Get In There Early!

For project business, becoming involved in the planning stages can lead to increased profitability for the electrical distributor.

In the increasingly competitive world of electrical distribution, sales are often lost if salespeople wait around for orders or RFQs from contractors and/or end users. Increasingly, distributors must become engaged early to best position themselves to secure project business. This means developing an understanding of not only the projects themselves, but the people and processes used to spec these projects.

Get In There Early

A common roadblock to winning new business occurs when sales gets a bit too comfortable with their tried and true process and fail to look beyond it. This complacent approach can often leave opportunities for a forward-thinking competitor to swoop-in and capture business. An example might be an outside salesperson who consistently calls on their list of contractors and end users, but overlooks reaching out to engineers and others who are involved in a project. By ignoring these stakeholders during the planning and design phases, the salesperson opens up the possibility that decisions on electrical spec, as well as which distributor and products are selected will already have been made by the engineer. Quite often, these electrical spec decisions are made prior to the contractor becoming involved.

Most salespeople at electrical distributors love the bidding stage. They simply answer an inbound request by sending quotes or price sheets. However, prior to the proposal phase, the best business opportunities often exist in the initial planning stage. Delivering value and guidance to an engineer during the project planning phase is a proven method to lay groundwork for a large order.

By serving as a trusted resource for “all things electrical”, distributor salespeople can get a leg up when the time comes for purchasing decisions to be made. Here are a few tips for distributor sales teams to implement this process:

  1. Research prospects, not just the project – Don’t just focus on finding out the specifics of a project. Focus on learning about the actual stakeholders that are involved. Learn about the people that play a role in determining electrical specifications, and figure out how you might be able to help them navigate any challenges they might face.
  2. Use your available network of resources – Your existing customer base can be a great source for early project information. Ask them for available project details and any specifics on the size and scope of the job. Find out who’s involved in the planning process and what questions they’ve been asking. Ask for any possible introductions to the people driving the decision making process and offer to be a resource for them to help answer any questions.
  3. Focus on the low hanging fruit – Stick to prospective projects within your “wheelhouse” and focus on opportunities that are easy for you as a distributor to capitalize on. Determine whether the required logistics and services align with what your supply chain can provide. Go after the projects that you’re able to execute on and be profitable! Doing this will allow your location to target opportunities that provide the best chance of success while avoiding projects that you aren’t logistically equipped to handle well.

As the saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm”. Being involved in the conversation during the planning phase gives you a leg-up when it’s time to put together a winning proposal. Early conversations that you have with key decision makers provide valuable intel that will help you put together smarter bids that align with project specifications. In addition, developing relationships with the engineers and planning stakeholders that are attached to a project will create advocates that can help sway buying decisions your way.

Need help with wire & cable spec for an important project? Get a quote or contact us today, we’d love to help you win the bid! 888.439.2947