Business Development Strategies for Contractors
The construction industry is known to be highly competitive and constantly evolving. To remain successful in this kind of environment, construction companies and contractors need to aggressively pursue new business by focusing on marketing and business development. To help our construction clients, prospects and others, Barnes Dennig has outlined some business development strategies below.
A Word on Marketing
First, it’s important to distinguish marketing from business development. Equally vital, marketing is all about your company’s message and brand. Things like identifying your competitive differentiators, writing your “story” for the web and other advertising and establishing the company’s “look,” like your logo and color theme, fall into this category. These activities set you up for establishing connections and gaining new customers through business development activities.
Relationships are Key
A majority of construction companies find that sales success comes most readily from direct connections. Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “salesperson,” it’s important to establish and nourish relationships with individuals who hire construction companies. This may include developers, property owners and managers, realtors, architects and engineers. Join trade associations and business organizations in your area to meet people who could potentially need construction services or know someone with a construction need. For more targeted efforts, single out a few people to call or email to discuss a potential partnership – whether for their own project(s) or for those they influence. Work to set up a “no pressure” face-to-face meeting to begin getting to know more about how you can work together to fulfill their specific needs. Learn the art of “ask versus tell” to really understand their goals and how you can fit in.
Along these same lines, referrals are an excellent source of business. First, it’s crucial to ensure that your business has earned the trust of current and past customers to warrant referrals. If your reputation is intact, the rest will follow, but some legwork on your part will spur things along. Directly ask customers for referrals if they know someone who needs a contractor for their next project. If you work on residential construction or remodeling projects, create or review your profile on online review services, such as Angie’s List and Home Advisor. Be sure to respond thoughtfully to any negative reviews and utilize any other applicable business tools. If there is a local referral site in your area, consider signing up there too.
Email with a Purpose
Email marketing is sometimes one part of a construction company’s plan to stay top of mind for current and potential clients. This is often a good strategy, but it may not tip the scales in your favor as well as a focused email tailored to your prospect. Consider sending a personal email with a link to an article or website that may be of interest to your “A list” prospects based on what you already know about their business requirements or special interests. Notes like these can break the ice with a new contact or remind an existing client that you care about your relationship and are thinking about them. In addition, when you get invitations to charity functions, golf outings, networking events, seminars and conferences that might be of interest to a prospect, invite them to join you as your guest. If you can’t attend yourself, think of someone on your lead list who might like to go in your stead.
Invest in CRM Software
If you don’t already have and use customer relationship management (CRM) software, now is a good time to start. The right software, like salesforce.com or HubSpot CRM, will help you organize and keep track of your contacts and active prospects, remind you to reconnect with people you’ve met or communicated with by phone or email, manage other business development activities and help you stay on top of upcoming project bids. This is a great place to enter notes from your face-to-face meetings, attach email communications or bid proposals and note referral information if applicable. This will help prepare you for future communications, especially when you are dealing with a long sales cycle and lots of time in between meetings.
Business development takes time and often repeated contact over an extended period with the same individuals to earn their business. But staying in front of clients and prospects by setting aside time each week for business development activities is well worth the reward of business growth and the vitality of your construction company. If you have questions or need assistance with an audit, tax or compliance issue, Barnes Dennig can help. For additional information, please call us at 513-241-8313 or click here to contact us. We look forward to speaking with you soon.