Why sales & design teams need to work together
Archilogic helps office providers promote and sell office space through 3D floor plans, office design simulations and property data insights. Here we look into how real estate industry trends have impacted how office design and office sales teams work together.
In soccer, all eyes are on the players and their on-pitch performance. But behind-the-scenes, there is an army of professionals on-hand to create strategies, tweak their technique and equip them with the latest sports gear. The same applies to sales. Behind every successful sale is a team of designers, marketers, and operations- not just brokers.The most successful teams, in soccer and real estate, are ones who work closely together towards the same goal. It’s vital in today’s commercial real estate market because customer expectations have risen exponentially.But there’s a thin line to tread between sales and design teams. If the collaboration isn’t managed effectively, with the right kind of communication and teamwork, there’s a risk of putting someone’s nose out of joint and even losing a sale.
Office layout expectations
Today, customers are looking for the latest most FOMO-inducing experiences and this extends to commercial real estate. Smart real estate sellers are aware of and responding to that trend through more experiential selling.
It’s not enough to highlight work areas as the main selling point of a property. Instead, sales must align their space’s strengths, such as its atmosphere and working experience, with customer aspirations. That will likely involve a bit of back-and-forth between sales and design, to create a vision that inspires a prospect.
Selling a vision
It's much harder than relying on cold hard facts like floor space and plug points. It can’t be done via a dry PowerPoint presentation because it has to be brought to life. Visuals like 3D floor plans and walkthroughs are integral to this - and, again, this process requires both designer and sales input.
Visualizations will often have to be made on-the-fly. With design teams challenged to create many different options for a range of prospects, giving sales enough collateral for every potential scenario.
Evolving office layouts
Indeed, the future points towards more versatile office layouts. Ones designed without a set user in mind, at least initially. Design teams will have to adapt such office shells with modular fit-outs to suit different customer objectives and brands.
There’s also a move towards one-upmanship. Long gone are the days of dusty cubicles and flickering strip lighting. Now, every organization wants a Google-esque working environment, complete with call booths, slides instead of stairs, street food canteens, and on-site yoga lessons. There’s often an office ‘flavor of the month’ when it comes to fit-outs. Something that real estate firms must keep on top of to fulfill their customers’ desires.
That’s where collaboration between sales and design can really help. Sales is constantly in contact with target customers. They live and breathe these companies’ aspirations and are well-placed to guide their colleagues in the next big trend.
It’s also vital to consider cultural nuances, something that co-working space WeWork does well. Andy Heath, WeWork’s design director EMEA sees offices being increasingly tailored to individuals and cultural differences. Swedish workspaces feature large communal lunch tables, for example, whilst UK-based WeWork offices have more break-out spaces for people to choose to eat in isolation.
This level of customization isn’t possible when design teams work in a silo without a sales team’s input.
Commercial real estate is changing rapidly and the old process of ‘design, sell and move in’ is no longer fit-for-purpose. Designers and sales teams must realize this and work together to compete in this changing market. Part of this involves greater collaboration to sell a dream of what an office space could become, through 3D floor plans and virtual tours. In today’s office design, collaboration is the name of the game.
Tips for better collaboration
Yet, getting everyone to work well together isn’t always a simple task. Particularly if one or more parties feel put upon by the other team. Handily, researchers from the Harvard Business Review have found several practices that design and sales teams can use to collaborate more effectively.
1. Get senior management on-board to drive a more social and collaborative culture. This could be team workshops or day trips that will take the teams out of their normal structures and help build bonds more organically.
2. Creating a ‘gift culture’ through mentoring and coaching. This could include reverse mentoring, where a designer mentors a sales broker in the latest design technology and trends or visa versa. This way they will all gain a better understanding of the whole process from different angles.
3. Assign the right team leaders. Make sure that your leaders are both task and relationship orientated. Being able to adapt styles during a project is crucial. For example, being more task-orientated at the beginning of a project is great but leaders need to be more relationship-focused to make sure everyone keeps the enthusiasm to get the job done.
Beyond this, it’s worth setting expectations and to communicate boundaries between the sales and design team. Regular meetings to facilitate feedback and learning between the two departments can also help.