Why Do They Specify My Product?
Seems like a foolish question. It’s really obvious why a customer or client specifies your product, or is it?
Its really incredible how many manufacturers really don’t understand why an architect actually selects their product or system for their project!
This topic applies to virtually any type of product, in any industry, but let’s focus on the interior construction industry. Particularly the design phase of a project.
During the design phase of a project there are generally three issues important to the designer in selecting a product. Appearance, function and budget. It is critical that the product manufacturer understand what will drive the selection of their product. What is most important? Is it appearance? Function? Budget? Or a combination of all three? Does the design professional really care about the performance of the product or only the appearance?
Is the function of the product dictated by the designer or one of their consultants and only begrudgingly included in the design of the project? Or, is budget really the most important issue?
The answers to these questions will directly affect the success of selling your product for the project.
Sales presentations to design architects are most successful if directed toward a particular project. They are generally limited to one hour, or less. You have a relatively short period of time to capture the imagination of the audience. To stimulate their creative talents, and to ultimately convince them that your product is vital to the successful completion of their project.
So much to accomplish and so little time. What will really catch the attention of the designer and specifier? That is the most important question of all. Why will this client specify your product?
It is a virtual certainty, in selling your product to a design professional, that charts, data and technical studies will not catch their attention. Technical information is critical, very critical, but not usually at the design selection phase.
Lengthy technical discussions will probably put your audience to sleep!
Understanding that the design professional is visually oriented, and positively impacted by hand samples is also critical. Design professionals are people, and people want to speak with people. Don’t spend your valuable time with a design professional with their eyes glued to a screen! Be prepared to interact with them, person to person! Create conversation, encourage verbal interaction with your audience, get them involved! Be flexible. Change your approach with the flow of the conversation.
The most successful presentations must include a large variety of samples. Designers want to see, touch and feel the products. Colors, textures, different shapes and sizes! Lots of samples! Items to pass between those in attendance. Get them thinking and talking about your product, and how it will enhance their design!
Lots of photographs of projects, there cannot be too many photographs! Designers want to see how others have used your products; it really helps them imagine how your product will enhance their project. Local photographs are very important, but quantity and variety have an incredibly positive impact on your presentation. If presenting and interior product, have interior photographs!
Technical information is very important, after your product has been selected by the designer. Technical information very rarely is the determining factor in the selection of the product during the design phase of a project.
We should all benefit from our experience with consumer oriented products. Consumer oriented advertising and sales presentations are visual, emotional, colorful, and even exciting. Why should our industry be any different? It’s often the same audience!
If you have the opportunity to engage a captive design audience for an hour, use your time wisely! Be prepared. Know your customer. Be familiar with their work. Refer to their designs and discuss how your product will enhance their design. Be familiar with costs; be prepared to discuss a range of options.
Assure them that complete technical backup is available for their team, at the appropriate time.
Be prepared to leave exiting, well packaged samples, literature and photographs at the conclusion of the meeting. Be sure to leave contact information. If you will be traveling, give them a contact individual who can be reached in a reasonable length of time. Be sure to send them all requested information in a timely fashion.
Why does a client specify your product? Probably due to a positive emotional reaction to your presentation!
Keep it fast, colorful, exciting and applicable to their project. You will be very pleased with the results!
William L. Shannon CSI, CISCA
President of Shannon Corporation
Recipient of the 2004 De Gelleke Award