Working as a roof salesman?

I’m thinking about becoming a roofing salesman- the roofing companies in my area (Minnesota) are hiring “insurance estimators”.
I understand that there can be good money in this. Although I have never sold a roof, I have substantial experience in both outside sales AND property adjusting; I have been on thousands of roofs and I know hail damage. Logically, it should be a good fit.
However, I am a bit sceptical.
As an adjuster, I met lots of young salesmen that were lured into the business with the promise of huge commissions, only to find that their employers (the roofing cos.) beat them out of most of their commissions after the jobs were completed.
In addition, many of these salesmen told me that their employers expected them to “find” hail damage on every roof, whether it was there or not. My impression was that this sort of thing was the rule, not the exception. I often discovered that these salesmen damaged the roofs themselves, in an attempt to fabricate hail damage.
Most of these young salesmen didn’t last long, and I sometimes felt sorry for them. However, I find myself needing to increase my income substantially, and thought I’d look into it as a career option.
I am proceeding cautiously, in the hopes that I can find a roofing company that is ethical and decent to work for, that doesn’t take advantage of its salespeople, and where I can make some good money.
I am looking for the pitfalls and how to avoid them.
Any advice?

you can make serious money as a salesman ($100k+ ive seen $200k) if you want to work for it.

large commercial jobs pay great, and its lots of fun to “own” a neighborhood.

find out all the details about the specific pay plans offered by local companies, and talk to as many people as you can.

finding out who the most expensive roofers in the area are, is a good start. those will be the ones that dont cheat their salesmen.

and salesmen creating hail damage? i still cant believe people actually do this.

Personally, I will always have an unfavorable opinion towards roofing “salespeople” as opposed to a roofer.

There are differences & to me, this is based on the level of expertise in being able to diagnose a roof & it’s inherent required repairs.

Are you going to sell the job & then show up for a payday, or will you inspect it, explain the required repairs, make suggestions on important upgrades (increased ventilation on intake & / or exhaust, upgrading the hip & ridge to a better quality item vs. 3T’s, etc), order the required components, meet the crew @ the job or @ least do a pre-installation walkthrough with someone from the crew, then negotiate additional payments for any extra required repairs?

Because to me, this is what sets a “roofer” apart from a “salesperson”.

Agape: Good suggestions, and yes, homeowners and roofing employees both “simulate” hail damage on occasion. It’s usually very easy to spot- they either break off the corners of the shingles, or they hit the shingles with a hammer. Neither looks anything like hail damage.
RanchHand: I haven’t actually applied for a job yet, so I don’t know what my specific job duties would be. Sorry if I used incorrect terminology, it’s just that the label “salesperson” does not carry a negative connotation for me. But I doubt I’ll ever install the roofs myself (although I have done so on several of my own & friends’ homes), so the label “roofer” won’t really apply to me either.


I’m a contractor. I rarely swing a hammer these days… more $$ in selling the jobs than in putting them on.

The roof we did yesterday, I had two meetings with the customer, then my crew leader came out for an advance walkthrough because I had to convey some specific concerns prior to commencement because I wasn’t going to be available @ 7am on the day we kicked off.

Next up was making it to the site @ 1/4 through the tearoff after I did an early inspection & picked up some ordered metal panels. I did a pretty easy removal of some corrugated poly-carbonite type panels on a ‘boat shed’ the customer had built along a section of fence.

Whacked that out & got the crew leader over to the boat shed to explain what was happening with the flashing details.

Job complete, ‘specialty’ area properly addressed, customer satisfied, check collected.

My total time onsite to do physical labor was less than 1-1/2 hour… but I was involved in the job pretty much from start to finish. (49 sq on, 6:12, no valleys, gable, Timberline 30 HD in Hickory).

How long were you an adjuster Charlie?
Reading between the lines here, it seems to me that you have never met an honest AND prosperous person in your roofing, storm chasing travels. Would I be correct, or am I assuming too much?

Idiot Savant- I was an adjuster for about 16 years. I did not intend to imply that I didn’t meet any honest and prosperous roofing salespeople, but they did seem to be the exception.
But my general impression, on average, was that for the “typical” roofing salesperson, every unusual mark on a roof was hail damage, and they all claimed to get beaten out of money in the end by the adjuster, the homeowner, and their own employer.
It seemed to me to be a tougher business for the younger reps- maybe they were easier to take advantage of.
The point is, I’m wondering if anybody with experience can give me advice on finding the right roofing company, and on avoiding these sorts of problems that seem to have become somewhat prevalent in the roofing industry.

I have banged shingles on for the last 35 + years
and I had the opportunity to move into the management
side this past summer… sales/ field supervisor/
babysitter/gopher and every time I climb a roof I look at from my roofer point of view rather than
a sales point of view. My town has seen countless
hail stroms so I do know what hail damage looks
like and what it does to roofs, as oppossed to
roofs having scuff marks or scaring done during
installtion by the roofers or other trades.
If my body would let me I would much rather be
shingling than selling… alot less stress and B.S.

