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CRM For Contractors

Contractors are rapidly beginning to utilize technology throughout their companies but, until recently, have been slow to adopt customer relationship management systems. 

By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals


Following the great recession, small businesses are rapidly adopting new technologies in all aspects of their business. From operations to sales, the way we do business is changing and small businesses are no exceptions. Small businesses are a diverse bunch, and the technologies that are affecting them are applied differently from one vertical to another. Contractors, with their remote work and reliance on technical specification and precise measurements, is an industry ripe for the adoption of new technologies.

CRM Software for Contractors

Contractors as a group have quickly recognized the value in computer-aided bidding and project management but have been slower to realize value from the customer relationship management (CRM) systems that are employed by sales teams. I’ll cut to the chase: contractors need CRM software. One reason for the slow adoption is that CRM vendors have themselves been slow to recognize contractors as a valuable market. Consequently, there are few CRM platforms built with contractors in mind. In spite of this lack of focus, most contractors stand to gain a great deal by implementing even an out of the box solution.

CRM software is designed to replace and enhance older means of record and contact management. By moving contact information from a physical location into a cloud-based application, individuals across your company can access critical client data when they need it. From the Office Manager scheduling appointments to the sales person in the field making the estimate to the project manager who needs to turn client interactions into tangible results, people across the organization will become more efficient when they can see everything about a job in one place whether from the office or on the job site.

CRM software makes business more efficient

The benefits of a CRM over a Rolodex for contractors is huge, but comparing the two does not do the modern CRM systems justice. By aggregating data from all the interactions with a client and all your jobs, won and lost, companies can gain insights that create more productive salespeople, more successful marketing campaigns and better management of both. The organization of this data, both singularly and in aggregate leads to improved follow-up as well as insights into which prospects to target when.

As I stated above, companies from across the spectrum are scrambling to adopt CRM technology. For those who have not already done so, it’s important to understand that a primary reason that big businesses have been so successful at seeing gains in industries previously dominated by small business is their ability to rapidly recognize the potential of new technologies and adopt them accordingly. By investing in customer targeting technology, sophisticated companies can edge in on market segments that have traditionally purchased from small businesses. Luckily for locally oriented contractors, the relationships they already have in place are a significant advantage, and the edge is easily maintained by fortifying those connections with relationship management software.

When it comes to selecting a CRM for contractors, there are characteristics that should be watched for as they’ll help your new system more easily integrate with your existing bidding strategy. First off, most CRM’s weren’t built with contractors specifically in mind, instead trying to target a larger customer base. This is okay, as there are more similarities between a construction bid process and a typical sales funnel than might be initially apparent. In spite of the similarities, there will likely also be some differences that an out-of-the-box CRM doesn’t cover. To overcome these differences, a CRM should be easily customizable through different fields and reports. This allows the software to capture and report on the information most valuable to you.

In addition, to flexibility in the program itself, a CRM for contractors needs to be readily accessible from a variety of mobile devices. From apps to mobile optimization, CRM software needs to be able to supply customer and job information to a variety of people in the organization from sales reps making proposals to project managers on the job site to accounting in the home office. Fulfilling the needs of these different roles requires a platform capable of being reliably accessed from a variety of devices and quickly rendering different information to users in different roles.

Adopting technology is about making your customer relationships stronger. 

Lastly, when selecting a CRM for your business, it’s important to keep in mind your level of technological sophistication. There are a large number of options available, and they vary considerably in the complexity of their implementation. While in some cases, robust or heavily customized features warrant a greater expenditure during implementation, but in most instances they do not. CRM platforms that are easy to deploy without code allow for a minimum of downtime. Furthermore, a straightforward and well-designed set of features stands a better chance of seeing quick adoption by those needing it in your company.              

See how PipelineDeals is build to be a CRM for Contractors                                                                                                         

The market for CRM software is diverse, and the available features quickly go beyond the scope of this article. What we hope to outline, is the need contractors have for CRM software. There are many opportunities for companies to see efficiency gains, not only in their operations but in the job acquisition process. Without utilizing technology, contractors, as well as other small businesses, are leaving their customer base at risk of being poached by aggressive competitors. Shore up your customer relationships, and ensure independence for your company for years to come.

See how SunX Solar used PipelineDeals to double their revenue

 

New Integration With PieSync Keeps Your Contacts In Sync

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PipelineDeals is designed to be the central hub and vault for your customer relationships, helping your entire team stay in sync. It’s also important that your CRM helps keep your entire tech stack in sync. That’s why we’re excited to announce an integration with PieSync that will make syncing your customer’s contact information with marketing automation systems a breeze.

PieSync is a B2B connection service with the goal of increasing your productivity by combining the powers of your favorite cloud applications. With PieSync, you can:

  • Save time by continuously updating contact information between your B2B apps.

  • Improve data hygiene between your various systems.

  • Save money on the development cost of custom-coding API connections.

