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How to Make Your Building Materials Website Your Best Salesperson

Your website should be helping you grow sales even if you’re not selling products directly online. Most building material manufacturers are treating their website like a one time event that they never think of again after it’s live. No matter where you focus in the channel—architects, builders, contractors or end consumers— your audience is starting their purchase journey online.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

In the first episode of Venveo’s Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast, CEO Zach Williams and Director of Digital Strategy Beth PopNikolov dive into how you can turn your building materials website into your leading salesperson.

More About This Show

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales, and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insights on how to create results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach and Beth discuss how to communicate an effective online message while providing a user-friendly web experience with multiple conversion opportunities for all stages of the sales funnel.

If you’re not able to listen to the entire podcast, you can check out all the key topics below.

When we talk with building materials manufacturers, most view their website as a checkbox: Is it done? Check. Is it on time? Check. Is it on budget? Check.

This is the completely wrong mentality.

As a building materials manufacturer, your company’s website is an opportunity to not just be a major revenue generator, but also your best salesperson.

We’re not saying your site needs to be an eCommerce website to help bring in sales. In fact, most building materials companies won’t have eCommerce on their site, but that doesn’t mean your site shouldn’t be working for you and helping to drive at your bottom line.

Google even backs this up … they recently reported that 97% of purchases start online, but only 6% actually happen online. People primarily use the Internet for research, not shopping, especially when it comes to big ticket items.

It makes sense why. Whether your customer is a builder, an architect, or a homeowner, they all have access to the Internet in their pocket.

Anytime they have an idea or a problem, they just have to pick up their phone and type it into Google.

They might not be consciously starting the buying process, but that’s exactly what they’re doing.

Let’s put this into perspective another way.

For every potential customer you or your sales staff talk to, there are ten more who are online researching your product right now. Your website is working for your 24/7.

When we do market research on the building materials industry, what we see is that the manufacturer is seen as the go-to resource to almost the entire channel. Your audience is going to your website first when they have questions.

This is why it is critical for your site to not just work (or be a checkbox) but actually help you grow. It needs to actually help you outperform your competition and be the resource your audience wants.

In this article we’re going to show you three ways you can improve your building materials website so that it generates more leads and helps your bottom line revenue .

But first, we need to understand how your customers expectations are changing….

Creating an Amazon-worthy User Experience


Although the Internet makes it much easier for potential customers to find you, there’s an inherent fatal flaw. If your online presence isn’t up to par, they’ll immediately move on.

With the emergence of websites like Amazon, our expectations (and your audiences’ expectations) have changed. In a sense, Amazon has ruined us, because we expect things to be so easy. We expect the experience to be built around us and everything is available immediately.

This is why your website is more important than ever before.

You have to make the process easier than anyone else’s or risk losing the relationship right off the bat.

It doesn’t matter how big or small your building materials company is, people will intrinsically compare you to Amazon.

Keeping that in mind, let’s talk about how your website can live up to those expectations and create a winning online sales strategy.

Turning Your Building Materials Website Into Your Best Salesperson


There are three steps you need to take in order to make your website your best salesperson.

Step 1: Craft a Customer-Centric Message


The first thing you should take a look at on your company’s website is your message. What story are you telling to grab visitors’ attention?

The problem we frequently see with building material manufacturers is that they focus on themselves rather than solving their audience’s problems.

Your website shouldn’t aim to turn a potential customer into an expert about your product category.

The goal of your website should be to show them that you have the solution to their problem.

Here’s what we mean...

Let’s say you sell composite decking. Your target audience consists of either deck contractors or homeowners. Rather than focusing on your extensive product line, focus on how a homeowner can better enjoy their outdoor space, or how a contractor can increase sales.

Yes, you want to sell decking. But if the only thing you are doing is pushing then this is going to turn people off.

You have to give relevant helpful information that solves their problem and then you can show how your product aids in fixing this problem as well.

Here’s an example of a company that does this extremely well on their website. As soon as you get to Nydree’s website, you’re greeted with a huge value proposition:

Nydree high perfomance

That tagline automatically positions the company’s product to solve problems experienced by their target audience, commercial architects and designers.

