The increasing complexity of feature-rich advanced lighting products, including the continued trend toward the Internet of Things, has led to dramatic shifts in sales practices and leadership roles as these products require more customer guidance and support than ever before.
Recent research conducted by NEEA and BPA reveals that the increased need for hands-on expertise has led to the emergence of new types of facilitators for customers. This type of assistance is often offered by a single entity that stays involved in the project from specification through installation. These new facilitators include:
- Manufacturer representatives. Traditionally, manufacturer representatives have primarily worked with distributors and designers to make trade allies and specifiers aware of the products they represent. With complex lighting products, however, the manufacturer representative can serve as the customer’s touch point throughout the design, installation and commissioning of the system.
- Distributors. Distributors are evolving and expanding their roles to meet new market needs by using a more consultative sales approach and playing a larger role in implementing complex lighting projects.
- Lighting as a Service. With this approach, manufacturers take more control of the supply chain from start to finish, including controlling contractor hiring decisions and system maintenance. This approach creates an integrated experience through which the manufacturer hopes to sell more services over time.
- Building system integrators. These contractors ably serve emerging market needs, as they come with the expertise to specify and install a full spectrum of HVAC, lighting and other building system components and controls.
As new technologies lead to new paths through the supply chain, new roles are born within it. To succeed in this new landscape, it will take familiarity and foresight with not only the technology itself, but also the new facilitating roles that evolve around it.