Holding Spec During the Entire Project Life Cycle

Holding Spec During the Entire Project Life Cycle

By Scott Kay & Pete Wiezalis - May 3, 2016

In many industries, innovation and technological progress drive sales. In the building products industry, however, manufacturers of specifiable products know having a quality product with clear differentiators is often not nearly enough to gain and hold specification throughout a project's life cycle.

A long and complicated sales process with numerous stakeholders often derails the purchase of even the best products, making many sales forces come up short or experience unpredictable sales projections. However, through some of the most modern marketing techniques, gaining and holding specification now can be managed more easily and cost-efficiently—ultimately increasing sales in new construction and major renovation commercial projects.

Attempting to use marketing to increase and then hold spec can seem like an uphill battle, as the challenges are nearly endless. With hundreds of thousands of new construction and major renovation projects every year, it is very difficult to gain visibility to understand which projects are a good fit for which product. Third-party project news data providers are commonly used for this purpose, but very often are not being used by manufacturers to their full capacity. Without complex analytics capabilities, field sales are often left with either a difficult-to-use web interface, or a complicated list without the ability to extract the right kind of insights, or focus.

In addition to the sheer number of projects, project timelines stretch seemingly forever—making it difficult for sales reps to know when to follow up or when to move on. This can result in significant lost time and lost opportunities, as constant communication throughout (sometimes) varying project timelines is simply impossible economically. Across this timeline, there are also numerous influencers that could impact the spec or purchase at different stages – from owners to specifiers to architects or engineers to contractors - it's hard to know who to market to, what information they need to see, and when.

Given the difficulties of marketing through traditional means in field sales, how is it possible to cost-effectively communicate with the right influencer at the right time on the right project to get and hold spec? The first half of the answer lies in the proper analysis of project news data feeds to determine the right opportunities for a specific product, the correct players and their pain points, and the most critical times along the project timeline.

Once in view, the key is to message those targets using cost-effective multi-channel marketing—email, direct mail, sample fulfillment and digital marketing—and a virtual sales organization. This newer method of marketing helps to provide lower cost reach and frequency, delivering a more powerful impact than possible through field sales alone.

Even once a product is initially specified, it is often specified with other brands, or a generic category as also approved for use. This creates the condition in which a certain specified brand could be swapped out during the project by other players in the process. To ensure specification is actually held throughout the project life cycle, project news data and multi-channel marketing must be used with specific messaging to specific targets.

  1. Owners must be reached to secure an initial desire to have the product included in a project.
  2. Architects and engineers must be marketed to and given the more specific technical information needed to make their decision-making process easier.
  3. Contractors must be communicated with during the bidding process and after the bid is won to reinforce the brand's value propositions and guarantee the product will ultimately be purchased and installed.

Exercising at each step increases the likelihood of a brand's success at the next step.

Specifiable products are one of the most difficult product categories to market and sell due to the abundance of long timeline projects, with multiple key stakeholders and influencers. Most companies today are not using project news data feeds to their full potential, leaving dollars on the table and creating wasted sales staff time.

Using project news in an automated way, and employing analytics to segment targets into focused communications plans, allows brands to leverage multi channel marketing and virtual sales organization to reach the right targets at the right times with the right messages. This helps to significantly increase spec, but can also help hold specification throughout the project life cycle—with higher efficiency that leads to a lower cost of sale.

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