Don’t Employ a Team of Order Takers


Don’t Employ a Team of Order Takers

Structural building components are not a commodity and should not be sold like one. 

That is a core belief held by Chris Lambert, general manager of Builders FirstSource in Albemarle, North Carolina. “You need to know the value your company actually provides to your customer and sell that, not simply the cost it takes you to produce it,” he says.

Chris’ argument is that each component is a highly-designed solution, full of intellectual property, that addresses a very specific framing challenge. Given this, the success of a component manufacturer (CM) in maintaining a healthy margin comes from not only knowing your costs, but also ensuring your customer understands all the benefits you bring to the table alongside your product.

“The definition of a fair price is one that satisfies the customer and makes him or her feel the perceived value of the products and services they received was equal to what they paid,” says Chris.

One key in Chris’ mind is knowing all the benefits your framing products bring to the customer. Part of this is knowing the needs and pain points of your customer and being able to articulate how your products directly address their particular needs (e.g., labor, material costs, scheduling, project complexity, etc.). “The framing material package makes up less than 20 percent of the costs of an average home,” says Chris. “Accurate designs, dependable quality, and cycle-time reductions are all things that bring real value to the customer, and they should pay for that. You should sell the services our industry typically gives away for free these days.”

To Chris, success in this area means you need to focus on developing relationships with your customers and getting to know them and their operations well. “Know all the people who influence the purchasing decisions at the companies you sell to, not just the primary contact,” says Chris. “All of them should come to rely on you and trust you.”

So, when you sell not only your product but all the associated services, the customer values everything they’re getting and is willing to pay a fair price for it. Chris stresses, “Your sales reps should not be order takers, they need to be committed to helping the customer understand all the value they receive through buying from you.”