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Changing Influencers in Building Products

The person you've historically sold to may now be an influencer and not a decision-maker. Are you selling to the right person? Find out in this week's episode.

Photo of Zach Williams
Photo of Beth PopNikolov
by Zach Williams and Beth PopNikolov

Selling to the architect used to be the only way to get on the spec. But times have changed and so has your best customer. So why are you still selling to the wrong person?

More About This Show

The Smarter Building Materials Marketing podcast helps industry professionals find better ways to grow leads, sales and outperform the competition. It’s designed to give insight on how to create a results-driven digital marketing strategy for companies of any size.

In this episode, Zach talks to Mark Mitchell, author of Building Materials Channel Marketing, about how the landscape has changed for building materials customers, and why you might be wasting time with the wrong buyer.

Change Isn’t on the Horizon

052 Change Isnt on the Horizon

Change is here. The construction industry has changed and continues to do so. With everything from the cost of labor to materials going up, the industry has decided it’s no longer acceptable to put up with waste and extra costs in construction.

According to Mark, every building, whether it’s residential, commercial or institutional, costs 30% more than it should, and a lot of that stems from the attitude of “that’s the way we do things.” Whether it’s rain delaying a roof work, sickness holding back installation or material that shows up two days late, the tolerance for all these things is dwindling.

We’re seeing a big push toward approaches that save time and money, and we’re seeing increased popularity of companies in the panelized/modular/pre-fabricated spaces. These suppliers are sourcing new materials and reducing labor, which has the effect of driving inefficiency out of the building process.

Who Is Your Buyer?

052 Who Is the Real Buyer

Historically, as a manufacturer, if you couldn’t convince the architect to include your product in the spec, you didn’t make it into the job. But the landscape has changed, and this is good news for manufacturers because it gives you access to more buyers, some of whom might even be more receptive to your sales pitch than architects are.

These days, many buying decisions are made by the owner, developer or facility manager. While architects may still make the majority of decisions for a high-profile showpiece like a museum, the owners, developers and facility managers have far greater input for more standard portfolio buildings like office towers and hotels.

This is great for manufacturers since many of these ‘new’ buyers, especially facility managers, will have real-world pain points — a roof that failed early, a bad experience with a particular supplier — that you can easily help them solve. And even better, if they already know and like your product, they can bring it to the table and ask the architect to include it.

Some architects may push back on having new decision-makers in the mix, but we’re seeing less and less of that. Ultimately, by letting owners and facility managers have a hand in choosing products, architects get to waste less time meeting with salespeople and more time doing what they’re paid to do: design a new building.

Stop Selling to the Wrong Person

052 Stop Selling to the Wrong Person

What makes your product great? Does it save energy? Will it look great? Will it last for decades?

None of those things are going to make an architect’s life any easier. As Mark sees it, a lot of sales teams are either selling to the wrong person or using the wrong sales pitch. By focusing on what a product does, you may be overlooking why the person across the desk from you isn’t interested in those features.

The good news is your sales team has two options:

  • Find the person for whom your product features are a benefit. The architect may not care about lower energy costs, but the building owner does. If lower energy bills are your best sales pitch, start scheduling calls with owners, not architects.


  • Change your pitch to something the architect can see as a benefit. If your modular panel system leads to lower installation costs, this is a benefit that an architect can sell to an owner or developer. Find out what your architect prospects care about and sell them that.

Stop Wasting Time on Sales Calls

052 Stop Wasting Time on Sales Calls

Speaking of making life easier for your customers, wouldn’t it be great if you could make your sales team’s life easier...and more successful? Mark sees a lot of manufacturers getting stuck thinking sales calls are the only way to successfully sell a product.

But sales calls are expensive and you need to make every one count. And, more and more, younger buyers don’t want to be sold to. According to Mark, millennial buyers often want to be 90% of the way through their purchasing decision before they ever meet with you.

The good news for you, if you take advantage of this changing trend, is that every meeting will have a greater probability of success than it would have in the past where salespeople had to not only close the deal but also educate their prospects.

The downside is you need to find new channels to reach your customers. Step back and ask yourself, should we go to a particular tradeshow? What about a different one? Don’t assume the tradeshow you’ve always gone to is the best way to reach customers. Plus, you need to look at your online presence. It’s all part of your ongoing sales pitch and needs to be included in how you make your sales team successful.

Got a Question?

Get in touch with Mark at and sign up for the Whizard Summit in October.

If you have questions about how to help your sales team find the right decision-maker, let us know! Shoot us an email at [email protected] with all of your questions.