Sales in Disguise

Both Hollywood and the public never tire of watching Superman save the day through a combination of brains, brawn and bravura. But take a closer look at Superman and you’ll find that Lois Lane is there to keep him informed about what’s really going on in the world.

Perhaps it’s a stretch to compare design/builders to superheroes, but aren’t they, too, expected to do the near impossible — create an architectural masterpiece within strict building guidelines while keeping to a limited budget and time schedule? If Superman’s weakness is kryptonite, then the design/builder’s downfall surely is business administration.

When communicating with the public about your company’s services, where is the first contact made and by what medium? For most businesses, the first line of contact with a prospect is the telephone. And if you’re like most design/builders, you probably have an administrative person who handles incoming calls.

Typically, that call lasts about two to five minutes and is answered between photocopying, filing, bookkeeping and other administrative tasks. It might seem unreasonable to ask the administrative person to put everything aside and put on a sales hat when the telephone rings, but just as Lois is responsible for gathering information for her news stories, the office administrator is expected to collect pertinent information from prospects while digging deeper into their story. Details to be collected include not only when, where and what they plan on having designed and built, but also how much money they plan to invest on the proposed project.

In order to delve that deeply into the prospect’s needs and goals, the administrator will need to schedule a later call and be willing to dedicate 20 to 25 minutes to the discussion. This is a great opportunity to establish rapport, find out the prospect’s financial investment threshold, and explain how the design/build process works within your company.

One advantage office administrators have when speaking to prospects is they are not perceived as salespeople. Potential customers may be more willing to divulge important information about their plans if they don’t feel pressured by a salesperson.

Additionally, it’s a time to let the prospect know about the advantages of doing business with your company. Just like Lois, the administrator is the collector of information and reporter of facts. In the administrator’s case, the facts are that the company is professional, creative and trustworthy and that doing business with the company is both prudent and in the prospect’s best interest.

This can be a critical part of the successful design/build sales team’s efforts. The administrator is the conduit to the sales team and should be the one to make the introductions between homeowner and salesperson. Doing this offers another layer of comfort and security by ensuring the company is on the same page and that the prospect will be well treated.

While most business owners want to be Superman, it is almost impossible to achieve. Everyone needs a little help now and then, and fortunately most of us have a Lois Lane in our company who will help us maintain our superhero appearance.