As companies scrambled to keep their projects on track in the face of lockdown travel and face-to-face meeting restrictions, virtual meetings rapidly gained acknowledgement as a critical business enabler and one of the best ways to optimise customer engagement in the sales process.
The recent launch of Databuild’s new division, BuildConnect, serves as a case in point, says CEO Morag Evans. “Prior to lockdown, professionals were hard-pressed to keep abreast of new products and technologies and look for new opportunities while keeping their businesses running.
“Following the five-week shutdown of the construction industry, many businesses have been left financially vulnerable with some in danger of shutting their doors permanently.
“In the current remote working environment, email and text messages are effective up to a point. But our specification specialists are finding virtual meetings to be very beneficial in not only obtaining appointments with professionals, but also securing the product specification.”
Time spent productively
Professionals are currently under immense pressure trying to source new projects and stay in business, concurs BuildConnect specification specialist Anneke Anker of Spec X.
“Most companies are short-staffed, and professionals in particular now find themselves having to spend even more time on site than they did prior to lockdown. This means they have even less time available for meetings, so online facilities such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams are proving to be remarkably beneficial.”
“Online meetings enable professionals to manage their day more constructively,” adds Virtual Connect’s Donna Pelser, also a BuildConnect specification specialist. “Because the need for travel is eliminated, the turnaround time to set up a meeting is much quicker. Online meetings can be scheduled as early as the following day, as opposed a three-week lead time for a face-to-face discussion.
“The meetings are also considerably more productive, as business can be conducted in as little as half an hour. Supporting information such as product catalogues can be quickly and easily shared on-screen or via email and any questions that arise can be dealt with immediately, which facilitates the decision-making process.”
Enhanced product exposure
Granted, product samples are not conducive to viewing online, but these can be easily delivered to the professional on request.
“Gone are the days when professionals were continuously bombarded with samples of products they weren’t interested in, most of which were never even looked at,” says Anker. “Now it’s easy to introduce a particular product during an online discussion and even if it isn’t suitable for any current projects the professional is working on, they may be able to specify it in future projects and consequently request a sample.”
The ability to meet with professionals online has enabled BuildConnect specification specialists to cross provincial borders without having to travel. Although based in the Free State, Anker has expanded her territory to include the Northern Cape and North West.
“Furthermore, it’s now much easier to connect more regularly with clients from smaller, outlying areas, rather than just once a quarter as was done before the pandemic outbreak. This has assisted greatly in developing healthier, more productive relationships with professionals in these areas.
“As the devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic forces many companies to implement cost-reduction measures, the need for a specification service such as BuildConnect, together with project information assistance provided by Databuild is greater than ever before,” says Evans.
“Many professionals are so swamped as they struggle to attend to current queries, that the focus on securing new business is falling by the wayside. The BuildConnect national network of specification specialists enables them to focus on their existing business while helping them to extend their footprint in ways never considered before lockdown.”