Research

How to talk to engineers

There isn’t a perfect way to communicate with engineers, but there are quite a few successful options

By Amara Rozgus June 22, 2021
High-rise commercial buildings in Chicago, along the Chicago River. Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

Without diving too deeply into the numbers, it’s fascinating to look at how building professionals work with equipment manufacturers on a regular basis. Some product or system vendors are more sophisticated in their communication with engineers and professionals, which works in their favor. If an engineer is familiar with a technology and how it works, they’re more likely to specify it into a new or renovated building.

This subject has come up multiple times over the past several years. One junior-level fire protection engineer specified, for example, only one brand of fire pump. It wasn’t necessarily because it was better or pumped water more efficiently. It was because the company contacted the engineer regularly, and offered information above and beyond the basic sales pitch. The tools offered were mostly educational, helping the younger fire protection engineer feel more solid in his understanding of the technology.

They’d formed a trusted relationship. This relationship gave the newer professional an online tool, physical examples of a product and a technical representative to connect with any time there was a question, especially helpful if a senior member of the team was unavailable. The engineer wasn’t specifying the biggest company or the best product; he was specifying what he knew.

Looking at research studies Consulting-Specifying Engineer has done over the years, this tends to hold true. No matter the type of building professional, more than half of survey respondents indicate they work with equipment vendors to help complete specifications.

About 700 survey respondents indicated that the most valuable factors when engaging with a supplier were (in order of preference):

  • Valuable consultation, education, content or tools.
  • Subject matter expert/thought leader.
  • Knows my company’s products and services.
  • Understands my company’s business model.
High-rise commercial buildings in Chicago, along the Chicago River. Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

High-rise commercial buildings in Chicago, along the Chicago River. Courtesy: CFE Media and Technology

And, according to a different research study in which more than 850 people participated, 39% of a specification evaluation process is complete when engineers and building professionals contact a supplier or vendor. That tells me that manufacturers need to open communication channels with engineers early, and keep the conversation going with education, product details, technical articles and webcasts.

Innovation plays an important role in how consulting engineers view a company in the marketplace. Product quality also ranks very highly as an important selection factor of one product over another. Engaging with engineers early and often can help create strong relationships, eventually leading to products and systems being written into specifications.


Amara Rozgus
Author Bio: Amara is the Editor-in-Chief/Content Strategy Leader for Consulting-Specifying Engineer.