March 26, 2012

The Phase-Based Sales Approach

It’s worth pointing out that anyone who owns a scanner is a player in a new and emerging market with constantly changing variables. Sure, there are some companies that have been offering laser scanning for some time – Direct Dimensions, Metco, and GKS to name a few – but most of those companies have offered laser scanning as an additional service to their core business. Many of these early adopters have jumped in seeing this as the vision of the future. Most laser scanning and 3D data capture service providers have been established within the last several years and are trying to find their way in a previously unknown space.

Secondly, there is very low market penetration and understanding of laser scanning within the potential marketplace. Even though we are offering the fastest, most accurate and most economical way to measure … it’s still not a common element within the A/E/C industry. Weird – considering how ‘measurement’ is a fundamental cornerstone of these trades. I would suggest that there are endless possibilities, and as the technology becomes easier and more cost effective to implement—we are on the verge of a significant business opportunity.

At a recent conference I attended, in a selfish desire to check my own internal business compass I’m using to guide Precision3D Scanning, I asked many attendees what they thought the existing use of laser scanning was in their respective markets. The highest percentage anyone gave me was 1 percent. So, assuming that all of the folks I asked are wrong by 100 percent and the market penetration really is 2 percent, then there is a 98 percent-sized piece of opportunity out there to conquer … or dare I say profit from?

In upcoming posts, I’ll plan on covering some of the following concepts:

• How Symbiotic Relationships Can Make a Difference

• Unexplored markets

• What is my Core Business?

• Building Information Modeling….Really?

• “The Old Guys in the Room”: BIM vs. Experience

• Hunt the Elephants!

But let’s start from the beginning:

The Phase-Based Sales Approach 

The most immediate challenge the service provider faces in the sales process is educating the client on the technology. What is laser scanning? What can it do … and just as importantly, what can’t it do. You must be clear on the expectations and provide easily identified deliverable examples that are pertinent to the customer’s industry type. I’d suggest using visual examples to illustrate the process so the concepts can be clearly understood. Also imperative in this first phase is illustrating potential workflows. Show clear paths from start to finish. And in doing so, you need to ultimately provide a solution to the client’s needs.

The second phase of the sales process is to get the client to utilize your company on a project. Here you have two distinct challenges. First of all, you’re introducing CHANGE into a company. And rarely do people like to change what they’ve been already been doing and have had success with. They are where they are because of the way they’ve been doing things. So you need to make it easy for new process (habit) to emerge. Provide a rewarding outcome and the change will come easier.

Some companies have a BIM Department or Virtual Design teams who understand the 3d world and modeling, but they still don’t understand how to incorporate laser scanning into their model. And most completely miss the significant opportunity to save money by using laser scanning not just in capturing the as-is but as a QA/QC tool during the construction process.

Another challenge is the BIM staff doesn’t truly control the money … so they can’t approve the spending with you on a project. Instead you need to convince them and the specific project management team. As a good friend of mine says, “eat the elephant one bite at a time.”

Once you’ve introduced the technology, and pushed to change the existing habits, you must then justify the cost of your service. The common objection—“I really like it, but there’s no money in the project for scanning” … is something you’ll need a quick comeback for.

I’d suggest keeping it simple, yet quantifiable. And I’d ask questions before throwing out justifications. Start with “how much re-work are you expecting on this project?” Or, “how do you plan on measuring to validate the changes in the structure?” Have the client explain to you how they plan on offering a quality product. How do they convey workmanship, and client satisfaction? Then sell the scanning service back into their primary areas of concern. Help them provide added value.

I’m guessing your client goals will center on labor/materials cost, and quality reputation. Offer to become their new way to compete in a tough and changing economy by showing them how to save money and market their company.

Provide your client with a clear method of getting a “win” on this project … and there will be more that follow. 

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