Right away, they know that Nydree’s flooring combines beauty and luxury with durability.

We often see building materials manufacturers try to establish trust with phrases like, “We’ve been in business since 1908.” But that doesn’t solve anyone’s problem. You need to immediately tell them what you’re giving them with a clear and direct message.

Step 2: Create an Incredible User Experience


Once you’ve got your website’s message down, think about how you can create an incredible user experience. Luckily, you don’t need to spend a ton of money or time on website redesign to do this well.

Think about Amazon one more time. They don’t have a beautiful website by any means, but they’re killing it in sales because they’re dedicated to solving problems and getting people the information they need to make a purchase.

Take Nest Thermostat versus Honeywell for example...

Even though Honeywell has been around for a century, Nest’s popularity has skyrocketed.

Yes, they have a beautiful product but their site is also aiming to do the same thing their product does: make the lives of their audience easier.

Nest makes it so easy to research, buy, and get their thermostat installed.

Here’s what you see when you visit the webpage for the Nest Learning Thermostat:

Nest programs itself

The message couldn’t be any more compelling and there are simple calls to action all over the page, from “Watch the Video” to “Buy Now.”

Honeywell, on the other hand, has a massive product page that doesn’t help users differentiate between products.

Honeywell images

When comparing the two companies, Nest wins hands down in terms of user experience. They took customer pain points and solved them through their website. How can you do this with your own building materials company?

Start by taking the time to truly consider your target audience and what they have a difficult time with. Is it sample requests and pricing information? Is there a lack of information on durability or comparison of the competition?

Use that insight to create an experience that makes the learning and purchasing processes easier.

Your online presence sets up your potential customer for what they can expect from both your product and from dealing with you as a company.

If the user experience is confusing or simply non-existent, they’ll project those feelings onto your company. Avoid this by making a case of why customers should choose your product over the competition's.

Step 3: Convert Online Visitors Into Sales Ready Opportunities


By now you’ve conveyed your message and created a winning user experience. Next, it’s time to get your online visitors to become leads, or better yet, sales ready opportunities.

Where most building materials manufacturers fall short in this category is not devoting enough energy into developing relationships.

If you try to get a sale too quickly, it’s like being on a first date and proposing on one knee: it just doesn’t make sense.

Instead, give away as much value as you possibly can in exchange for as little as possible. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m giving them worth what I’m getting from them?”

This is going to position you incredibly well. Remember, your audience’s guards are up. They are expecting you to push the sale hard.

In nearly every case, you want the balance of receiving to tip in the favor of your potential customer.

Here’s an example. James Hardie offers a free product catalog download on its website. But in order to get it, you have to fill out an incredibly long form. Check it out:

James Hardy product catalog

If they were to reduce the number of fields to just name and email address, they would most likely dramatically increase the number of leads they receive from that download page. And there’s a lot of nurturing you can do with just those two pieces of information.

When thinking about how much to give away on your website, we want you to actually feel uncomfortable about it. That’s how you know it’s valuable.

So you can’t just provide quote request forms to your warm leads. You need to reach a larger portion of the sales funnel by offering them pricing information, samples, e-books, white papers, downloads, and trainings. All of these things are great ways to build your lead database.

Just make sure that the information is truly valuable and you’re not asking for too much in return.

Once you give away a ton of value on your website, it becomes easier to get information from your leads later on when they’re ready to buy. You’ve established trust by developing an ongoing relationship, you’ve shown them what to expect from you as a company, and you’ve educated them enough to know that your product is the right choice for their needs.

Here’s a quick recap on the three steps your building materials company should take to turn your website into your best salesperson.

  1. Simplify your message and make it customer-centric.
  2. Create an incredible user experience by answering all their questions.
  3. Give people multiple places to convert to leads long before they need to request a sample or get a quote.

Show Notes and Resources

Nydree Flooring Website

Nest Website

Honeywell Thermostats Website

James Hardie Product Catalog