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A contractor walks into a residential building products dealer looking to purchase siding. I promise this is not the start of a terrible joke!

They are most familiar with steel siding, so that is what they plan to purchase. The contractor connects with a salesperson who gives a vastly different recommendation. Does the contractor stick with their original plan or change their mind?

There are many reasons a salesperson is able to influence purchase decisions. Personality and perceived knowledge or lack thereof, are just a few. Surprisingly, a lot actually depends heavily on the age of the contractor or builder.

Age Impacts Dealers' Influence Over Product Choices

A recent study by The Farnsworth Group, for ProSales Magazine's parent company Hanley Wood found some interesting effects of age on decision-making. Around 1,000 builders, contractors and remodelers were polled. Pros were asked how their decisions would change if a dealer suggested something different than their planned purchase.

People under 35 were overwhelmingly more impressionable than those over 55.



Companies count industry experience as a major factor when it comes to hiring. This is especially true in residential building products. Therefore, successful and helpful salespeople usually have a lot experience, both personal and professional. They are able to rely on their experience to recommend quality products.

Builders and contractors want a salesperson who can offer tips or warn against issues with a product. Younger builders may rely more on a suggestion than on their own first-hand experience, simply because they don’t have as much.


Focusing on compatibility might not seem important in the building industry, but it can have everything to do with influence. Compatibility being a factor depends largely on the age of the person making purchases.

A contractor just starting their business might be quicker to develop a rapport with salespeople. They may more easily view salespeople as a trusted partner. Younger builders and contractors may either seek out younger sales people who share more common ground. Yet others will look for more wisdom and “street smarts” in older salespeople.


No matter what you purchase, there is some measure of trust involved. We all want to know we purchased the right thing to fill our need. We want to trust salespeople have our best interests in mind and won’t sell us a dud.

When purchasing a product they are unfamiliar with, builders must trust the salesperson’s advice. So, younger builders and contractors may more easily trust salespeople because they believe they are there to help make the best decision.


Authority figures being influential is something ingrained in us at a young age and these feelings carry over into our adult lives. Older salespeople, in particular, may appear to have more authority over younger builders and contractors.

However, any salesperson who can demonstrate knowledge and understanding will give off more of an authority presence and may have more ability to impact customer decisions.

In the end, whether or not age makes a difference depends largely on the individual. Salespeople who can successfully demonstrate experience and authority and cultivate trust can help builders, contractors and remodelers make better choices.

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Rikka’s articles appear in trade magazines like LBM Journal, ProSales, Remodeling, and more.



Rikka’s advice has been featured on Fast Company, NFIB, AmEx Open Forum, CBS Small Business Pulse, Huffington Post, and more.



Rikka is selected to speak at local, regional, and national conferences like KBIS and ProDealer Summit.