How to ease the user journey from enquiry to specification

How to ease the user journey from enquiry to specification

Chris Ashworth, of Competitive Advantage considers how building product manufacturers can make it easy for the architect and engineer to specify.

In her article on sales and marketing working together to influence specification, my colleague Julie Mould highlighted some key points:

• It is important to get the timing right
• Regular communication through the correct channels is important
• Both your company and its individual employees need to be viewed as Trusted Advisors

In this article I want to view the process of selecting and specifying products from the architect or engineer’s perspective, suggesting how you can make it easy for them to do their job and in the process improve the chances of product specification.

Various research has shown how short of time the designer is and as a consequence they often revert to what they have used before and a ‘cut & paste’ approach. If they do change a specification it will be because there is some new legislation or a demand from a client for perhaps greater sustainability or to improve health & wellbeing for the building’s occupants. The designer than needs to seek out new information. They will not want to undertake a comprehensive search – they just don’t have the time.

Instead, they will turn to a trusted source. Our research for the Construction Media Index has found that the most trusted sources for architects are CPD seminars followed by the publications they regularly read and then exhibitions and conferences. So, plan to have a presence with these platforms;

• Deliver informative CPD seminars explaining the issues and suggesting solutions
• Regularly publish technical articles presenting and explaining the factors they need to consider
• If appropriate, have a presence at key exhibitions, conferences and seminars

Any engagement needs to be presented in a relatively impartial manner, positioning your organisation as an authority on the subject and hence a Trusted Advisor. If the specifier has a trusted source of advice, they will turn to it. It saves them time and they have confidence in the information they receive.

The big challenge for the architect and engineering is that they are time poor. They may like your people and your company’s products, but they need to solve today’s challenge, they do not have time to engage with you unnecessarily. That means emails and unsolicited telephone calls are, at best, an irritant and unlikely to deliver results.

Our recent Construction Media Index research confirmed that the preferred source of product information and ideas for architects is manufacturer websites and online searches. That means your website must be maximised for SEO by including plenty of useful technical information and articles which incorporate the key phrases for your products. It must also be easy to use for the architects so they can quickly find what they need.

But it also means that you need to be maximising your chances by having a presence with other online references sources such as Barbour Product Search who put a lot of effort into maximising their SEO as well as building trust with specifiers.

And if specifiers download data from your website or phone your help desk for clarification this also provides the opportunity for a more detailed engagement, but please research the practice first – know what projects they are currently working on, past projects that have used your products and who in the practice specified. If you have taken the time to research them and understand their needs, they may be more inclined to give you some of their valuable time.

If you want to be more proactive, I’d suggest a key account approach. Use a market intelligence system like Barbour ABI to identify the specifiers and decision makers working on the project you have most success with. Then define individual development programmes tailored to achieve engagement with each practice with the aim of your organisation becoming the Trusted Advisor. It will take time and effort but is more effective than mass mailing everyone in the market with your sales pitch.

Learning Events

Two Autumn events which can help inspire your approach to engagement with specifiers are a CIMCIG seminar Changing Communicators in October and a Competitive Advantage course, Communicating with Specifiers in November.

Further Information

Competitive Advantage Consultancy specialises in helping building product manufacturers to be more effective at getting their products selected. Offering more than construction market research, we can work with you to inform and develop your strategy, with a range of sales and marketing tools all designed to help you effectively influence construction product selection.

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