Outside Sales (Hunter) 

Having the most beautiful showroom, largest selection of samples or stock products in the market, most polish well trained professional sales team that can close and sell high margin products, competitive prices, best reviews on Yelp/Angie’s/BBB/, and the most seasoned CFI Certified installers doesn’t mean squat unless you can drive traffic through your door!  So the real dilemma is what really works and how can you make it happen without spending a fortune and still have enough to send junior to college. 

Over the years of working with our over 1,400 clients we would hear about the effectiveness of network television commercials, snippets of success from radio campaigns, legendary $500,00 private sale days generated from direct mailings were thrown around, and how email blasts to previous customers generated some foot traffic.  All well and good if you are looking to drive top of mind awareness for a traditional retail business, but what about the big fish; builders, commercial contractors, multifamily, institutional, insurance and many more?

When we would ask how they drove traffic for non-retail business we would hear stories of how when times were slow they gave their retail sales associates the initiative to call apartments, builders, churches, and doctor’s offices to see if they needed flooring.   Owners explained how they have many “outside” sales associates that drive new traffic because they have dedicated staff that focus on builder, multifamily, insurance, and commercial accounts.  So our interpretation is that when they get some free time from doing their full-time job of managing $2 – $3 million of their own jobs they are going to go out and prospect for more to only add to their full plate?  Not a recipe for consistent growth and many times creates a decline in sales because those top producers lose business because they become overwhelmed and clients become underserviced. 

Recognizing this issue our group Benchmarkinc, developed a unique program years ago to assist flooring dealers in driving business.  We built a system around the concept of Pharmaceutical Representatives.  An individual whose primary job is to visit medical professionals to “pitch” the prescriptions they have been assigned.  They don’t write the prescriptions, order the products, assist the pharmacist in filling the bottles; all they are hoping is that the name of their assigned medicine appears on as many note pads handed over to the pharmacist as humanly possible.  If this system worked so well for the medical industry we thought why wouldn’t it work for the flooring industry?  Then, Boom!  Our “Hunter Program” was born and we began training and releasing these prospecting Phenoms into the flooring world and many individual flooring companies who caught wind of the concept attempted to groom their staff to do the same. 

These Hunters met with decision makers, we identified over 52 types of industries to target in the flooring industry, armed with clever programs to drive interest in working with the flooring company they represent.  Programs that offered rebates, loyalty rewards, preferred treatment, and tons of other perks designed specifically for the targeted audience.  Driving that interest is their full-time job, as they never put together an estimate, complete order entry, place the order with the mill, schedule installation, or handle any customer service issues.  They simply drive in millions of dollars of business that is not coming in the front door through traditional advertising efforts. 

When done correctly and staffed with the right person this system is magical, but without a strategy and the right person the results are very spotty.  Although a true Hunter will have a natural ability to convince those they meet to do pretty much whatever they request, they must be trained, tracked, and held accountable to following a system.  Every time we heard that the program was not successful it was attributed to two things:  wrong person doing the job and the lack of a detailed strategy.  They just hired someone with natural ability, patted them on the butt, and said go get them Tiger!

Many years have passed since our first camp and today they are quite a large number of flooring and restoration companies that have implemented the “hunting” concept. According to a substantiated survey conducted by Benchmarkinc in which several hundred flooring owners participated over a three-year period ending 2013 independent flooring stores that have a dedicated outside sales professional/Hunter experienced:

  • Volume levels nearly 2.5x higher than those who do not have a Hunter
    • $6.46 million versus $2.86 million

 

  • Sales productivity of $112,268 greater for each sales associate
  • $32,250 greater productivity per employee
  • Owners that earned an additional $68,805 per year

Pretty strong results from such a logical concept, right?  Before you go off and either assign or hire a Hunter and send them to one of our camps, keep in mind that with an increase in sales comes the added burden of providing the service at the level you have come to expect.  Spiking sales and not being able to deliver could cause more harm than good and will most likely cause your Hunter to seek employment elsewhere because she/he will not feel confident that the support system you have assembled and created can do the job promised. 

The extra couple million in volume each year at margins in the mid 30’s is sure to produce enough revenue to cover the cost of hiring, training, and paying the Hunter, while provide the funding for junior to get his/her Undergrad, Masters, and PhD at a private Ivy League institution.