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The specification process creates unique challenges for architects and building products manufacturers alike. There are tight deadlines, ever-nebulous requirements and a lack of transparency on both sides. Yet it is integral to realizing designs: Product selection can mean the difference between being under and over budget and can determine the length of time before a building needs repairs.
With so much at stake, brands like Klein USA Sliding Doors recognize the importance of working with architects throughout design and specification. For almost 80 years, Klein has been committed to providing quality interior sliding doors. They produce everything in-house, allowing them to control all aspects of production and making quality control their prime focus. It also gives them the flexibility to produce custom products and work around tight lead times when needed. This level of production and the design-build nature of their products means that they focus heavily on marketing to architects and getting involved in projects as early in the design process as possible.
Recognizing the potential of the community and Architizer’s new tool for specifying, Klein has been an early participant of the marketplace to reach architects at the exact time that they begin looking for product. We spoke with Tim Mayhew, Klein’s National Sales Director in the US, about how they use technology to educate architects about their products.
Erin Keane: How do you think about selling to architects?
Tim Mayhew: Architects are a diverse group, which means we have to be diverse in how we present our products to them. Some are very visual, some hands on, some extremely technical. Due to this, we have a number of different ways to interact, experience and learn about our products.
How does your brand approach educating architects around your brand?
Klein’s products are heavily visual. Trying to explain to someone over the phone or through words alone is virtually impossible. This makes it very important that we can easily get visual tools (images, videos, brochures, etc.) in front of architects on a regular basis. Architizer gives us an extension of our website that allows us to reach more viewers of our products.
What is your biggest challenge in selling to architects?
Our biggest challenge right now is face time. Technology has allowed us to get our information to architects, but in-person interaction is still a valuable tool to discuss projects and material. With tens of thousands of designers around the country, it is always a challenge to find the time to meet with them all.
How does Architizer help your team face these challenges?
When I heard about the concept of Architizer, I knew right away this was going to be a huge asset to our company. Working in the architectural sales industry for a number of years, the hardest part of my job was always getting in front of the right person at the right time. I can make 100 sales calls that all go well, but if that firm is not at the point of their design process that they are looking for my product, it is, in most cases, a lost opportunity. Architizer connects our sales team with the decision-makers when it is most convenient to them, which means it is also most convenient for us.
What is your strategy when crafting a response?
Of course, any interaction with a potential customer needs to have a certain strategy behind it. Depending on the request and the level of product knowledge of the person, we may need to give a quick overview of the product or the process of why we are recommending one product over another. We also try to include as many visual references as possible to put some context to our answer. “A picture is worth a thousand words” could not be more true when trying to sell an architectural product.
Where do you see Architizer going for the future?
I truly hope that the architects and designers of the world see as much value in Architizer as we do. It can be a huge timesaver on both sides of the spectrum. It allows architects to quickly and easily find new and exciting products from quality suppliers without having to sit through hours of presentations or online searches. For suppliers, it gives us the opportunity to focus our efforts and provide better customer service because we are not wasting our time cold-calling and chasing down projects. It is a true win-win for both sides.
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