In our field of business, the technique of specification sales is becoming increasingly important as the leading companies look to demonstrate the long-term value of a product.
The approach is all about creating awareness about the added-value benefits of a product by shifting the emphasis away from price alone to considering other important factors such as quality, sustainability, durability and lifetime operating costs.
Creating awareness in turn creates demand and this is essential in any successful business looking to generate sales. The seven key steps when it comes to implementing a winning specification sales strategy are:
Research and identify the key decision makers and explore what influences them to choose specific products. This means bespoke solutions can be offered and you can be clear about why your product is right for them and why they should choose it over the competition. And it’s not just about the product; it’s about the services and technical advice you are in a position to offer.
Specification sales rely on strong, trusted and long-term business relationships, so it’s vital to recognise the importance of nurturing and maintaining such relationships. 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. Only by building relationships can you truly understand what is most important to people. So, an important element of a winning specification sales strategy is developing relationships, negotiating, and managing customers’ needs and expectations. Essentially, engaging with a range of key professionals at all levels is key.
Understanding the market
Knowing the products inside out, understanding the latest changes to standards regulations, and being clued up on competitors and competing products is another important element in a great specification sales strategy. Because this type of selling does not depend purely on price alone, it’s vital that specification sales teams use their in-depth knowledge of the market to justify what makes the product stand out.
It’s important that clients recognise the value of the product in terms of meeting their needs and requirements. So, when it comes to specification sales, make certain you can give full details about why a particular product has been selected and why it’s right for the job. As we mentioned earlier, creating awareness in turn creates demand and is a key part of the process. Throughout the course of any project and depending on the specifications, more detailed information might need to be provided including CAD or BIM drawings, technical reports, information on regulations, details of tests and certifications, installation guidelines, pricing and availability. Supporting materials help the key decision makers to come to their conclusions and it’s important to have it all at your fingertips.
Delivering technical support
Providing reliable technical support, being flexible and adapting to any changing requirements that may occur is another key element of a winning specification sales strategy. Whether it’s face-to-face or online, position yourself as approachable and a ‘trusted adviser’. This will contribute to the overall success of the project from start to finish.
Evaluation & tools
Carrying out research and looking at how the sales strategy is working on a regular basis contributes to strengthening the technique and developing best practice. Developing sales tools, case studies and technical literature is useful when it comes to focusing on sales reports and setting clear benchmarks and targets for the future.
Developing the best specification sales team
Building up a highly-skilled team to focus purely on specification sales is vital to the success of your strategy. Throwing your account sales people into the role may not work as well as you think, as specification sales is more akin to consultancy and requires a different approach and skillset, as well as carrying more responsibility. Read our blog about the role of a specification sales engineer to find out more about the type of person you’ll need to find to if you want your strategy to work. Also as important as finding the right people for the job is training and development that you provide for them, giving them the tools they need to work to the best of their abilities.
Putting a winning specification sales strategy in place includes a variety of elements, from creating awareness and reducing the emphasis on price, to building stronger, lasting business relationships, improved customer satisfaction and increased demand. This approach ensures a focus on the right areas and successful communication. A highly skilled team of specification sales engineers act as ‘trusted advisers’ creating demand for the product through engagement with key decision makers at every stage of the project.
But, get it right, and a great specification sales strategy can reap huge rewards. There’s a reason why the industry is increasingly moving towards this type of selling, and it’s not just because it benefits customers by providing products that perfectly fit with their requirements. The reason is that it gives manufacturers more control over their products, and it also helps to build loyalty and trust with customers, meaning they’ll return again and again.