Blog for Building Materials Manufacturers

Unless You Sell Designer Eyewear, Stop Trying to Sell Architects

  |  Posted in Architects, Trade Shows

Unless You Sell Designer Eyewear, Stop Trying to Sell Architects

Once again at the AIA show I saw lots of architects, which means I also saw lots of designer eyewear.  What I didn’t see were a lot of architects visiting the building material exhibits on the show floor.  That’s because they spend most of their time in class.

Architects want to learn.  They don’t want to be sold.

If architects are there to learn and your booth traffic is low, then you have two choices.

1. Stop exhibiting at the AIA Show.

When you divide the number of leads you got by the cost of attending and exhibiting does the result seem like a worthwhile investment.  If you took that same amount of money and spent it differently would you get better results with architects?

2. Change your strategy from selling to teaching.

Yes the architects are looking for CEU credits but they are also looking to learn how to design and build better buildings.  They have problems that they want to learn how to solve, whether or not they get a CEU credit.

Too many building material manufacturers don’t take the time to consider the audience at the trade shows they attend.  They use the same booth with the same message at a show for architects or builders or contractors.  They take a one-size fits all approach, which reduces the effectiveness and their ROI.

You can be more successful selling building products to architects.

Rather than the old “Here’s my product and here’s why it’s great approach” why not show your expertise.  Try messages like:

“How to keep moisture out of a building” instead of  “The best moisture barrier”

“How to prevent heat gain” instead of “Energy saving glass”

“How to cut construction time” instead of “Our product installs faster”

“How to find the budget for the features you want” instead of  “Lower installed cost”

“How to get owners talking about you” instead of “Automated HVAC saves energy”

Architects don’t buy building materials. They solve problems.

For an architect the message on your booth should be more about, let us show you how to solve a problem and less about why our product is better.  As they are drawn into your booth and you help them solve a problem, your product will come up in the conversation as a good solution to their problem.

I’m not talking about replacing your CEU or Lunch and Learn programs.  I’m talking about making your booth into a five minute one on one educational class if you want to sell more building products to architects.

As the person or company who helped them solve a problem, the architect will be much more likely to contact you in the future.

So unless you are going to add a display of designer eyewear to your booth, I suggest you start teaching more and selling less.

What is the biggest challenge to your sales growth?

Contact me for a free 30-minute mini consultation about your sales challenge. We'll review your specific situation and I'll provide you with 2 or 3 strategies to help you solve your challenge. This call is all about you helping you solve your problem. I will not be selling you on why you should hire me.  You decide whether you'd like to learn more about working with us. Calls are available on a first-come-first-served basis, to request your free call contact me at 720-775-1184 or

About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.

  • Andy McIntyre

    Let me state first that I wholeheartedly agree that product manufacturers should not sell but educate first. That is the way I’ve always done business, and the only way to become a “trusted advisor” in your field. Also agree that manufacturer NEED to step up their booth game with educational content and interaction and use less “Widget” pics.

    However, I was reminded of the quote: “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear,” when I saw your statement “What I didn’t see were a lot of architects visiting the building material exhibits on the show floor.”

    After reviewing the course offerings in the various Education tracks where the architects spent “most of the their time in class” I was not shocked but again puzzled as to why there weren’t classes on how to actually design and detail a durable, high quality building, but rather more existential, philosophical discussions about design theory, evidenced based design, public health, …. (yawn)

    There were no “wall section details for moisture management”, or “proper acoustical sealing details” or “how to construct a water tight roof / wall interface” etc. These are often the solutions that manufacturers can provide to those who are willing to learn to do it right. And those solutions are often found in the booth, during discussion with building product professionals (who of course have been staffed appropriately at the booth…).

    But the architects pass right by the “unsexy” brick, steel, and drywall booths and head right for the high design, $50/sf interior finish goods booth because they “want to be inspired” (true quote) and not just learn about “boring steel studs” (true quote).

    So perhaps we can meet halfway, and agree that building product manufacturers need to step up their education game, and that architects need to be thirsty for education, not just from the keynote speakers, but also from the detail experts in the booths (who by the way paid for the event…)

    Andy McIntyre

    • Well said Andy

    • Andy

      Do you think the Construct CSI show is better for building material manufacturers?

  • This article isn’t a “Philosophy”. It is the truth. When I started making material that helped an architect do their job easier then I started showing up in Specifications.