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

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 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 (Certified Construction Product Representative) designation. These documents demonstrate an ASR has a thorough knowledge of how all the players in the construction industry work together. They also show an ASR understands the roles of the different members of the architectural team and that he understands how all the components of construction documents fit together. With the buying customer: Take time to understand your customer’s personality, needs, and wants. Every customer is unique. Learn what sports he follows and/or plays, who are the members of his family, etc. Pay particular attention to interests you have in common.  Incorporate this knowledge in...

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Strong Personal Relationships Are Key to Closing More Architectural Sales

Posted by on May 20, 2014 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Strong Personal Relationships Are Key to Closing More Architectural Sales

A strong personal relationship is one in which the customer fully trusts and likes the architectural sales representative (ASR), whether they are a direct hire employee or an independent manufacturers’ representative.  The customer is interested in a partnership that is equally valuable to him and to the manufacturer the ASR represents. For any product or group of products, the customer is willing to give most or all his business to that manufacturer. There is a perception today among many in the commercial architectural products market place that personal relationships in selling are less important today than in years past. Information is available to architects and other specifying influences on the web as well as through LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media.  Buying customers can place orders directly with manufactures. There is a wide spread feeling that most customers just buy on lowest price. However, personal relationships are as important in architectural sales today as they have ever been. In many ways, they are more important because of increased competition.  The old adage that people deal with and buy from people they trust and like is still a selling truth. What has changed is an architectural sales representative today must be more thorough and persistent to determine which architects write tight specifications for equal products and which end customers truly value personal relationships and will purchase the highest value products and services. Although price has a strong influence on any buying decision, a manufacturer’s product quality, warranties, customer service, after-sale service, and sales relationships are also critical elements in determining perceived value.   Perceived value is the balance between price and the benefits of a product.  Perceived value is truly the basis for most customer buying decisions. It is the architectural sales representative with his detailed technical product knowledge and strong personal relationships with both architects/engineers (A/E) and buying customers, who can clearly communicate product value that can optimize a manufacturer’s sales. How does an ASR determine if an A/E or buying customer considers a strong personal relationship important in making design or buying decisions?  They are interested in the total package of sales and services provided. This total package includes thorough company and product knowledge, support during and after the sale, the willingness and effort to exceed expectations, and, of course, the price. They understand the price may not be the lowest in the marketplace but trust it is competitive. They value honesty and integrity. They work toward a “win/win,” solution when a problem occurs. They express interest in becoming a strategic, valued partner. They are interested in the life of the ASR – including family information, business background, hobbies, etc. – and also want to share the same information about themselves. To build upon this relationship, they enjoy lunches, a factory visit, and other entertainment as time permits. They look for opportunities to see how an ASR acts outside the daily business environment.   This helps them develop a high level of trust in the ASR. They depend on the ASR to be a trusted consultant when they have specific product or general industry questions. The blog next month will explain how the architectural sales representative can develop and strengthen personal relationships with both architects/engineers and the buying customers who write the purchase orders. Image courtesy of watiporn #100223285 /...

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