What will 2022 bring in the way of challenges for our sales teams? Do we really need a first-quarter sales meeting to update and train our sales staff? After all, aren’t windows and doors selling themselves these days? My answer is an absolute “no.” The strong demand for windows and doors will persist well into 2022, but three factors will slow it down somewhat, making sales training and development all the more important!

Number 1 is inflation. Inflation has risen at its highest rate in three decades. Data released by the Labor Department earlier this month indicates that consumer prices soared by 6.2% compared to the same period last year. The Biden Administration says that this high inflation rate is just temporary as the pandemic caused it and that consumer prices will get back to normal as soon as the pandemic ends. This brings me to the second factor.

Number 2 is that COVID is not yet going away. You can get on The COVID 19 Data Tracker and see that after taking a dip between May and August, new COVID cases are on the rise again as we head into the winter months. We started the year on January 1 with a seven-day moving average of 199,000 daily cases. We are still (as of December 14) seeing a seven-day moving average of almost 118,000 daily cases. The new Omicron variant we have heard of is not currently a factor, as it is just getting started. Also, according to the tracker, only 76.8% of the population (5 and over) have received at least one vaccine shot. If you have not received a shot by now, it’s probably because you don’t want one.

So, assuming inflation continues to persist in 2022, the Federal Reserve will surely employ a “tried and true” method to cool inflation, and that brings me to Factor Number Three, which is that Interest Rates will rise. This will cool the economy for sure and impact the demand of windows and doors. Higher interest rates mean it ultimately costs more to fund a home improvement project involving windows and doors, not to mention the impact it has upon the new construction market in terms of falling sales of new homes.

So, what does all of this have to do with sales training in the new year? The significant factor here is that prices of window and door products will surely be going up as a result of this inflation, rising interest rates, and continued strong demand brought about by the COVID- influenced consumer fixation on home improvement. Inflation is based upon analyzing the Consumer Price Index (CPI). If there were such a thing as the Window & Door Price Index, we would see it going up dramatically. Indeed, every window and door fabricator reading this knows that the last two years have been marked by component, labor, and logistical shortages that have led to a rapid escalation in the cost of building windows and doors. As a result, the playing field has gotten increasingly competitive.

Therefore, window and door salespeople must be more adept than ever at selling the advantages of their specific window and door products vs. the competition and selling the consumer on the benefits of doing business with their company, including reputation, warranty, and service. All of this will have an impact on retaining and gaining customers in 2022, and it will have an even bigger impact in 2023 when the new Energy Star 7.0 standards take effect. With Energy Star Version 7 substantially reducing U-Value requirements for qualifying windows and doors (especially in the Northern zone) the net result will be that a considerably lower percentage of windows and doors will be able to meet the new Energy Star requirements. Therefore, to capture the sale, it will be up to the salespeople to point out all the other benefits of the window and door products, such as aesthetics, ergonomics, and long-term durability. The days of letting a label sell your window may be over, and it will include a complete examination of all features and benefits that will win the day and convert the leads into orders. For this reason, sales meetings and training will be more critical now than ever!

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