With today's market uncertainty, and competition coming from all directions, what can dealers do to turbo-charge their installed sales efforts? ProSales talked to installed sales dealers around the country and came up with these tips to help increase your sales.

FITTING: Al Showerman of Roper Lumber in Petersburg, Va., working at a jobsite. Photo: Charles Gupton

1-Leverage Existing Relationships

If your primary customers are home builders, work with them to determine what things you can provide and manage on their behalf to lessen their workload and perhaps even decrease their overall labor costs. Be sure to begin your efforts by first researching what your customers want and will gladly pay for, and what your organization can support by way of capital investments, labor, and supplying necessary materials.

One way to jump-start your installed sales program is to buy a small services company or contractor, or hire an individual who has done such duties, perhaps as a construction manager. Roper Lumber in Petersburg, Va., began offering installed sales after hiring Kevin Burke, a branch manager who had run his own construction business and also ran installed sales for Masco, all the while developing a reputation in the Virginia market.

GO-TO GUY: Top left, as the installed sales manager at Roper Lumber, Al Showerman focuses on the company's expertise when it comes to various installation jobs, center and right. Photo: Charles Gupton Photography Another way to leverage relationships is ask your customers for referrals and make it worth their while. If the referral turns into a sale, give them a sales credit or bonus points redeemable for products and services. Customers can be your best advocate, so leverage the relationships you've established.

Remember: it's easier to sell to customers than prospects.

2-Become Known as the Best in Your Market

Al Showerman, Roper's installed sales manager, competes in part by showcasing the company's expertise. For instance, the company, which sells windows and doors as well as insulation, educates its builders on energy conservation by pairing higher-end windows with insulation containing a lower R-factor. The resulting package meets or exceeds building codes while saving money in the long run.

Jason Bogert of Home Works in Lafayette, Ind., says the company's philosophy is to be the best at what it does, pass inspection, and have no call backs.

Expertise and quality take time to achieve, so start your installed efforts small. Offer one or two services at first, perfecting how to install those services' products while obtaining thorough product knowledge. Suppliers often can help in this regard. For instance, Guardian provides in-depth training on its insulation products.

No matter what services you offer, the goal should be to become the best at whatever you do, and ensure that your customers consider you the expert.