Salespeople are constantly running up against specifications. Specifications are the bible of any large project. If you don’t put in the exact equipment or lighting that has been required by the engineer or the owner then the whole project may come to a halt.
The problem is you rarely have exactly what is required on that specification. I was just writing my latest sales article called Paint the Picture when I noticed that in both examples I wasn’t offering the customer exactly what was in the specs.
For those non-salespeople reading both statements in that article they are probably thinking that neither scenario is giving the customer what they need. Both are giving them a substitute. Isn’t that what specifications are for?
Real salespeople know specifications are written by another salesperson trying to keep you out. Car salespeople know that if you don’t have a red one it typically doesn’t matter the blue one will do just fine.
I’m not suggesting that you should ignore specifications. What I am suggesting is that many times you can use substitutions for those items that are specified. A lot of times these are needs that must be met by any number of products or vendors.
In other words the original writer of the specifications is using that document to create objections. You have to overcome those objections.
Here is a real life example: One time I bid a large landscaping job for a local contractor. In the specs it called for hardwood mulch vs. pine straw. There was a tremendous amount of area to be mulched. So I went to the owner and asked… “I see you are using mulch here, that is going to be extremely expensive, have you thought about pine straw?” The owner said… “I thought I had already switched that are you still seeing that in the specs?”
Specifications are written to ensure the proper products get placed on the job. That doesn’t mean that substitutions can’t occur. Make sure you treat all specs like a giant objection. If you do that then you may be able to place a lot more of your products on the job than you thought.
David Peterson – President: Atlanta Sales and Consulting