Companies such as Renewal by Andersen, shown here, often sponsor off-site training that will help get sales and production people up to snuff on new products.
Companies such as Renewal by Andersen, shown here, often sponsor off-site training that will help get sales and production people up to snuff on new products.

When Premier Window & Building, in Owings Mills, Md., brought on a line of seamless steel siding, sales manager Jake Jacobson found getting the production process up and running easy compared to convincing the salesforce. One big reason, he says, is that the average steel siding job, as sold by Premier, costs about a third more than vinyl.

“Very often sales guys look on a product that costs more money as costing them more money,” Jacobson points out, because they feel they're less likely to close. So, in addition to explaining product features and benefits, the company brought the entire salesforce out to watch a steel job installed.

The Old and the New Chad Hovde, owner of Queen Anne Restoration & Remodel, in Seattle, had a similar problem a few months ago when he hired two sales reps and took on a new window line. The reps had 10 and 14 years experience, respectively, selling a competitive window. “It's hard for them to sell against a product they know inside and out,” Hovde says. So he “sat down with them and did a features/benefit difference.” He also sponsored competitions among his four reps. “Whoever sold the least amount [of the new window product] had to take everybody, and the boss, out to lunch.”

Educational Process Charles Gindele, owner of Dial ONE Window Replacement Specialists, in Santa Ana, Calif., recently sent his entire salesforce to a five-day course in Cottage Grove, Minn., after he became a Renewal by Andersen affiliate. The trainer there “really connected with our salesforce and won them over,” Gindele says. In addition, “we've had a lot of internal meetings discussing why the move is the right move.” The first concern of his salespeople, he noted, was that the product costs more than the vinyl windows they were used to selling. He's addressed that, he says, by “identifying the differences in the product” and showing its comparative value.

Salespeople, like homeowners, have to be sold on new products. “You have to get them to totally believe in it,” Jacobson notes. “If they don't, the customer won't.”

Steven DiMare, CEO of Unified Window Systems, in Huntington, N.Y., says “the few times we've replaced products, it has been because they weren't up to snuff, and the salespeople agreed.” But, he notes, “you shouldn't be changing products unless there are benefits to it, and if there are, you can show them the benefits.”