21 October 2021

Construction manufacturers must have a solid approach to lead generation to reach specifiers, get their products added to specifications and grow sales. In this NBS Marketing Masterclass, we're looking at the role of lead generation in the construction industry, but we are also taking things further by identifying exactly which leads are most useful and how you can build them more effectively. 

The tips we outline below will help you to spot exactly which type of leads you want to build, spot the best approaches to building them, and understand how to maximise the value of every relationship that you build.  

This Marketing Masterclass by NBS includes information gathered during our webinar from panel members Izy Herrera and Robin Cordy from NBS; Liam Bateman from The Think Tank; Chris Ashworth from Competitive Advantage; and Matt Lowe from Glenigan

What is lead generation? 

Lead generation encompasses a lot more than many realise when it comes to construction manufacturers. When you think of leads, expand your horizons to encompass every piece of marketing activity that can ultimately lead to a sale/ contract. 

For example, some leads created through paid digital marketing will come 'ready to buy'. However, some higher level activities (such as brand marketing) may take longer to deliver a 'lead'. For this reason, you should consider all marketing-related activities like lead generation, even if there's no immediate purchase intent.  

Lead generation is often about timing – you might have built a lead early (such as the name of an architect who may be specifying for a project that suits your product), but until the 'time is right', you may not be able to convert that lead. Thus, projects have maturity phases, and lead generation activities must account for this. 

Lead generation must encompass all stages of a purchase journey to be most effective. You need to build leads at every phase so that you can maximise the value to your business. 

Who is responsible for lead generation? 

Sales and marketing teams must work together to maximise lead generation. By working closely, your teams can grow leads that target end results, as opposed to building leads that don't convert. 

To make this happen, the managers of each team (or the overall sales and marketing teams) should be working together. Ideally, they should agree on what a lead should look like, and create a collaborative approach to extract maximum value from the lead. This process must be created by someone internal in your business – it will require clear communication and the development of a results-driven culture from both sales and marketing. 

At NBS, we suggest sitting down with your team to discuss how everyone views leads, and how marketing and sales can work together to support each other with lead generation.  

Robin Cordy sums this up well in the webinar as a "Virtuous circle of communication between marketing and sales, whereby marketing are discussing what's coming up and that sales understand it and know what to do with it. Then, the feedback loop from sales talks about 'these leads were no good', 'these ones were brilliant’, 'we need to target x sector', etc.”.

There should be no 'blame game' here – if a marketing lead doesn't convert, Izy Herrera suggests investigating why: "‘Were they a quality lead, but sent to sales too early? What about them was poor? If they just weren't ready to buy, add them back into the funnel and target them again". If a lead is 'bad', it's important to establish why

Ultimately, Liam Bateman suggests, everybody in your business is responsible for lead generation. He adds: "At the end of the day, everyone in an organisation is a brand ambassador whatever they do, and it's all going to impact lead generation. 

“Whether that's a face-to-face interaction or good experience with a product, etc.… If you can get a referral from somebody, that's a valuable lead as someone is singing your praises. 

“Quite often, a referral is about a good product or service; maybe it's an exceptional delivery. But, when you think about that person who influenced that referral, it's the person in manufacturing who ensured the quality of the product". 

Why is lead generation important? 

The right type of lead generation can support both the short and long-term goals of a business. Liam Bateman and Chris Ashworth agree on the idea that both short and long-term lead generation is vital. Long-term lead generation might not deliver a purchase now, but it can pay off hugely in a year if you've managed to expose a specifier to your products at an early stage. 

Your business needs to create nurturing journeys for the leads that it generates. This means taking a cold lead through a creative-driven process that exposes them to your brand and products. Essentially, it's marketing's job to show that your business can meet a lead's needs and how you can do that. 

Taking this even further, Chris states: "Companies who have neglected it [long-term lead generation] will pay the price". 

Companies that marketed during economic downturns became more successful when the economy recovered – but those that did not market fell behind. For construction manufacturers, this shows the importance of building leads at every stage – from lead generation activities aimed at the start of an architect's journey through to more direct activities focused on purchase intent. 

