When not selling can create a sale

When not selling can create a sale

If a product manufacturer wants an architect to specify their products, they should not sell to them. Chris Ashworth explains why this counter-intuitive process works.

Whenever we research architects’ opinions their feedback is always, “I don’t want to hear from a salesman, I want a technical expert”. Let me explain why.

Designing a building is an important process and with the introduction of the Building Safety Bill and appointment of the Building Safety Regulator the pressure is even greater to ensure the right products are selected. Sales people have a reputation for saying what they think will secure the sale, not what is right for the situation. For this reason, specifiers – mostly architects and engineers – look to companies and individual advisors they can trust. They want to feel that if a supplier does not have the right product for the application they will tell them.

Secondly, the architect and engineer tend to have an indirect personality profile. They want to avoid confrontation, see evidence to support arguments and be won over. That means they do not respond well to a direct sales approach.

What is required is the soft sell. Presenting evidence to support the use of your solution in a non-threatening way. And the technical CPD is the ideal way to do this. Unfortunately, when creating a CPD, many companies take their sales literature and present it as a seminar. I see it all the time when training sales teams or reviewing clients’ CPD content. This has become a hard sell and is just not effective.

While specifiers do want to understand how products work, there are better ways to do it than running through your product range. They also want to learn about how to use products within the context of regulations and the building system. So, think about it from their perspective. What are the factors they have to take into consideration and the pitfalls to be wary of? Then while explaining these you can introduce your own products to support your points. Creating a CPD seminar is a skilled process, blending product information, legislation and aesthetics into a format which is interesting and entertaining while also delivering a soft sell. In addition, if it is to be accredited, it must also meet the assessor’s requirements.

Then there is the issue of who presents the seminar. Whatever their job title, the presenter must be a technical expert capable of going beyond reading the script and able to answer questions and explain concepts. It is the job of the sales person to build relationships and I would argue that they should be presenting the seminar. But only if they have the technical competence to do so. This needs to be combined with the soft sales skills that those in the manufacturer’s technical department often lack. And of course, the seminar needs to be well presented, requiring skills for a face-to-face presentation that are different to the increasingly popular live interactive video presentation.

CPD can be an effective means of establishing your company as the Trusted Advisor, building lasting relationships with specifiers and introducing your products into specifications. But only if done correctly. This requires planning, good authorship and effective delivery.

Further Information

Chris Ashworth is founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in helping building product manufacturers to be more effective at getting their products selected. Services include bespoke market research, learning and development programmes a range of sales and marketing tools and consultancy to help implement change.

Competitive Advantage run an online CPD Mastery Programme, a step-by-step series of modules delivered over 8 weeks, designed to walk you through the process, ensuring quality CPD is developed and delivered cost effectively.

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