Architects can be frustrating to call on. You invest time to get a meeting and perhaps do an educational session. If you are successful you get your product specified. And then you have to defend your spec.
If you are going to invest the time to call on architects, then perhaps these tips can help you be more successful. If you’re experienced in calling on architects then you probably already know most of this.
The building that the architect is creating may have certain products in mind, or it may be more open-ended. With so much information out there, some of it contradictory or based in opinion rather than fact, it’s hardly an architect’s fault that he can’t research and decide on a specific product for every part of his design.
It’s very important to convert an architect to your brand or product, since they will often fall back on their favorite products rather than do the laborious research to find the perfect product. If you become the architect’s preferred product, then you have an advantage, though you should still follow the project or risk having your specification switched to a competitor.
8 Tips for Selling to Architects
1) Don’t oversell. The architect has a lot of decisions to make and a lot of people to coordinate. If every company tries a hard sell of their product, the architect may start to feel like he’s dealing with a used car salesman.
2) Remember the needs of the customer. Architects tend to care about how the product will fit into their designs. They care less about the reputation of the company or about an entire range of products.
3) Specifications. After the architect decides on what products to use, he has to specify it. If the product information is not clear, concise, and up-to-date, the architect has every right to hold that against you, because you are making his job harder.
4) Listen to what the customer is saying. Because architects are most interested in how to apply products to their own designs, what they’re looking for is not a one-size fits all overview of the company, the products offered, the sales history, or a general rundown of the product. Architects need to know whether your product is a good fit for their project.
5) Everyone makes decisions based on different factors. If an architect is focused on finding a product that solves a particular issue, focus on how your product can do that.
6) Make sure your guide specification is comprehensible to the architect and contains all of the information he needs. Chances are that when an architect only specifies one product, it may be substituted for, so make sure that specifications reflect the competitive differences between products. Architects will be grateful for your industry knowledge, not just ham-handed promotion of your own product.
7) Don’t bash the competition. It’s never an attractive sales strategy, and it could hurt you in this case. Having a selection of products with the benefits and downsides of each allows for wise decisions to be made, not uninformed substitutions or enforced (and subsequently unhappy) buying of your product.
8) And, finally make sure to discuss any installation details or issues that are important to the performance of your product.
To sell to an architect, you must concentrate on helping him do his job. Wasting time and money is never a good way to impress someone. If an architect likes your company and your products, he will likely be able to include you on many specs. The primary motivation of the architect is his reputation: the architect needs to design a building that does what it’s supposed to, and does it well. If your product helps him accomplish that goal, then that’s a win for you.