Monday, 17 December 2012

Internal Sales: Five ways to ensure the internal support function is successful - Part 2

In the second part of our discussion with Neil Tilsley, Managing Director of Polypipe Ventilation, he shares his thoughts on what is needed to ensure a successful and forward thinking internal sales office.

Read part one: The changing nature of internal sales for a manufacturer of building products

Be consistent and educate
Although we encourage our team to have a personal approach, it is vital they have the information, processes and guidelines to convey a consistent message. We do not want people calling and being told something different each time they call. As a result, we invest a lot of time in ensuring our team knows our information systems, procedures and products through training and briefings.

Create a culture of communication and development
Much of how a business should operate needs to be based on common sense and regular effective communication throughout the business. At Polypipe, we try and act as one team with one voice - to achieve this departmental boundaries need to be broken down to enable understanding, so everyone works together to achieve excellent customer service.

We encourage active communication lines between internal and external sales, accounts, operations, marketing and technical support. We find that if you involve people in the future of the company and listen to their views, then the company becomes more efficient and effective. It is also vital to listen and act on feedback from customers.

Be honest and keep promises
We are all judged by what we do, rather than what we say, and this applies to colleagues as well as customers. It is vital to have integrity and build trust as this provides the foundation for long-term business relationships.

We encourage honesty, even when it is not the news someone wants to hear. Honesty enables an issue to be resolved rather than be made worse.

Empower staff to be accountable
Understanding product system
options and benefits 
If our employees can gain a good understanding of our basic product system options and their benefits, it’s very valuable. Involving internal staff in briefings and discussions, as well as providing them with the resources to do their job, gives them the power to blossom. That said, it is also important they know the escalation options available to them and ensure they are supported in their role.

It is advisable to set realistic KPIs and to have regular review and role development meetings with internal staff.

Introduce function flexibility
Where possible we try and encourage inter-departmental training, as this allows consistency in service when there are holidays or illness. It also helps to make work more varied and interesting to the employee and assists them in finding their preferred role.

The customer service function in a building products manufacturer can include order input/progress, CAD support, project planning, account management, technical support and basic sales and marketing responsibilities.

In the third part of this series we will be talking with Neil about the skills and experience he looks for in a candidate to maximise the potential success in the role.

If you are interested in developing a career in internal sales or customer service, please contact us to discuss your requirements or to arrange to meet us at one of our specialised regional career development clinics for the building and construction industry. Contact us on 01480 405225 or email

Take a look at our current internal sales vacancies.

Polypipe Ventilation designs and manufactures a full range of high quality ventilation systems for the domestic and light commercial building sectors. They specialise in supporting specifiers, contractors, developers, installers and operators by providing energy-saving ventilation solutions that meet Building Regulations and save time and money on site.

As a group, Polypipe design, develop and manufacture the widest range of plastic piping products, with over 20,000 product lines available. Their primary focus is on developing and supporting pragmatic product systems through specific knowledge and understanding of the residential, commercial, civils and infrastructure market sectors.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

All I want for Christmas is a…?

What’s on your Christmas list this year? You could choose something that is challenging, exciting and rewarding yet also offers variety, satisfaction and develops your skills. This is not as impossible as it might sound!

Look no further, as all this is readily available from Pinnacle Consulting and not just at Christmas! A new job or career change is a present that can give you permanent reward and enjoyment all year.

We have many options for you to select from and we are confident that there will be something to tick all the boxes on your particular wish list. Take a look at some of the field sales, internal sales, and marketing and management jobs currently on our books.

We can even match these with your favourite industry sector:

§       National, regional and independent builders’ merchants
§       Plumbing, drainage and heating merchants and manufacturers
§       KBB distributors and manufacturers
§       HVAC distributors and manufacturers
§       Electrical wholesalers
§       Roofing, cladding, flooring and insulation suppliers
§       Heavyside building products
§       Lightside building products
§       Timber products
§       Interiors, paints and coatings
§       DIY and home improvements

So, change your life and choose something from our Christmas list of opportunities that you really do want.

