Chicago-area builders can't miss Sally Gange when she's on the jobsite. Tape measure at the ready, her first task is always to check—and double check—the dimensions of cabinet packages and frames pre-delivery, during installation, and just before signing off on a project. “If my builders call me and say something's not working out or they've got a glitch or something was framed different, I'm out there on the site taking measurements,” says Gange, who has been the leader in cabinet sales at Elgin, Ill.–based Seigle's for 10 years in a row. “Among our competition, some salespeople don't go out a lot, they don't visit the jobsite, and when they do, they don't take their own job measurements.”

With a client reference list that includes Chicago custom and production builder heavyweights—including Kennedy Homes, Lakewood Homes, and Legacy Fine Custom Homes—Gange has built a market reputation for cabinet designs that give builder models a competitive edge over other neighboring subdivisions. According to Seigle's president Harry Seigle, Gange's design ability and execution distinguish her as an expert in a market rife with quality cabinet salespeople. “She has mastered the art of value engineering a builder's blueprint for meeting both design and budget needs,” Seigle says. “She uses every trick of the trade to find those low-cost, high-impact design ideas that make her kitchen plans deliver value.”

To keep her customers ahead of the kitchen curve, Gange routinely surveys design trends and installation techniques throughout the Chicago market. Managing approximately 25 accounts at any given time, she also has exposure to a broad product and design spectrum for both custom and production jobs that is becoming increasingly valuable as builders seek out experienced recommendations for their own cabinet design centers and model homes. “You have to always be out surveying the competition,” Gange explains. “Your customers are going to ask you what is out there—they want to know specifically what other builders are doing. You have to be able to give them the suggestions to do things differently, or point out where their packages include product standards that are still merely options for other builders. They quickly come to appreciate that market knowledge.”

Gange routinely puts in 12-hour days to scour the competition, visit customer jobsites, and work on blueprints to ensure near-perfection of her cabinet packages from both marketing and technical standpoints. “I've been thinking if there are any secrets to success when it comes to selling cabinets, and I think it comes down to really hard work [in the field],”she says. “But on top of that, I do all my own take-offs and that allows me to get great accuracy and get all of the right parts and pieces without any excess. I'm very hands-on—I know what all my builders like and don't like and the bells and whistles that they want.”

Gange also credits both the management and her inside sales team for backing up her sales efforts, and returns the support by bringing her inside reps out to builder open houses so they can develop a more intimate understanding of how cabinet installations contribute to the finished home product. “I think of everyone that works at Seigle's, and we have a lot of seniority, a lot of years [working at Seigle's and together], and that makes for an awesome team. If I didn't have that behind me, I wouldn't be worth anything.”

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