Barbour ABI or Glenigan? Which construction sales lead service is right for you?

Sales leads are invaluable to construction marketing, but where do you start? Where do you get access to them? Which of the sales leads providers offers the right balance of services and features for you?

Confusing though it may be at first, things are not as complicated as they appear. That’s because there are surprisingly few main data providers in the UK. There are more than listed here – but the way the market has developed, except for real specialist providers, your real choice is between just four. The market predominantly consists of two major firms owned by international groups – Barbour ABI and Glenigan, and two smaller players in Builders Conference and Planning Pipe.

But how do you choose - let’s compare and contrast, beginning with the two majors…

Barbour ABI and Glenigan

Both Barbour ABI and Glenigan position themselves as UK market leaders and both have developed very powerful research facilities over the last thirty years. Each has a large, expert research team. Barbour ABI are based in Cheshire and Glenigan in Bournemouth, but both have full UK construction coverage. Together they have secured thousands of client subscribers, including government and international construction groups.

Both Glenigan and Barbour ABI have developed powerful and sophisticated software to collate around half-a-million planning applications a year to their research teams. The larger schemes will go forward for individual research and will be tracked through to planning approval, then to tendering, contract award and subcontract awards in most cases. Smaller projects, such as extensions or residential projects judged to be worth less than £100k are added to a database but not researched in detail.

If you’re a larger builder or construction company with a good budget and looking for highly researched project sales leads data available through sophisticated web portals, you’ll start talking to one of these two. Each has vast databases of projects and key companies going back many years and accessible online, meaning you can cut and carve project data in all kinds of amazing ways if that’s what you want. But which one should you go for?

Barbour ABI and Glenigan both work in identical market places, the logic that drives them is the same, each will claim differences against the other. To be blunt, though, they have been competing against each other for so many years that they have ended up with very similar services and pricing structures. To an outside observer, the main differences are in corporate culture and tone rather than service or quality.

Pricing is complex and flexible and depends entirely on what you need, where you’re based and the level of detail you require. If you’re considering one of these two companies, talk to both. You may discover a deal-breaking difference in cost, though it isn’t all about the price. You should also look at the user-friendliness of their online interfaces and the training and support they provide.

Planning Pipe and Builders Conference

With both the two big sales lead providers competing over the top end of the market, a gap has opened up for the smaller contracts, and that’s where Planning Pipe comes in. Founded in 2009 by a former MD of Glenigan, Planning Pipe is a low cost alternative for construction companies such as builders and specialist suppliers who only need to work with planning stage project leads.

Planning Pipe has equal access to all the half-a-million or so planning applications across the UK, filtering them down to 300,000 and packaging the information for a different audience. It’s ideal for companies with a focus on smaller jobs closer to home, and those looking for a more personal level of service from a company who can provide accurate data at low cost and on a flexible basis.

The cost of using the Planning Pipe service is much lower than Barbour ABI or Glenigan – as a rough guide it’s around 80% cheaper. For those sorts of fees Planning Pipe does offer less information and a more limited set of online tools, but a good Business Development Manager doesn’t need any more than the basic project detail to get started. Many of our clients at CMS use Planning Pipe data, which is well suited to the work we do with small to medium sized firms.

Builders’ Conference is another smaller source for project leads, and as a non-profit organisation it is substantially different to the other three. Conference is owned by its 1,000+ builder and contractor members, with a national scope but a particularly strong presence in London and the M25 area. It is not driven by commercial pressures in quite the same way, and describes itself as a member-only Trade Body.

Builders’ Conference also has a narrower focus, specialising in tendering and contract-awards stage project leads and serving around 11,000 projects and contract opportunities to members each year. In 2018 it launched an online interface called Serino, which enables members to process tenders and contracts in reasonably sophisticated ways.

While it has a much smaller research team than either Glenigan or Barbour-ABI, it makes up for this to some degree with data submitted by member contractors. If you’re after a straightforward and relatively easy-to-use tender and contract award facility, especially for London and the South, Conference will be well worth evaluation.

In summary

There are two comprehensive, but relatively expensive, services and two smaller services that serve specific ends of the process. Which you choose will come down to your own assessment of three things:

  1. What you need it for

  2. What your budget is

  3. How well you get on with the user interface they offer

If you would like more information, or help in assessing your options, why not give us a call on 01256 475880.