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Construction In Crisis? Meet The Decision Makers!

Aug 5, 2008
In marketing for construction, as with any other industry, getting in front of the key decision makers is crucial for the development of your business. The most important rule about appointment-making is to sell the appointment and not the product.

Appointment-making is a skill in its own right. Some construction companies and architects for that matter, use canvassers or telemarketing staff to do this job for them. However, it is far better to use staff internally, or if you are a small family run business or sole trader, you should try to do this yourself rather than outsourcing. That way you have direct contact with your prospect from the word 'go'.

It will also be very useful for you or your marketing person to combine the appointment-making with the initial researching activity. When combined in this way it helps to build initial relationships with helpful people in the prospect organisation, and you or your marketing person can collect additional useful information that would otherwise be missed or not picked up by a separate appointment-maker or canvasser.

Sending a well written letter of introduction is a useful and often essential requirement before an appointment can be made. Generally the larger the prospect organisation, then the more essential an introductory letter will be. This is mainly because PA's and secretaries almost always suggest that any approach to a decision-maker (i.e. the boss, whose time the secretary is protecting) be put in writing first.

Bear in mind that the PA is there as a defence shield for the boss, and rightly so, or the boss would never get anything done! So for any approach to succeed in getting through to the right person, the PA must effectively endorse its credibility. Whether by writing or telephoning, the reason for wanting to meet must be serious and interesting enough, which is why researching and understanding the organisation's strategic priorities are so crucial.

General product and service approaches do not work because they are not seen to relate or benefit the prospect's own strategic priorities. So a carefully thought-through UPB (Unique Perceived Benefit), forms the basis of the appointment approach. If it strikes the right chord the appointment will be granted.

A good introductory letter may win an appointment without the need even to speak to the decision-maker. Remember, the PA often holds the key to achieving an appointment! She certainly holds the diary! So in your contact with the PA, do not be pushy or arrogant. If you are the door will close! You should assume that the loyalty and trust between boss and PA are strong, so you need to get him or her on your side.

A point to remember: The PA will generally try to divert the sales person's approach to a less senior member of staff. So it's important to tailor the approach to fit with the level of, and functional responsibility of the person being approached for the appointment. On occasions, the sales person will not be granted an appointment with the targeted main decision-maker, but instead will be referred by them to make an appointment with a lower ranking manager or director. If this happens it's no problem - the sales person then proceeds with the MD's or FD's endorsement to develop the situation with the lower ranking contact.

The fact that it's been referred by the MD or FD gives the sales person vital authority and credibility. Being referred down the line is fine; but trying to refer upwards for eventual purchase authorisation or budgetary approval is nearly impossible, which is why appointment-making should always aim high, with a strategically orientated proposition.

Don't use a script, it will become your downfall. And also remember, unhappy people can't sell. So if you are having a grumpy, bad mood day, STAY AWAY FROM THE PHONE! Do some paperwork instead until you cheer up a bit! If you always see the glass half empty, GET OUT OF SALES AND MARKETING! It's not your thing!

So let your personality shine through and be yourself. Be professional, enthusiastic and straight-forward. Resist any temptation to employ gimmicks, jokes and flashing ties - your credibility will be undermined before you even open your mouth!

Happy sales hunting!
About the Author
Steve Flashman is a Marketing Consultant with a unique edge! He is a public speaker published author, recording artist, media broadcaster and communications expert.
Marketing For Construction
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