How to Get Tile and Stone Specifications Working with Architects

Learn from UCTS how to get the best tile and stone specifications and improve your sales skills.

Guest Blog Post By: University of Ceramic Tile and Stone (UofCTS)

If you are an architectural sales representative or even aspiring to be one, it is important to understand some professional sales steps in getting your products specified.  After you’ve identified specifiers and projects to target, and maybe even developed some key relationships, understanding the sales process is critical to maximizing your success.

Follow these four steps consistently:

  1. Find and qualify the opportunity.
    Utilize resources like the Dodge Report and networking opportunities with trade organizations like AIA and ASID. Work closely with the architect and designer to see what projects will fit your supply capability.
  2. Develop the specification and provide a proposal.
    Provide a proposal with pricing, lead times, and other relevant information.  Prepare a written draft of the specification.
  3. Identify and build relationships with all the players in a project.
    Whether it is the architect, general contractor, tile sub-contractor, or owner, building relationships with everyone involved is essential to the success of the project.
  4. Follow-up, follow through and ask for the order.
    When you do what you say you will do and are diligent in your follow-through, your chance of getting the order increases. And while it can be a challenge, don’t forget to ask for the order! Asking for the order at every opportunity is vital because it’s not a done deal until the order is in hand, and technically speaking, it isn’t a done deal until you have been paid.


Here are some ways of giving customers incentives for placing orders:

  • Base your quote on a time limit and point out conservative lead times for product delivery.
  • Facilitate getting the order by pointing out to the owner, architect, or general contractor that the product needs to be ordered by a certain date to avoid delays. This puts pressure on the tile subcontractor to do what he needs to do to place the order.
  • Share any pricing or discounts that can be offered subject to placing orders by certain dates.
  • Instill a sense of urgency by discussing product availability. There can always be delays in manufacturing and shipping times. Conveying this urgency to the various team players will encourage them to get the order placed sooner than later.
  • Remember that the opportunity costs of allowing a product substitution are reduced profits or commissions you would have received if you got the order for what was specified. So, don’t try to sell on price alone; always protect your specification. Opportunity Costs are defined as the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when a different alternative is chosen.
  • IMPORTANT: You need to have a cushion for delays, or it can become a big problem. Delays on construction projects normally mean huge costs to the owners and perhaps the contractors. The owner can be subjected to opportunity costs because their building is not completed on time in terms of loss rent or increased loan costs. The contractors might have penalty clauses in their contacts, so if they don’t complete the project on time, it can cost them a substantial amount of money.


It is equally important to track the specifications to the point of getting the order. Throughout this process, consistent follow-up and follow-through will ensure that you are in the best position to get the order. Of course, there are other key aspects to getting specifications.

Look out for more blogs coming soon! In the meantime, sign up for the UofCTS live course at Coverings 2023 in April.