Many building materials companies make it hard for their channel customers to do business with them.
Builders, architects, contractors, distributors, and dealers are all understaffed, overworked, rushed and under pressure to perform in a rapidly changing world. Time is their most valuable commodity.
They are constantly weighing the pluses and minuses of the companies they deal with. On one side of the scale are the benefits and price of your products. On the other side is how easy it is to deal with you.
No matter how much they may prefer your product or your price, the scale begins to tip in your competitor’s favor if they make things easier.
You need to show your customers you respect their time and understand how valuable it is. And you can do that by becoming the company that’s easiest to deal with.
What Does Easy Look Like?
1. Do what you say.
Your customers are facing many variables, unknowns, and issues. The last thing they need is another thing to worry about.
They are looking for anchor suppliers they can depend on. Customers will pay more and wait longer for a lower quality product if they can depend on the company that supplies it.
If a customer has to check on an order, you just made it harder and more costly for them to do business with you.
Customers frequently make mistakes when placing orders. The companies that review orders looking for possible errors are making it easier for them.
If you’ve sold the architect or builder on your product but haven’t followed through with the contractors, you are making it harder for the architect or builder.
If you don’t consistently ship on time with a very high fill rate, you are making it easy for a competitor to take this customer.
If a customer requests a sample or a conversation and you don’t follow through promptly, you just sent a big message to the customer that they can’t depend on you.
2. Easy and Fast Information
Whether it’s a quote, a technical question or a shipping date, the easier and faster it is for the customer to get the information they need, the more the scales tip in your favor.
Customers are used to the ease and speed of Amazon in their personal lives. They don’t understand why they can’t have the same thing in their professional lives, too. Why do building materials companies take so long to get them the answers they need?
Many of your customers would prefer to get most of the answers themselves. And when they need to talk to someone, they want to talk now. They don’t have time to wait.
How to Be the Easy Company
- Listen to your customers. What do they wish was easier about dealing with your company or your type of product?
- Continue investing in digital technology that makes it easier for your customers to get the information they need.
- Educate and empower your sales and customer service teams so they’re more informed than your competitors.
- Measure your ability to do what you say. Decide on your most important deliverables and then audit your performance or have customers rank you.
Whenever I meet with an architect, a builder, contractors, dealer or distributor, I ask them, “Who are your top three suppliers? Who are the ones you can’t imagine leaving even if you got a much better price from a competitor? What do they do differently?”
They can always name these companies without stopping to think. And they always have the same reason for preferring them: they make things easier.
What are you doing to make it easier for your customers?
When was the last time you asked them how you are doing and what you could do to make their lives easier?