Talk to people about specification selling and they immediately think of employing salesmen and sending them out to visit architects, engineers and the other influencers. This is an expensive process. In a recent LinkedIn item Paul Scott said the cost of a salesman is £260/day. That is just salary, add in support costs such as car, phone and PC it is probably double that amount.
I’m not suggesting a salesman is unnecessary, far from it they have an important role to play. But with the information resources and social networks available today a lot of prequalification and development can be done in advance so that salesmen only receive Hot Leads.
Most companies approach specification selling on a project basis. A project is announced by Glenigan or Barbour ABI and they contact the specifier. That means that potentially some poor unfortunate is going to have more than 1,000 people try to contact them! Is it any wonder architects employ gatekeepers to deflect all of these enquiries? Any communication is lost in a sea of similar letters, emails and phone calls. To be successful a different approach is needed.
I recommend the following approach:
- Review the market to identify the top players in your target sectors. It’s likely that the pareto principal will apply, with a small percentage of companies responsible for a large value of projects. Analysis of project activity will identify the top clients, architects and contractors that you should be contacting.
- Review the list, you will probably have existing relationships with some of these companies. These are targets for further development. Use established contacts to build your network within the organisation.
- Next you need to research the companies you don’t know to identify who the key decision makers are. There will be contact names in the project database, but not necessarily the right ones. Using a professional telemarketing company to qualify is worthwhile, and far more cost effective than expecting the external sales team to do this.
- Start listening! Think about the types of LinkedIn groups, search Twitter for whom to follow and use Google Alert to pick up conversations. Try to build an online network to which you can contribute advice. This is not about selling, it’s about becoming a trusted advisor and building a network of contacts.
- Then apply a communications strategy. Blogs on technical articles will build a following. Some direct marketing can be used, but don’t expect much response. Invitations to seminars and offers of CPD are likely to be most productive.
If you build relationships in this way you will know the main players and when they do have a project they may contact you, or at least be more receptive to an approach allowing your sales team to focus on the Hot Leads.
You can read more on our website:
Or view the white paper by Su Butcher:
View the presentation given by Chris Ashworth and Su Butcher at the recent AIS Conference called Using Social Media