This initial launch of the integration allows you to connect PipelineDeals to ActiveCampaign and Campaign Monitor, two popular marketing automation systems for SMB. The integration also lets you sync your contacts with Google Contacts and MailChimp, although PipelineDeals provides native integrations for syncing with Google and MailChimp. PieSync lets you sync your contacts bi-directionally between systems, or you can push data from one master system like PipelineDeals to your marketing automation system.

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For more details on PieSync’s integration with PipelineDeals, click here to check out their website.

The Agile Sales Team

Agile sales teams are using techniques recommended within Scrum methodology to better manage and forecast their sales pipeline. 

By Zen Newman, Marketing Analyst at PipelineDeals


Teamwork can be a valuable asset in selling

Scrum is a system of agile project management which was first developed as a better way to manage projects in the software industry. Its different approach to project management quickly spread beyond the tech sector to virtually every industry that depends on reliably accomplishing large scale projects. Scrum relies on its different organization of a projects tasks and timeline. Instead of a waterfall approach, Scrum relies on breaking goals into sets of discrete tasks that can be accomplished in a certain amount of time and then managing the completion of these steps in a flexible manner. Although originally devised for project management, this same approach is catching hold in the world of sales management.

Creating an agile sales team requires some changes in perspective from the stereotypical 'lone wolf' approach. An agile sales team would instead require a higher level of team engagement and lateral accountability across team members. These changes are worth considering because, in a variety of instances, there are potentially enormous productivity gains available. The scrum methodology is based on team-wide visibility into each task that needs accomplishing and accountability, not just up the hierarchy, but across it for your pieces of the project that each member is responsible for. 

In many industries, sales campaigns revolve around firm dates that are established well in advance. These can range from publication schedules to specific promotions. These events offer an excellent opportunity for teams to get started using scrum as they more closely resemble projects in the typical sense. Since they are events that differ from the normal flow of day to day sales, they also offer a greater opportunity to promote teamwork. Getting a team started on their first agile sales cycle takes some planning before the campaign launch. The rest of this article will detail some of the mechanics of how to get your sales team on an agile path.

There are three organizational pieces of an agile sales team that we need to visit: the standup, sprints, and the backlog.  Within a sales campaign, there is a kickoff, a hard deadline and a specific number of accounts that need to be worked. Additionally, every salesperson and team are tasked with hitting certain goals on account retention, and revenue growth. To complete the campaign and achieve the goals that have been laid down, each salesperson needs to have a clear understanding of the tasks at hand and their route to completion. These tasks are then communicated to the group in a peer to peer fashion during the daily standup. 

The Backlog

You can think of the backlog as a staging area for tasks that need to be done, but haven’t been started yet. In the case of a sales campaign, the backlog is most likely going to be all of the accounts that that remain unworked. Ideally, these should be tagged as a backlog to the campaign in the CRM, so that they can be quickly identified and sorted for additional contact via email.  Aside from the logistical benefits of being able to sort and contact accounts which are at different stages of the sales campaign, organizing your accounts in this way allows for correct pacing of sales activity from the beginning of the campaign. 

The Sprint

For commission based sales teams, the Scrum concept of the sprint should be somewhat familiar. The goal is to break the sales campaign down into chunks allowing the team to maintain consistent pacing and course correct as needed. In this way, the scrum sprint closely resembles a pay period or monthly quota system where specific goals for moving accounts forward through the sales pipeline. At the end of the sprint cycle, the results are reviewed, adjustments made, and new goals set.

The process of predicting what activity will occur during a time period is similar to sales forecasting, but it takes on added rigor when all activity is accounted for instead of just what will be closing. Forecasting based on activity allows sales teams to take into account all of the micro conversions that occur in the course of moving an account down the sales pipeline. This approach allows for a detailed, rigorous and highly collaborative approach to managing an active sales pipeline.

The Standup

Sales teams are used to weekly and monthly meetings either as teams, or in a one-on-one setting with their sales manager, but the scrum standup functions differently. The goal is for each member of the team to quickly identify what they did the day before, what they’ll be doing today, and what blockers they are encountering. No more, no less. The idea is to provide a quick (and I mean very quick) account of how you're spending your time to your team members and to help everyone identify any common challenges that may be affecting the group. The goal is to provide peer-to-peer accountability and group-wide visibility into challenges that may be occurring.

Get your sales team pulling as one and watch your numbers start moving in the right direction. 

While the scrum methodology presented a change of approach to the waterfall method of project management, it is already relatively similar to many of the institutions we all know well in sales. By approaching a sales campaign from the perspective of project management, sales managers can eliminate a lot of the variability currently present in the sales process. By implementing Scrum best practices, sales teams are better able to pull as one by providing much more visibility into the sales process while sharing best practices and holding each other accountable.

Converting to a scrum process requires training for your sales team and an adjustment in perspective. Campaign-oriented environments lend themselves better to scrum methodology than other settings, but there are still opportunities to see performance improvements across the entire team in virtually every sales environment. Teams that can do more, sell more; teams that sell more, earn more. Making your sale team agile can help do just that. 

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