Over the last year, construction companies have been hit with some devastating hurdles. In some places, the novel coronavirus pandemic halted all projects that were deemed nonessential, budgets were slashed and reallocated, and contractors faced material shortages as shipments were delayed. This has made lead and opportunity management more important than ever.
In some regards, lead and opportunity management looks the same in the construction industry as it does any other sector — it’s the process of attracting potential customers and handling them until they’re ready to make a purchase. In the world of construction, this is particularly important because the sales cycle is extremely long. Construction projects can take years to get off the ground, from bidding on contracts to obtaining the required permits, and more years to complete from the moment you first break ground.
Streamlining your company’s lead and opportunity management will help you focus on the opportunities that are most likely to become fruitful, so you can optimize your time. Here’s how your company can get started.
1. Map Your Customer Journey
In order to streamline your lead and opportunity management, you need to understand the process leads are going through, otherwise known as the customer journey. Ideally, it ends in a contract, but research has shown that only 25% of leads are ready to close the deal. The rest either drop off somewhere along the line or need time and nurturing to make their decision.
To close the deal, you have to meet them where they are — and that’s impossible to know without a map of the customer journey, but it requires some deep thought. Your map should highlight key points in the customer journey and your target customer’s persona and goals. For example, are you working with local governments or commercial real estate developers? Are you constructing highways or tearing down shopping centers? What are your customers’ pain points?
It helps to visualize your customer journey in an actual diagram that can be shared company wide. This way, you can seamlessly collaborate across teams. If you don’t know where to start, the marketing, sales, customer service and customer relationship management (CRM) software provider Hubspot has a great guide with templates.
2. Choose the Right CRM Software
The construction industry is notoriously slow to adopt new technology. A report by construction consulting company KPMG found that two-thirds of construction and engineering executives and major project owners don’t use advanced data analytics to monitor project-related estimation and performance. Most firms are waiting for their competitors to make the first move, but that’s exactly how you get left behind.
Though cost and scale are prohibitive with some construction-related technologies, CRM software is relatively easy to implement. This serves as a database for prospective customers and clients, as well as stakeholders, partners, general contractors and everyone else who’s thrown into the mix. The software will help you monitor those relationships and your project’s progress, sometimes even automating data entry, scheduling appointments and following up with contacts. Most CRMs can be accessed through a mobile app, making them a winner for people actively working on jobsites and improving collaboration across the board.
3. Track Lead-Related Activities & Analyze the Data
Though CRMs help track specific leads and projects, it’s important to track all lead-related activities. You want to know if your marketing efforts are working, so you can adjust them and not waste time where you won’t see any benefits.
To do this, your marketing and sales teams should be examining lead and customer interactions (since existing customers are often the most viable leads) and combing over campaign analytics. The data will reveal the source of your highest-quality leads and which efforts are most effective at every step of the customer journey.
4. Establish a System to Score Leads & Use It to Identify Opportunity
You can’t streamline your lead management process without understanding which leads should be nurtured. For this reason, you should establish a system to score all your leads, from the lowest quality (the buyers who are likely to never sign a contract) to the highest quality (the buyers that are probably ready to sign a contract today). While you can use any system you want, many sales teams prefer to use the budget, authority, need and timing (BANT) sales qualification. BANT is made up of the following:
• Budget — How much is the customer likely to spend and can they afford the project?
• Authority — Who’s making the decisions and how many parties must sign off on a contract?
• Need — What is the urgency of the potential contract? Is it emergency demolition or a long-term build, for example?
• Timing — How quickly will they need the project done?
Viable leads generally meet three of these qualifications, with one of them always being the budget. You can’t do much without funding, but at the same time, leads that don’t have a sense of urgency generally won’t commit. The less time you spend on low-quality leads, the more time you can spend actually making deals and getting work. Lead scores should be periodically updated, as circumstances are always changing. A low-quality lead today may become a high-quality lead tomorrow.
5. Segment Leads to Target Messaging
Once you’ve identified which leads are high value, you should start segmenting them into groups in order to tailor your lead-nurturing strategy. This is far less time consuming than marketing to each single lead individually, but it’s more effective than using a blanket strategy when your messaging won’t resonate with everyone. According to the Data & Marketing Association, segmented email campaigns can lead to as much as a 760% increase in revenue — and that’s just email. Depending on your business, you may want to segment leads into several categories. Since each potential client has their own unique needs, segmenting makes it easier for both sales teams and marketing teams to reach like-minded potential customers in the most efficient way possible.
6. Align Your Sales & Marketing Teams
Depending on the size of your company, lead and opportunity management is either handled by the sales team, the marketing team or both. In any event, this process can only be streamlined once your sales and marketing teams are on the same page. In a large company, red tape usually gets in the way of this sort of collaboration. CRMs make it seamless, but you can also implement your own protocols across teams using your customer journey map and, in particular, buyer personas.
The truth is that sales and marketing are like a one-two punch when it comes to lead and opportunity management. Marketing teams help reel leads in, while sales teams intimately know their goals and pain points. They can seal the deal. In fact, research has shown that nearly half all marketers with well-planned lead management strategies have sales teams that follow up with more than 75% leads. Nurturing is key, and a streamlined lead and opportunity management strategy for construction companies should always include constant collaboration. Marketers know one side of the buyer, and the sales team knows the other. Together, it’s the whole picture.