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The debate around cold calling has raged for almost as long as the telephone itself has existed. Some will tell you that cold calling only sucks for salespeople that aren’t sufficiently skilled at it. Others will tell you that cold calling is an ineffective strategy no matter what, given what it entails — interrupting busy people to try to sell something they haven’t asked for, or even expressed an interest in.
When it comes to the construction industry, the cold calling conundrum is no different. As a manufacturer, you want to reach out to practicing architects — after all, they are one of the primary decision-makers when it comes to selecting products for their buildings. Cold calling is one of the most direct ways to communicate with these people. The trouble is, it’s also one of the most contentious.
“It makes me not want to answer the phone.”
Architects are notoriously averse to being sold to. A case in point: Michael Riscica, architect and founder of the excellent Young Architect website, whose recent Facebook status sums up the overriding sentiment of many architects towards cold calling:
“I also block anyone on LinkedIn who contacts me with the end goal of selling something,” he added in conversation with Architizer. Riscica is the king of architectural straight talk; his frankness is refreshing for the profession. That said, he is certainly not alone in his feelings when it comes to cold calling.
Why Architects Hate Cold Calling
Why are architects in particular so against this approach? The following three reasons rank highly:
1. Architects are insanely busy.
You know this already, but it’s worth emphasizing: many architects are ridiculous workaholics. They are passionate about what they do and stretch themselves incredibly thinly to satisfy their clients and their own creative ambitions. When they get into “the zone”, the last thing they want is an unsolicited call from a manufacturer, or anyone else for that matter. They probably have their headphones on and won’t hear the phone ring in any case.
2. Architects get a ton of cold calls.
Architects get sold to … a lot. There are hundreds of manufacturers looking to gain a commission for every building component imaginable. While your product may be stellar, they will not want to hear about it having already been interrupted by your three competitors that same week.
3. Architects only listen when they need you.
As with anything in the construction industry, timing is everything. Architecture projects can last many months and often years, and unless you happen to call just as the specification process is beginning, architects are unlikely to be interested. The workaround for this — continual follow-up calls over the next few weeks or months — makes you about as endearing to architects as a grouchy contractor with a bad headache.
Let the Leads Come to You
Here’s where online solutions start to look more sensible than ever. Architizer’s growing building-product marketplace turns the tables when it comes to generating leads.
Architects on the platform reach out to manufacturers with an immediate design challenge, for which brands can provide a tailored solution. In responding to an architect’s search for a specific building-product, you are entering into a conversation with a highly engaged audience. These architects are actively looking for products like yours and have real projects to source materials for. Both architect and brand can therefore cut to the chase and discuss the specifics needed to bring a building to fruition.
“When you’re incessantly calling and emailing an architect, chances are that you will eventually be able to catch them off guard and force them to talk to you, but that’s not necessarily the most productive way to communicate,” said Penny Bailey, Account Manager for manufacturers at Architizer. “What we’re discovering is that our platform gets rid of all of this work for brands. When communication does occur, you know that it’s going to be quality communication and that the architects who reach out are seriously interested.”
This way of working can feel unfamiliar to begin with — instead of calling up architects, you put down the phone and instead utilize your keyboard to respond to opportunities as they come in.
The advantage with this approach is that you can respond to many architects at once, and then enter a conversation with those architects who are most interested. Architizer cuts out the laborious process of calling each and every firm, replacing it with an organized online list of leads that are likely much warmer than the cold variety found via the phone.
Work Smart, Not Hard
Sure, once the conversation has begun, getting on the line to talk to someone can help brands explain the benefits of their product in more detail than would be possible online. We’re not suggesting you throw your landline phone away just yet — we’re simply proposing that its use be reserved for those qualified leads that are infinitely more likely to result in a sale. The time you save by reducing your frequency of cold calls will convert to tangible dollars down the line.
Ultimately, Architizer should lead to the near-extinction of cold calls for the profession — and both architects and manufacturers should rejoice at this prospect.
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