Changes at a national direct sell company or a set of bad results often prompt people to attribute their troubles to a tired business model that no longer works.
But be careful what you wish for? The industry has never been keen on the hard sell. And there’s never been a shortage of unhappy homeowners who were less than impressed with the nationals’ methods.
A look back over the last 30 years shows that consumer protection organisations, Which? magazine, the national media and TV ‘name and shame’ programmes have always put the nationals in the dock for bad selling and dodgy pricing. And there’s no shortage of bad news stories. But unhappy consumers and bad news rise to the surface, so that’s what you see.
We might not like the way they generate leads or convert them, but they do still work. Their models generate a large volume of business. They just don’t work as well as they used to, and things are changing.
It’s easy to assume, from all the faults of the Nationals’ models today that they must have worked better in the past. But by and large they didn’t. It was always like this.
Their low conversion rates sound bad, but nothing has changed. Local installers have always converted 75%-90% of their leads, depending on the company and the state of the market, while the nationals have always converted 15-25% of their leads. The nationals’ low rate is the result of converting more proactive leads and is built into their models.
The pushy marketing and proactive, hard sell model is effective in helping to generate leads and helping to close leads on the night. But pushy marketing attracts homeowners with low commitment, and the high pressure you need to force commitment from them annoys people who don’t want to buy on the night, so sales people can’t go back.
People who don’t buy on the night or don’t like the hard sell can be very put out, so local retailers look much better by comparison and usually pick up the sale.
Can the leopard change its spots? Could the nationals change the way they are? Probably not. Their approach is part of their DNA. It’s in their nature.
Many would like the nationals swept away or transformed in an industry clean up. But be careful what you wish for. The industry would miss the business the nationals bring to local installers. It’s not hard to show that without this regular investment in marketing the market would grow a lot slower.
So, looked at with a different perspective, the nationals perform a useful service for the industry as a whole.
Each of the nationals spends millions every year on TV and on mass marketing direct marketing campaigns bringing homeowners into the market, and that’s good for nationals and local installers. Most of those homeowners are not converted by the nationals. Their interest having been raised, they ask local installers to quote. Local installers then convert most into sales. What’s not to like about that?
The only serious threat to the nationals comes from local installers becoming more effective and professional in their marketing using powerful marketing and sales tools such as Deceuninck’s installer-tailored MyBrand marketing and powerful PricePad.
So, two cheers for the nationals? And thanks for bringing new business to market!
Roy Frost, MD Deceuninck UK