This year is opening up new growth opportunities for the building supplies industry. But what can you do to ensure your business is securing new sales and preparing for growth? We have put together a few hints and tips to get you thinking about changes that can get you building a successful sales pipeline.
Tip 1: Manage your data, don’t let it manage you
With multiple product lines, your sales data is the backbone of any building business. It allows you to predict future sales so your supply chain works more efficiently. However, your back office systems and CRM system (if you have one) may not be up to the job of accurately predicting your customer’s buying behavior. You should be able to easily analyze and understand trends, such as which are customers buying trusses but not roofing, who’s spending $10,000+ but not buying key product categories, or what are your top 5 highest margin products? If you can’t identify these trends quickly you need to act to ensure a share of your customer wallet isn’t lost.
What can you do?
All the data you need is there already, it is just how you put it into a manageable format, in which to act upon it, which is usually the biggest constraint. Pulling out a monthly report for your sales team is time-consuming and will usually be out of date by the time your salespeople receive them meaning selling opportunities may be lost.
Ever hear the phrases, “I know it’s here somewhere.” “I’ll have to get back to you about that.” “Where’s that report I asked for last week?” If they sound familiar you need to establish office management routines and stick to them. Carry out routine procedures so reports are created faster and become a useful tool for sales. As your staff become more familiar with the procedures, you’ll find that reporting becomes more streamlined too.
You can also take a look at what you do now but skip the consultants and run an internal ‘Blue Sky’ session to think about how you’d like to work. You may find that there is already a service out there that may help. These may include a sales or business intelligence solution that works with your back office data and creates sales reports automatically. You would save time and money as well as ensuring your salespeople have timely customer reports to follow up on so you never miss selling opportunities. By utilizing software on your business data you’ll also spot those all-important cross-selling, and up-selling opportunities that are difficult to find in standard reports.
Finally, your data is only as good as the information that was originally inputted. Use your customer sales data with your CRM data (customer information such as contact details, job titles, industry etc) to build up a full customer profile. However, you will need to train your customer-facing staff with data input procedures so it is always kept up to date. With the correct information, your sales and marketing team can target specific customers with advertising and email campaigns to both customers and prospects giving you a helping hand to boost your sales.
|Create office procedures and stick to them so reports are created faster||Run an internal audit on your current systems capability||Implement a sales and business intelligence system to manage your data||Train your staff to input correct information to have a full customer profile|
Tip 2: It’s a digital age so just go along with it
You’re probably tired of people telling you it’s a digital age, if you’re not “It’s a digital age!” We all have to embrace technology for our business to survive. We’re all aware of the ‘big box’ stores such as Lowes or Menards on every street corner using state of the art systems to understand customer behavior. However faster, more reliable Internet connections mean every business can now use technology to their advantage and even out the playing field. If you don’t adopt it you may lose out to your competition.
Using innovative technologies can push you to the top of the food chain as you can bring new ideas, products and services to the building market meaning you’ll gain more share of the wallet. Wouldn’t you want to do business with the leading supplier with an innovative product or service?
What can you do?
Technology comes in many forms from smartphones to fiber optic cables running to the nearest data center. It may all sound like science fiction but the reality is that technology actually makes things simpler – especially selling.
From our experience, companies supplying the building industry are struggling to win around one-third of customer share of wallet. This is where customer intelligence software can give you a helping hand. By implementing this type of system you’ll be able spot cross-selling, up-selling and link-selling opportunities. Increasing spend from your customer base is the easiest way to grow your sales. Customer intelligence software will also allow you to spot competitor threats so you can act quickly to retain your priority customers.
You may or may not have heard of the phrase ‘Software-as-a-Service’ or ‘SaaS’ for short but this is fast becoming beneficial to many industries, including building. By opting for SaaS you won’t need to invest in a comprehensive IT team as there’s no hardware to install or maintain as it is based online. Being an online service you can also access your software with any device at anytime as long as it has an Internet connection.
If you’re not looking to invest in additional sales and customer software you can always look at what your salespeople are currently using and make best use out of them. For instance many now use smartphones and tablet devices that can do much more than making a phone call or watching a cat dance on YouTube. You can connect them to your IT systems so they have customer data out on the road and update CRM records away from the office. Plus don’t forget the app stores that are pretty comprehensive these days – there may be an app out there perfect for your business.
A key consideration is that not all businesses in the building supplies industry are the same. Find a solution that works for YOUR business. It needs to be easy to use to increase internal adoption rates. What’s the point in investing time and money into technology if your staff are reluctant to use it?
|Customer intelligence software can help win more of your customer wallet||Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) can reduce the strain on your IT dpt||Sales people have smartphones and tablets so make best use of these||Find solutions that fit with your business to increase internal adoption rates|
Download our building supplies eBook – 7 tips to manage growth in the building supplies industry.