Sold on Sales Representatives

Let’s be honest, a lighting designer is little without their tools. And though we all acknowledge that design starts in the mind and not on the assembly table, a scheme would be nowhere without the luminaires we specify. Uplights, downlights, decorative, linear—we all have our favorites, as impartial as we may try to be.

But a good product isn’t the only thing that matters in the technical aspect of our work; it is the human connection between designer and fitting. Namely, the sales representative. We must give credit to the incredible amount of things that we ask of our reps, and the vast amount of people behind them to get what we request of them. Sales, product development, quotations, engineering—there is truly an army of hardworking, tireless individuals that help lighting designers make our concepts a reality.

Sample requests, for example, are an almost magical process that I must applaud. Samples allow us to give clients a tangible means of looking at light, and the process of handling a luminaire is often the “aha!” moment we all strive to achieve. Many of the consultants and clients we work with deal with physical design objects, so being able to show them the form and function of a fitting is ultimately what will get a design signed off. That’s not to say lighting designers don’t get excited about samples either; we certainly do. Ask anyone that’s ever visited our office with samples how far into a presentation we get before starting to dismantle what’s in front of us. I still get as excited opening sample boxes as I would as if it were my birthday (especially if it’s in a lovely finish that I’ve never considered before).

And then there’s the gritty part of the luminaire specification world; costing. Oh, to live in a world where money is no object and you always get what you pay for! Alas, we are more commonly in love with a design that needs 20% cost savings. And then another 20%. And then, well, you get the idea. Good sales reps help us defend our designs by closely collaborating to provide competitive pricing for projects, sometimes cutting deep into their margins to maintain our relationship down the road. Not every deal is mutually beneficial when it comes to trying to squeeze into a budget, and we recognise how agonising it can be to find even the most minute ways to cut down on cost. But even this attention to detail boosts our confidence in our sales rep, and generates trust in the design team when we can present full and accurate information.

That’s not to say that we don’t get into the finer details only in times of frantic value engineering exercises. For any installation, our reps will often detail every piece of the puzzle—from mounting brackets to leader cables—so that we can be better informed of the whole picture and how it integrates across design disciplines. And if there’s any digging to be done, like ensuring compatibilities and installation methods, they are quick to ask questions of any and every part of the manufacturing world to help us out. The more knowledge we’re given, the better we can coordinate and relay questions between the engineer and manufacturer before the project is on site and the contractors are in a panic.

These tools that the manufacturer give us are what maintains a design’s integrity, and at Nulty we’re fortunate to have a number of manufacturer representatives support us. Ultimately, the service we give our clients is only as good as the service we get ourselves. Energised, reliable sales reps are the life-blood of our service. We know that this can make us a demanding practice at times, but it also ensures we develop close working relationships with all involved. So, from the bottom of our hearts; thank you.

Blog post by Kael Gillam