Dealers with annual revenues of $10 million or more report spending more time and resources building an architect customer base. But small dealers, albeit in smaller numbers, said they were doing the same. The big question: What’s the payoff?

ProSales polled dealers in an annual survey about their accounts receivable practices, which this year asked questions about their relationships with architects. Of the survey’s 185 respondents, only 82 said they regularly interact with architects. Of that number, dealers with revenues of $10 million or more (“big” dealers) said they were more likely to view architects as a viable market, and reported a higher percentage of outreach among their sales reps and through classes, informational sessions, and other meetings. Big dealers also said they were more likely to pursue sales to architects in the future. Read partial results of the architect survey .

Some notable results:

Target market Of the 82 respondents, 60.7% said they regard architects as a target market and reach out to them as they do traditional customers such as homebuilders, remodelers, and DIYers. Of that number, four in ten were small dealers who qualified their outreach primarily as a way to get architects to spec their products and get future leads.

Exclusive sales force No dealers with revenues less than $10 million (“small” dealers) said they have sales reps devoted exclusively to architect sales. But nearly 14% of big dealers said they did.
Meeting rooms: Six in 10 small dealers and eight in 10 big dealers said they have a conference room or similar facility where they bring architects, builders and/or homeowners together to discuss projects.

Info sessions Small dealers aren’t devoting many resources to architect-focused meetings (16.7% said they were), while fewer than half of big dealers said they did (45.7%). Both groups responded in equal numbers (22% to 23%) that they invited architects to meetings with their builders. Continuing Education programs, an area where the dealer-architect relationship could receive a boost, are offered by 14% of small dealers and 42% of big dealers.

Future outreach Both groups said that their outreach to architects has remained about the same since 2010 (small dealers, 75%; big dealers 61%). Whereas nearly six in 10 small dealers don’t anticipate changing their approach between now and the end of 2013, a fewer than half of bigger dealers say they’ll give their efforts a slight boost.

Of those who said they sell to architects, 37.8% identified themselves as a chairman, president, owner/partner, executive vice president, or other non-finance corporate executive; 37.8% said they were a sales manager or inside or outside sales rep.; 13.4% reported as general, store, or department manager, and 3.7% as chief financial officer, controller, accounts manager, or another financial role. Nine in 10 represented a building material dealer or lumberyard. Seven in 10 respondents said that 75% or more of their company’s sales come from building professionals; two in ten said that one-half to three-quarters of their sales are to the pros.