Construction Leadership Insights

How to Succeed in Construction Sales Even If You Hate Selling: Strategic Selling [Part 2 of 3]

How to Succeed in Construction Sales Even If You Hate Selling: Strategic Selling [Part 2 of 3]

This is part two of a three-part series on construction selling. Click here for part one.

I want to share with you my observations on crafting a strategic approach to pursuing projects in construction sales.

I’ve found that change impacts our ability to achieve sales objectives. I mean changes in the project as well as changes in our relationships with the three types of decision makers that we negotiate with in any construction sale.

Something Slightly Off

Typically what causes things to be slightly off with a client or a potential client that we’re pursuing is some kind of change. A change that has caused something to shift in our relationship with that client or in their particular circumstance.

Some examples of changes that might impact how someone feels about achieving their sales objectives include:

  • Staff on the project
  • The way they make decisions
  • Their management

Let me share this with you about construction sales.

In any sale that’s complex you have three types of decision makers. You have the User decision maker, you have the Technical decision maker, and you have the final Money decision maker. And if you’re going to be successful in construction sales you have to be good at selling to all of three types of buyers. Sometimes one person plays more than one role.

Let’s say you’re selling a project to a general contractor. Think about the superintendent of that general contractor who’s going to be running the project. He’s the User buyer.

And if he hates you he’s not going to want to work with you. So every time you approach a project you’ve got to think “Who are my User buyers, who are my Technical buyers and who is my cash Money buyer?”

Getting a Feel for Change

The changes that could occur in a project include something that’s a sudden change, right? Or circumstantial change. Perhaps someone quits, someone moves, someone gets fired. That’s a circumstantial change that just happens quickly.

Another kind of change is a gradual change. Maybe there’s a gradual erosion of your relationship over time. Perhaps you’re on a project with them at the moment and it’s going okay, but it’s not going great.

And you can just tell that the relationship is deteriorating a little bit and perhaps they won’t be so open to working with you on their next project. So maybe that erosion is making you feel a little bit uneasy.

But then there’s the positive changes too. Perhaps they’re in a growth mode. Perhaps they’re picking up projects all over the place and they’re really wanting to work with you in a more engaged way. So not all changes are negative. Some of them are positive.

And so what you’ve got to be able to do is when you look at those changes you’ve got to ask “Are these opportunities or are they threats?”

Opportunity or Threat? Ask What’s Next

What’s your next step with that one client where you’ve felt a change? What are you selling at this particular point to that client? Or put it another way. What is your next sales objective with that client?

When will that sales objective be accomplished and  how much will that sales objective get you? What is the dollar amount that you will gain as a result of achieving that sales objective?

In the construction process, because it’s so long and so complex, you can’t always tie a dollar amount to a particular sales objective. So let me give you an example of what I’m talking about.

You may be developing a relationship with a contractor, a developer, or an owner, and your sales objective may simply be to take the decision maker out for lunch in the next 30 days to get to know them.

Now, it may not be signing on the bottom line for a particular project, but it is a step in the sales process that ultimately leads to developing a relationship. Which leads to doing business together.

As you seek to achieve a sales objective some examples of next steps could include:

  • Call the project manager
  • Meet with the superintendent
  • Develop a relationship with the new VP
  • Illustrate how we can bring solutions to their process

These are all excellent.

Don’t be afraid to get very micro about your next step. Think in terms of your next step in the next week, two weeks, three weeks and 30 days. Just don’t think in terms of “I need to get a deal” or “I want to win that project 6 to 12 months from now.”

Incremental progress in building relationships with people is what construction is all about.

Due Diligence

Construction is a communication business from beginning to end. And if you’re going to be successful you’ve got to get feedback. You’ve got to follow up. You’ve got to ask questions. You’ve got to identify who’s the money buyer, who’s the user buyer and who’s the technical buyer.

Who do you need to talk to? Who do you need to develop a relationship with?

I know one client I recently worked with, their VP just didn’t have a good relationship with a particular client and so they brought someone else in to develop that relationship.

So with that strategic perspective in mind what you want to be able to do is simple things. Like making phone calls. Or maybe you need to get together with your team and brainstorm about how you’re going to approach the project. Or perhaps go face to face.

One of the most powerful things you can do in our culture is actually have a face to face conversation because we’re so hooked into technology that we miss that. And there’s nothing like a drive out to the job site. Or going belly to belly at the office. Or going out for coffee, going out for drinks. Whatever the case is, face to face is an excellent way to develop the relationships and to find out the truth.

Whatever it is that you feel, you want to do the hard work necessary to find out the truth. So don’t make an assumption. Do the hard work.

Your Next Step

If you or the people who report to you are responsible for sales, you might find the Construction Sales Assessment that I’ve put together extremely useful.

It describes the five traits that successful salespeople in any field consistently display and you can rate yourself on those traits and then complete a short, simple exercise to help you strengthen any of the traits you need to work on.

If you’d like to get the assessment just go to my website:

FREE Downloadable Resource:
Construction Leaders Dashboard

Do you lack focus and forward momentum? The Construction Leaders Dashboard is a simple, powerful tool for construction company leaders. Use it to clarify what you need to do in order to succeed. It includes: Vision, Mission, Values, Edge, Intitiatives, Metrics, Key Relationships,
and Development Opportunities.

To get your copy of the dashboard, click this link