Dec. 9/16, 2019: Volume 35, Issue 12
By Steven Feldman
Chattanooga, Tenn.—Shaw Floors is realigning the structure of its saleforce in a move to better service its customers across the key channels it serves, while at the same time simplifying the way it services its core brands (Shaw, Anderson Tuftex and COREtec). Under the new structure, there will be 61 regional vice presidents and eight division vice presidents that will funnel into two executive vice presidents—all under Scott Sandlin, senior vice president of residential sales. The two executive vice presidents will replace Jeff Sills, who is retiring at the end of December. The new strategy, which was announced here during a sales meeting that hosted some 700 retail sales reps, will take effect Jan. 1, 2020.
Seeds of the new structure were planted back in late May/early June this year when Sandlin—along with Piet Dossche, CEO of USFloors and executive vice president of hard surfaces, Shaw Floors—saw a need to streamline the sales process with respect to the company’s flagship brands.
“Earlier this year we initially talked about separating the brands into a premium group vs. a core group, but Piet suggested we start over and reorganize the residential sales group,” Sandlin recalled. “So, we decided to launch our ‘structure to win,’ which meant pulling all brands under one sales leader at the local level.”
The new structure, according to Sandlin, resulted in a lot of change amongst the company’s territory managers over the past six months. While the goal was to have as minimal impact on its customer base as possible, he estimates that roughly 14%-15% of retail customers will have new sales associates and leaders.
“We shifted some sales leaders from one to another—which can add a little angst,” Sandlin noted. “But we’ve worked through most of those issues. It has been a really productive few months.”
The thought process throughout the implementation of this new strategy, according to Shaw, was to put the customer at the center. “Under the old system, one customer might have 13 reps calling on them,” Sandlin explained. “Now, we’re streamlining things to make it simpler for the customer. I’ve talked to a lot of our retail partners about the strategy, and I have not come across one who doesn’t get it.”
According to Sandlin, the divisional vice presidents will be making decisions for those brands within their areas. By doing this, he said, customers will be the ultimate beneficiaries. “We are going to empower them to make the decisions they need to make at the local level to drive and grow this business,” he said. “That means the buck stops with our DVPs.”
Shaw also pointed to other benefits of empowering people and elevating managers into new roles. “We felt it was time to challenge our leaders and add diversity of thought,” Sandlin said.
Dossche agreed, adding: “We developed this new strategy because we thought it was the best structure to go to market with. If you’re going to build a salesforce, this is how you do it. We are going out to the market with an energetic and enthusiastic attitude.”
Shaw salespeople in particular stand to benefit, due to the comprehensive training they will undergo in order to represent the full complement of the company’s offering to retailers. For example, many longtime carpet sales reps will become experts in LVT, SPC and hardwood.
“It’s important to demonstrate to the salespeople here this week the might of what we have as an organization, the might of who we are and how we, as an organization, are providing them with the most incredible tools to be successful in the market,” Dossche said. “As we all know, nothing happens without sales- people.”
Dossche emphasized the fact that service levels will be amplified, not diminished. “We are not going to change anything in terms of the territory managers, the foot soldiers,” he said. “It’s really the management structure that’s going to be consolidated and simplified. The old structure was bloated and divided, not united. With the new structure, all the brands will be represented equally so no brand is left behind.”
Sandlin called the new structure a “bold move,” but one that reflects all that Shaw stands for. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves and our sales teams to be better, to transcend,” he said, referring to the company’s legion of reps as the best in the business. “But being the best is hard to sustain, and we are going to sustain greatness by being bold.