Plavecsky's Ponderings By Jim Plavecsky
by Jim Plavecsky
April 2nd, 2020

Sales Evolution

Many of the window manufacturer and dealers I know are still holding their own despite the pandemic, except those of course that have been ordered to shut down. And then there is Zen Windows. My friend Dan Wolt, owner of Zen Windows, tells me that business is in fact trending upward and some locations are having their best month ever! The reason that Zen is being even more successful is, in fact, the same reason that some window companies are currently struggling – quarantined and germ fearing people do not want salespeople in their homes.

Zen Windows has an interesting model. They don’t advertise or use telemarketing to obtain leads. Their company websites are the sole source of lead generation and are designed to draw in prospects and to get them interested enough to request a quote. If someone is doing a Google search on where to buy windows, then it’s a pretty good bet that they are in the market to potentially buy soon. Once they land on the Zen website then a magical element is revealed. They do not have to meet with a salesperson to obtain a quote. I Googled Zen Windows of Columbus, Ohio, and when the website opened the homepage shows a lady doing yoga in front of a window with the caption, “Meditate, relax, be one with the universe–and never allow a window salesman into your home.”

Many folks find this appealing. An installer does not even come to the home to measure windows prior to receiving a quote. The Zen agent just does a Google Earth study to see the home or the homeowner sends pics via email so that Zen can see the windows that currently adorn the home. Then a quote is generated and emailed to the prospect. Down payments are not accepted by Zen and the prospect is told that he or she is not expected to pay until their new windows are installed and they are 100% satisfied. So, after the quote is accepted, the installer shows up once to measure, and a second time about three weeks later to install and collect payment.

I read with great interest a blog posted yesterday by Joe Mills entitled Everything Has Changed in which Joe discusses the various ways that virtual sales techniques can be executed without having a face to face sales meeting at the kitchen table or in a dealer’s showroom. Joe states, “While we know the pandemic itself and the restrictions surrounding it will, at some point, work themselves out, there will no doubt be some long-lasting effects.” I absolutely agree with this. Once this whole thing is past us, people will still be reciting phrases or singing songs designed to extend hand washing to 20 seconds. This whole crisis may even lead to a different form of greeting one another despite the The History of the Handshake, which dates back as far as the 5th Century BC as a gesture to show that one was not holding weapons and intended no ill will (but with germs transferred could cause one to actually become ill).

Joe’s blog covers the basics of how to conduct virtual sales presentations. Joe states, “There is no doubt that the next wave of buyers, the Millennial group especially, will have a certain percentage that will actually prefer virtual selling (with or without a pandemic).”  Well, after spending an hour on the phone yesterday with Dan Wolt discussing the success of the Zen model, I am convinced that this is true!

Is virtual selling going to dominate the future? Will window and door sales go the way of Amazon? I believe that it appeals to a distinct segment of the marketplace but person to person sales will continue to play a dominant role for the foreseeable future. There are just too many “tire kickers” or should I say “door and window slammers” who want to see an actual sample of the product they are buying and meet with a live person representing the company that will stand behind it. They have not yet decided to buy yet, and they enjoy the process of shopping. They need to be convinced to part with their dollars and are interested in comparing and evaluating all the options available. However, for a certain segment of the market, virtual selling does work like a charm. The demographics of each of these segments should be studied and separate marketing approaches can be executed that tailor to each segment.

By the way, when this whole pandemic thing started, I wondered if it was going to delay installations because of the fear that homeowners might have of letting installers into their homes. I am hearing reports of this happening with homeowners calling to delay installs. In some cases, installers themselves do not want to put themselves at risk by entering a customer’s home to do an install.

I asked Dan what he is doing to combat this fear and he said he is having his installers show up with masks, gloves, and lots of sanitizer to clean the work area both before and after the installation. This is safer for the installer, and also puts the homeowner at ease.

So, after the pandemic plateau is reached and it is safe to come out again, there will still be some lasting effects in the marketplace that will permanently change the way we do business. Those that adapt will come out stronger than ever, while those that do not may find themselves at a distinct disadvantage. I guess we can call it “Sales Evolution.”

 

 

 

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