Milanese
by Mark Milanese
August 20th, 2013

Breaking the Door and Window Glass Ceiling

Is it possible women hold less than one percent of the sales positions in the door and window industry? This is bound to change and women will become more involved in the sale and marketing of doors and windows, if only because it is good for business.

After 30 years of dealing with hundreds of manufacturer and supplier sales representatives and having thousands more call on me to buy exterior remodeling products, I just realized that only one of those sales representatives were female. After more than 15,000 sales presentations for remodeling projects, I am not aware of even one time I competed for a sale with a woman. If this is any indication, it may be true that only one in a thousand sales positions is occupied by a woman in our industry.

Women have always been employed in the door and window workplace. For the most part, they’ve worked on the assembly line or as receptionists and secretaries. Isn’t it possible some of these employees were salesperson material?

Breaking the glass ceiling by hiring women as sales and marketing representatives may be a great way to improve sales in your door and window business, whether you are a manufacturer, supplier or installation specialist.

Everything from automobiles to soda pop and virtually every other product sold in America are made or marketed differently to the individual sexes. Door and window manufacturers that aren’t aware of the wants and needs of their female clientele, don’t provide solutions for them and don’t promote those solutions to that market segment are in peril of losing that clientele to others. Door and window installation specialists who don’t make the effort to appeal to a woman’s sensibilities leave money on the table. Perhaps female manufacturer sales representative may be better able to help dealers generate leads and convert sales from the important female market segment.

It may be politically incorrect to note any distinctions between the sexes, but my experience has taught me there are differences between men and women. Those differences are evident throughout the process of a door and window purchase.

First of all, I have found the overwhelming majority of calls for residential doors and windows are instigated by a female head of household.

Secondly, I have observed male and female homeowners value door and window attributes differently when they consider their purchase. It certainly can’t be a blanket statement, but women often place a higher value on aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality while men often give technical data, warranty and installation methods more weight.

All of these realizations came to me when I was introduced to my new manufacturer representative from BF Rich Windows and Doors, Alberina Ziemba, territory manager for eastern Pennsylvania and all of Delaware. During our introductory meeting, Alberina Ziemba impressed me with a refreshing outlook on how to improve my business. She asked good questions, listened to me and responded with helpful suggestions to immediately help me grow my business.

Alberina recommended I make better use of Internet social networking and promised to help implement a plan of action to promote my business on social sites in a way that will create leads with a high conversion rate. Her insight into the proper use of social networking sites to grow business was inspiring.

She offered—almost insisted—on accompanying me on a future sales call. The only other manufacturer representative to do that increased my sales of their product by more than 30 percent, so it is a good sign Alberina has some good ideas of ways to help me.

Alberina wanted to know what I was doing to market my company to neighbors and passersby at job sites. She helped brainstorm ways to improve my efforts to catch the attention of consumers.  I plan to invite her to a jobsite to suggest ways we might make working on a client’s home more appealing to the discerning homeowner.

I did ask her if she would be willing to help me find and train additional sales staff for my company. I certainly won’t rule out hiring a female salesperson. A woman probably brings a different life experience to the sales and marketing effort than a man. Although she may or may not have the same hands-on experience in construction we typically expect in a door and window salesperson, she might gain advantages for being trusted when recommending aesthetically pleasing options that improve profit margins.

The bottom line is, any sales representative employed by a door and window manufacturer or installation specialty firm will need a well-rounded life experience, education and specialized training about product offerings to succeed. With the right training, there is certainly every reason to believe a female exterior remodeling sales representative would be at least as successful as her male counterpart. Women sales representatives are a rarity now in the door and window industry and they will be less so as we realize their ability to grow business.

As for Alberina, she finished our first meeting with a firm handshake. She looked me in the eye as she told me she intended to help me grow my profits in doors and windows. She has already told me some of the ways she can do that. As she does, she will be breaking through the glass ceiling and clearing a path for other women to follow her up into the sales department of the door and window industry.

Alberina Ziemba has made me a believer that she can help improve my business—from A-Z!

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5 comments
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  1. Mr Milanese,

    Thank you so much for your insightful post! As a manufacturer’s representative myself, I can appreciate the magnitude of your realization; I agree with your comments about female sales representatives as an underutilized and a completely untapped resource. To answer your question: Yes, it is very possible that some of the employees you mentioned were salesperson material !

    I know that BF Rich Windows and Doors has an excellent reputation for their product and service. I am sure that you are in more than capable hands, and I wish both you and Ms. Ziemba the best of luck.

    Happy Selling!

  2. Mark:

    As a woman who broke through the glass ceiling when it was a steel ceiling I would like to offer a huge thanks for your comments regarding females being under rated as possible sales staff in a traditional male dominated market.

    Just the fact that Milanese remodeling and BF Rich Windows are open to women fitting into a much needed sales staff positions is reason enough for me to consider purchasing from both organization. However, the added bonus is that BF Rich Window and Doors have exceptional products and Milanese Remodeling has exceptional service with educated staff and are very client oriented – how could any consumer in your maketplace would look for replacement windows and doors any place else.
    Thank you for voicing your opinion.

    Mr. Milanese – You Rock!!

  3. Hi Mark,
    Thank you for offering this insightful look into the window and door industry. Here at Plastpro we have been fortunate to have a great leader and CEO in Mrs. Shirley Wang. We have also been blessed to have our marketing efforts lead by Marketing Director Peini Spinazzola who, in my experience, is one of only a few women in the industry to hold this type of position. With their leadership and unique foresight we have experienced firsthand how placing a high value on quality manufacturing, aesthetics, and functionality have helped carve the way for our company to succeed in a highly competitive market place.

    Thanks again for this article.

  4. I found your article very true. I am a female business owner of a window and doors sales company. I am challenged on the odd occasion by men about installations, however, my female and male clientele respond very well to the two ladies who run my office. Ladies are much better at relationship building and making sure the windows and doors suit the home.

  5. Although I may not sell windows and doors I currently work for a fenestration test lab, MT Group, in their Business Development department and hold a sociology degree. I cannot agree with you more, Mark, as when you state, “I have observed male and female homeowners value door and window attributes differently when they consider their purchase.” This may not hold true 100% of the time however; for the most part woman and men do look at things differently. Therefore, it can only enhance a business to have all aspects placed together in order to form a perfect selling world. I just wish more people would be open-minded to woman in the industry. Yes, we have our strong leaders in the fenestration industry but we also have many more people who shut us down just because we are woman. However, I do believe more people will become open minded, in the years to come, due to articles and thoughts like these so I want to thank you, Mark for bringing this to light.

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