You’ve finally been successful in having your building-product selected and ultimately specified for a key project by a major architecture firm. It’s undoubtedly an occasion to celebrate — but only for a brief moment. While this can feel like the end of your sales journey, it’s actually just the beginning of a path to even greater success.
Now that you’ve built trust and been given a chance to showcase your product in a real-world building, it’s time to build on that momentum and cement a long-lasting relationship with the architects involved. Do this, and the opportunities for repeat business should prove plentiful. But where should you start?
Record Your Successes
It is vital to keep track of who has used your product, and where and when it was installed, so you can keep the conversation going during and after construction. It doesn’t matter if you are a huge manufacturing company that compiles reams of contact data in Salesforce, or a small local business that records sales in a single Excel spreadsheet — just ensure you maintain a systematic record of everything. This information is your key to a personal relationship with design professionals.
Armed with the right context, you can email an architect to ask how things are going on site and ask for their feedback in a personal manner. You can also offer additional expert guidance on maintenance of your product, positioning yourself as a valuable consultant for the life-cycle of a project. Supporting an architect in this way and alleviating their load is a sure-fire way to win their loyalty for future projects.
Keep the Communication Flowing
The advantage of this personalized approach means that you can also tailor content to meet an architect’s needs. You could reach out to update them on the status of a delivery to the project site, alert them to issues that could affect their project such as extreme weather, or simply message them with project milestones as it relates to the installation of your building-product.
On a softer note, you might email them a blog post about new products you think may be relevant to an upcoming project of theirs, or send a video that walks through a completed project by one of the architect’s peers. Whatever it may be, personal communication with great content is a natural way to keep building your business relationships.
It’s important to keep touching base with your architect clients even when you’re not trying to sell them something. This way, they will come to view you as a genuine, insightful contact that can provide them with value beyond architectural materials. Just as you are reminded to sell solutions, not products, it’s also important to know when to stop selling altogether, and just be a great professional partner.
Give Architects Face Time
A great way to maintain a connection with your most happy customers is by meeting with them face to face. If you have clients all over the country this can prove challenging to do regularly, but one great place to do this is at trade shows. Before the show, email every architect you’ve done business with in past 12 months, let them know you are going to be there and ask if they’d like to catch up.
For those that you do meet, let the architects do the talking — enquire about their current work and the exciting projects they have on the horizon. The conversation doesn’t have to revolve around business — it is simply an opportunity to build on your existing relationship with them. You don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a booth either — simply go to the show as a regular visitor, like the architects themselves, and meet them in an informal capacity.
Give Architects the VIP Treatment
Once an architecture firm has selected your products for their project, it should go on your VIP list. Whoever is on this list should no longer receive your standard “Get to know us and our products” emails. These architects have knowledge of your product and how it performed within their project, and your communication with them should reflect this fact.
You should speak with them about their experience with both your company and your product. Encourage honest feedback, no matter whether it is positive or negative. If things didn’t go perfectly for them, they will appreciate your communication and transparency. This feedback can be valuable in maintaining a relationship with the architect in question, and also in terms of improving your product for future customers.
Of course, as you are a quality manufacturer, the chances are that things went well, the product performed as you described and the architects love your product. If this is the case, there is another opportunity for you: it’s time to think about testimonials.
Turn Happy Architects into Testimonials
You’ve done the hardest part. You’ve secured the sale. Not only that, but you’ve helped an architect solve a design problem and allowed them to complete a successful project for their client. This is worth celebrating, and the story of their success can be helpful to your business as well.
From your VIP list, identify architects with the most compelling projects, and ask them if they would participate in a testimonial or case study. Find a project that includes an application of your product that you would like to see replicated in other projects. Think of the most challenging design problem that you’ve helped an architect overcome, and ask them about it. Create a testimonial template for them to fill out and craft questions that are easy for them to answer, but also get the kind of responses that you want. This type of content can turn into a promotional asset for their business as well, so there is a mutual benefit.
Following these steps should see your relationships with happy customers go from strength to strength and secure you some fresh leads in the process.
Remember — the sale is just the beginning!