With the global building products market on pace to reach $49 billion by 2025, there’s no doubt that the sector is shifting quickly. Specifically, there are a number of construction trends that are changing what contractors and architects are looking for when purchasing building products. To get to the bottom of these trends and pinpoint how sales professionals are adapting, I spoke with Michael Fletcher, Director of Sales & Strategic Accounts at GCP Applied Technologies.
The buyers of building materials have more choices than ever. This places pressure on sales teams to have a strong technical knowledge of their products in order to position their offerings as solutions to a buyer’s needs. That begs the question: what are today’s building product buyers seeking?
For starters, building owners are concerned about the durability of materials. Each year in the U.S., natural disasters like hurricanes, earthquakes, and severe storms cause over $300 billion in damages. Today’s architects and contractors are buying products made to withstand floods in low-lying areas, wildlife activity in remote locations, and even widespread manmade dangers like terrorism. To win more business, successful sales professionals work to gain an understanding of the strength and durability contractors and architects seek and specifically focus on how their products meet those needs throughout the sales process.
At the same time that they’re seeking more resilient products, building owners are also looking for more sustainable materials that positively contribute to the health of occupants. Construction companies, architects, and contractors are therefore purchasing products that can help obtain a number of building wellness certifications. As a result, today’s salespeople are better articulating how their building products will help clients meet the sustainability standards that they seek.
At the most basic level, sales occur because a buyer seeks to solve one or more problems they are experiencing. While there are many factors at play, zeroing in on that problem is the basis of successful building product sales strategies. Salespeople must be trained to appropriately highlight their offerings and position them as solutions for contractors and architects.
Which problem needs solving? Studies prove that 91% of contractors have a hard time finding skilled workers for their openings. As a result, they seek out building materials manufacturers who create products that are easier to install with less labor. In order to create materials that are easier to work with, manufacturers are doing a number of things. Some are changing the products themselves, while others may provide improved supplemental materials like diagrams, explanations of parts, or even packaging that allows for more efficient organization once on a construction site.
Furthermore, 93% of contractors say they use offsite construction methods in order to get jobs done with fewer employees. This is why modular construction, once looked down upon, is now used more frequently for major construction projects such as skyscrapers. Developers, contractors, and architects are seeking modular options, but they’re not easily finding these products in the market. While it takes time for manufacturers to change their products, this is precisely why sales teams must be trained in understanding the real-world needs of a contractor. If they don’t know how to highlight their company’s modular products or what makes their materials easy to use, then they are not making life easier for a potential buyer.
Although the construction industry may seem far removed from the technological innovations of other sectors, it is still seeing clear growth in the adoption of innovative tools. More than 50% of contractors are currently using advanced construction technologies such as drones, wearables, RFID tagging for inventory tracking, augmented/virtual reality, automated equipment/robotics, 3D printing, and much more. Contractors and architects are turning to technology for their resilient, sustainable products and for a solution to working more efficiently with a smaller team. Subsequently, the global market for commercial building automation will grow to $108 billion by 2024.
Additionally, building owners are pressuring contractors and architects to leverage “smart” technologies like those based on Internet of Things (IoT) innovations. For example, consider a technology like VERIFI that uses internet-connected sensors to provide real-time monitoring of concrete mixtures across entire fleets of concrete trucks. This technology saves time while improving concrete production and is representative of what today’s buyers seek. Sales professionals knowledgeable in these areas better understand how the products they are selling fit in with the big technological picture. Doing so means they can connect the materials they’re selling to reducing time to build, decreasing labor costs, and increasing quality, effectively creating a convincing sales pitch.
Considering that the U.S. construction market is valued in the trillions and that building product materials represent the backbone of that market, there is tremendous opportunity for sales professionals in the sector. Those who stay up-to-date on the trends that matter to contractors and architects are better able to position their products accordingly when interacting with those buyers.