A really useful guide to construction sales leads

As almost everyone in construction will know, the industry in the UK is unique in having an extraordinarily good forward view on billions of pounds worth of upcoming construction jobs. This potential new business is all logged in the planning applications and approvals system, and then through the tenders and contract awards data services that follow on from planning.

Virtually every new building project of any real value is documented, from small home extensions under £50k to major new schemes up to £1bn or more. They’re all tracked, researched and known about well before most buying decisions are made.

This means that every construction and property company, from small local builders and specialist sub-contractors to major national contractors have one of the most powerful sales and marketing tools in the country at their disposal. With sales leads, you don’t have to wait for work to come to you. You can choose the kinds of jobs you want - the ones you’re best at, at the right value, time and place – and go after them. All the information you need to do this is publicly available through the planning process.

However, there are over three hundred local planning authorities around the country. To navigate the planning system with any kind of efficiency, you’re going to want to use a construction leads service. These are paid services that collect data from the planning system and make it accessible to their subscribers, and there are four main providers to choose from.

The market is dominated by two major companies offering a full range of services. Those are Barbour ABI and Glenigan. They both have large staff teams who fill in the detail, giving users access to fully researched projects, but they are priced accordingly and may be too expensive and overpowered for smaller firms. Then there are two smaller firms: Planning Pipe deals with planning leads at a much more affordable price; and Builders Conference is a trade body that handles tendering and contract awards.

To find out more about these services, see our overview here. Or if you’re ready for a deeper dive, look up each of the four options in more detail here:

Whichever service you go for, you can use sales leads to identify specific projects that are of interest to you, identify key work providers so you can build long-term relationships, and look out for new companies in your area. You’ll be able to focus on the right kind of projects, in the right places at the right scale. Sales leads data is versatile, and there are many advanced uses too.

When getting started with sales leads, the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming. Where to start? Obviously you will want to narrow down the the rights sorts of jobs in locations that work for you. Even that will usually result in more leads than you can productively pursue. I always advise sorting and categorising them. There will be A* leads that are the most desirable jobs and that deserve your full attention. Then there are A grade jobs to follow up in person, and B grade that may be worth a mailshot.

Once you’ve got a list of A grade leads, pick up the phone. Call and introduce yourself and your firm. Share your relevant experience and express your interest. Follow up by email. You may score some quick wins, but remember that effective marketing is about long term relationships and repeat custom. Be patient. It can take an average of seven communications of one sort or another to get a sale through. With persistence and courtesy, those sales leads will convert into work, profits and business growth.

For lots more introductory steps, download The Really Useful Guide to Construction Marketing, and look up our tips for advanced use if you want to get more out of your subscriptions.

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The Really Useful Guide To Construction Marketing
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