Leveraging Technology to Become the Chosen One
by Mike Wilson
Here’s an easy question: Would you rather have your doors and windows be the specified products for a new home or remodel job, or would you rather compete as one of many equivalent products?
Of course it’s always better to be the chosen one. More often than not, the specified product is the product that is ultimately purchased—so getting specified can increase your sales significantly.
Traditionally, it’s been the architect or builder that specifies door and window products and that is still often the case. Continuing to educate building professionals about the unique qualities of your product will always be an important part of your marketing efforts. But more and more it’s also the homeowner—the end customer—that specifies the product they want. For both new construction and remodeling, people are using the Internet to find, learn about and choose the products they want—even doors and windows. They develop a distinct preference for a particular product and then go to their architect, builder, dealer or retail outlet to complete the transaction.
Beyond Awareness to Preference
Building a preference with architects and homeowners starts with making both groups aware of your products and educating them about their unique qualities—that’s why you advertise, exhibit at trade and home shows, list in various building product catalogs and maintain an informative website. But making these potential specifiers aware of your product is only half the battle. You then need to make it easy for them to incorporate your products into their overall vision, design and budget.
For Homeowners —
Make it Easy and Fun
For homeowners, making it easy means making it fun and interactive. In addition to providing good information on your website, leverage technology to give them a place where they can actually create exactly what they want (select the style, size and shape, color, hardware, etc.) and visualize it in a setting similar to their own home. Buying is often an emotional decision and once a homeowner has a clear vision of your product in the context of their home, it can become a preference that’s hard to change.
For Architects —
Make it Easy and Productive
For architects, making it easy means making it fast, accurate and highly productive. If an architect needs to sort through printed material or search through websites to find what they want, they may not take the time. So leverage today’s technology to place your catalog right into the AutoCAD software they are using to create their home designs. Make it a matter of a mouse click to pop up your catalog, select the desired product, configure the exact size and options, and insert an intelligent to scale design block into the drawing with all the information about your product attached. That way, you’ve made their job easier while getting your product specified.
Building an Integrated Selling Process
The technology exists today that allows you to tie these new aspects of your sales strategy together with your quoting and ordering systems. For example, once a homeowner has determined that your entry door with their selected stain, glass pattern, sidelights, transom and hardware is the door they can’t live without, you can use technology to help them find the dealer in their area and automatically transmit their design directly to that dealer for detail specification and price quote. Or, you can give them the ability to print their design and take it to the retail outlet to make the purchase. If an architect has your electronic catalog in their AutoCAD system as described earlier, they can generate an automated, electronic take-off and then transmit it to your dealer for a price quote. The dealer, in turn, completes the detail specification and converts the quote into an order directly it in your system.
In summary, there is a lot you can do today to help make your product the chosen one. Take advantage of it and drive more business!
Mike Wilson is vice president of marketing and product management at TDCI Inc. He can be reached at Mwilson@tdci.com.
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