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The Benefits of Sales and Marketing to work together to influence specification

The Benefits of Sales and Marketing to work together to influence specification

Julie Mould, of Competitive Advantage considers the benefits of an integrated Marketing and Sales approach.

Sometimes I work with companies who are still very much traditional in their outlook. Marketing’s job is to write the brochures, adverts and PR and perhaps do some social media and the Sale Team’s job is to get appointments and close the deal. Whilst this statement oversimplifies the complexity of what each department’s role is, it does highlight that they are often disjointed and missing the associated benefits that an integrated approach would bring.

The process of product specification, depending on the product/service involved, often follows a complicated route. The nature of construction projects, being complex with long planning lead times, means that getting the timing right when approaching a specifier is an important influencing factor in securing a positive outcome.

So, while there is no denying that Sales own the contact if they have already met the specifier in question, there are a whole host of activities that Marketing can offer to support the ongoing relationship. Example activities include regular communications through e-newsletters, product updates and appropriate technical blogs promoted through the media channels identified as most used by that specifier. This ensures that the Company’s products are still at the forefront of a specifier’s mind when the next project comes along. The same is true to develop a cold lead into a warm one before handing over to Sales for the next steps. Possible approaches include monitoring inbound technical advice calls, the downloading of specifier focussed literature and requests for samples to name a few.

Having a clear understanding of the specification process and those people likely to influence the specification of your construction product (not always exclusively the architect) is key to getting the desired results. This needs to be viewed in the context of the RIBA plan of works. Then it is a matter of tracking progress of the project within your CRM system, feeding in intelligence using a project lead services like Barbour ABI supplemented with information gained from Marketing’s engagement combined with feedback from the Sales network of contacts. Doing this effectively can deliver real competitive advantage.

Sales is a finite, comparatively expensive resource in any organisation and it makes good commercial sense to use this resource wisely. By working with Marketing to track projects, key decision makers and inbound information requests allows formulation of an integrated outbound marcoms flow to the target specifiers. This series of marcomms messages can either be semi-automated or fully automated depending on the software available.

Timing is everything when talking to specifiers, and when they are undertaking research into your products (requesting samples, downloading technical information on websites, reading blogs etc) can indicate that their project has reached the ‘zone’ for your products. The time when they want to gather product and specification information and are receptive to a higher level of engagement.

This is often when they need help and advice on product technologies and are seeking someone to become their Trusted Advisor for the product they are focussing on. When this opportunity is identified it is the time to step up the engagement to a face-to-face level via Sales. Perhaps arranging a visit to run a CPD seminar, discuss the project in more detail, provide specifier focussed literature and even product specifications. Timing is key - too soon and they will be too busy to talk, too late and someone else’s product will already be in the specification.

So as we approach the time for budget planning, think about how you can use your marketing and sales resource to the maximum effect.

Learning Events

Two Autumn events which can help inspire your approach to integrated marketing strategies are a CIMCIG seminar Changing Communications in October and a Competitive Advantage course, at which Julie will be presenting, Communicating with Specifiers in November.

Further Info

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 effectivelyinfluence construction product selection.

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