If your product has genuine benefits, which can justify its selection over competitors, then you should probably be using specification sales to create demand. The alternative is to rely on low prices and/or good availability to win orders at the point of purchase. Here are 7 key stages to developing an effective specification strategy:

What are those benefits?

Be clear on what it is about your product that is different from the competition and can justify its selection. This need not be limited to the product itself, you can differentiate by providing services in the form of technical advice, site surveys or BIM content.

Which sectors are most suitable?

Select the sectors where the benefits you offer will be best received and focus on these. Also think about the type of contract where the specification is most likely to hold firm. For example premium products are more likely to be used when the project is Traditional as opposed to Design & Build.

Who are the decision makers?

Very often there are a group of decision makers. These can include some or all of the following; Clients, Architects, Interior Designers, Engineers. Identify the key players in your target sectors and focus on creating awareness of your product with them. Don’t forget Contractors they recommend products, will make selections for some contract types and also have the power to veto a product choice.

What are your decision makers’ attitudes?

You need to know why your products are selected and by who. It is also important to know what they think of your company and your competitors so that you can develop appropriate communications.

Create awareness

It is important that all of the decision makers are aware of your product and recognise its importance to the success of the overall design and operation of the project. Increasingly Clients are recognising that the cheapest solution at the time of construction may have long term operational cost implications. Develop arguments, using case studies and technical papers, to support the use of your products.

Engage with decision makers

Initially this will be arms length, using traditional forms of communication such as advertising and PR but social media has an increasing role to play in building positive perceptions about your company, brands and products. There will also be opportunities for face-to-face engagement with your sales team who need to become Trusted Advisors to the decision makers.

Sales Tools

These support your product and make meetings more memorable. They include the Technical CPD seminar, standard specifications, case studies, technical literature and samples

Putting in place a sales process

Finally you need a sales process which ensures your team is focused in the right areas, can share ideas, benchmark against each other, have clear targets and their performance is measured.

I have included links to some previous articles on some of the topics mentioned, but if you would like assistance in developing your strategy Competitive Advantage can help in a variety of ways, from workshops to help define actions, to implementing elements of a programme such as developing an effective CPD seminar or researching case studies as well as in-house specification sales training. For an overview of the process why not attend our open course which is next being run on 10th March 2015.


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