Pipeline Shocker: Constructive CRM Success Demands Sharing


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When times get tough, the smart money comes from doubling down on CRM. That’s especially true in the manufacturing and construction industries, and in the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in CRM demand from such companies, especially in Great Britain and the United States.

What accounts for their new CRM push? With the recession making it tougher to sell, these companies know that they have to handle their sales opportunities more carefully, not least to realize these five benefits:

  • Efficiency: Are two of our salespeople competing for parts of the same deal?
  • Visibility: Who are our customers, and what projects are they bidding on, and who’s bidding on projects but isn’t yet one of our customers?
  • Pipeline: Can we build and maintain an accurate sales pipeline involving customers who may be bidding on the same projects?
  • Up-selling and cross-selling: What additional products might a contractor or builder require currently, or as their project moves forward?
  • Continuity: If a current salesperson leaves, how long will it take to train a new one, and can we keep our accounts happy until that happens?

CRM Gets Constructive

Using CRM is a relatively new endeavor for most manufacturing and construction companies. Previously, some of these companies did try to capture more detail on prospects, customers, and project specifications via their ERP system. But too often, the system would lack required account management capabilities, such as knowing who to speak to or influence at any given stage. Furthermore, on a cultural level, many organizations failed to require that salespeople share what they know.

As a result, when a manufacturing supplier’s ready mix concrete division supplied product to a customer, only the ready mix concrete salesperson might know why. In fact, the concrete may have represented only a small portion of a bigger project–say, a new hospital build–for which other divisions at the company might also have sold materials. But because this information stayed in salespeople’s heads, salespeople from other divisions or territories often missed out on add-on sales opportunities and potential revenue.

Forecasting Materials Success

Sharing customer and project information, meanwhile, also addresses this construction and manufacturing sector challenge: How can you build an accurate sales pipeline when you’re potentially supplying materials to different builders and contractors, who are bidding on contracts which they may or may not win?

Answering that question can seem like the CRM equivalent of advanced calculus. The equation is further complicated because for manufacturing and construction companies, more than one of their customers may be bidding on the same project. For the contract to build a new high school, for example, one of our customers may supply materials to three of the five contractors bidding on the project.

Simply knowing that, however, highlights new opportunities: Why isn’t it the supplier of choice for the other two contractors? By maintaining a hierarchy of projects and suppliers in the CRM system, the company can begin targeting suppliers that don’t yet use its products, so that for any given construction project, the likelihood of its materials being used increases.

Or for a hotel refurbishment project, the manufacturer may be the supplier of choice for the hotel chain, but the chain may bring in contractors to handle plumbing or electricity. Accordingly, the manufacturer wants to ensure it’s the supplier of choice for these contractors as well.

Make Salespeople Share

But increasing sales by spotting and pursuing these types of opportunities requires getting information out of salespeople’s heads and into the CRM system. Once the information is shared and visible to everyone–across all territories and divisions too–it becomes actionable.

For starters, salespeople can search the system and see that two contractors who use their products are applying for a project on the same school. So if you have sales team A targeting contractor A, and sales team B targeting contractor B–but both contractors are applying for the same school–you can know that you’re looking at a single sales opportunity.

Subsequently, if contractor A wins the project, the CRM system can automatically recommend ways to cross-sell and up-sell them, so you make more money from the deal. Many of our customers, for example, have different divisions, each selling different materials–asphalt, ready mix concrete, bricks–or parts, such as faucets or taps, or many other types of building materials and supplies. By capturing and consolidating information about customers, opportunities, and project information in the CRM system, manufacturing and construction companies can see the bigger sales-opportunity picture, and spot new ways to increase their “wallet share” with existing customers.

Because especially when times are tough, selling more product to your existing customers is a great way to boost the bottom line–and not just for construction and manufacturing suppliers.

Learn More

Want to hear the best way to implement a sales force automation (SFA) program to bring together multiple business groups, as described by one of the world’s leading consumer electronics manufacturers? Or the top sales effectiveness or marketing automation questions–and answers–you should be asking, to make your current CRM program even better? For all this and more, check out videos from Innoveer.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user fRedi.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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