Strong Personal Relationships Are Key to Closing More Architectural Sales – part 2

Last month the blog discussed the importance of developing strong personal relationships with both architects/engineers (A/E) and buying customers.  This month the blog suggests specific actions that architectural sales representatives (ASR) can take to develop and strengthen these critical relationships. With the client architect/engineer: Become a valued product consultant.  The A/E is seeking honest, technically-correct information to determine if a particular product meets the design parameters of a specific project.  No one product can meet the needs of all projects. If a product does not meet the needs of a particular project and the ASR can suggest an alternative, equal product with which he is familiar, this assists the architect and strengthens the ASR’s reputation as a valuable consultant. The ASR must be technically knowledgeable about his product your products.  On each project, the ASR must gain a clear understanding of the specific design requirements.  Clearly explain the features and benefits of the product.  Be prepared to provide an honest comparison with competitive products, if asked.  Offer to help with construction details and to assist in writing the specifications. If a design question is asked that cannot be answered directly, consult the manufacturer and provide the answer in a timely manner. If the A/E asks for help in writing a specification, determine what type of specification is required. Does the A/E want a proprietary, performance driven, or non-proprietary specification?  If a performance or non-proprietary specification is required, the architect’s client probably expects a reasonable degree of competition, so the ASR should only include product requirements that can reasonably be met by at least two other manufacturers. Offer names of two other manufactures that will provide fair competition. If a proprietary specification is needed, one tightly written around the ASR’s manufacturer is appropriate. When product problems arise on an A/E’s project site, assist in solving them as quickly as possible.  Offer honest opinions and recommendations even if they may not be what the A/E wants to hear.  Commercial buildings are complicated structures; they can present difficult challenges during construction. Follow up with the manufacturer and/or installing contractor until the problem is completely resolved. An hour outside the office environment to talk about family and life creates a stronger bond and growing level of personal trust.  This level of trust is very important if an A/E intends to use an ASR’s product as a standard of design or in a proprietary specification.  A/E’s are very busy and normally under tight schedules to meet design deadlines, but take every opportunity to take them for lunch or for any other type of suitable entertainment. Become an active member of CSI (Construction Specifications Institute).  Obtain a CDT (Construction Documents Technologist) certificate and the CCPR...

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