If you have not done so already, now is the time of year to get your sales team together for training. It is a great time to bring your industry veterans together with the newbies for some serious saw sharpening.

Bringing the new guys together with the veterans accomplishes two things. The new guys on the team add a fresh perspective and ask questions or challenge practices and or strategies that perhaps nobody has ever challenged. This can lead to healthy discussion and possible changes in sales strategies and tactics that perhaps would not have taken place otherwise. Meanwhile, the veterans are masters of the tried-and-true sales techniques, and they can convey these valuable sales tactics to the new guys. In fact, your experienced sales veterans should be leading the sales training with the sales manager acting as the orchestrator.

The venue should be in the window factory if possible. Showing your salespeople how your window is actually made is a great learning experience for them. Walk them through the complete manufacturing operation. Show the men and women who will be selling your products the special manufacturing processes and specialized equipment that your window acompany has invested in to make a difference. When they are out on a sales call talking to prospective customers, knowing how the window is made and what it is made with can make a huge difference.

For example, if your company uses automated machinery that reduces the number of manufacturing steps necessary to make your products, then this is definitely worth bringing up in the sales pitch. The old adage that “if something can go wrong then it will go wrong” definitely applies to each manufacturing step in the process. Telling your prospect that your company has invested in automated machinery to increase both manufacturing efficiency and overall quality is a distinctive way to let your customers realize that they are getting more value for their dollar.

The sales training should include every aspect of the door and window system – the construction of the frame, the insulated glass unit and every aspect of the hardware system. A great resource to draw upon when it comes to educating sales people is your material and component vendors. Vendors love to meet with their customers’ sales staff to educate them on the added features and benefits imparted to the door and window system due to their components.

The extrusion supplier may have information on energy and structural ratings vs. competitive designs. The glass supplier will talk not only about energy savings that are imparted by double- and single-stack low-e coatings, but also how their glass products help reduce fading of carpets, drapes or even artwork due to the reduced transmission of UV radiation. They can also address creature comforts such as reduction of drafts that are due to cold glass surfaces. Warm edge spacer suppliers can talk not only about reduction in U-values, but also improved condensation resistance during the cold winter months. And finally, hardware suppliers love to talk about how their designs offer improved safety or are ergonomically better than the competition.

These interactions are also vital to the vendors as well, as they can gain valuable insights from your salespeople about what future components would be welcome additions to the door and window industry.

Lastly, arm your salespeople with the best sales aids. Window samples and sales presentation kits are expensive but are invaluable tools for your salespeople. Give them the best tools to get the job done. I am sometimes horrified when I see window sales samples displaying shoddy workmanship. These samples should show your product at its best. They should never be made in a hurry at the end of a shift. Any prospect will assume that a door or window sample is the best of what you are capable of producing. The salesperson must also convince them that the sample is also indicative of what your company manufactures on a daily basis. So, it better be good.

With the possibility of Energy Star being de-emphasized due to government budget cuts, we cannot rely upon labels to sell our products. Most energy credits disappeared a long time ago. It is time to get back to the basics of selling. The efficacy of sales training will become the difference between those that flourish and those that flounder.

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