Tips for Selling Exterior Trim

Trim is the finishing touch on the home exterior—while seemingly subtle, it can often make or break the façade’s overall aesthetic. But with so many options available, how can dealers help their customers, pros and consumers alike, find the ideal fit for their project? Here are a few strategies to consider.

Understand the Products You Sell… and Those You Don’t

The types of trim materials abound, from traditional wood to cellular PVC to fiber cement to poly-ash. Understanding the features, benefits, and limitations of each trim type will help ensure you can answer customers’ questions and, most importantly, find them the material that best matches their needs. This knowledge should include the materials your competitors sell so you’re best prepared to educate on how your products compare to those they’re hearing about elsewhere. Consult with your manufacturer for product knowledge sessions, continuing education, and other tools to get your team up to speed.

Knowing the materials inside and out also can help you keep conversations specific to their needs—not on simply finding the lowest price. Elevating the discussion to which products will best avoid callbacks and ongoing maintenance lets you sell the long-term benefits versus short-term costs.

Understand the Project and Its Needs

Similarly, don’t just sell. First, get to know the project and what your customer truly needs. Is the project a coastal home? Is it a remodeling project with worn wood the homeowner is tired of painting year after year? Are they hoping for more intricate looks and details? Are they looking to incorporate bold colors? The answers to these and other questions can help you steer them toward the best products for their needs—but it’s something that only comes by truly listening.

For example, for projects in areas with high moisture or high humidity, or in which the trim will be used against the ground or concrete, a cellular PVC trim will offer long-term durability with minimal maintenance. If they’re looking to create a bold, on-trend look with dark trim against white siding, consider poly-ash siding, which has dimensional stability to accommodate paints as dark as black. If they’re hoping to incorporate more intricate detailing, they’ll need a workable material, such as cellular PVC or poly-ash, and one that’s sold in a range of sizes and thicknesses. Both product types also are an ideal fit for homeowners looking for low-maintenance options.

Leverage Online Tools

Many manufacturers offer online design programs that allow your customers and their customers try different combinations of siding and trim on an image of their home or on a similar gallery image. This can help ensure the right aesthetic combinations and instill confidence in the buyer.

Sell Packages

Dealers that focus sales approaches on the whole cohesive package—and showing builders, remodelers, and their homeowners what those packages look like—may improve opportunities to increase upgrades, boost efficiencies, and further satisfy customers. Considering the full façade and thinking of the whole palette collectively may help create more varied, engaging streetscapes and avoid cookie-cutter looks. It also allows for visualization and experimentation with on-trend colors, texture blending, and materials using stocked products.

Develop portfolios of coordinated product lines and colors that can be sold as is or with upgrades. Coordinate this process between different manufacturers, such as your siding/trim supplier and your window vendor, to ensure cohesive looks and material compatibility.

Don’t Forget Companion Products

Some trim materials require specific adhesives and fasteners to ensure long-term performance and the best finished look. Make sure you’re stocking those products and educate your buyers about them. Similarly, if they’re planning to paint the trim, guide the customer to the recommended or required paint for that material to ensure the finish lasts as long as it is designed to.

When in doubt, remember that your manufacturer’s representative is here to help. Whether through staff education, display and merchandising assistance, customer events, or collateral materials, most manufacturers offer a host of educational opportunities to ensure your sales team is up to speed and help your customers craft eye-catching exteriors that last.

– Steve Booz is VP of sales and marketing for Westlake Royal Building Products, which offers a broad and diverse range of exterior and interior building products, including trim from Kleer, Royal, and TruExterior (www.westlakeroyalbuildingproducts.com). 

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