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.
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.
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.
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.