Guest Post

Generating Top Line Revenue in a Down Market

by James Chilcoff

Generating top line revenue for a start-up business can be a daunting task. Add to that an economic downturn that has hit the construction sector significantly and the prospects of that top line growing become even more intimidating. This is the situation FiberTech Polymers faced in October, 2008.

At face value FiberTech Polymers has an outstanding value proposition. We manufacture innovative 90%-plus post-consumer recycled products under the Timberwolf brand. Timberwolf products are a natural substitute for the wood and vinyl building materials normally used for privacy fencing and landscape edging. Timberwolf products provide superior durability with the look and feel of wood at a competitively matched price. However, most builders, landscapers and remodelers have either never heard of Timberwolf or are reluctant to use it on any new projects. As a result our top line revenue began to quickly evaporate.

To make our business model work and overcome our top line concerns we found our nerve by standing up to the traditional building material supply chain, and creating primary demand by "pulling" sales through. First, we developed sales plans for each territory. We focused on our sales representatives — who know our product better than anyone and have a vested interest in success — creating primary demand by calling on end customers. Second, we tracked projects from lead to close on a weekly basis with each sales representative accountable for closing projects on a daily basis. Third, we increased our sales calls by 20% per day through better territory management skills. To summarize, our sales team became "hunters" hungry to find, pitch and close projects. This was in stark contrast to our traditional "gathering" posture, from which we waited for the supply chain to present us with opportunity.

Initially, the changes were not accepted by the market. Our sales representatives were now calling on all the important contacts in the supply chain to secure the order and pull through the sale. Some in the supply chain weren’t appreciative of our calling on what they claimed were "their customers". This attitude changed when their order file began to grow.

To date our top line is 30% above last year and climbing. Our sales team is now project driven and multitasks in the market to obtain an order. This new approach to drive top line growth is now embedded in our business and we are constantly looking for ways to improve the process.

Mr. Chilcoff joined FiberTech in March 2008. He has over 20 years marketing and operations experience in numerous building products and consumer products companies.

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