Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth
CPD is a very effective means of developing relationships with the specifier at the early stages of the engagement process, achieving awareness and allowing them to evaluate the organisation and local contact. In the first of two articles, I will look at the benefits of CPD when building relationships with product specifiers.
Let us start by reminding ourselves what CPD is. I like the description used by the Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE):
Continuing Professional Development (CPD) is a long term commitment. It refers to the ‘systematic maintenance, improvement and broadening of knowledge and skills'. It is about learning and putting into practice new competences year after year, and investing in your future.
Most manufacturer CPD is in the form of seminars. It is used by architects, engineers and many other professional. But even those who do not require CPD, estimators for example, will be interested in a well presented technical seminar which explains how a product is used or works.
Benefits of CPD
From the manufacturer’s perspective, there are a whole series of benefits to be gained from offering CPD. As well as the obvious ones, such as introducing your company and product, there are also some more subtle ones which are often not appreciated.
For example, for a specification to remain firm it needs to be well written with unique characteristics included. The CPD seminar provides the opportunity to introduce unique product characteristics and explain why they are important, justifying inclusion in the specification. This in turn creates an ideal introduction to talking to the architects or engineers after the seminar about their specifications and helping them improve them by including your clauses.
Online or In-house?
One debate around CPD is should it be delivered personally at a practice, or just offered online? Online seminars have many advantages; they are cost effective for the manufacturer, can reach out to the many small practices which could not justify an in-house CPD and can be viewed at a time convenient for the specifier. What they do not provide is that personal engagement. One of the major advantages of a CPD delivered at the specifiers’ practice to a room full of people is the chance to introduce both the company and the presenter as the technical expert. This should be the start of a long-term relationship as the Trusted Advisor.
I recommend offering both options. The seminar delivered at the practice is targeted at those specifiers which will give the best return. They may specialise in your product type, or the sectors which have greatest appeal and as such are your key account targets and well worth spending time with delivering a seminar. Of course you will need to decide what constitutes a key account, using Barbour ABI to identify your targets. And of course, a practice in the West country could be very important for that territory, but a practice of that size would not even get onto the radar for London.
There will be a large pool of non-key accounts, they may be interested in your products but don’t justify the resource required to deliver a seminar so can be directed to the online CPD. And of course, online CPD can also be used to let a CPD coordinator evaluate your material.
In the second of these articles I will look at Developing CPD content to ensure maximum benefit for both the manufacturer and specifier from the seminar.
Promoting your company and building products with Barbour Product Search can help to increase your visibility to the full specification audience. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
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Chris is a specialist in specification strategy and founder of Competitive Advantage Consultancy which specialises in market research and training for the construction industry. He is a member of the BIM4M2 steering group and Deputy Chair of the organising committee for CIMCIG, the Chartered Institute of Marketings Construction Industry Group.
Guest post provided by Chris Ashworth