Sorry for venting. :roll:


welcome to a new kind of hell

When U used to shingle didn’t U think “them salesmen got it made”

when I worked for the big box store,
as a subcontractor, labor only, I thought
that the salesman had it made because he did…
for 30 years, with the help of in-store financing,
they couldn’t have had it any easier…
I’m sure that anyone out here reading this that was a
salesman will disagree, because salesman turnover was
instigated by corporate poliucy about extras, missed measurements, chargebacks etc, directly charged against their commission at retail. But ask the sales managers, the ones who reap the rewards of the overall
scum sucking system that they profited from exploiting, and they do have it good. But all that has changed,
pricing is now more competitive, quality is expected, not hoped for, the sales pool is overflowing with over-educated, unemployed software developers and well experienced semi-retired tradesmen that know that quality and honesty are the key to success. The new management regime in the big box stores know this. Outside contractors with a well justified attitude about the former system
need to let that go, and open their eyes. the
“we do it for you” market, catering to the dual income family with very little time to shop around, and lured in by the easy starting finance programs from the big box stores are here to stay.
From the beginning…say 1995…sales were great, but quality installers were hard to find…so quality lagged, but profit was there, and service
was mandated by popular demand, and compensated for with these profits, , especially from state level and federal consumer affair agencies. Now their slate is clean, their tarnished reputation re-polished, and business couldn’t be better.
They’re not complaining…they are maxed out…and they are laughing at the rest of the industry as we
fight for table scraps. But we have a choice…we can sit at the big table again, we don’t even have to say were sorry for the weekly payday hissy fits with the revolving door of production managers and payroll people that was a predictable end of job
luxury that I’m sure all installers are shaking their head saying…“yes sir, aint that the truth”.

I hate to say it but, does it make sense to be out there beating yourself up trying to compete with a bunch of “lesser qualified” contractors, when you could be making more money working in the system than fighting it?. Every one here agrees that they were / are happier on the roof than on the clipboard, so how can this be wrong. I think that this economy has somehow made "being one of the H%me d#pot contractors " a good thing. They’re NOT going away and as they educate and develope more qualified installers, they will grow even larger. Why fight it?

OK…let the bashing begin!!

If any of you think that any level of sales is ‘easy’ (whether manager of any type or directly in front of the customer), then IMO you’re incorrect.

Unless you somehow manage to make a one time sell on a product that will net you thousands (or more) in repeat business without any additional effort, then every close is a new project.

Even for a sales manager, you are still trying to find, develop, retain & re-train your sales force. There is no such thing as a sure thing.

Obviously, one side needs the other & there has to be mutual respect between labor & sales… however that doesn’t mean that misunderstandings don’t occur.

If labor doesn’t install it, then what did you sell?
If sales doesn’t sell it, then you don’t have work to do.

Marshall Exteriors-
“welcome to a new kind of hell”?
Could you elaborate?
I always thought adjusting claims was hell. I never imagined roofing sales could be worse. Could it?

Charlie, I think what he means is that sales in general is it’s own personal kind of fiend.

Some people seem to think that sales is easy, but it’s not.

In a related cross discussion, the people who are constantly coming in as the low bid & advertise / push themselves as the low cost alternative (as well as always give away deductibles or hundreds of dollars in ca$h equivalents) are the ones who can’t sell.

A good salesperson will get a quality product on the roof & the right dollars to match it. Good work & good products don’t come cheap.

I got to agree w/ you Ranch Hand

Depends on how you like to punish yourself
Labor= physical abuse
Sales= mental abuse

To anyone currently on the labor side who begrudges the higher dollars that can come from sales, I always tell them “If you think it’s so easy, then give it a shot.”

The standard responses are not unlike a smoker who tells you they can quit anytime the want to (but chose to stay on their own side of the fence 'cause they just know they’ll like it better this way).

I do think that you should have a decent background in the application & installation or you’ll never have a good understanding of what it actually takes* to put on a quality product & do it the right way.*

When U used to shingle didn’t U think “them salesmen got it made”[/quote]

It wasn’t so much that I thought they had it made…
well that too, but I think it was more of what in
the hell were they thinking. You want me to put a
fifty year shingle on and you want me to reuse
20 year old flashing because insurance is not going
to pay for new. :evil: Sorry but it’s my rear on
the line and my name besides the companys on that
roof. It’s not the right way.
I always had more respect for a salesman that had
experence in shingling… and I mean more than
roofing a doghouse or grandmas house than I than
I did from some prepie boy out of college that
don’t know what a hard day of work is.

Ranch hand hit the nail on the head!! :smiley:

I know nothing about it.

I agree with you guys. I always find a salesman to be better if they spent years on the roof and are actually good with people. People also like to know that they are talking to a person who has actually done it and that makes you more able to clearly communicate what has to be done.

The way I see it is that anyone can be a salesman if all youre doing is selling a price. We hired a salesman who sold 20 plus jobs in two weeks, as soon as he started he told me I need to lower prices in order for him to sell. I told him no. We sell quality not price. He didnt sell one job in a whole month. He quit because he could not sell quality. It takes a true salesman to sell quality materials at a quality price.

In otherwords, Ranchhand hit it right on the head.