How To Sell Building Materials and Products: Know Your Audience


by Salem Baer

Software is transforming every industry. While manufacturers of building materials and products have been slower to embrace technology, the digital revolution is coming for them as well. Those who wish to remain competitive in this new era must develop a greater understanding of their customers’ distinct needs and lean on digital to meet them more effectively.

For any individual specification sale of building materials or building products, there are several personas that can influence the decision. Your challenge as the manufacturer or sales rep is to understand their distinct goals and hurdles, and then market clearly how your brand helps them specifically.

For each of the following personas (and whoever else might be relevant for your company), you need to take a deep dive into understanding their motivators and fears, and then assess what that means for how you position your product or materials.

  • Builders
  • Dealers
  • Designers
  • Architects
  • Contractors
  • Property Owners (Academic, Commercial and Residential)

Demographics

What type of education has this customer received? What’s the age group? Are there generational characterizations the can apply? For example, are they typically more socially-conscious, or expectant of information on demand?

Goals

What are their short-term and long-term career goals? What does a successful week look like for this customer? What about success 5 years from now?

Challenges

What does failure look like on a project? These are your customers’ motivators from fear. What is the tedious work your customer dreads? These are the pain points.

How does your brand help them?

Finally, in light of these characteristics, goals, and challenges, how does your company help? The technical features of a wall panel listed on your website may be helpful to a builder, but to a hospital owner concerned about the spread of germs or an interior designer focused on enhancing a hotel lobby aesthetic, it may not be as useful. Is your brand solving their problem?

The bad news and the good news.

Many manufacturers and sales rep lose countless upgrades and sales due to addressing the wrong or irrelevant concerns for their customer. If speed in projects is a priority for a builder, hundreds of samples to sift through may be an obstacle. If a designer is looking to create a one-of-a-kind luxurious interior, you will likely lose a sale by presenting technical specs and ordering information without compelling and inspiring imagery.

The good news? Technology has made it possible to help multiple personas in the sales process simultaneously. With a re-envisioned data storage, modified user interfaces to the same core digital tool can revolutionize the tasks and experience for many customers involved in a sale. For example, consider the work we did with our partner, Organized Living.

Organized Living

Organized Living is one of the leading manufacturers of custom home storage & organization products. Their customer base includes builders, multifamily, dealers, contractors, professional organizers, architects, and consumers. After thorough customer research to understand the goals and frustrations for each persona, they partnered with Differential to build a Closet Design Tool, a 3D digital tool that makes selecting closet storage simple, paperless and hassle-free for each potential customer.

Builders - There is increasing demand for builders to provide functional, affordable and versatile storage solutions for their customers. Drees Homes, a nationally recognized homebuilder and an innovator in the home construction industry, recently integrated Organized Living’s Closet Selector into their Homebuyer Design Selection process to meet their customers’ needs and streamline the process. Not only has the tool expedited the selection process, but also increased capture rates and has helped them sell more upgrades. You can listen to what they have to say here.

Multifamily - Multifamily property owners are looking to differentiate their property, increase rental income and keep residents happy. OrganizedLiving’s products allow adjustability as the needs of renters changes and the Closet Design Tool allows owners to give residents the choice of an upgrade with the Storage Upgrade Online.

Dealers - At any time, a dealer has dozens of products/materials to choose from to position as the best choice for a project. The challenge for the manufacturer then is to make their product the easiest for a dealer to bring forward. The Closet Design Tool has helped Organized Living differentiate themselves from the competition by streamlining the sales of storage and organization products to builders, multifamily professionals, and homeowners. An increase in sales and time saved is hard for any dealer to resist.

Contractors - According to a recent Houzz survey, 42% of homeowners cited efficient storage as one of their primary motivating factors to renovate. In order to stay competitive, builders must meet these demands. The Closet Design Tool makes it easy for dealers to delight their customers by offering custom storage systems that are easy to install and profitable.

Professional organizers - Professional organizers and designers are in the business of decluttering the lives of their clients to give them more time to enjoy the people and things they love most. The Closet Design Tool helps organizers do this in their very first meeting by helping them determine needs, preferences, and costs for their client in a highly engaging and streamlined process.

Architects - Architects sell future work based on past performance and referrals. It’s imperative then that an architect’s portfolio is still beautiful and holding up 5-10 years after a project has ended. To serve these needs, Organized Living’s products are built to last and are adjustable for different purposes. In addition, the Closet Selector makes it easier for architects to visualize designs with beautiful, photographic textures and cuts out significant time usually spent on paperwork.

Consumers - For consumers, the Closet Design Tool transforms the dreaded process of cleaning out a garage or organizing a laundry room to an engaging, speedy task. The tool is versatile enough to support experienced designers, yet simple enough for consumers tackling closet design for the first time.


For more information on the Closet Design Tool, you can read the case study or check out the tool for yourself.

Once you understand your audience and what’s at stake for them, you can begin helping them in your sales process. In doing so, you’ll see dramatic results in your sales. However, this process takes time and thoughtfulness. Rushing through consumer research or simply swapping out headlines on a landing page will likely yield lame results. If you’d like help understanding customer pain points or how technology can help your business, reach out. We’ve helped several manufacturers discover, explore, and validate business opportunities; define product vision, and map out the key activities; and design, prototype, and develop software solutions. We’d love to discuss ways we can help you. You can connect with us here.

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