Don’t leave it another year to start thinking about it - make this Christmas and New Year an adventure to look forward to with the most important appointment of your career.

Contact the building product sector recruitment specialists on 01480 405225 or by e-mail

A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all our candidates and clients: past, present and future.

Image courtesy of samarttiw at

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Internal Sales: The changing nature of internal sales for a manufacturer of building products - Part 1

As part of our series of interviews with people from the building and construction industry we talk with Neil Tilsley, Managing Director of Polypipe Ventilation. 

We discuss the growing importance of the internal office in the success of building product manufacturers and how the internal sales/customer service role has evolved in recent years.

It is easy to forget that many things we now take for granted were not widespread only a few years ago. A large number of these have shaped our personal and professional lives and changed the way we do business - people expect more and want it instantly.

For the building and construction industry changes to regulations and legislation have also affected the way manufacturers do business. To help facilitate and react to these changes, the nature of the internal support office has evolved and, with the current economic climate, customer service and internal sales have become even more important.

The need for a more sophisticated conversation
Pinnacle Consulting has noticed a considerable shift in clients placing a far greater focus on the structure, nature and expectation of their customer service department. They now need to provide enhanced added value to their customers and supply an ever-growing amount of pertinent information and product support to many different audiences.

Neil Tilsley explains: “People now want a more informed and technical experience from their call. A sales office used to be very much focused on inputting information and passing on this information to the customer. Part numbers, list prices, delivery dates and perhaps providing a product brochure were pretty much the extent of the assistance available. A sales office was a reactive environment with little understanding of the product and their customers’ requirements.

“The phrase ‘the computer says no’ pretty much sums up the way a sales or support office should not be run.”

Sustainable ventilation product solutions
The nature of the conversation between a caller and a sales office has become more sophisticated and varied, particularly in the type of caller. At Polypipe Ventilation this has certainly been the case as Neil confirms: “The mix of the function of person calling our sales office has shifted from being almost totally focused on distribution partners to one that on a daily basis includes installers, specifiers, contractors, developers and end-users in addition to our distributors. This means that we need greater diversity from our customer service team to adapt. For us not to take customer service seriously is not an option, as these initial calls can lead to securing good business and building long term mutually beneficial relationships. Our approach is first and foremost to assist people with their needs and where appropriate encourage them to select a sustainable product solution from our range, so they can understand and comply with changing regulations such as Part L and F of the Building Regulations or meeting SAP requirements and the different levels of the Code for Sustainable Homes.”

Bringing substance to the once meaningless product code
You can see how the calibre of an internal sales person now needs to be higher, although this does not mean that they need to be a part-time specification consultant - that is not their job - but it does mean they should have a basic understanding of their product and market. This puts more responsibility on the employer to recruit either higher quality candidates or have a commitment to developing existing employees through continued training. Or as Neil puts it: “Our aim is to provide the substance behind the characters of a part number, so that a product code becomes something tangible to our team. Being able to help an enquirer at an early stage of a project and allow them to begin the process of making an informed decision gives them confidence that they are dealing with a company that wants to help and knows their market. It also helps our external sales team and technical support team further down the line.”

Don’t forget the stockist!
It is also important that the needs of the stockist are not forgotten, they should still be one of the main focuses of a sales office environment, but the service to them also needs to be enhanced and become more proactive. This is a factor that Neil is very aware of. “At Polypipe Ventilation, we actively encourage our team to build closer relationships with our channel partners, as they have also changed the way they do business. We need to help them understand and sell our products by providing relevant information and support. The sales office is ideally positioned to develop this relationship. Our aim is to promote our regulation-driven product solutions in a straightforward and professional manner and the whole company needs to be consistent in their approach from phone calls, visits, information and literature, to achieve this. This helps grow our business as well as that of our distributors.”

