This is the third in a series of Special Reports on how individual dealers and distributors upsell products. In addition to distributing building products from its 32 locations, Waltham, Mass.-based Harvey Building Products also sells its own manufactured line of windows, doors, and patio rooms direct to contractors. The distributor is ranked No. 15 in the ProSales 100, posting $395 million in total sales in 2012. Here’s how Harvey treats the art of the upsell.

Since the way to create profit lays in the upsell, the company invests time and money in training, says Harvey general sales manager Justin St. Hilaire, a process that includes not only its salespeople, but its pro customers.

The distributor has a sales force of 65 outside salespeople, and during training sessions, sales leaders will often bring in the inside salespeople (a force of over 200) and set up mock sales calls. Since the outside salespeople as so well informed about Harvey’s products, and well versed in sales techniques, they are able to give the inside sales force great suggestions on selling, as well as information on installation procedures that could save a customer time, rebate programs that could save them money, and better features that will have higher profit margin, St. Hilaire says.

For its dealer customers, Harvey Building Products runs four or five trade shows each winter, showcasing their products and running classes at the dealers’ hotel, offering upselling tips and techniques, as well providing warranty enhancements on some of the products the distributor sells. Harvey will have vendors come in and speak about how to better sell their products, and also bring in sales experts to give presentations on upselling.

“We are here to offer great products,” says St. Hilaire, “but also how to sell them better.

Harvey’s training efforts in selling also extend to its contractors, who are in the best position to upsell to homeowners.

The distributor harnesses current technology in its upsell efforts, using sales video presentations that are available to its contractor customers, free of charge, via a secure website. “It’s an extension of our services to our contractors to help them make money,” says St. Hilaire.

“The Internet has changed our business a lot. There is so much material out there, and homeowners are doing a lot of research. There are also a lot of programs on TV, and there is information on YouTube on how to install things, and how things are manufactured.

“The biggest fear in the industry is that homeowners are going to know more about the product than the contractor,” he says. “Our job is to give them the tools and the comfort level that they need to have. It’s our job as a company to take the fear out of that sale. Since we can’t be available 24 hours a day, we have made the information available 24 hours a day.

“No one can out-talk a contractor on installation, but product knowledge is where the fear comes in. Our business is a lead-generated business, and our business doesn’t start until you generate leads. Some contractors are able to upsell, but some are unable to do the marketing.”

Contractors are really fearful that if they introduce something new, they will lose a sale, St. Hilaire says. “This is where the educational process comes in. We do branch training during the day. We have contractors coming in to buy products, and while they are waiting, vendors are talking to them about their products. We have flat screen TVs in our locations giving information on new products, changes in products, and product enhancements.

“We are very innovative with our literature, and all of it is iPad-friendly,” he says. The distributor makes literature available for all of its vendors’ products.

For the company’s own line of windows and doors, St. Hilaire says the brochures—separate brochures detail the merits of the good, better, best options—”really walk the contractor through the design process.” The literature and accompanying samples are a big piece of Harvey’s marketing program for its manufactured products. There is a full array of product samples, which St. Hilaire says contractors can either borrow or purchase.

Even though the distributor sells 100% to pros, Harvey does provide a lead referral website for homeowners. Homeowners can go on the site, search through the company’s products, and then pull up a list of contractors in their area by plugging in their zipcode. “These contractors carry all the certifications that we feel they need to to be professional,” says St. Hilaire. The company allows the contractors to post up to a 500-word blurb about their companies on the site, as well as their certifications.

“Our philosophy is that we are an extension of your business,” he says. “We want the homeowners viewing our product to hook up with professionals.”

In turn, those professionals, trained in the art of the upsell by Harvey salespeople, end up as de facto salesmen for the distributor.

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