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TOUGH CALL: Battling Jack Frost

Real Issues Real Answers Battling Jack Frost

Winter’s here. How can you keep your sales from freezing up? Cast your vote.

Having grown up in the building supply business, the ups and downs caused by seasonality are nothing new. In fact, you vividly recall the sense of relief years ago when the heat of the spring and summer building season cooled…giving you and your coworkers a chance to catch your collective breath. Thinking back, you vaguely remember that not all of your colleagues enjoyed the slowdown. Now that you’re in your second year as an outside salesperson, and the size of your paycheck relates directly to how much you sell, you understand all too clearly why the joy of slow sales isn’t universal.

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As luck would have it, the winter of 2013/14 was your first taste of selling in the off-season. Looking back, you recall wondering if winter would ever end, if you’d ever earn another decent paycheck, and if you’d ever be able to wipe the phrase “polar vortex” from your mind. Eventually, winter did end, home building began, and all was well with the world. That is, all was well until temperatures plunged last week. Just like that, your world changed, and the dread of last winter (and it’s paltry paychecks) came storming back.

It is said that, “everyone talks about the weather, but no one does anything about it.” Beginning with this winter, that’s not going to be you. This year, you’ve vowed to do things differently. Unsurprisingly, there’s no way to know exactly what the next few months will bring. The weather experts at NOAA are giving even odds for a repeat of last winter. Meanwhile, the prognosticators at The Old Farmer’s Almanac predict “another teeth-chatteringly cold winter on its way across the U.S.”

You’ve been talking with your builder and remodeler customers, working to get a feel for the projects they have planned for the coming months. Armed with the memory of last winter, you’ve found that they, too, want to avoid a repeat of last winter. Those with work planned into the new year have been happy to work with you to coordinate their projects—to get them framed in as much as possible so their crews can keep working when the snow flies. That bit of pre-planning has you one step ahead of last year.

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The majority of your builder and remodeler customers, however, don’t have projects scheduled into the new year.

Your father often said, “Son, you’ll succeed only to the extent you help others succeed.” Wise words, and ones you’d like to put into action. But odds are good that you’re about to go to battle with a fierce winter, and you’re not sure where to start. What would you do?

What would you do?

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Hot leads: Take your best customers out for coffee, individually, and brainstorm creative ways that you can help them generate leads.

Other customers: While homebuilding takes a hit in the winter, consider calling on some commercial builders to see how you can help them.

Accept it: There’s nothing you can do about an industry-wide seasonal slowdown. The sooner you accept it, the happier you’ll be.

Reach out: Reconnect with dealers you’ve met at industry and association events, and share ideas on keeping sales going during slow times.

What would you do?

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