Selling Architectural Construction Products – Be the Best You Can Be
Selling architectural construction products is a business to business (B2B) type of selling, not retail selling. Although some of the principles of business to business (B2B) are similar to retail selling, most are very different.
Principles common to both B2B and retail selling:
- Satisfying your customers’ needs
- Treating your customers with respect
- Knowing your products’ features and benefits
- Being a good listener
- Following corporate guidelines
- A sales rep must be a consultant and problem solver. More than being knowledgeable about your products is required. You must listen to customers’ needs then show how your products and services satisfy those needs.
- The sales cycle is often longer than retail. Many sales take weeks, months, or even years to close.
- More customer contacts are required to close a sale. Attempting to close a sale during an initial call on a customer normally will not happen. It is generally understood that five or more contacts are required.
- Strong personal relationships are not just important; they are a critical key to success. Entertain customers to foster these relationships. With our interconnected world today, your reputation for honesty and integrity proceeds you. Opportunities to stretch the truth and other sales shortcuts are always tempting to use to build relationships and close sales, but never, never, never compromise your integrity!
- Develop close working relationships with inside sales personal and other key people with the manufacturers you represent.It takes a team, including the salesperson as well as others in the organization, to become a preferred vendor with a business customer.
- Following up actions and promises is more critical. A sale does not end with a purchase order. Continuous effort by the entire team until a product is delivered to the customer is required.
- Be an expert in your product or service. Be fully knowledgeable, so you can clearly and succinctly explain both the features and benefits of your products.
- Know the basic features and benefits and the strengths and weaknesses of your competition. Your customer expects you to be able to compare your product to competition, so he can understand why your product and services best satisfy his needs.
Selling Architectural Construction Products
In addition to following the differentiators of B2B selling, to be the best you can be in selling architectural construction products requires understanding and implementing principles specific to the construction industry.
- From the time a call is made on an A/E (architect or engineer) to discuss the application of a product on a specific project through the order from your end customer might take up to a year, or possibly even longer. Your product first must be specified; the project must go out to bid; a builder/subcontractor must be selected; and finally, an order is received. The sales process is very different than “route selling,” where the salesperson follows the same route and routine on a weekly or monthly basis.
- To maximize orders and to make closing orders with your end customer easiest and efficient, assisting the A/E to develop well-written building project specifications is very important. Having your product listed in specifications as the basis of design is the optimum goal.
- To be the best you can be, you must develop relationships and confidence with multiple players. These players include A/E’s, general contractors, subcontractors, and building owners as well as the inside sales and other key personnel at the manufacturers you represent.
- To develop and nurture relationships, some type of CRM (customer relations management) system that is appropriate for you and your principals is necessary. To be the best you can be, you must carefully record and track sales calls, not only recording events related to sales, but also personal information.
- You must be a good listener. To be the best you can be, become known to all your players as a consultant who can satisfy needs and solve problems. This requires listening carefully to whom you are speaking. It is a natural tendency to think of what you are going to say next and start talking too soon. Avoid this tendency! Sixty percent of your time in a sales opportunity should be listening; only forty percent of the time should be talking.
- To be the best you can be, you must be an outstanding manager of time. Organize your time daily, monthly, and yearly. This is most critical if you cover a large geographic territory. Optimize the time you are in front of decision makers and with customers to close sales. Use downtime between sales and in the office wisely. Focus your efforts on developing sales opportunities and closing sales.
- Selling any product or service is a challenging business. Because of the long lead times that are part of the selling cycle of architectural construction products, it is easy to become frustrated at the lack of progress and think about giving up on the selling process. Resist this. Never give up!
- The sale is not complete when you have received a purchase order. Customers need to be appraised of any changes to the production and delivery schedule. Check with your customer for any service required after delivery of your product. Keep on top of your most important sales projects. Pay close attention to key customers.
- Be positive and optimistic. Rejection is a part of the process. Learn from rejection and negative outcomes. Turn rejections into opportunities for personal and professional growth.
To be the best you can be in selling architectural construction products, commit to the principles outlined above, practice your trade, fulfill your promises, have fun, and find joy and a reason to be proud of what you are doing each and every day.
If you have any questions about being the best you can be in your role as a sales rep for architectural construction products, contact Scott Lau today.