I was talking to an old industry friend this past week about private equity companies solidifying their stakes in our industry. Along with this, we have seen several companies go public and several companies that have merged. This is not limited to just manufacturers, either. There has been so much exciting growth in our industry, and private equity firms have been investing in many home-improvement companies as well.

But despite all this evolution, my old friend was concerned about the entrepreneurial spirit dying in our industry. And with the changing environment, how do you keep sales people motivated? It seems that when all this private money comes into the industry, everything is centered around quarterly growth and looking at ratios rather than long-term decisions and relationships.

My opinion is this: I would say things have changed in our industry. Many of the industry icons from the ‘80s and ‘90s have moved into different phases of their lives. We don’t have many of them left to motivate sales people and make customers feel great. But whether it was back “in the old good old days,” in the present, or in the future, profit wasn’t a bad word then, and it isn’t a bad word now. Hitting numbers have always been important.

I would also say the entrepreneurial spirit has not died, it has just shifted to both sales leadership and to sales people themselves. We, as sales people, have to look at ourselves for that motivation.  We are responsible for our own attitudes, meaning no one can put us in a good mood or a bad mood. I also think it is so important to treat sales as a true profession, just like a doctor or an attorney grows in their respective professions.

For example, if you need legal advice, you want to have the absolute best lawyer possible. The best lawyers don’t just have experience that makes them the best. They constantly educate themselves. They go to seminars at their expense, they read books at their expense, and they practice before going on “stage” in a courtroom.

None of this is “hard” or expensive, but it is extra work. However, over the years, here’s what I’ve found that separates great sales people from mediocre ones. The great sales people are still around today. And they’re not just “satisfied” with being the best for one or two quarters. They want to be the best every single day.

One of my friends who has made a great living working with businesses and sales people has said, “It’s okay to go to BOHICAVILLE every once in a while, just don’t become the mayor.” What this means is, it’s normal to be down every once in a while, but don’t make it happen regularly.

It’s up to sales people to keep that entrepreneurial spirit alive and growing with customers. It’s up to sales people to set their attitude for the day no matter what hurdles have come up. Sales people still control their own destiny — we are just on a different highway.

Great Selling!

Tyson's Take

1 Comment

  1. Mr. Schwartz, you do raise some valid observations. Since I left the corporate world and started my “one man” sales rep agency, I have become acutely aware of the evolution of some, but not all, of the fenestration industry transforming from an entrepreneurial industry dominated by personalities to an investment oriented industry dominated by financial performance. In fact , I sell both cadres of the industry. I motivate myself with the challenge of the business and the “animal spirits” of commercial survival. As an industrial salesman I have to sell “excitement ” to the entrepreneurs and “process improvement/added value” to the corporate managers. I venture to guess that is why I am still animated by the window biz. Thanks for your contribution and reading this message.

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