The Sales Revolution
Window Dealers Must Evolve with Changing Market Trends
by Al Alfieri and Tom Orr
Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, once said: “During
a paradigm shift, everyone goes back to zero, and the first one to understand
the new reality becomes the giant. The race is on.”
The fenestration industry is no exception. We all can agree that change
has been the only constant over the past three to five years, and most
companies have gone back to basics to develop new strategies to retain
their competiveness. Suppliers, manufacturers and dealers alike are getting
creative to find differentiation points and new efficiencies.
There have been two significant shifts affecting the fenestration industry
in recent years that remain top-of-mind for all of us:
1. The Green Movement; and
2. The Great Recession.
The common thread between these two game-changers is that both have changed
consumer buying habits. According to a 2009 study titled “The Green Revolution”
conducted by Grail Research, about two-thirds of respondents changed their
green purchase behavior because of the recession, but nearly 80 percent
of those who changed stuck with green products. Seventy-four percent of
these green purchasers responded that energy efficiency is either top-of-mind
or a consideration when making a purchase.
Additionally, today’s consumers also have more information at their fingertips
and are researching online for higher-performing products that will provide
the best value.
In fenestration terms, just 5 to 10 years ago, homeowners knew nothing
about windows and were “dazzled” easily by anything that had two panes.
Today, consumers are looking for more value in their window purchases—they
know more and they expect more. They require and deserve the entire package:
service, energy savings, tax credit assistance and lifetime warranties.
The race is on for window dealers to meet the needs of the “new” homeowner.
Outlined here are some best practices for providing the best value and
selling energy-efficiency in the home.
Homeowners are now savvier and they will ask the hard questions. Will
your salesperson be prepared to respond?
Ongoing sales training programs have become increasingly important. Products
and available technologies are changing constantly and, when homeowners
know more than your salesperson, the situation quickly can become embarrassing.
Additionally, training and group discussions will help foster relationships
among your sales teams and encourage them to share stories and best practices
for meeting the changing needs of homeowners.
Ongoing talking points for sales discussions could include:
• Energy Star® changes;
• Industry and state/local energy efficiency standards;
• Tax credit requirements;
• Third-party testing;
• Manufacturer product updates;
• Window components and how each affect energy efficiency;
• Recent trade magazine articles and e-communications; and
• First-hand stories about challenges and opportunities when giving sales
Approaching the Starting Block
Advertising always has been a key element in any window dealer’s marketing
plan, whether it is yellow page and newspaper print ads, or radio and
television spots. Even in a weak economy, keeping your name out there
is equally as important.
Of late, the tax credit for energy-efficient home improvements has been
front and center in advertising—and has proven effective in most markets.
Homeowners are highly driven by cost-savings, whether it comes in the
form of tax credits or reduced energy bills. Most often homeowners are
researching online first for information on the tax credit, so now more
than ever, window dealers must keep their sites up-to-date and offer useful
information on tax credit requirements and processes.
It is important to note, however, that in today’s economy many window
dealers are not seeing the same results using passive marketing in which
they sit and wait for the phone to ring. Many are becoming more proactive
and reaching out directly to consumers via telemarketing, asking them
“do you have aluminum windows in your home?” and “are your windows single-pane?”
By asking these questions, you can assess their situations quickly and
begin talking about the energy-saving benefits of today’s high-performance
windows, as well as the available tax credit.
Once the lead is qualified, it is time to prepare for what remains the
most important part of the sale—the in-home presentation.
Because homeowners are more educated, you must be prepared for any situation
and bring supporting materials to the table, including:
• Brochures about your company, your mission and what makes you stand
apart from the competition, including your mission statement and service
• Brochures from the window manufacturer that outline the options you
• Product samples (i.e., cross sections); and
• Samples of components that go into the window, including the spacer.
Component samples have become important to the sale. On the outside, windows
can appear to be the same, but it’s what’s inside that helps you truly
sell energy efficiency.
Don’t be afraid to get technical; talk about the performance differences
between foam versus metal spacers, as well as low-emissivity coatings,
differences in glass, gas filling and other materials that contribute
to window energy performance and durability. Teach them about U-values
and solar heat gain coefficients and provide credible third-party data
to back your claims.
Crossing the Finish Line?
In the fenestration industry, there is no finish line. You must always
strive to do better, anticipate trends and adjust your selling practices
Homeowners will continue to demand better efficiencies, and we all must
be prepared to deliver.
Energy efficiency will continue to be a big business well into the future.
So, stay close to your suppliers, push them to continue innovative product
development and continue to learn as new technologies emerge. But, most
of all keep your service standards high and remember that word-of-mouth
is still the most effective marketing available. Offering the full package
to today’s homeowners—exceptional service, support and products—certainly
will help you keep one step ahead in the race.
Al Alfieri is vice president of American Vision Windows Inc. in
Simi Valley, Calif., and Tom Orr is the founder and CEO of Rancho
Cordova, Calif.-based Northwest Exteriors Inc. Both primarily sell Anlin
Windows containing the Super Spacer® warm-edge spacer system.
© Copyright 2010 Key Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.