Every construction business owner’s goal is to win or negotiate more work at higher margins against less competition. But contractors are generally too busy working and building projects, and therefore put their sales activity as a second priority. After they solve all of their daily issues, field challenges, and job problems, they try to find a little time to focus on winning some work. Business is simple – GET WORK and DO WORK. When you spend all your prime time doing work, getting and winning more profitable work never happens. To develop a steady sales pipeline full of high-margin customers and contracts takes a commitment to make getting and winning just as important as doing work. In order to supercharge your sales process, win higher margin work, and grow your business, follow these 10 steps:
1. Stay focused on getting more work!
Profitable construction company owners dedicate almost 25% or more of their time on 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 continuous basis. They also focus on potential, future, current, and recent proposals, estimates, and bids. And most importantly, they concentrate on pro-active follow-up after submitting each and 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 attack on a regular basis. Make a list of your top 20 to 200 current and potential customers, existing, new, markets, and new targets you want to go after. Look at the jobs you have completed or bid in the last five years. Who was the customer, architect, engineer, project manager, or any other person who might have influenced the decision to hire your company? Also list out any new or potential targets you want to attack. List out all of these on a spread sheet ready to rank and sort in order of priority and profit potential.
3. Develop a sales action calendar!
Now that you have a sales customer target list, do something about it! Start with the low hanging fruit or customers you already know. Determine how you can you best get them to want to hire your company more often than they have in the past. For each top, repeat or past customer, develop a plan of attack. 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 will attack them (minimum 3 times per year per customer). Sales activities can include: meetings, lunches, ball games, trade shows, industry dinners, golf, fishing, mailings, postcards, gifts, lunch and learns, presentations, field trips, information, brochures, etc. Keep track of your sales activities monthly on your sales action calendar.
4. Build 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 is creating customer relationships with top customers, most desired potential customers, and quality referring parties who can refer you lots of work. For most construction 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 repeat, and then to loyal customers who use your company at least 33% 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 two to three months. Quality time includes face time at dinner, lunch, breakfast, ballgames, community events, golfing, hunting, fishing, or industry events together. It doesn’t include job meetings, bids, phone calls, emails, or negotiating change orders! If you see only two customers every week, every ten weeks you’ll see all of the top twenty on your list and maintain quality customer relationships with them. If you never take them out, all you can hope for is to stay on their bid list and win work by being the lowest bidder.
5. Build a referral sales program!
When visiting your top 20 customers, make it a priority to ask customers for referrals to people they know who can use your services. This will ensure a quality target list to use to expand your customer base. Remember, don’t ask, don’t get! After they give you a referral, send them a thank-you gift as appreciation for their help.
6. Do your website right!
Either do your website professionally and keep it up to date, or don’t waste your time. Your website must be a show piece for what your company does best. It must list out why customers should hire your company and what types of work you specialize in. It must also be a resource center to help your customers solve their problems. Include a home page, business profile, competitive advantages, your expertise and specialties, client list, corporate team, key management resumes with photos, project progress & completed photos, testimonials, and a detailed research center giving customers information to use for their upcoming projects.
7. Build a super sales pitch!
Don’t waste money on twenty-page brochures. Develop a laptop presentation to carry with you and present when in front of potential customers. Also create several small tri-fold brochures, flyers, or postcards for each of your project expertise niches you specialize in. The days of big expensive brochures are over. Spend the cash on your sales presentation!
8. Get active where your customers hang out.
People want to do business with people they know and trust. A great way to become known is to join and get involved in your target customer’s industry, association, or community where they can get to know you. Volunteer to chair committees, get on the board of directors, lead the golf tournament or annual fundraiser, and participate in panel discussions. The more you’re seen doing good things and helping out, the more people will see the good in you and call you to help them. Decide where you’ll get the most bang for your buck and join today.
9. Don’t waste your money!
I see lots of construction companies fall in love with giving out cheap tee-shirts, throw-away pens, ugly calendars, and useless notepads to the wrong people who don’t make buying decisions. 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 and take your top customers with you. I have never seen a foreman, journeymen, or apprentice wearing your tee-shirt or baseball hat who then awards a construction contract to your company.
10. Should you advertise or invest in social media?
Placing ads in newspaper or magazines is expensive for contractors serving their local markets. You are investing lots of cash aimed at lots of people who don’t need what you sell. 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. But you should invest in unique job signs, awesome looking job trailers that stand out, bright company uniforms, clean and professionally painted trucks, and other ways to promote your company image in a consistent manner. The same for social media, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Invest time and money where you will get a high return and will attract high paying customers.
Now go make it happen!
These sales strategies will make you lots of money! To help you with your sales process, email GH@HardhatPresentations.com to get your copy of ‘BIZ-DEV Action Plan Worksheets.’ To get your sales supercharged, start by making 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 low bidder. Remember, any sales process is better than a perfect process never executed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
George Hedley CSP CPBC is a certified professional construction BIZCOACH and popular industry speaker. He helps contractors grow, make more profit, build management teams, improve field production, and get their businesses to work for them. He is the best-selling author of “Get Your Construction Business To Always Make A Profit!” available on Amazon.com. E-mail GH@HardhatPresentations.com to sign-up for his free e-newsletter, start a personalized BIZCOACH program, attend a 2 ½ day BIZ-BUILDER Boot Camp, or get a discount at www.HardhatBIZSCHOOL.com online university for contractors.
George Hedley CSP CPBC
Phone: (800) 851-8553