The Role of the Trusted Advisor

Trust is a factor in marketing and sales of construction products which has always been important, with the focus and awareness of specifiers on this subject increasing in the last few years. There are two key areas that building product manufacturers need to get right to maximise this element of their communications.

As we have watched the enquiry into Grenfell unfold it is shocking to see how many errors and mistakes were made by all the parties involved. Many would seem to be the result of ignorance but sadly some were deliberate. This means that more than ever before, Trust in the product supplier is a factor of importance to the architect, engineer and contractor when selecting products.

 

Ensuring Accurate Information

At the basic level this is about the accuracy of the product data presented in literature, websites, BIM content, CPD seminars, product directories and blog articles. So often, when information changes one of these sources gets forgotten about leading to conflicting information being in the public domain. This is the background behind the Code for Construction Product Information, and although the initial sign-up of organisations for registration is closed there is no reason why companies cannot put in place best practice to ensure processes to monitor changes and how they are implemented.

This is not just about the accuracy of your own products’ technical data. It is also about ensuring that the regulations and standards quoted in your information are the current ones. So often, when the Competitive Advantage team review CPD seminars they find that out-of-date codes are being quoted. Its easy for these things to slip through.

As well as ensuring accurate information is provided to enable correct design, it’s about credibility. If decision makers see contradictory data, or information which they know is incorrect, it undermines their confidence in that organisation – and hence makes them less likely to use its products.

 

Competent Staff

As the architect or engineer travel along the decision making journey of Awareness – Interest – Evaluation – Specification they progress from reading information to speaking to the sales and technical team to get more specific advice. The Building Safety Bill has a requirement that the “Principal Designer and Principal Contractor ensure that the individuals leading or managing the work have the appropriate skills, knowledge, experience and behaviours to manage the organisation’s functions.” This in turn means that they will be looking to manufacturers to provide this level of knowledge and our research has found that CPD seminars are one of the principal ways for this to happen.

So, product manufacturers need to ensure their staff are competent to give technical advice on the use of their products, and to have a documented training process in place to monitor this. That training should extend beyond product knowledge to an understand of the construction industry, good presentation skills and the ability to use the right language when talking to different decision makers. In other words, while ‘technical speak’ is required when addressing an architect, a less technical language is needed when talking to small contractors, builders merchants and the general public. This is where the construction persona is important.

 

Trusted Advisor

For many years our specification sales courses have promoted the concept of the Trusted Advisor. That is an organisation, or individual, who demonstrate the right levels of competence and character to earn the trust of specifiers. Get this right and you can build a strong and lasting relationship with your key decision makers. And the start of that journey is ensuring accurate information delivered by competent staff.