Every construction business owner’s goal is to win more work at higher margins against fewer competitors. But contractors are generally too busy working and building projects, and, therefore, leave their sales activity as second priority. After they solve all of the daily issues, field challenges and job problems, they hope to find some time to focus on winning some work. However, when you spend all your time doing work, getting and winning more profitable work never has a chance to happen. To develop a steady sales pipeline filled with high-margin customers and contracts, you must make a commitment to getting and winning work. Review the following 10 steps to supercharge your sales process, win higher margin work and grow your business.
1. Focus on Getting More Work
Profitable construction business owner dedicate 25 percent or more of their time to the “get work” side of their business. They hold monthly sales strategy meetings, review their sales, award tracking results, focus on building customer relationships, make sales calls weekly and make sure their company sales plan is operating on a continual basis. They also focus on potential, current and recent proposals, estimates and bids. Most importantly, they concentrate on proactive follow-up after submitting every bid and proposal.
2. Create a Target Market Customer List
In order to keep the sales pipeline full, you need to have written customer target list to reach out to on a regular basis. Make a list of your top 20 to 200 current and potential customers, existing clients, new markets and targets you want to go after soon. Look at the jobs you have completed or bid in the last 5 years. Who was the person who might have influenced the decision to hire your company? Make a list of any new or potential targets you want to reach.
3. Develop a Sales Action Calendar
Now that you have a sales customer target list, do something with it. Start with the customers you already know. Determine how you can you best convince them to hire your company more frequently. Develop a plan of attack for each top, repeat or past customer. Decide what sales activity will potentially improve your chances of winning work with them. Include the specific sales activity for each target and how often you plan to attack them. I suggest a minimum of three times per year per customer. Keep track of your sales activities monthly on your sales action calendar.
4. Establish Loyal Customer Relationships
To supercharge your sales process, where should you invest your time and money? In the construction business, the biggest sales bang for your buck lies in creating customer relationships with top customers, most desirable potential customers and quality parties who can refer you to lots of work. For most companies, focusing on creating 10 to 20 loyal customers is all it takes to build a highly profitable business. Pick the top 20 best customer targets you want to go after, and work hard to convert them from one-time or past customers to loyal customers who use your company at least 33 percent of the time.
How often will you have to see customers to create loyalty? Think about your best friend. To maintain a trusting relationship, you must spend quality time with them at least once every 2 to 3 months. If you see just two customers a week, every 10 weeks, you will see all of the top 20 on your list and continue to maintain quality, customer relationships with them.
5. Build a Referral Sales Program
When visiting your top customers, make it a priority to ask customers for referrals to people who can use your services. This will ensure a quality target list to use to expand your customer base. After they give you a referral, send them a thank-you gift to show your appreciation for their help.
6. Execute Your Website the Right Way
Either build your website professionally and keep it up to date, or don’t waste your time. Your website should be a showpiece for what your company does best. It must list out why customers should hire your company and what types of work are your company’s specialty. It must also be a resource center to help your customers solve their problems. Include a home page, company profile, competitive advantages, expertise and specialties, client list, corporate team, key management resumes with photos, project progress and completed photos, testimonials and a detailed research center on your site.
7. Craft a Super Sales Pitch
Don’t waste money on 20-page brochures. Develop a presentation to carry with you, and present when you are in front of potential customers. Also, create several small, trifold brochures, flyers or postcards for each of your project expertise niches in which you specialize. The days of big, expensive brochures are over. Spend the cash on your sales presentation instead.
8. Get involved alongside your customers
People want to do business with companies they know and trust. A great way to become well known is to get involved in your target customer’s industry, association or community. Volunteer to chair committees, get on a board of directors, lead a golf tournament or annual fundraiser and participate in panel discussions. Decide where you will get the most bang for your buck, and join today.
9. Save Your Money
Don’t waste your hard-earned money on giving small stuff to the wrong people. Save it up and invest in season tickets to your local sporting events. Take your top customers with you.
10. Advertise & Invest in Social Media
Advertising has its place for suppliers, specialty contractors and other types of businesses. But don’t think advertising will keep your pipeline full of profitable work. You should invest in unique job signs, bright company uniforms, professionally painted trucks, quality video production and other ways to promote your company image in a consistent manner.
The same goes for involvement on social media channels. Invest time and money where you will get a high return and will attract high-paying customers.
To get your sales supercharged, start by making it a priority to target your top potential customers and build relationships. This will give you the biggest return on investment of sales time and money. If you take out two customers every week, it will only cost around $10,000 a year. This is small potatoes compared to making another $50,000 to $100,000 on your bottom line by developing loyal relationships versus winning all your work being the low bidder. Remember, having even the most basic sales process is better than a perfect process that is never put into use.