RIBA Insight menu
- Monthly Briefing
- Meet the team
Best CPD practice makes perfect
Product manufacturers and service providers offering CPD materials to specifiers often face a dilemma about how to convert initial interest into an enquiry, and an enquiry into a meeting. The answer lies in 'good sales technique', says RIBA CPD Showcase editor Andy Sivell, and sadly that's where many CPD providers fail.
I confess that I cannot stand the TV programme The Apprentice. It may have changed since I last saw it (quite some time ago, admittedly) but it struck me early on that it reinforced the popular image of a certain type of sales approach. Shouting.
"Shout, shout, shout! Buy, buy, buy!" - will boom some desperate wannabe, who'll then be described by commentators and the panel as a 'good sales person'. No they're not. They're good at shouting.
CPD - if executed well - is the perfect sales technique. We don't like to describe it in those terms because it can give the wrong impression. But it is a great sales technique. 'I share my specialist knowledge of a subject with you, possibly also spending a little time getting to know you in the process. As a result, you grow to like and trust me and, when the situation arises that you need my product or service, you are far more likely to seek me out to do business with." It's simple, transparent and effective. Unfortunately, many providers still like to think they can jump straight from the 'expression of interest' to 'close sale' stages with scant regard for the bits that come in between.
As editor of the RIBA CPD Showcase here's my advice to construction industry CPD providers wanting to get the most out of their CPD marketing activities. Some of these points may sound obvious. However, the following five points will help you on your quest to becoming thought leaders of your business area.
Make CPD marketing work for you by?
- Answering queries well - Get all staff on-board when it comes to fielding initial enquiries appropriately and efficiently. It's a small thing, but when I call a company about their CPD offering I'm always a little put out when told, 'I'll put you through to the sales (or marketing) department." Why? Are you going to try to 'sell' me something? I just want information. Equally, if I email you, can I get a response today? Many CPD co-ordinators only work part time, something I'm now acutely aware of having had to wait days (or even up to a week) for a response before now!
- Making it easy to book a seminar or obtain CPD material - Is your CPD offering signposted on your Home page? Why on earth not? Both your website and your CPD offering are integral to 'step one' in any prospects' information-gathering phase. If you're a RIBA-approved CPD Provider why are you not shouting that from the roof-tops? Your CPD material has been endorsed by one of the top 150 brands in the world.
- Avoiding the 'numbers game' - Architects tell us that one of their pet hates is being told that seminars can only be run if a target number of people attend. There are two ways of looking at this: a) the only person in the room may one day carry huge influence on a major project - and you got them on their own, and b) rather than treat a single enquiry as a negative, why not turn it around and ask the architect to introduce you to other local professionals who might also be interested in attending?
- Describing your CPD materials well - There are good reasons why the description of your CPD material shouldn't sound 'salesy' (see above), but that's no reason to have it not 'sell' at all. It should sell you, your expertise, your company's credentials and track record, and it should boast about how interesting, relevant and useful your CPD content will be to any specifier. What problem will it help solve? The use of good imagery here can be critical. If an architect or engineer is grappling with a problem on their building, and both the problem and solution are graphically illustrated in the images accompanying your CPD description, they'll waste no time getting in touch!
- Does your CPD enquiry form take more than a minute to complete? It shouldn't. See Maximising your online presence elsewhere in this issue.
- The most popular characters and programmes on our TV screens are also the best at selling themselves, not because they scream, 'Like me, like me!' but because they deliver something unique and that we value. That is good selling - and that is best CPD practice.
Author Andy Sivell is a writer and editor at Copywriting Copywriter
For more information about RIBA Insight advertising and marketing solutions, please complete our short further information form.
Sign up now for our FREE Monthly Briefing, featuring exclusive marketing advice, useful reports and the latest industry news.