In the first in a new series, David Crick MCIM, from Contractors Marketing Services, shares his wisdom on sales and marketing. You can also download his ‘The Really Useful Guide to Construction Marketing’ that offers a range of practical advice for senior managers of main & specialist contractors on how to win new business – or read it as part of your CPD with the CIOB.
Why putting aside your agenda is the best way to get what you want
The end goal of marketing is to make sales, but in my experience that motivation has to be put to one side in order to do it well. It’s far better to put the client first. Their success is your success.
It’s one of the fundamental principles of sales, and something we reinforce in our training: sales is about service. The question to keep in mind is not ‘how can I seal the deal?’, but ‘how can I help?’
Construction is a crowded market, and there are a lot of other people competing for the same work that you’re after. Your potential clients will field approaches from other sales people every day. Their inboxes are full of marketing emails, and their receptionists are well versed in turning away unwanted calls. People can tell when they’re being given the hard sell. They can smell the sales talk a mile away, they’ve got no time for it, and that approach will not get you far.
It’s better to start from the client’s point of view. Anticipate their needs. Listen, ask questions. Ask what their concerns are, what their priorities are. Ask about costs and how you can help to keep them down. Then explain how your company’s services could be the answer to their problems, the right business partner for that next project.
That might sound disingenuous, but I’m not suggesting you fake an interest in potential clients. Take a real interest! Be genuine, be attentive, and then be creative – look for extra value that you can offer, specialist services or help with pricing, anything that will give you an edge. Ask how you can help your client succeed, and you will succeed together.
I’ve been working in construction marketing for over 30 years, with a huge range of clients and on contracts worth up to £20 million. I’m good at what I do, and the most important reason why I’m good at it is that I’m able to put aside my own sales agenda and ask ‘what can my company do for you?’
That’s almost the opposite of the pushy, ego-driven salesman stereotype, but it’s far more effective and it’s not hard to see why. It builds rapport quickly, because people sense that you can be trusted. And it takes the pressure off you to sell, so that you can take a longer view and build a business relationship.
It’s the honest, human, collaborative approach to sales. And it works.
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