Understanding data
However, there is still a huge emphasis on the sales office professional to provide data on stock availability, order progress, delivery dates and transport methods and to assist with any problems that invariably occur, but it is how these problems are handled that makes a company or individual in a sales office environment excel. Customers expect to be given facts based on actual data rather than hollow promises based on crossed fingers and supposition, although, data can also cause problems, as Polypipe Ventilation understands. “We feel it is vital that our team knows not only where to access data but also understands how to interpret it. There is nothing worse than passing off something as fact when it is actually misinformation, so we invest a great deal of time to avoid this happening. Our aim is to give customers information they can rely on to avoid consequences throughout the distribution chain.”

Added responsibility
Neil Tilsley
 Managing Director,
Polypipe Ventilation
Another increasingly important aspect of the internal sales/customer service professional is to actively promote new initiatives and product launches. It is important that every conversation is a possible sales/educational opportunity for the caller. Although this does not need to become a hard sell and make the caller uncomfortable, as Neil Tilsley explains: “We want to build long-term relationships and share information when we think it will help or reward the caller - our policy is that it has to be relevant. If we can inform an installer about a scheme that means they can receive loyalty vouchers then we will let them know; if we can let them know about our BPEC Ventilation Approved Installer Training courses, for instance, then we will. If we have a new product that is relevant to their project or sector and it can solve a problem for them, then we will send details. Our customer service team has evolved so that we can help people in their job, like our free CAD design installation design schedules service. All these are mutually beneficial and underline our confidence in our product and our partners’ confidence in us.”

A changing and wide-ranging skillset
The internal support professional needs to have the appropriate skillset to ask the right questions to find the right solutions, or the knowledge to give the correct answers to questions. There is nothing worse than being passed from department to department, especially at what is likely to be an exploratory stage for the enquirer. Something that Neil is keen to ensure is that the Polypipe team is always aware of the possible time restraints of the caller. “They have a job to do too and I am sure that they do not want to speak to us all day! From our point of view it is about judging the situation and behaving accordingly.”

The internal role has become wide-ranging and needs someone who has excellent all round skills. It also now has added responsibility and a greater impact on the success or failure of any business, but particularly one in the building and construction industry.

In the next three parts of our in-depth look at internal sales, Neil will share his tips on how to ensure that the whole company works together as a cohesive customer service team including internal sales, external sales, marketing, operations and technical support. We will look at what skills, personality and experience are required when recruiting an internal sales professional for a building products manufacturer and finally, we will be looking at what Neil considers to be the benefits for the company and the employee due to the changed focus of the role in recent years.

You can read part two here.

If you are interested in developing a career in internal sales or customer service, please contact us to discuss your requirements or to arrange to meet us at one of our specialised regional career development clinics for the building and construction industry. Contact us on 01480 405225 or email

Take a look at our current internal sales vacancies.

Sign-up for our career development e-letter here

Polypipe Ventilation designs and manufactures a full range of high quality ventilation systems for the domestic and light commercial building sectors. They specialise in supporting specifiers, contractors, developers, installers and operators by providing energy-saving ventilation solutions that meet Building Regulations and save time and money on site.

As a group, Polypipe design, develop and manufacture the widest range of plastic piping products, with over 20,000 product lines available. Their primary focus is on developing and supporting pragmatic product systems through specific knowledge and understanding of the residential, commercial, civils and infrastructure market sectors.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Chancellor's Autumn Statement: Highlights

London: 5th December 2012 George Osborne’s autumn statement has recognised the construction and building industry as key to the economic growth of the country. The response from the industry has been largely positive.

The major sector that has benefited is infrastructure with a £5bn investment.

However, many have been disappointed that an opportunity has been missed to help the government’s own Green Deal energy-efficiency initiative by not introducing further incentives, such as, a lower rate of VAT on housing repair, maintenance and improvement work. This would have encouraged homeowners to take advantage of the Deal rather than largely ignoring it.

