Selling a product that requires trained and experienced installers can be challenging. Yet, it’s critically important to get this mission right.

After all, general contractors are the gatekeepers to those installers… and knowing how to market and sell to contractors can reduce friction and help make the buyer’s journey that much smoother.

While an architect or designer may well determine the function or “spec” for a product to meet, it’s often the general contractor who decides which particular brand ends up on a roof. On a floor. Or inside the wall.

A contractor’s livelihood is completely dependent on the ability to establish trust with his or her customers.

To meet the needs of an end user. Or a facility manager.

Contractors enter the scene with established brand loyalties and hard-earned “best practice” habits. And they maintain reputations, by transferring those recommendations to the customer. Much in the same way a doctor continues to prescribe effective medications to patients.

Contractors work for companies of all sizes — from large to small — and each type needs to be approached differently. Positioning a building product brand aimed at gaining preference — better still, loyalty — calls for understanding the unique challenges contractors face. And helping them do what they do… better.

Understanding Contractor Needs

While large and small contractors have different needs… these audiences all have often-unspoken requirements, that extend well beyond features and price.

And it’s clear that the brands able to meet these additional contractor requirements, will reap important benefits, including:

  • Increased loyalty from the contractor, who has been inspired to become more focused on success… than cost.
  • Selling more products than competing brands… by providing programs that focus on helping contractors grow their own businesses.

While small contractors — who maintain lower overhead — will sometimes underprice a job to get “in the door,” larger contractors must differentiate themselves by demonstrating the ways in which they command a higher cost.

Fortunately, smart brands that are aligned in their sales and marketing… can appeal to contractors in both scenarios.

Appealing to Larger Contractors

Building product brands can help larger contractors gain momentum by enabling them to be associated with a highly recognized brand name, in the form of a “preferred contractor” relationship.

These mutually-rewarding programs are usually designed to make it easier for a larger, more established contractor to qualify… by requiring a minimum length of time in business, sales thresholds, extended insurance coverage and documented completion of training/product knowledge programs.

Building product brands can offer significant benefits — considered “assets” — that bring added value to contractors.

For example, helping contractors recruit and retain qualified, skilled labor via hiring webinars. Or a series of videos available on “members-only” channels.

When a contractor has a business need… chances are it’s shared by many of their peers.

So, why not establish an e-newsletter series that discusses succession and retirement planning and group healthcare options? Or create and promote “project profiles” or case studies that recognize innovative and profitable applications of the building product?

All designed to reward brand loyalty.

Cater Differently to Small Contractors

A small contractor’s primary need — especially in a volatile economy — is staying in business.

Many of these contractors still consider themselves “installers” at heart. They started by working for someone else… and learned to do their jobs extremely well. And were likely among the best at their craft.

Eventually, each felt unappreciated by their respective manager. Or simply thought they could run things better, themselves.

However, they pretty quickly realized there’s a world of difference between being a highly skilled drywall hanger. And leading an interiors contracting business.

Being a business owner means you must be good at every aspect of that business: sales, finance, operations, marketing, human resources, customer service and more.

It can be a daunting challenge.

As such, resist giving these small contractors templated marketing tools. Instead, provide customized co-op marketing programs, designed to provide a return on investment… in highly targeted regions.

And offer support for influencer education programs and CEU-endorsed local chapter events like NARI Nights.

Reaching Contractors

Small contractors can be difficult to reach.

Many often rely on The Home Depot and Lowe’s for products… after all, these big box retailers tend to be conveniently located near residential jobsites. Each retailer makes clear overtures to attract contractors, through their pro desks and pro entrances. And they offer contractor-specific programming too.

Developing small contractor campaigns — and then offering them jointly through channel partners — can be as simple as providing access to a dedicated website and landing pages.

Or as comprehensive as, creating alternative distribution strategies.

What matters most is the effort and outreach from a manufacturer — demonstrating true value and unwavering dedication to contractors.

Try Soft Selling to Contractors

To increase sales to contractors… step beyond product, price and service.

Rather, help them identify and overcome barriers to success. Stop selling to them and sell through them, helping them sell more of your products.

By supporting contractors — and helping them to grow — building product brands can create loyalty and solidify long-term relationships, both of which will deliver ongoing rewards.

Interested in developing results-driven strategies to reach and engage your brand’s target audiences? Send an email to Steve Kleber at to get the conversation started.