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This article, sponsored by construction sales & marketing experts, Competitive Advantage, provides key points to consider when preparing a sales plan targeting the specification sector, and looks at overcoming potential specification breaking, timing of approach, the stages of the specification process, etc.

Like every other sector of the UK construction industry, professional specifiers work in a commercial environment requiring them to continually improve their efficiency and competitiveness. Time is valuable and limited. Consequently, their business is unlikely to survive for long if they agree to see even only half of the representatives who ask to see them.

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The subject justifies the many reports, publications and events which have been published and dedicated to it, and Construct UK is pleased to provide detailed help and support to individual clients. This section does not pretend to provide a comprehensive overview, but instead provides just a few basic points to remember or consider:

Points to Remember

  • Specifiers seek products to enhance their architecture and designs
  • Architects and designers prioritise aesthetics and respond to visually presented information
  • Surveyors & engineers prioritise technical details and seek facts and figures
  • Specifiers seek assurance of product quality and performance
  • Specifiers are information hungry
  • Specifiers are brand aware and brand loyal

Overcoming Potential Specification Breaking

  • Get to know the appointed contractors and sub-contractors
  • Demonstrate a willingness to adapt to last minute changes
  • Emphasise unique product features
  • Offer high performance
  • Demonstrate back-up technical support

Suppliers

  • Should focus on the products function and application
  • Promote the products critical elements
  • Emphasise unique features
  • Gain confidence of the specifier
  • Respond quickly to enquiries
  • Involve specifiers in product design & development
  • Promote association with recognised specifiers

Advertising & Literature

  • Keep text brief
  • Avoid jargon
  • Emphasise third party accreditation (BBA, Bsi etc)
  • Make it visually eye catching

Timing

When pursuing prospective specifiers, the timing of any approach is critical and it is worth remembering the different design and build stages of a project in order that presentations and information can be prepared and supplied at the relevant time.

Design Stage Specifier’s Requirements (from suppliers)

  • Inception
  • Feasibility
  • Outline proposals basic selection of materials, ie brick or block, flat or pitched roof, etc.
  • Scheme design
  • Detailed design selection of key products and materials, often by named manufacturers and suppliers
  • Product information final selection of products and materials and collation of technical details
  • Bills of quantities preparation and completion of information and arrangements for obtaining tenders
  • Tender
  • Project planning obtain delivery dates
  • Site operations obtain installation and application details
  • Completion obtain maintenance and operational instructions
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