Monday, 24 September 2012

Building a career in specification sales - Part 3 'The skills needed to succeed'

In the third part of our series on specification sales in the building product sector, Shaun Davies, Technical Consultant at Rockwool UK advises on the skills needed to succeed in specification sales in the building and construction industry.

Pin Board: "What do I need to succeed in specification sales?"

Shaun: "Success in specification sales demands perseverance and certain skills. If you have them, or the capacity to develop them, then you have the ability to develop a career in specification sales in the building and construction industry.

  • Understanding of standards and regulations and the ability to explain them: Impress by applying your knowledge to the issue you are facing; this demonstrates real understanding rather than just theory.
  • In-depth knowledge of your product and your competitors’ product: You need to know exactly what you have to offer and what counter arguments to use to a competitor’s proposition or solution. You should always focus on the benefits that your product will bring and their key differences. It is vital that the advice should always be honest and demonstrate your integrity - you are an industry specialist and need to communicate this by your behaviour.
  • Hard work and perseverance: There is rarely an easy sell in specification selling, so you must be willing to put in the time and effort researching, traveling, meeting and phoning people. If you are not willing to do this then it is unlikely that you will succeed.
  • Practical experience on-site: Although this can only be gained over time, I recommend that you spend as much time on-site seeing and dealing first hand with real issues. This gives you a distinct advantage in your ability to assist the specifier and ultimately develop a favourable view of your product.
  • Ability to communicate: You will be dealing with many different types of people at many different levels and all have different requirements. Some will not want to see you and some will be grateful to see you, but the one common theme is that people’s time is limited and you need to be succinct and clear in your meetings.
  • Provide the information that specifiers need: You should know what information and advice people require; generally, specifiers like architects, engineers, interior designers do not want to talk to salespeople and, when you get the opportunity, you must make the most of it. An architect will need information such as technical reports and assessments. They need to be kept informed of changing regulations and standards, so make sure that they are given copies and are aware of the latest information. The contractor is more likely to need reports, test information, certification, installation guidelines and pricing and availability information. Whereas the sub-contractor is usually open to being made aware of other projects and potential sales, so keep them informed and make sure that you make the most of your time with them. At Rockwool, we want to keep everyone ‘Rockwool friendly’ as we aim to help contractors generally as well as encouraging contractors to use our product.  It is also worth considering providing courses and training offering CPD points to all concerned.
  • Relationship building skills: Although you will see a lot of people, it is normally only for a limited period of time. Therefore it is vital to build a relationship with them on a personal and professional level. Remember that specifiers rarely deal with just one project and you will want to be called upon for future projects.
  • Ask the question and keep your ears and eyes open: There could well be further opportunities for your company or even just for you to demonstrate your specialist knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask the question on what they are doing in other areas, the rewards could be huge for your company and you might solve a problem and make life much easier for the specifier - which is good news for you in the long run!
"By developing and focusing on these skills and actions, your chances of succeeding in specification sales will be considerably enhanced."

In the penultimate part of our series providing career advice to those in the building product industry, Shaun will be outlining some of the major differences between account field sales roles and specification sales.

Pinnacle Consulting is a specialist recruitment consultancy for the building products sector, if you are interested in developing a career in Specification Sales in the building industry then please contact us to discuss the Specification Sales Job right for you. Call our expert building industry recruitment 
consultants for a discussion on your career on 01480 405225.

The construction industry is the best industry in the world to work for, find out why...

Architect/Engineer image courtesy of Ambro /

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