Of the leads I have sat so far this year, nearly almost all of them I have been up against at least one of the nationals, be it the one named after a mountain, the one that likes to shout at you through the TV or the one that’s a knight riding a horse. All three of them have made the job of pitching to these potential clients very easy indeed.

Old hat selling

As I entered into conversation with the home owners, each one at some point or another decided to tell me about their experience with the “other” company. Nearly all their stories were identical. All sales people spent far too long in their homes for their liking. They all priced in the home straight away. They all started at absolutely ridiculous prices before reeling off a series of “discounts” and “manager phone calls” which magically reduced the price from moon high to just sky high. Each one of the home owners I saw who told me their stories felt pressured, angry, frustrated and turned off from the idea of buying windows and doors.

It is perhaps that latter point which is the most dangerous for the rest of us. There is a big risk that if one of the nationals, or for that matter any company that uses any hard-sell tactic, gets first pick at a home owner, the client is likely to be left feeling angry and disappointed, with the novelty of purchasing new windows and doors well and truly in the gutter. Something no one in the industry wants.

Saying that, for those installers that apply a laid back, informal yet informative and productive approach, it won’t be a difficult task to come across as the better company. But, back to the question, is this old fashioned business model that the nationals still peddle going to work in a modern fenestration industry?

The short answer is…

No. It won’t work. Perhaps a couple of decades ago the drop close, the manager close, the “sales” and the “discounts” may have worked. A couple of decades ago the internet was still in it’s infancy and wasn’t anywhere near the information portal that is is now.

Fast forward back to this year and the internet has done a very good job in alerting diligent home owners to the various tactics and diversions these companies use to trick them into a sale. This has had an effect.

I had a great phone conversation with an industry friend of mine the other day, and this person had links and contacts to one of the biggest installers of windows and doors in the UK. That person told me with confidence that right now, this particular company had a conversion rate of just 15%. I have no reason to doubt this as the person I spoke with is a genuine person with genuine contacts.

So, we have an industry giant, continuing to use all the typical hard-sell plays in the book, working on a conversion rate of just 15%. For me, that is testament to how much the industry landscape has changed and how tired old sales practices fail to bring any noteworthy levels of business in.

Company culture

I guess the next question is if the nationals and the big companies operating old these old business models can change. Again, my answer would be no.

For me, it’s down to the managers. If they have been working at the big industry establishments for a lot of years, they will have been trained and brought up within the industry to sell in the “good old fashioned way”. The chances of changing those sorts of people are slim to non. Unfortunately, it is these managers that are in charge of training their groups of sales people. So if all they know is the old way, then that is exactly how they are going to teach their new recruits. Keeping the archaic methods alive and maintaining misery for thousands of home owners every week.

Unless the company culture changes within the nationals and the larger establishments, then I fear for their long term survival. Market conditions are getting tougher by the month. Home owners are starting to become more cautious with their money. That means they’re certainly not going to start signing contracts on the night or giving away thousands more of their pounds than they have to.

Times may be tough for the nationals right now. Can they change their course to a more honest approach, or is the hard-sell company culture too ingrained for it to evolve beyond it?

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