In our last article, we talked about the skill of “speed dating” at trade shows. Well . . . how did it go? I don’t know about you but I’m exhausted! We had World of Concrete, a couple local trade shows, and the Granddaddy of them all, the International Builders Show, all of which helped us max out our step count daily. We found so many new things and met so many amazing people. Hopefully you did too. But now you might be thinking, “What’s my next move?”

It’s Time For Action!
One of my mentors has a quote that I have as my cell phone wallpaper. It’s posted in my office as well. Gary Vaynerchuck, or Gary Vee as most would know him, says, “Ideas are (junk), execution is everything!!” Now, he doesn’t say “junk” but I think you get the idea. You leave these amazing shows with awesome ideas and usually a ton of motivation. Then we have to execute. Whether you are a contractor, distributor, manufacturer, or even a DIYer, we all have to execute.

If you found an ICF block you really like, make sure to follow up with them. As much as I love my fellow sales professionals, sometimes the follow up is a little slow. You have to remember that these shows will produce hundreds if not thousands of leads for these guys and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. It’s not cold feet, they are just swamped. I would make sure to follow up and get the name of the local rep for your area. They may even refer you to a local distributor. Even better! Start that conversation now. We are all coming into the busy season and the sooner you get going the better.

Swiping Right
After “home show” season is a great time to strike while the iron is hot to get more information. Everything you saw and learned is fresh in your mind and most of the big block companies will be reaching out via automated emails in the weeks following the show. Make sure that you read those emails, as many times they will be offering you more information about their product line and usually virtual and in-person training classes.

Something to keep in mind if you are serious about getting your project going this year is that you need to be getting on the schedule now. I’m always surprised by how many people think they can just call out of the blue and say, “Hey, I met you at the trade show and we are ready to start next week.” For most contractors today, that is probably not going to work. That’s kind of like meeting that person at a speed dating event and then just showing up on their doorstep one day ready to get engaged. As a supplier myself, most distributors will have inventory on hand and shipping is always an option, but every year we get that spring rush and we may not have everything you need in stock with only a few days’ notice.

Another challenge we have is with our equipment rentals. If you don’t plan to purchase an alignment system, make sure you are communicating with your supplier so that the system needed will be available. And then one of the things that gets overlooked the most is the availability of qualified installers. Most of our installers, as well as the ones we refer clients to, travel all over their respective areas and oftentimes, that means they are already booked out for the year and scheduling into the next year. If you are doing it yourself, then you should also be checking with your concrete supplier and your pump company to get on their schedule so that you don’t get delayed. The key to a successful project, whether hiring a contractor or doing it yourself, is not just in selecting the right materials and building partners, but in planning and preparation. Those who fail don’t plan to fail, they just failed to plan.

The First Date…
How did your “dates” go? Any keepers? We too are always going to trade shows looking for the next great thing . . . the coolest new tool that will blow our minds, increasing productivity and making the “job” easier. We walk miles and miles to find it. This year, my team and I walked an average of 8 miles a day at World of Concrete and again at the Builder Show. So when you find those gems, the sooner you get in touch the better.
As a supplier I find that most of our industry is “too busy to go to trade shows.” I think that is a huge mistake, but also a huge opportunity for those of us that spend the time and money to go and do the research and find those new products. With that we also have a responsibility to educate our customers about the products we found and what we learned. I always say, educating is the best way to sell something whether that is a product or service. If you sell quality products and services you just have to teach people about your awesome tool and they will buy it. No “sales” tactics needed.

You Have To Ask For The Date!
Call those companies or customers that expressed an interest or that you want more information about. The fortune is in the follow up and unfortunately, on average, only 50% of the companies I exchange information with actually follow up with me. Maybe I’m not pretty enough . . . but seriously, it gives those who do execute and follow up with me a real advantage. I’ve noticed that many times it’s those little companies that are better at following up with prospects, which is how a small “David” company can beat that big “Goliath” national or international company. I love the story of an underdog winning the business with good, old-fashioned hard work.

More Dating Advice…
Over the years a little trick I learned was to take note of those vendors who follow through and see how attentive they are. Most times, this gives you an idea of how they will be in the future as a supplier. Do they follow up with you after they ship the product or are they a one-and-done? If you don’t buy immediately, are they getting in touch with you to see if you have additional questions? I’m looking for a long-term relationship with my suppliers as well as my customers. If I had enough interest to stop and chat with you, or even better, purchase the product right there at the show, you can bet I’m going to give it a try. If it works I will be your biggest advocate.

Building That Relationship…
Whether you visited a national show like World of Concrete or the International Builders Show in Las Vegas or the Posh Home and Garden Show in Paducah, Kentucky, you caught some feelings for some products, services or maybe even a contractor. But now it’s time to take the relationship to the next level. Making that commitment is difficult but rewarding. Time to get to know each other. You need to communicate, ask questions and listen. The best advice I can give is to understand that this is a partnership. From DIY customer to contractor or manufacturer to distributor, the goal is the same — a successful project. Which means a solid relationship that is mutually beneficial. So put yourself out there and keep moving towards that altar, and always Build With ICF.


Trevor Brown

Trevor Brown is the owner and operator of Innovative Building Products, a multiline ICF and ICF accessories distribution company. He has been in the ICF industry for over 20 years starting as an installer and distributor. He has managed the Western U.S. for an industry-leading ICF company and is now an independent consultant for ICF builders and homeowners across the country. He is also the co-host of the Build With ICF Podcast, which can be found from the website,