Here are two stories told to me by architects, and what they tell us about architects’ attitude to sales people.
From one of the architects in a LinkedIn group I belong to:
"Marketing cold callers, don't you just hate them!
We took a call the other week from a salesman who told the person who answered the phone that I had spoken to him that morning and asked him to call me back (a lie). This was the same trick another salesman from the same company had used a couple of months previously.
I agreed to take the call and pointed out that the best way to develop a business relationship (or any other for that matter) was not to start it with a lie.
He said there must be a mistake on their system as it had said I had asked them to call (another lie).
I pointed out that the same technique had been used the last time his company had called and that it didn't sell the integrity of his company to me. He said that it was all some big coincidence (another lie).
I said that I had already asked another company to organise the thing he was selling, so not to bother. His answer: 'I'll get somebody to call you in a week’s time to confirm'. My answer: 'No.'
It is the fact they just don't take no for an answer, and just don't know when they have lost any hope of a sale.
We sometimes ask salespeople if they would like an extension to their house designed, and try and turn it around. But they don't like that."
If I was a professional sales person working in construction product sales to architects, I’d probably look at that story and say – well people in our company don’t do that. And I’d probably be right. As the architect says, it is really bad practice to lie to your customer.
Unfortunately it doesn’t matter if your company doesn’t lie to specifiers – some sales people do and this affects you as well as them. To illustrate, here’s another quote again from an architect on LinkedIn:
“For each cold call our office line gets every day our response is much more likely to blacklist that company.
We ask everyone to email off the back of a cold call to either a real email address or an email we have specifically set up to blacklist cold callers (Alex). That way if they call back for Alex then we know the source of the nonsense.
Even if they claim to have been talking to Alex about their product previously. It wastes our time, but far less than not having a bump process.”
Whilst you delve into your database to see if there’s an architect you’ve been asked to ring called Alex, let’s just stop for a minute and ask.
So why do architects hate sales? Clearly their experience has been bad if they resort to faking email addresses. But it doesn’t stop at fake email addresses. This is just one of the barriers that specifiers have set up to block sales people. And the key question to ask is – why are they really doing this? And what can we do about it?
In order to do something to salvage a relationship in that kind of trouble, we need to find out more about our target audience, and we need to find new, better ways to get in touch with them. Because in an era where it is more and more easy to find people, we need to make sure that they want to talk to us when we do get through.
I’ve been invited by The Building Centre to run a workshop on LinkedIn for Specification Sales. Rather than being a course by a sales person for sales people, this is a workshop delivered by a gatekeeper turned poacher. Having run architects’ practices for much of my career, I can explain why architects feel this way, and what you can do about it.
If you or your sales team are interested in learning how LinkedIn can act as a tool to help you find, create and build great relationships with architects, this workshop is for you.
It takes place on the afternoon of 13th October 2016, and we’ll be looking at the challenge of selling to architects, why LinkedIn can help and how to use it without getting this sort of reaction.
Find out more and book places for your team here.
And in the meantime – are you an architect? Do you hate sales calls? Let us know why in the comments below.
Su Butcher works with construction companies to enable them to integrate social tools and other Internet activity for business benefits. Trained in Architecture at the University of Liverpool, she has extensive experience working with architects in business. Su is currently working with The Building Centre to deliver a series of Training Workshops.