I often tell Built World companies that they need more focus.
In fact, that’s probably true for you and your company. If you’re selling in the Built World, there’s a good chance you can benefit from having more focus.
Instead of trying to sell to every potential customer, focus on the ones whose problems you can really solve.
Instead of saying your product is the best, get precise. Don’t list all the great features it has – zero in on one or two of its strongest selling points.
Narrow down your marketing. You’d be surprised what a difference it can make to specifically promote your product for healthcare facilities or the renovation market – not just for buildings in general.
Focus is a powerful thing.
There’s one major exception, though. Focus can backfire if you’re paying too much attention to the wrong thing.
Unfortunately, that’s something I’m seeing a lot these days. Many Built World companies are focused on selling customers like architects, builders, or contractors.
When that happens, they lose sight of the fact that they’re not really selling to a customer. They’re actually selling their products to a type of project.
You can break down Built World projects into four categories:
I’m simplifying a bit here. You can split all of these categories into many more subcategories. But every single project ultimately falls under one of these four types.
Why does that matter? Well, when you put all your attention on architects or other customers, you lose sight of what’s happening in, say, commercial new construction.
And you might be surprised by just how much is happening in those categories.
Each category changes over time. In some of them, architects no longer have as much influence as they used to have. Now it’s the owner or general contractor who calls the shots when it comes to selecting materials and products.
In residential new constructions, selling the builder used to be the safest bet. Lately, it’s become more effective to sell to the builder’s subcontractor in some cases.
If you’re zeroed in on your customer, you can miss those bigger changes. Without realizing it, you’re putting all your effort into selling the wrong person.
If you’re happy with the results you’re getting from the types of customers you focus on, it can mean one of two things.
It can mean that you really know how the construction industry worlds and who really has the most pull on a project. If that’s the case, then great. Keep doing what you’re doing.
But it can also mean that you’ve been lucky. You found the right customer to sell your products to and the industry hasn’t shifted in a different direction yet.
If that’s the case, you should be careful. Because luck is great, but it has a way of running out.
Before you know it, calling on architects isn’t translating to as many sales. Promoting your product to builders isn’t’ giving you the returns it used to. Contractors get too busy to take your calls.
You’re seeing sales drop and you’re not sure why – because you haven’t been paying enough attention to the way projects are carried out.
If you’re too focused on your customer, it’s time to take a few steps back. Take a wider perspective and get a fresh look at the project category as a whole.
Maybe you’ll see that your messaging needs work. You could realize that you’ve been calling on the wrong customer. You might even see that the category has changed so much that you need to completely shift your sales and marketing efforts.
When you have that perspective, you’ll know you’re not wasting your effort. You’ll know exactly what you’re dealing with – and who you should call on.