When specification selling there is the tendency to focus on just the Architect or Engineer forgetting about the Contractor.

When specification selling on a D&B or PFI project don’t just focus on the Architect, find out who the Contractor’s Design Manager is. The Design Manager will be seeking the most effective solution for the project, which means satisfying the client while minimising the cost. It is a common misconception that the Contractor is looking for the cheapest product, but often a more holistic approach is applied when looking for best value.

To get your product specified you need to find a way of getting the Contractor’s attention and then demonstrating that your product ticks all of the right boxes. Online methods are increasingly accepted, but companies need to ensure they present the appropriate information in an easy to access format and keep in touch with new developments. At the same time do not neglect the traditional media such as magazines and literature, they still have an important role to play.

Our recent research, Construction Media Index, identifies key hardcopy and electronic media used by Main Contractors, as well as the trade titles actually read.

In this Blog post we interview Colin Courtney, Business Development & Strategy Director at Skanska UK, on the topic of Communicating with Main Contractors and the best channels of communication to use.

Q: With a significant drop in the usage of product directories what would you say are the most helpful tools for Contractors seeking product information, both online and off?

More and more people are going to Google and search engines to gain product information. If they are not using the traditional product directories then they are using online equivalent and online databases and manufacturers own websites.

Q: With a high proportion of Contractors using social media for work and also subscribing regularly to trade journals, how would you see these communication channels being utilised by the specification salesman?

Social media is used increasingly for marketing and raising product awareness and for the presentation of information in various forms through blogs, networks, groups etc.

The younger generation particularly are capitalising on social media and being innovative in the ways they use it for work. They are driving behavioural change in the work place. Those that are not prepared to change will be left behind.

Q: In your opinion is the use of social media by Main Contractors being used primarily as a channel to communicate with prospective clients or as a method of gathering information?

I see LinkedIn for example being used more for business networking and communicating with prospective clients. It is being used increasingly for those that have a message to get across and to build a network. LinkedIn is also being used more for job recruitment, either for advertising roles or for those looking for work. Recruitment agencies appear to be very active on this.

Twitter has both a social and a business element. Marketeers are using it for raising profile and brand awareness.

Q: Architects are now starting to use Apps as a means of communication, but at present there is very little use by Main Contractors, how do you see this changing?

Architects and Engineers are at the front-end of projects and so are handling a lot of data, therefore they are at the leading edge of adopting Apps to help them perform their activity. I would dispute that there is little use by Main contractors, they are following the Architect and Engineer’s lead. Main Contractors are using Apps in relation to marketing and communication, as well as assisting with monitoring, capture and presentation of project data.

Q: With almost a fifth of Main Contractors already using BIM how do you see this influencing working methods and in particular product specification?

There is a big increase in the adoption of BIM. The more intelligent, leading clients are promoting the use of BIM (and the Government as the major industry client is taking a lead on this). Main Contractors are becoming increasingly more receptive to BIM and the advantages it will bring.

BIM complements green construction and all the benefits associated with this. It embraces the digital revolution, fosters a collaborative environment and early involvement of all the key stakeholders in a project. It facilitates easier optioneering at design stage, life cycle considerations can be taken into account  and through more off site construction the virtual elimination of waste, all leading to significant carbon reduction. Not to mention better quality, lower costs and more predictability in terms of delivery.

BIM can play a major role in making our industry more competitive, reduce the carbon emissions associated with the built environment and encourage investment in what has been described in the past as a ‘dirty industry’.

More about Colin Courtney

Colin is currently Business Development & Strategy Director at Skanska UK. He has extensive experience across the UK and international construction markets. This experience covers work in both the building and civil engineering sectors and across many different cultures ranging from Mexico to the Middle East.

Colin has delivered profitable market growth in existing and new markets, established new business entities and played a key role in managing and integrating acquisitions. During a secondment to Skanska AB from 2008 to 2011 he was instrumental in helping to position Skanska as the leading Green project developer and contractor. Green leadership is now firmly embedded in Skanska’s 2015 growth strategy.

Colin recognises the importance of a strong client focus and the need for both cost effective as well as ‘Green’ solutions – a major business driver in the future and is currently Chair of the UK Green Construction Board’s, Promotion Working Group.

Further Reading

Communicating with Architects – an Interview with Su Butcher
Communicating with Building Services Engineers – an interview with Tina Cardy
Communicating with Specialist Contractors – an interview with Stefan Hay
6 highs and lows of communicating with construction specifiers

Construction Media Index
Adoption of BIM
Selling to Specifiers
Designing with Sustainable Products

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