September 2005 Newsletter

Marketing and Sales to the Specifier in the Future - Part 2

In August the 4specs newsletter started a new series about looking to the future. The series will be about looking at how selling and marketing to architects and specifies will change and finding ways you can use this change in your sales and marketing.

The newsletters' series focus will be about "getting specified" over the next 5-10 years. Here is the first article:
http://www.4specs.com/s2a/news/0508_future.html

I just finished reading Thomas Friedman's latest book - "The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century." Based on his thoughts of Chinese and Indian penetration of telemarketing and back room support combined with the acceleration of change, I think the changes projected by William Draves in "Nine Shift" may happen faster and occur over the period 2000-2010 rather than the 20 year period projected by Draves.

Are you ready? The key question to ask is what is driving the changes in marketing and selling to architects and specifiers. I see the following driving forces:

More competitors in your product lines - more US, Canadian, and Mexican competitors, more US-subsidiaries of European companies and more imported products with some Chinese products making inroads into the traditional commercial construction markets.

Owners wanting lower environmental impact - Look at the rapid rise in importance of LEED, which is influencing the design of many public and major corporation buildings.

Owners want lower life cycle costs for their buildings, especially with the increase in energy costs.

Increased litigation and increased focus on accurate drawings and specifications.

Architects having less time to spend with product reps, and required to have more billable time. Have you ever wondered why your reps have problems visiting with architects and specifiers? In the 4specs discussion forum a recent discussion was about how much time architects and specifiers spend with product reps. One to two hours per week is typical. With only 4-8 product reps visiting each week at 15 minutes each - preferably with an appointment - it's no wonder your rep is having problems meeting with architects . One solution is "lunch and learns" at $250 for lunch for 10-5 users, and even these can be difficult to schedule. Design firms don't considering meeting with reps as billable time, and some have increased the percentage of billable hours required of their employees. Independent specifiers working from home are even more difficult to meet unless you know them.

Your overall company strategy needs to develop your company into the next Southwest Airlines or Dell Computer in your market. Different strategies work for different markets - you may need to be come the Dell computer (custom produced with just-in-time parts delivery and a 2 week order cycle) or the eMachines computer in your market (lower-cost, standard machines with no options that can be picked up at the local CompUSA store).

Your marketing strategy trend will continue to necessarily be a "get specified" strategy or accept the "get substituted" position. If you want to be specified, the specifiers need to know and trust your reps and your company, and that has gotten more difficult over the past 10 years.

Next month will look more at how to "get specified" in the future.

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Colin Gilboy
Publisher - 4specs
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