REAL ISSUES, REAL ANSWERS: Desperately Seeking Good Salespeople

By / 10 months ago

Real Issues. Real Answers

Real Issues, Real Answers
Finding and keeping good people has emerged as the number one challenge facing LBM companies. And since nothing happens until a sale is made, there’s extra pressure for LBM dealers to secure hard-working, effective salespeople. It’s a tough challenge, and in an industry that’s struggling to attract fresh talent, it is likely not a short-term situation. This month, of the 200-plus readers who answered our survey, a healthy portion are…

This month’s question is a composite of a question asked by a number of readers. We selected one winner of the Milwaukee M12 Drill/Driver kit at random from the submissions, which all asked the following question, in one form or another. “Our number one problem is finding and retaining good salespeople. We’d love to learn some effective strategies from other dealers.” As always, we reached out to our opt-in list of readers for their insights on this tough question, and we got another healthy response to our brief survey. A big thank you to the readers who took time to share their insights into this issue. If you’d like to participate in future surveys, please drop me a note at Rick@LBMJournal.com, and I’ll make sure we add your name to our list.

QUESTION: 1
We’ve heard from enough readers to know that difficulty finding good salespeople is a problem, but for this article, we wanted to quantify exactly how widespread of a problem it is. So we asked: “On a scale of 1-4 (with 1 being easy and 4 being extremely difficult), how would you rank the challenge of finding and keeping salespeople?”

As expected, a small minority of respondents (just 6.6%) report that it’s easy to find and retain salespeople. Combined with the 20.8% who find that task moderately easy leaves just over one quarter of respondents (27.4%) who don’t have a tough time keeping their sales ranks full. On the other end of the scale, more than one in four respondents (25.4%) report that it’s extremely difficult to find and keep salespeople. Combine that with the 47.2% find this task moderately difficult, and the result is that 72.6% of respondents, or nearly three in four dealers, are wrestling with this issue.

Q: 1
On a scale of 1-4 (with 1 being easy and 4 being extremely difficult), how would you rank the challenge of finding and keeping salespeople?

Question 1 Results

QUESTION: 2
Next, we wanted to identify the single toughest part of the equation, so we asked: “When it comes to effective salespeople, which of the following does your company find the most challenging?”

While just over one in 10 respondents (12.2%) report problems bringing good candidates on board, and just over one in four dealers (26.6%) identify retention as the key challenge, an overwhelming majority of respondents (70.2%) report that finding/attracting good salespeople is their #1 challenge. Of the 5.9% of respondents who checked “Other,” responses include:

Q: 2
When it comes to effective salespeople, which of the following does your company find the most challenging?

Question 2 Results

“Take care of them, pay them well and they will become a loyal part of team.”


“We keep good reps once we find them due to our lucrative comp plan. The challenge is finding them. Most good reps with industry experience are tied up with a non-compete.”


“Managing/training them. We’re so busy we like to hire experienced guys with an existing book of business.”


“I have had the same sales team for three years. The challenge I had was finding the personalities to fit our clientele. I could train them to do estimates. I could train them to be good salespeople, but you can’t train personality into somebody. Find those people that will fit. They will want to stay longer because of the relationships they begin to form with the client. I needed to help them understand the fine line between client and friend, but that line can lead to great success!”

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Rick Schumacher

Rick Schumacher is the editor and publisher of LBM Journal, and has more than 24 years experience covering the industry. Rick@LBMJournal.com