We’ve been running a popular series of blogs about different roles in the HVAC industry, and here we take a look at the specification sales engineer. For details of other jobs, see the links at the bottom of the page.
Specification selling is a specialist form of sales which is more akin to consultancy and focuses on the selection of products required for a particular project. It aims to influence the buying decision by shifting the focus away from cost and instead considering factors around quality such as lifetime operating costs, durability, sustainability, fulfilling building regulations, and providing information on installation and use.
Specification selling is becoming increasingly important in the HVAC industry as it gives manufacturers more control over their products, and enables promotion of a product for its long-term value rather than just purchase price.
A specification sales engineer’s role is to build demand for their product by promoting awareness of its long-term benefits. They create loyalty to their products through strong, trusted relationships with clients based on their technical expertise and product knowledge. They can also be instrumental in product development, driving specifications, and increasing sales and market share.
A specification sales engineer will be working on multiple projects at different stages, all at the same time. Their role will therefore involve organising, managing and undertaking a range of tasks, including selecting products, providing a more detailed consultation, talking to architects or contractors, and being on-hand during installation.
The specifier on a project can be a main or sub-contractor, architect, engineer or consultant but there is more likely to be a team of people, usually from different organisations, who will influence the buying decision. So a key task is negotiating with them, and managing their needs and expectations. A range of information may need to be provided, including CAD or BIM drawings, technical reports, information on regulations, details of tests and certifications, installation guidelines, pricing and availability.
Strong client relationships are vital, so a specification sales engineer will also devote time to developing and maintaining these, as well as generating and pursuing new leads.
Writing and maintaining accurate records and documents is also a regular part of the role. These may include target records and sales reports, customer and project information, quotations, and growth areas.
The role also requires attendance, both in the UK and abroad, at sales and planning meetings, presentations, seminars, site meetings, and industry exhibitions.
Qualifications and Experience
Specification sales engineers have an HND, HNC, BTEC or equivalent degree qualification in the mechanical engineering or building services field. They have previously worked in sales and account management, ideally selling solutions as well as just equipment. They have an understanding and experience of HVAC systems, controls and design. Practical experience in the field is also an advantage.
Skills and attributes
Specification sales rely on strong, trusted and long-term business relationships, so a gift for generating, developing and maintaining these is vital. Also key to a lasting client relationship is being confident and knowledgeable, acting with honesty and integrity, and adhering to both company and industry ethics.
Excellent communication skills, including speaking, writing and listening, are vital to the role. Specification sales engineers need to be able to inspire and manage the specifiers on a project, as well as establishing their requirements and providing solutions. They will also be happy to work with colleagues to ensure their client is given all the information they need.
They will have an excellent knowledge of their products, and be familiar with the latest changes to standards and regulations. They must be able to provide any technical information, advice, and supporting evidence required, and be able to explain this clearly and concisely in appropriate levels of detail. They will have an in-depth knowledge of the market, their company’s products and their application, and be able to relate this to health and safety standards, environmental considerations, and quality requirements. They will also be aware of their competitors and competing products, and be able to identify needs in the market and forecast demand.
A specification sales engineer will need adapt to changing requirements throughout the cycle of a project, allowing bespoke solutions to be offered or problems solved. Being forward thinking and innovative, and having a strong analytical mind are great assets in this respect.
As with all sales roles, a specification sales engineer needs to be results-focused, driven, dynamic and tenacious. They should be able to work well under pressure and have tenacity, great negotiation techniques and sound business judgement. The role is largely autonomous so they also need to be highly self-motivated.
Because they are working on multiple projects at the same time, specification sales engineers possess excellent time management and planning skills. They are also flexible about working hours, travel and being away from home.
A specification sales engineer can typically earn between £40,000 and £45,000 basic salary. In addition, they will receive a car, bonuses and other corporate benefits.
Working in specification sales requires a different approach and skillset to account sales, but it can be more exciting and rewarding, and it carries more responsibility.
The job offers greater variety and influence than a traditional sales role. It provides the opportunity to be seen as an expert with specialist technical knowledge, and to develop and promote products which make a difference to people and the environment. Specification sales engineers often go on to become technical directors, or even advisors within the industry.
As specification selling becomes more valued in the HVAC industry, more training and career development opportunities are becoming available.
Find out more
If there’s something you’d like to know about the role of an HVAC specification sales engineer that we haven’t covered here, we’d be happy to help further. Or we could point you in the direction of HVAC service engineer roles available right now. Call us on 0115 8714 777.