After my last article I was asked the question: “what do you see lumberyard salespeople doing if LBM is successful?”
I’ve given this a lot of thought, even before writing the previous article. While I like to pick on salespeople (mostly because I’m anything but), they do have a lot of valuable attributes, many of which can be valuable to a building products supplier in a digital world.
While the premise of LBM is to transition building material transactions online adding efficiencies to the process for all sides, there will still need to be a human component to the transaction, specifically for those vendors who want to be successful utilizing a new platform. I see salespeople migrating into a relationship management role, not so dissimilar to what they perform now. Rather than performing takeoffs and seeking out orders, they will be confirming orders, overseeing logistics and handling any problems that come up. Efficiencies will come for those suppliers who are great at performing those tasks leaving very few “fires” for the relationship manager to address and allowing that person to cover more and more customers as a result.
Imagine a lumberyard that can better service 3 times as many customers with half of their current sales/relationship staff! That’s the potential LBM offers material suppliers who embrace a new method of sales transaction that removes inefficiencies of the current process and better leverages technologies already in place while empowering and redistributing human assets already on staff. While LBM can’t (and wont) dictate how suppliers manage their businesses around an online marketplace approach to sales, it can create the opportunity for innovative, forward thinking building material suppliers to succeed over competitors less entrepreneurial and technology minded in nature. LBM will allow lumberyards to increase sales without increasing headcount, alleviating the labor shortages in sales and estimating that plague so many lumberyard operations today.
The vast majority of building material sales are local. This is why LBM wants to build its online marketplace around local, established retailers and not try to cut them out. Attempting to remove the middleman from material sales is why other online lumberyard ventures have failed or continue to struggle mightily! LBM is a means to better serve local lumberyard’s existing pro customers and an opportunity to expand their DIY market. Want to know more? Feel free to contact me at Jess@LBMSupply.com to set up a time to talk.