Here, Paul Ruddick, founder of cable management specialists D-Line, talks to us about selling innovative products in our busy industry.
Never mind we’ve all ‘too much to do, in too little time!’ it is interesting to reﬂect that how we come to select particular products has many alternative approaches, which can hugely inﬂuence our success rates and proﬁtability.
It is understandable why big brands with consultant-focused sales teams might aim to create a circle that starts with getting items speciﬁed by a project designer. Including products with few unique features should make the speciﬁcation ‘tight’. So coded specs pass from competing electrical contractors, and on to vying wholesalers, before becoming an order back to the manufacturer… completing a loop from one speciﬁcation.
By contrast, trying the other way – where producers push for ranging in a wholesaler, for the wholesaler to sell to their installer customers, who must then persuade their clients – is a very different process; where part codes, of commodities even, must come alive as innovations with features and benefits, capturing imaginations by their more interesting and usually higher-margin possibilities!
Freedom of expression, the right to select and self-design, to be creative in pitches and quotes – thankfully for the switched-on wholesaler and professional installer there exists a very rich variety of easy pickings.
“If a customer expressly wants the cheapest that’s fair enough, but for regular jobbing works without product speciﬁcations or critical paths to follow, it can be costly relying on familiar old-habitual ways or assuming clients want the cheapest, when actually many much prefer best-value instead?”
Pity then how the pressure of different enquiries and demands can make such a stress and squeeze on our precious time that sometimes it can be difficult just to keep focused, never mind thinking ‘outside-the-box’.
If a customer expressly wants the cheapest that’s fair enough, but for regular jobbing works without product speciﬁcations or critical paths to follow, it can be costly relying on familiar old-habitual ways or assuming clients want the cheapest, when actually many much prefer best-value instead?
What value has a luminaire of lowest cost, if the premium for an alternative with same lumens output can be recouped within months, via lower energy consumption and extended lamp-life? Or perhaps a PIR detector or daylight-linked sensor switch will make the difference? It is elementary, but the point promotes a consultative approach where he who asks the questions and can provide answers will invariably win.
Similar for any new mains cabling route; why bother channelling a solid wall or otherwise using traditional mini-trunking, when D-Line trunking is more inexpensive but look great in-situ, able to blend with decor or make a striking feature! How far we can exceed expectations is the key to keeping happy customers.
Same for a new socket installation, it might be costly to assume a client would not be happy to pay more for an innovative alternative with remote control switching, or a decorative ﬁnish, or USB ports, or a toughened polycarbonate plate or contoured front for example. What if competitors are presenting value-added options that satisfy wants?
Providing light, heat and power for UK homes and economy create opportunity but also most competitive conditions, where, to stand out requires – for designers and manufacturers, wholesalers and installers – we differentiate ourselves. A consultative approach based around innovative product solutions does just that, making a most efficient use of time too.
As the saying goes ‘often the greatest waste of time is not spending a little more time… on product selection!’