November 2005 Newsletter
This is the fourth part of our series on Marketing in the Future to architects, engineers and specifiers.
How can your reps be better known and trusted? Your goal is for your local rep to be called when there is a project involving your products - especially when there are questions about the use of your products on the specific project.
It is important to get your rep in front of architects and specifiers when they are making design decisions. Lunch talks are only part of a solution. Lunch talks are not typically scheduled when the product decisions are being made and some firms schedule lunch presentations several months in advance and limit topics.
Being proactive is best. If your rep is known to the specifier and architect as a reliable resource, he (or she) is more likely to be called rather than your competitor's rep. Typically the specifier is the only person in the firm working on every project in the office. The specifier is frequently the person most familiar with products and is asked to identify potential products for specific projects.
Following are several suggestions for building relationships with specifiers:
Studying for the CDT certificate is important step to understanding construction documents. Passing the exam is a sign to design professionals that you and your rep are serious. The CDT program focuses on the construction documents used by the architect, owner and contractor. Understanding construction documents will help in getting your products specified. Besides local chapter education programs, CSI and AECDaily are sponsoring online courses covering the materials in the CDT program:
[link no longer available]
Participate locally. Valuable steps are for your rep to attend meetings, get the CSI CDT certification and then the CCPR certification, be active on local chapter committees and then the chapter board. One of the most strategic actions you can take is to encourage - maybe even require - your reps to be active in CSI chapters in their territory. Encourage your existing reps to participate, and pay their expenses. Set forth these expectations when hiring new reps - be they factory or independent reps.
One specifier who runs a 9-man specification firm recently confirmed to me that the best way to get to know him was at his local CSI chapter meetings, or drive 2 hours to his home office. When I was a rep, frequently a specifier would ask me at chapter dinner meeting to give him a call to discuss a project question. It is far easier, and less frustrating, to say hello to specifiers at the meeting than to call to see if they would set up a meeting. They will let you know if they need your input.
Choose your tradeshows. Exhibit at the National CSI show - in Las Vegas in March 2006 - many specifiers attend here and not the AIA show. Exhibit at the local CSI chapter shows where the chapter has one. The attendance numbers may not seem great, but the impact of your rep supporting the chapter will be recognized by the local specifiers. Chapter and region shows are one more way to meet specifiers away from their office, and perhaps meet those specifiers who do not typically attend chapter meetings due to schedule conflicts or travel distances.
Sponsor SCIP events. SCIP (Specification Consultants in Independent Practice) is a member organization involving highly productive independent specifiers. According to our recent user survey, the average SCIP member oversaw the specs on 31 projects, totaling $308 million each specifier. SCIP just amended their bylaws to permit full time specifiers that are employees of architects to be members, so SCIP's impact will be even bigger. SCIP will be looking for sponsors of their events, often held in conjunction with CSI national and regional events. Supporting their events will get you in front of key specifiers.
Model these expectations from the top down - senior sales and marketing staff should be active, or at least attend, CSI chapter and region meetings. Know when the major chapter meetings are held. Schedule your trips to be in town during these meetings. This will set the tone for your reps. You and your senior staff can ask questions and learn better how to get your products specified directly from the specifiers and architects. This is also a good way to identify independent reps in the territory as they frequently attend the chapter meetings.
Publisher - 4specs