In today’s blog, we asked our lumber traders and admin team to share some of their best sales tips and trading advice so you can get a sneak peek into the world of commodity trading.
A trader’s primary job-skill is to provide support to our suppliers and our customers. Know your value proposition. If you understand what a mill needs to sell and what a customer needs to buy, you can provide appropriate assistance. Remember, at AIFP, our steel and lumber traders work for our suppliers and customers, and the more high-quality assistance we provide, the more opportunity we’ll have to participate in their business now and in the future.
Steel and lumber traders encounter nearly constant rejection. When you’re a rookie on the trading floor, you’ll hear “no” way more than you hear “yes,” so you’ll need thick skin and perseverance. While this is something you can work on as you go, if you’re overly sensitive or quick to get discouraged, a trading career is probably not right for you. While you can always improve your sales skills, it’s important to remember that any “no” you receive isn’t personal.
A great salesperson is an expert at identifying problems and coming up with smart solutions. The very best salespeople create broad solutions for common problems. If you’re going to do this, you have to understand your suppliers and your customers, as well as the building materials industry as a whole. While working in the industry will help you understand common needs, it’s also important to get to know your customers and suppliers on an individual level, so you can help them come up with innovative solutions for their unique needs.
If you want to earn loyal customers, you can’t start slacking once the sale is made. You have to be willing to go the distance with your clients, offering exceptional support from the sales pitch until the final product has been delivered. When building your business, you have to play the long game. Hard work and diligence now can pay off in dividends later, so be willing to go above and beyond for your clients, whenever possible.
If you want to succeed as a commodity trader, you have to be a lifelong learner. While AIFPs trader training program gives trainees the baseline information they need to thrive in a trading career, the learning doesn’t stop when you graduate to the trading floor. Whether it’s learning more about your suppliers, customers, sales strategies, industry trends, or exciting new technology, being open to new learning opportunities will keep you at the top of your game.
No one wants to ask a stupid question, but asking questions early and often prevents small problems from snowballing into something bigger. It can also help you seem even more invested, both to customers and suppliers and to the people you work with. Worried about asking something you think you should already know the answer to? Be sure to do a thorough check of your notes and messages to make sure you can’t find the answer on your own. But if you can’t, ask for clarification. Answering a question is much easier than having to solve whatever problems arise from moving forward without understanding.
Need more sales tips? How about some good new year’s resolutions for commodity traders? The AIFP blog has you covered with plenty of career topics, including everything from how to thrive in a commission-based job to soft skills every AIFP trader needs to succeed.
Looking for a unique sales career at one of the best places to work in Portland? Send us your resume today! From our one-of-a-kind trader training program to our commitment to mentorship, there’s plenty of reasons to want to work at AIFP.
Up for the challenge? We'll give you the tools to excel. AIFP is continually growing. We recruit new traders year-round.
There is no substitute for hard work. If you really want to make and run a business here, you have all the tools available to you here.Billy Culver Trader, European Products Department Head
I really enjoy the freedom to create your own customer base and build a business trading the products you want to trade. While being the hardest thing I have ever done, being a trader has also been the most rewarding!Alex Schilling Trader