Sales Innovation in a Traditional Industry


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This is the second excerpt from my interview with Ned Trainor, president and co-founder of BuildSite, an online product database used by the construction industry. It is part of the Sales 2.0 Leaders Interview series.

Ned launched sales in a traditional way in an attempt to meet with the manufacturers who would be his advertising customers. When results didn’t meet expectations, he began working with my company, Phone Works, to design a new way for BuildSite to engage customers by phone and online, track every prospect contact and close sales without leaving the office.

Anneke: Tell us about your customers: Would you describe them as Sales 2.0 innovator types?

Ned: There are a few, but these are fairly traditional industrial companies. Some are divisions of Fortune 500 companies, and they’re big; they do $500 million in sales or more. Others are little chemical companies that have 20 employees. They have tended to be sort of shoe-leather sales people, and they mostly use their own reps or manufacturer reps. It’s a very traditional, automobile-intensive, personal-meetings type of selling.

Anneke: Why innovate in such a traditional space? What’s the benefit to you?

Ned: We had to be innovative — the old way wasn’t working. Our outside reps couldn’t get the appointments with the right people at the right time. A lot of these companies have downsized. No one has any time to do anything.

One of our taglines is, “Look it up on BuildSite … and get it done.” We’re trying to appeal to our users’ desire to just cross one thing off their to-do list. We have to do the same for our advertisers. We have to show up when they want to see us, not when we happen to be in town.

Anneke: What measurable results can you point to from transforming your sales model?

Ned: Revenue is really what we’re looking at. Q1 was our best quarter we’ve ever had, and Q2 is going to be as good as Q1. And that’s because of the new sales model. In terms of qualified leads, we’re not in the Hail Mary mode a month from the end of the quarter, going, “God, I hope this guy closes, or else we are really in trouble.”

It’s, “OK, I’ve got this guy with this probability, this guy with that one.” I’ve got a half a dozen or more that could close within the next couple of weeks, and if half of them do, we’ll have a record quarter. I can see it, I can feel it. It’s OK, and if they don’t do it now, then we’ll get them in July. They’re not going away.

Anneke: If you were talking to another executive about the journey to Sales 2.0, the challenges and the rewards, what advice would you give them?

Ned: I’m lucky. I have an organization of 10 people, so there are no behaviors to change. We knew we had to do something. We didn’t have the resources to try this for six months, and if it didn’t work we’d try something else. But this was the right thing to do, and I had a few people telling me not to do it. I did it anyway.

I would say to anybody that it’s worth taking the risk here. I don’t see any downside. Try it out. You don’t have to change the whole organization, just do it in a corner of it, and see what happens.

Read the full interview with Ned Trainor in the Resources section of this website.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Anneke Seley
Anneke Seley was the twelfth employee at Oracle and the designer of OracleDirect, the company's revolutionary inside sales operation. She is currently the CEO and founder of Phone Works, a sales strategy and implementation consultancy that helps large and small businesses build and restructure sales teams to achieve predictable, measurable, and sustainable sales growth, using Sales 2. principles.


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