Leverage the consumer walk-in

Davis Building Sales


So how do you feel when a consumer walks into your branch during a busy Tuesday morning? If you’re like most salespeople, the consumer is considered a secondary customer at best and, at worst, an interruption to your day. I call this “consumer sales reluctance” and seek to remedy that in a hurry.

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An anecdotal story reveals the mistake of ignoring the value of a walk-in customer as well as the potential to leverage it. My wife came home from a research shopping excursion to a local kitchen and bath showroom. She had pricing on three tubs, two vanities and various fixtures from which we could choose.

I did my usual “research” too, except that my research was not about products, but instead the sales process. I asked my wife a few questions and discovered, predictably, that she had the business card of the salesperson but was never asked for her contact information. The salesperson asked no questions about the project scope and timing, nor the contractor with whom we were working.

As far as that salesman knows, my wife could have taken his quote and shared it with other suppliers. Perhaps she came back to the same company and purchased from a different salesperson. The original salesperson will never know because he lost control of the lead. I wonder if the salesperson even gave the conversation with my wife a second thought and figured he had merely done his job properly. Now for the rest of the story…

At the time, we didn’t have a contractor and would have welcomed an objective referral. We later found one and, needless to say, the salesman never got a chance to speak with our contractor. Instead, our contractor went to his preferred vendor for plumbing products and convinced us to switch to brands his vendor stocked. If the salesperson had asked for contact information and about our upcoming project, he could have followed up to get a quality sales lead for one of his existing contractor customers.

If you think analytically about a consumer lead, you’ll recognize there are four ways in which the consumer can get products installed and three of them require a professional buyer. The four ways include:

  1. The consumer might be doing the installation.
  2. The consumer already has a contractor who is not a customer of yours.
  3. The consumer is working with one of your existing contractor customers.
  4. The consumer is seeking a contractor.

If you are selling to a consumer working with a contractor, or seeking to, then you must change your sales objective. Your goal is not to simply give information. Your goal is to gain it, thus ensuring a valuable lead doesn’t slip out of your control.

When a consumer walks into a dealer showroom, you should strive to understand the project scope, timing, and perhaps the reason why a buyer is considering a project at this time of their lives. You should ask where the buyer has shopped as a means to qualify the level of interest and understand the competitive landscape. While you’re at it, ask how they heard about your company.

Most importantly, you need to determine if a contractor is involved. If the consumer is working with contractor who is not a current customer, this is your chance to convert a prospect. If the consumer is working with an existing contractor customer, your duty as a trade partner is to put your best sales face on and represent the contractor professionally. If the consumer has not yet selected a contractor, it’s your duty as a sales partner to manufacture a lead for one of your valued customers.

The consumer walk-in might seem like a dreaded time-wasting endeavor, but not if you see the powerful sales opportunity they bring. Convert consumer walk-ins into positive sales moments that deepen your relationships with contractors. It’s the winning walk-in strategy.


Rick Davis, president of Building Leaders, is a premier sales trainer in the building materials industry. His latest book, Sales Economics: The Science of Selling, is now available at buildingleaders.com. Rick can be reached at rickdavis@buildingleaders.com


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