want without the need of a Salesperson to explain every fact.
Back in 2014 we covered the changing face of the industry in an article entitled “What is an online Seller and why should we use them” and even since then the industry has continued its change with more and more manufacturers adopting a marketing philosophy that involves online resellers rather than direct sales.
The Clairvoyancy bit –
If we knew back in 2000 what we know now what would we have changed – would we have had the foresight to pioneer a new way of marketing our products – we doubt it, in the Window and Door industry we tend to play safe and watch other industries be inventive before we take the plunge.
If only we could see the future – when the computer first gave birth to new technological advances the next step that many predicted was “the paperless office” where the administrative functions of many clerical staff would be taken over by the computer. It has not happened in its entirety but the paperless office is most certainly on the way. Many of the companies in the Window and Door industry who are digitally minded have already moved on to varying forms of sophisticated “management systems” which handle sales, ordering , payment, dispatch and delivery and installation notification as automated procedures – something that even five years ago would have been virtually unheard of.
As the home owners can now do their own research and find out exactly what window and door products are out there, do they need sales people to tell them that anymore? The administration functions are being automated and the inter personal face to face sale is disappearing -so what role is left for our Salesperson – the roles that still exist are more for consultants and designers – to both assist the web programmers in their product knowledge and for those who possess those interpersonal skills to assist with the softening and personalising the web sites to show the pathway to integrate with customers in the quest to design the perfect window, door or glazed extension installation.
So if the salesperson is an outdated vocation what of some of the other trades within the glazing and door industry – the web and advanced technology has almost rid us of the need for them. The need for operatives to ensure that machinery is working is diminishing as more and more of the new manufacturing machinery is operated remotely by someone on a computer rather than a “hands on operative” Even the installers will not be immune as the advances in robotics will soon make it possible for your new door / window to be robotically loaded on to a driverless vehicle to be delivered to your home with possibly a couple of “androids “accompanying to carry out the installation.
It all sounds very farfetched – but is it – only 20 years ago the Salesperson was the King but now with current technology, clever design, improved products, better information, all packaged together by designers who know what they are doing anything is possible and our guess here at GFD HQ is that all of the above will be commonplace in another twenty years.
A new era in the design manufacture and installation of windows and doors has begun and those who have not embraced the “Digital revolution” may well be left behind or have to re invent themselves as a niche market carrying on the traditional ways.