What’s the importance of outbound and inbound leads? Inbound leads are those that come to your business, whereas outbound ones are those that you have to reach out to. Inbound leads, because they represent an architect or customer showing an active desire to learn more/ purchase your product, are typically valued higher. Incoming enquiries are vital for a salesperson because they're saying 'tell me more' instead of 'let me tell you more'. With cold calls and contacting a company to offer your services, you've still got to get past a gatekeeper and all that side of things. 

Matt Lowe shares the value of an outbound lead: “With an inbound lead, if you are making a call back, you are much more likely to get put through. However, both are important – you can control the activity of outbound because it's up to you how many people you call, whereas with inbound, you're limited to enquiries”.  

Both outbound and inbound leads are vital for any business. Lead generation is important because (when done correctly) it provides a complete pipeline for the sales team to follow, creating interest in your brand or products from an early stage in a specifier's journey. 

With the rise of digital lead generation, what other tools can help you to get ahead? 

Tools for lead generation 

Specific lead generation tools can help to boost your lead generation efforts by giving you a level of insight that's hard to replicate anywhere else. For example, the Glenigan database allows you to research leads based on their specification journey. NBS’ specification marketing cycle, which we've mapped out, involves various 'touchpoints' at which an architect or specifier might choose a manufacturer's product. So when you plan a lead generation activity, this cycle is a great reference point to assess whether your lead activity will address each key decision point in a specification journey. 

NBS Source can also help you to 'warm' a lead without any manual activity from your own team. By listing your product information on NBS Source, architects and specifiers will be exposed to your products during the research and specification stages. So, whether they contact you as an inbound lead or you reach out to them in future, they'll already have strong brand familiarity.  

As pointed out by our expert panel, you must also consider who is involved at each of these stages. Not every stage involves the same person. You must plan each lead generation activity with that understanding in mind. 

To stay ahead of 2023's upcoming change to third-party cookie collection, consider investing in lead generation tools that don't rely on cookie-driven data. Matt Lowe from Glenigan discussed how to use their platform to identify and qualify opportunities without relying on your own site's capture forms or other cookie-related data. 

Whatever tool you choose, Chris Ashworth suggests not just taking data at face value. Instead, use the data available in tools such as Glenigan to create more intelligent lead categories. By creating lead 'types', you'll be able to establish information such as what stage of the specification cycle a lead is at, which means that your sales and marketing activity can better target them. 

Marketing automation tools can help bring data and insight into your existing lead cycle, but the time investment is required to get the most out of it. A good system can  or rank leads, and notify you when a lead is far enough down a nurture journey to be contacted by sales, making that sort of software an invaluable tool for collaboration between marketing and sales.

How to measure success

For construction manufacturers, measuring success is all about thinking with a long-term vision. Being specified and winning the order is the ultimate 'success', but it's not always necessary to define your entire lead generation efforts as 'how many leads put us in their spec'. 

It's more important to map out your full lead generation efforts to understand that certain activities may not lead to specification now but can later lead to enquiries. Only by creating this map can you actually measure the activity results – without it, you're just guessing. 

As Robin Cordy alludes to when discussing RIBA CPD, exposing architects to your products through a CPD material can lead to brand familiarity and specifications in a future project. 

A lead qualified by both marketing and then sales might not always end in a purchase – but that doesn't mean you should just discard it. Often, relationships grow following initial contact. By ensuring that each lead has already gone through a marketing and sales journey, you expose the lead to your brand, your products and even your contact information. So, there's a good likelihood that you can win business from them on another project, or be specified on future jobs. 

Watch our full lead generation webinar today

If you've enjoyed this summary of the NBS Marketing Masterclass on lead generation, why not watch the full video? With an engaging panel of all experts in their field and an easy-to-follow, topic-by-topic format, it's an excellent way to further your knowledge, and is completely free to watch.

Find out how NBS can help you

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Email us at: manufacturers@theNBS.com

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