Many of us in the architectural, engineering, and consulting world come from academic backgrounds and fear one word above all others. That evil five-letter word is . . .
‘Sales’ is a word we shy away from until we finally connect the dots and start to realize that our livelihoods are based on someone else deciding that they like what we are selling and then awarding us a project.
The process is not a mystery outside our power, to be wielded by unearthly forces somewhere in the executive board rooms of Mordor. Every time the phone rings, or we receive that good-news email, we have participated in selling our services. Someone has taken an objective look at our experience, expertise, and knowledge, and decided that the value of what we offer is at least worth the cost. This is the equation of the value proposition. It mirrors Newton’s First Law. An object at rest will remain at rest until its value is greater than its cost. Then the (trans)action happens.
OK, that is not an exact corollary, but you get the concept. In 1983, IIBEC (originally called NARC, followed quickly by RCI) was formed with the idea that some of the immovable objects in the industry (e.g., the relative obscurity of the building enclosure profession, poor construction quality, and poor design) could be moved, if enough people all pushed on them together. What valuable things did IIBEC initially do for its members? It shone a light of legitimacy and credibility on the profession of roof consulting, by aggregating the credibility of individual members. It created a shared source of knowledge that had simply not existed before, one whose whole was greater than the sum of its parts. And it provided a forum for business camaraderie and social engagement that most members had never experienced, because most practiced alone or in small groups. The value of membership was greater than the cost, so more and more people kept moving the immovable, and IIBEC grew into a sophisticated international organization.
How does IIBEC’s value proposition stack up in this brave new world flooded with non-neutral information, and dealing with a global disruption in travel and gatherings unlike any we have experienced? Apparently quite well. IIBEC’s membership has been virtually unshaken over the course of the pandemic, despite recession-like unemployment and economic shrinkage. E-learning and registrations are up. But that doesn’t mean continued success is inevitable. Many groups are now offering accessible, inexpensive training that covers some of the same ground as IIBEC. Online communities claim to introduce people with similar technical interests, albeit in a virtual setting. I think I’m a member of the ‘Warm Edge Spacer Collective,’ but I haven’t attended any meetings in a while.
In the face of this altered industry landscape, IIBEC and its members haven’t changed much. We continue to volunteer our time and energetically engage with seemingly immovable objects, from building code changes to improved diversity and inclusion, to a heightened industry profile. We continue to create new education and registration programs to reflect the changing needs of our industry. We keep banging the drum of advocacy for our members with governments and prospective client groups. We still yearn to be together, to share experiences and knowledge in unique settings like the upcoming convention in Phoenix.
We’re still doing all those things we did 38 years ago, but now we can also take great strength (and value) from things we didn’t have then. Today, IIBEC has an entrenched reputation as a source of industry-leading technical knowledge. We have unparalleled professional registration programs. Our breadth and depth of influence in the whole building enclosure industry is greater than ever. When it comes to building enclosure consulting experience, expertise, and knowledge, we are the best!
Oscar Wilde was not thinking about becoming an IIBEC member when he famously said, “I am a man of simple tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.” But his is a convincing argument to pull out next time you’re asked to explain the IIBEC value proposition to a prospective member. You may very well (unwittingly, of course) make a sale.