056 GGP 0813

GGP August 2013

FABRICATORVIEW Time to reflect Pioneer’s Danny Williams reminices on direct sales techniques and ponders the future of solar. As I reach my half-century I have been dwelling lately on the fundamental changes that have affected our industry over time. DEATH OF THE DOOR KNOCKER The advent of changes to the law coupled with changing consumer attitudes have certainly curtailed tele and door canvassing, the latter of which has surely become a thing of the past. But how many companies still employ tele canvassing, thus continuing one of the finer traditions upon which our great industry was founded? It was, in my view, the double glazing industry that truly developed and refined (if that’s the correct word) direct selling, why our industry grew so rapidly in the ‘70s and ‘80s and indeed, why so many luxury villas on the Costa are owned by window people. I am told by my elders (I have been in the business for a paltry 24 years or so) of the times when you fell out of bed in the morning and sold a houseful of windows, how Mr and Mrs Jones would queue round the block to buy wonderful, gleaming windows and patio doors for their homes at prices that are these days merely the starting quote. Those were the days…. Tele canvassing does still take place, of course it does. But it is now a relatively small part of the sales process, its final demise accelerated surely by those damned PPI sellers who have poisoned the well for so many honourable direct sellers. “I began as a direct salesman and I was bloody good at it” But the Internet is now surely the ‘weapon of choice’ these days, with the battle for lead generation supremacy fought in cyberspace by bespectacled and pierced geeks whose mission is to drive up their SEO and Adwords count. The Internet is the main tool we use to generate leads for our Signature dealers and it is damned effective. Even if it ain’t nearly as much fun… DEATH OF THE SALESMAN? So whilst the future of canvassers is uncertain, if not actually decided, we do still need salesmen, even if the route to getting them through the door has changed. These days salesmen have to be on their marks, and with a greater knowledge than ever before, because that's what their customers will have, thanks to the Internet. Like many of my contemporaries I began as a direct salesman and I was bloody good at it, something that was clearly defined by the size of my commission cheques. There have been many occasions since I set out on my own, when I longed for the sort of money I made in those days… The ‘double glazing’ sales person is now in their prime, although it has to be said that, out of necessity, the best of them have had to adapt to stay ahead, as Mr and Mrs Jones, through the advent of the Internet, can now thoroughly research the market both for product and price. Today’s sales rep, as demonstrated by the quality of the finalists in the FIT Show Sales Professional of the Year competition, needs to have a thorough knowledge not just of their products and the performance of those products but also how they achieve that performance; of standards, materials, manufacturing and as ever of course, the competition. Those that do not will simply fall by the wayside. DEATH OF THE COWBOY There are some still out there of course, but the most effective way of getting rid of cowboy sales, manufacturing and installation, is to present them with hard work. And hard work is what the window, door and conservatory industry is these days. It needs smart thinking to survive let alone prosper. There are some terrible operators out there still, but those that set out to deliberately defraud must be few and far between, having moved on to richer pickings – such as solar. DEATH OF SOLAR Or not! Whilst the subsidies that helped to create the Solar PV industry have now been curtailed, the business that sprung up overnight is now struggling for survival. The old adage ‘if something appears to be too good to be true then it probably is’, was never truer than with solar. However, whilst the extraordinary Feed-in Tariffs (FiTs) may be a thing of the past and the thing that attracted attention, solar PV not only continues to be a highly effective way of generating electricity, it also offers exceptional investment opportunities, for sellers and installers, and also for the customer. The sooner we forget FiTs the better for all concerned. The key issue now is sourcing the funding against a backdrop of a financial sector that continues to bite its fingernails. But, if you have access to the funding, the installation, the expertise and the project management, then there are huge opportunities for solar PV in the domestic and commercial markets. More of that elsewhere in this issue…. 56 August 2013 Glass & Glazing Products


GGP August 2013
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