The ProSales 100 issue begs the question: Is bigger better for the customer? One key figure at a top dealer told me, “Our job is to make our customers money.” This company leverages its assets to help customers succeed and deftly uses a staff of thousands throughout the country to improve efficiencies. Other companies in the ProSales 100 are equally adept at improving their customers’ profits. I believe this is the reason that companies make it onto the list. Large dealers enjoy advantages such as the ability to deliver from multiple locations, additional staffing that translates into better services for the customer, and larger volume that translates into better discounts. However, nothing prevents a smaller dealer from competing. It is true that economies of scale produce buying power, the ability to develop programs that support customers, and operational efficiency. It is a myth that large companies necessarily hire better talent or sell better.

The companies that achieve success, regardless of scale, are the ones that help their clients make money. It begins by creating a game plan that improves your customers’ profits. Here’s how to begin.

Help clients sell. Numerous members of the ProSales 100 provide customers with marketing assets such as brochure development, website design, jobsite marketing tools, and direct-mail campaigns. However, I’ve discovered that many salespeople are not adept at introducing these forms of lead generation to their customers. Ultimately, the success of these programs hinges on the abilities of the field representative.

Even if you are a small dealer lacking a formal marketing assistance program, you can generate leads from walk-in customers, refer clients to credible website designers, and share the best sales practices of builders and remodelers in your area. The key to marketing and sales support for contractors is awareness. Shift your focus from product sales for your company’s benefit to project promotion for your client’s benefit, and the product sales will come easily.

Help clients manage costs. Help your clients avoid problems by taking a leadership role in scheduling and cost management. Instead of waiting for an order, tell them when to place it to avoid delays down the road. Supervise the communication of materials lists to ensure timely project completion. The financial benefits to your client and your company will be significant.

Cross-sell to increase profits. If there is one area in which salespeople at top dealers fail, it’s cross-selling. That’s because they take a casual approach to cross selling—“By the way, how about some windows with that lumber order?” Shift from being a general supplier to being a siding, roofing, window, or decking supply expert by developing consultative sales leadership skills in each category. It’s not enough to bid for cross-selling success. You must help your clients resell each product and manage costs by product category.

The first billion-dollar ProSales 100 company is out of business: Wickes Lumber. Conversely, the companies heading the list were once small dealers. Never take success for granted by assuming bigger is better. But being better will get you bigger.

-Rick Davis is the president of Building Leaders, a training organization devoted exclusively to the sale of building materials. His latest book, “The Sales Secret,” is now available. To order it, go to, call 773.769.4409, or contact Rick at