Another missed opportunity related to housing is the lack of additional funding for affordable housing or even a commitment to improve the ease of getting a mortgage to encourage an increase in the number private new homes being built.

On the plus side, manufacturing companies who are able fly the flag abroad with innovation and leadership have been given additional support - especially those looking to move into emerging countries and seeking foreign investment.

Another less obvious area that will benefit the building products sector is the canceling of the proposed fuel tax increase. This will help keep the running costs of sales professionals across the country down as well as the costs incurred in the transportation of goods from manufacturers to merchants and merchants to building sites.

We were also pleased to hear Mr. Osbourne's comments on job creation and employment in the country as compared to the rest of Europe.

Please find below a transcript of some key points from the statement:

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Featured Building Product Sales and Marketing Jobs for December

December 2012 - As the year comes to an end many are thinking of making a fresh start and this month we have some great career opportunities in the building product sector. Take a look at our sales, marketing and management positions in chemicals and coatings, bathroom products, commercial heating, HVAC and interior building products
See below for full details of our featured jobs (click 'Read more').

Keep informed of ALL our latest jobs when they become available on our Facebook page. Remember to click LIKE! to ensure you receive all the benefits.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Sign up for our e-letter and see London in a different way!

An amazing chance to see London as you've never seen it before - from a De Havilland biplane! All you need to do is sign up to our e-letter 'Pin Points' and you will be entered into a draw to win this experience or any from the £250 Red Letter Day Gift Pack selection.

You need to sign-up by 14th Dec 2012.

Biplane Sightseeing Tour of London
These days air travel is a nightmare of queues, checks and delays - and modern passenger jets are so vast that it's easy to forget you're in the air at all. Recreate the thrill of early air travel with a flight in one of Britain's best loved pre-war aircrafts, the De Havilland Dragon Rapide biplane. Taking off from the Imperial War Museum, you'll fly south to London, enjoying magnificent views from 1,500 feet of the capital's famous landmarks, including Canary Wharf, St Paul's Cathedral and the meandering Thames. Back on terra firma, you'll get free entry into the Imperial War Museum (and half price entry for any guests), Europe's premier aviation museum, spread over 85 acres and housing classic planes such as the prototype Concorde.

Take a look at some of the other amazing experiences on offer here.

'Pin Points' brings the latest building industry news, trends and recruitment advice, for both candidates and employers, direct to your inbox. All you have to do is sign up to 'Pin Points' here, and start dreaming about the new experience you might have!

Please also have a look at our latest building products sales jobs on our website.

Monday, 3 December 2012

Building Products Sales Career Development Clinics for December

If you are looking for a new job in the New Year or are considering the next stage of your career, we are holding our PinBuild Career Development Clinics throughout the UK this December, so it would be a good time to come and meet us for a confidential and useful discussion.

PinBuild Clinics are designed for sales and marketing professionals in the building products, construction and interiors sectors to provide specialist career advice throughout their time in the industry.

Contact us to arrange to meet one of our specialist industry consultants. It could be your most important appointment to help you develop your career in the building and construction industry.

Tel: 01480 405225

December 2012 PinBuild Clinics
  • Thursday 6th December - Birmingham
  • Wednesday 11th December - Diss, Norfolk
  • Thursday 13th December - Bristol

PinBuild Clinics will evaluate the job seeker’s career to date and identify the best opportunities available. The clinics provide professionals with expert advice on how to progress their career by discussing the industry sectors that have potential for growth, the skills and focus needed to ensure that they develop with the changing nature of the market and how to ensure that their career continues to progress rather than stagnating.

The clinics will also assist those that attend to map out a realistic and achievable career path, including any potential training requirements. Assistance will also be given to evaluate their CV and also their interview technique and where they should focus to ensure they realise their true potential in the building and construction industry.

We specialise in external and internal sales positions, marketing and management roles and director and board appointments with manufacturers, merchants or distributors across the whole building, construction and interiors product spectrum.