Working with architects takes time, effort and patience – and of course a quality product that delivers what it promises. When you can offer all of these, you can stop chasing Dodge report opportunities and really put yourself in front of the architectural marketplace.
Selling to architects is challenging. It can take several years to gain an actual sale from your efforts. Also, for all their creativity, many architects are not very open to changing the products they use for fear of problems with delivery, installation and customer service. Architects are more comfortable with current products and knowing what the potential problem may be. Your job – help them overcome that fear so they feel confident using your product.
Think Like a Specialist
Instead of having a commodity mindset, which devalues your product and lowers your margins, you should think like a specialist. Identify the type of buildings where your product adds the most value or has a competitive advantage.
Identify firms that are known for using your product in everything they design. For example, a glass manufacturer could identify firms known for using large amounts of glass in their buildings.
Next, identify the architectural firms that are recognized as the leaders in designing the types of building you are targeting. Specialized architects closely follow their targeted industries, reading trade magazines and attending industry trade shows and conferences. You can more effectively reach the architect through these avenues than through general architect publications and events.
Help Architects Help Themselves
Architects need hours of continuing education to keep their licenses. You can develop presentations for qualified educational credits, but they cannot be commercials for you. They need to help architects make more informed decisions about building components and systems and should focus on your product category or building code changes.
Know Your Audience
Architectural firms have two types of people. The visionary architect, who designs the structure and usually gets the glory, is very interested in aesthetics and form – the things that get noticed. The engineer, who actually specifies the products and completes the blueprints, is the person you meet with to explain the benefits of your product.
Architects must make tradeoffs to meet a budget. If they want an expensive lobby as a statement, they find the money somewhere else – maybe even your product category.
Many architectural firms are becoming global and winning commissions all over the world. If you have international distribution, or can reliably get them your product, be sure to let them know.
Beyond the Architectural Firm
Another type of architect is the in-house architect. Employed by large property owners or tenants, such as big box retailers, they have some aesthetic responsibilities, but mainly focus on performance-oriented issues such as energy efficiency. This can add up to a large volume of continuing revenue. Imagine the in-house architect for McDonalds specifying that your product will be used in all of their locations.
Unless your product is designed for high-end residential homes and you aren’t looking for a large volume, I would call directly on residential builders instead of residential architects.
Another person to consider is the contractor. If your product requires any change in installation processes, make sure the contractor is on board and knows how to properly install your product. All your hard-earned efforts can easily be undone by an uncooperative contractor.
Introducing your quality product to the right architects can be time well spent, helping you build new opportunities for your company.
Thanks for the following comments. I’d like to hear your feedback and suggestions on how to sell architects.
“I prefer educating architects. Architects generally do not like to be “sold” as they dash from sales people with delight. However, if you can educate them on product benefits, life cycle costs and sustainable features you can usually garner their attention and earn specifications.”
Winsupply of Cleveland