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As businesses return to the post pandemic normal, they will need to adopt new sales practices for engagement with construction industry customers, clients and decision makers thanks to the broad adoption of home working and video conferencing. CPD is a great means of engagement, but it also has its challenges. Chris Ashworth of Competitive Advantage explains more.

All RIBA architects are required to undertake regular CPD and many other specifiers and decision makers also participate. So, offering a CPD seminar is a good means of engaging with your target audience and raising awareness of your products.

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The recently published Construction Media Index found that only 12% of architects and 2% of M&E consultants want to regularly hold face-to-face meetings with manufacturer representatives post pandemic. No doubt, this is because 59% of architects and 33% of engineers expect to be working 2 or more days a week from home. That means that time in the office is precious and to be used for catching up with colleagues or using software which cannot be operated from home. Those specifiers who have never been keen on ‘wasting’ time seeing manufacturer representatives will see their office time as even more precious.

Getting to see a specifier has always been difficult, which is why construction CPD is such a worthwhile tool. If done properly it achieves so much: getting in front of the decision maker, demonstrating the competence of the manufacturer’s representative, introducing the benefits of the manufacturer’s products and discussing projects. All part of the journey to becoming the trusted advisor.

But as with all forms of office meetings, the pandemic has taught people to use online as the means to deliver CPD. “Good” you might say “much less sales time wasted travelling to offices and setting up, not to mention saving on the cost of providing a lunch.” And yes, there are benefits with online delivery, be it delivered live or a recording. But there are also challenges.

If you have ever delivered an online seminar where most, if not all, of the audience have turned their cameras and microphones off you will know how difficult it is. As you sit there talking to yourself you wonder is there anyone there? Do they understand what I’m talking about? Has the internet connection dropped out? With no body language or audience feedback it’s very difficult to motivate yourself and deliver a compelling seminar. And when it comes to questions afterwards, there tend to be less and the likelihood of someone staying online to discuss a project is very slim.

The bad news is that our Construction Media Index research found that 51% of architects and 71% of consulting M&E engineers prefer online CPD as a delivery method over face-to face. So, this is not a problem that’s going away. What it means is that while the basic content of your seminar may be the same, you will need to find new ways to engage with your audience to make sure they are following the presentation. Perhaps a poll at regular intervals or other ways to make the presentation interactive.

Writing a CPD has always been much more than just telling an audience about your products. A well written seminar has many subtleties to it. Now the game has stepped up another level with the need to make the face-to-face more appealing but also ensure engagement with your audience when delivering online.

Although architects and engineers are reluctant to spend time with manufacturers’ representatives, mainly because of their busy schedules, they do want a relationship. And our research shows that there is correlation between manufacturer engagement and product specification.

Done well, CPD provides the opportunities for the manufacturer to increase overall engagement with specifiers which is extremely valuable in a world where getting access to these key decision makers is becoming increasingly challenging.

Competitive Advantage specialise in the construction sector, conducting bespoke market research and publishing reports to help marketers understand their construction markets. The team’s experienced consultants also work with product manufacturers to write their CPD content and develop the skills of delivery by the sales team.

Construction Industry CPD

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