Guest post from Nick, owner of the Aluminium Trade Supply site:

Recent local media has again highlighted the negative perception some people may have of the double glazing industry. A negative perception reserved for double glazing, estate agents and more recently, bankers. A double glazing boss in court for assaulting a non paying customer, a double glazing salesman conning the elderly, another company pretending to be authorized by the council and media, the list goes on. Even on this very blog I have pleasure in guest posting for, there was a comment from someone in the industry blatantly claiming customers were idiots and were told what they wanted to hear.

I honestly thought this horrid part of the industry was as ancient as the Acropolis and dead in the water. Not to mention stunned that seemingly intelligent members of the public about to spend several thousand quid, still seem to fall for these archaic tactics. Really?

I’m a firm believer that some of the negative perception of the double glazing salesman over a couple of decades has stemmed from the way the industry chooses to remunerate them. Before being shouted down by the ethical, honest, hardworking salespeople out there who have obviously never resorted to such tactics, I just want to put forward an alternative point of view, and one I hold.

Have these sales tactics we have all heard about happened from the desperate need of the salesman to close a deal otherwise he won’t earn anything?

Even now some double glazing companies still advertise for commission only sales reps, own car, massive earning potential etc etc. I feel like its a no win no fee way of getting somebody to work for you! Is that right?

Consider if the industry of old had employed their sales reps on a normal salaried basis, would any of the sales tactics we have all heard about, the fantastic discounts, the four hour sits, the bogus phone calls to the manager to secure a better discount, the one time only offers, the promise anything to secure a sale culture and the endless tiers of reward up the ladder have come about?

How did it come about then and now that the big companies and others still employ sales people on no basic salary, no holiday or sick pay, no car or telephone expenses and no reasonable basic salary? Why? And if you do, I’d love you to set me straight on it.

Lets suppose the commission only rep back then was paid a reasonable salary with a structured bonus, target or incentive scheme. Would a salesman on a salary get “comfortable”, complacent and not sell? Would he be any less motivated? Personally I think not. I think the culture of “Well if he ain’t selling, he ain’t costing me anything” from the outset gives a negative perception of the guy you are about to employ. Surely you should do everything you can to ensure the person is right for the job in the first place?

In any other (salaried) employment you are expected to perform at all times to the best of your ability so shouldn’t a double glazing salesman do the same irrespective of whether he is commission only or on a salary? In any other employment you are appraised, monitored and so forth. If you don’t perform a good employer will give you the opportunity and support to improve. Therefore assuming you have employed the right person with a good work ethic, motivated, diligent and eager to work what is the difference? Why should a double glazing salesman be rewarded in any different way to the norm? Why are so many on commission only? Does the industry fear paying somebody a half decent wage to do a job?

I argue that the right person can still be fired up and motivated if they’re keen, with a good work ethic and passionate about what they do. I do not buy into the fly by night, unlimited earning potential culture of the traditional double glazing salesman of old, simply because I believe that pressure to earn distracted them from ethics and in some cases resulted in a pure “desperate” attempt to close a sale irrespective of the cost to the customer and in some cases the business.

But do we even need salesmen in the traditional form any more? I say we don’t. The customer has changed over recent years and changed enormously. Do we now instead need to employ a multi-skilled knowledgeable, technical member of staff to go see a customer? One who simply doesn’t need to employ any sales tactics or feels any pressure to close the deal – you simply present your company, your product, your service and yourself to the best of your ability. More importantly to me how many people really sign up on the night? I say not many at all and surely the purpose of the bull**** sales tactics of old was to simply convince the customer to sign on the night?

Maybe its time our industry looked to train, teach and actually make double glazing a career? Would this also get rid of the high turnover of sales staff? Why Do they leave?

Maybe it is time for us to look at how we represent our industry overall starting at how we pay and motivate our sales guys to be more company minded and work in the best interests of the company and not just themselves? I know not everyone will agree, I also know that some salespeople are indeed salaried. Having worked with so many professional people over the years the above could in today’s market be the exception rather than the rule. I’m simply saying that maybe changing the way our products are sold and presented could do massive good in improving the reputation of double glazing which still needs to be greatly improved. I’m fed up of the suspicion with which this industry is regarded and only we can change it.

What do you think?

Here is a final thought for you:

There is a MASSIVE DIFFERENCE between this:

The sales person who is driven only by money. The salesperson who has never even fitted a window before nor has he ever seen one made or where it comes from. The salesman who having closed the deal and received a deposit is one the customer will never see again. The salesperson who takes little ownership for the job he has sold.

and this:

The impartial expert advice coming from someone with industry experience at all levels, product knowledge (even those he doesn’t sell) who knows exactly what he is talking about and represents your Company with professionalism, enthusiasm and honesty.