There is a phrase ‘may you live in interesting times’ that in our society extolls the wish, blessing if you like, that your life will not be boring. Then in another society it is said to be a curse, a sarcastic way of saying that may you never find peace and tranquillity. As with most things the meanings and interpretations are arrived at from our backgrounds, our journey through life.
Today we have the 140 character throwaways, or the sound bites, you know the little sentence that never quite gets fleshed out with the full story behind the thought. That quick thought once committed to the wider world then gets picked up and has a meaning placed on it by the viewer, not generally the meaning of the thought in the first place. Read it wrong, criticize it and you are classed as a ‘troll’ and perversely are not permitted to the same free-speech response. Surely whenever you take a position, that is say or do something that others are privy to, you have to be open to the alternative view or you never progress.
This week someone somewhere seems to have triggered a similar spasm in the fenestration industry leading to a collective many faceted take on how the business should progress. Can everyone be right and wrong at the same time? Of course they can, thankfully we are all different and as such have different receptors. The fenestration industry has one thing in common with other industries, it exist because of the noise it makes, that in turn creates interest, that leads to desire, which causes buyers. If there was just one player, a desire often expressed in some quarters, that single unit would be hard pushed to find an outlet.
Above all, the noise is created by those that have something to sell. A newspaper headline is not about getting important announcements out, but selling the story, it is that in turn that sells the newspaper – news has nothing to do with it.
The more noise one sector makes, the more it draws out the critics, the soothsayers, who in their own way are jumping in because of the opportunity for them also to sell. The irony is this faction is for the most part selling by endeavouring to create fear where none exists. I still have the vision of a well-attended conference of industry professionals having to endure a TV character Nic Ross strutting his stuff and telling the audience, to paraphrase, you are in a crappy industry of crappy people. Of course he was trying, as he did on TV, to create fear to sell himself.
Within all this there is another phrase that gets bandied about ‘the hard sell’. It’s picked up by those that seem to need an excuse or create an apology for their own ‘Laissez-faire’ approach, or maybe they have a holier-than-thou philosophy. The meaning of ‘the hard sell’ tends to get misplaced and attributed to the individual in front of a perspective customer. When in fact the hard sell is the marketing of the idea, the creating of the interest and the desire i.e. the very thing that causes a market to exist.
The point missed when attributed to an individual, is that there is a prospective customer in the scheme of things. People as a rule buy from people they like (full stop) and people like people when simply the other person listens to them. So the idea of a pushy aggressive salesman doing well and surviving in a competitive world is pure myth. Top sales people have the knack of ‘listening’. Oh, and the person that says they bought cheaper elsewhere, they didn’t, buy cheaper that is, it was just there polite way of saying I didn’t like you.
Roy Frost of Deceuninick in his letter to the editor, shows a proper understanding of our market place, by reminding us that everyone has a place. The larger national companies cause the market, confirmed by the reality that traditionally just 3 or 4 of them account for 50% of all business activity in the industry. That sort of begs the question of the other 8,000 or so.
The definition of a lead is seen differently at different ends of the spectrum. To some it is the home without modern windows, therefore an opportunity. To others it is the person out to buy windows that knocks on the company door and says I want windows. So is a lead to sale conversion rate based on potential customers spoken to, becoming sales, or is it a direct enquiry to sale conversion rate. Two very different things often mixed up on the same comparison chart seemingly to stroke egos.
In simple terms a market (as with life) will progress faster and return more value to its participants and the customer when it is open to all comers, accepts the alternative view and is less constrained by the well intentioned. The fenestration industry potentially has still a long way to go before it gets it right.