Blog for Building Materials Companies

How to Make CRM Work in Commercial Building Materials

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How to Make CRM Work in Commercial Building Materials

Most people think sales is about pitches, cold calls, and putting pressure on potential customers. But people who have actually worked in sales know that it’s really about solutions, communication and above all, relationships.

Building and maintaining those relationships takes skill, time and an airtight organization system. Imagine if you were dating seventy people at once and swiping right on two hundred dating profiles each day – that’s sort of what finding new customers and nurturing existing ones is like.

That’s why I believe that investing in good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is no longer optional. It’s an essential tool for salespeople. Without it, keeping track of your customers and what they might need from you is a constant struggle. Going without a CRM also makes converting leads inefficient and ineffective.

Using a CRM is how you ensure that none of your customers are overlooked or fall through the cracks. It also superpowers salespeople, allowing each of them handle far more customers than they could without the CRM backing them. Salespeople who let the CRM handle customer data can focus on what really matters: being available to customers and getting them the solutions they need.

Is Your CRM Working for You?

Salesforce is the leading CRM software across multiple industries. It’s obvious why – it can seemingly handle everything, from customer information and sales to marketing campaigns.

The problem with Salesforce and most other CRMs, however, is that they weren’t designed with building materials in mind. Many salespeople find that these programs aren’t able to handle the specific needs and challenges that come with selling building products. The software is meant to make their jobs easier, but when it’s not set up correctly it can actually hold them back and make them less effective.

Most building materials companies also tell me they struggle with how complicated most CRMs are. They’re not user friendly and the learning curve is steep, so instead of embracing it, their sales team lets the expensive shiny new software collect dust.

The ones that manage to get it working for them usually have to rely on workarounds and make compromises on the software’s functionality. Although that’s a frustrating situation, those companies still swear by a CRM. Once they see that it works wonders, they can’t imagine ever going back to selling without one. In fact, multiple sales reps have told me they would not move to a new company unless they had a well designed CRM in place.

No one should have to settle for sales software that only sort of works or that has to be jimmy rigged. Thankfully, you don’t have to – not anymore. There is finally a CRM solution suited for commercial building materials.

Before I get to that, let’s go over the reasons your current CRM isn’t delivering the results it should.

The Problems with CRMs in Building Materials

Complexity and Customization

Like I mentioned already, the complexity of CRM programs is one of the biggest issues for building materials salespeople. Software like Salesforce require significant customization to meet the needs of companies selling building products.

In part, that’s because of the difference between selling directly to customers (B2C sales) as opposed to selling to businesses (B2B sales). While B2C involves a large number of small transactions, B2B sales are more complex and involve longer and more extensive relationship cycles. These cycles are very personalized because no two customers or sales opportunties are alike. To handle it all, you might need to manage multiple sales channels, distribute products to various regions, and track complex pricing structures for different product lines. That means you’ll need a CRM that isn’t just customizable but that can be closely tailored to your needs. Otherwise, it will be a nightmare to bend the CRM’s features to meet the demands of these highly complex customer relationships.

Limited Integration with Other Systems

Building materials companies often rely on a variety of software and systems to manage different aspects of their operations. You’ll have digital tools to assist with logistics, supply chain management, inventory control and accounting, just to name a few.

Your success depends not only on each of these systems, but on how well integrated they are with each other. Simply put, you want a full picture of your customer’s data and history, but that picture will be highly limited if your sales software can’t draw on the information collected in your other systems.

Again, it’s entirely possible to get a standard CRM like Salesforce to do this for you, but it won’t be easy. It’s a complicated and frustrating process that takes plenty of time and lots of trial and error. This is especially frustrating for salespeople who simply want a simple solution instead of one that needs to be constantly fiddled with.

Poor Data Quality

What makes a CRM so useful is that it manages customer data for you. That’s incredibly helpful, since manufacturers often collect large amounts of data on their customers, including contact information, sales history, preferences and feedback. Tracking and analyzing all that data is challenging to say the least, so having a software that can do it for you is a powerful asset – but only if the data is accurate.

This is another integration problem. The data your sales team relies on will be spread across multiple systems. Worse, it might be incomplete, duplicated, or inconsistent. Your typical CRM will centralize all this data, but it will also import all of these flaws in your data sets.

I don’t need to tell you why accurate data matters. Accuracy and precision is what makes information useful to begin with. Without a process to clean the data coming in, your CRM will just be an expensive place to store information that does nothing to improve your customer relationships or make your sales more efficient.

Inability to Track Complex Pricing Structures

B2C pricing is mostly straightforward. Products sit on the shelf with a price tag or get posted online with a set price. Other than running the occasional sale, it doesn’t get much more complicated than that.

The pricing structure for building materials isn’t nearly as simple. Pricing is affected by a variety of factors like product type, quantity, location and the type of customer. It can also change frequently in response to customer demand, market conditions and the availability of raw materials.

A CRM might be able to track customer orders, sales activities and marketing campaigns, but unless it can manage those complex pricing structures, using it can be a nightmare.

Lack of Support

Most salespeople use their CRM because it’s required, not because they see it as a way to grow their sales. Many of them have an adversarial relationship to this software because having to enter all their activities in the system makes them feel like their company doesn’t trust them to do their job.

This is partly because employers aren’t communicating the value to their salespeople before making them use the software. But it’s also a usability issue. If the CRM were easy to use, it would be clear to every salesperson what a powerful tool it can be. They would see it as a way to multiply their efforts instead of a waste of their time.

If You’re Making Decisions Based on Opinions Instead of Data, You’re in Trouble

When it works the way it should, a CRM puts all the most important data in each salesperson’s reach. This allows them to make informed decisions – and informed decisions are the ones that will lead to sales and growth.

Without easy access to accurate and actionable data, your sales teams will pursue opportunities based on anecdotal information, past experiences, hunches and pure guesswork.

For instance, when there is a large “showcase” project or opportunity, senior management will frequently make it a priority. They will direct their salespeople to pursue customers based on the size of the sale instead of the likelihood of success or the potential profit margin.

Salespeople will also tend to spend too much time with current customers where there is already a solid and loyal relationship. They will spend too much time pursuing a sale they could have gotten without even making a call. And they’ll often call on new customers that are unlikely to buy instead of pursuing the leads that are practically a sure thing.

A CRM is about managing customer relationships, but in a way it’s also a time management tool. It guides your salespeople and tells them how they should spend their time each week. It ensures that they make informed decisions instead of wasting their time on activities that won’t grow your business.

The Solution: Simplify

There are many problem with CRMs in building materials, but the most fundamental ones are:

  1. Most building materials companies are missing out on the benefits that a CRM can deliver
  2. Most salespeople use a CRM because they have to, not because they want to

The solution is obvious: a CRM that is simple to use while still having the ability to handle the complexity of building materials sales.

Until recently, I would’ve said that we were probably at least two or three years away from seeing that kind of solution. But then I learned about Baucore, a German company that has developed programs that make CRMs like Salesforce work better for building materials.

I was skeptical at first – I’ve heard every CRM company preach about their amazing product only to be disappointed when I see it in action. But what makes Baucore different is that they understand the common challenges building materials companies face when using a CRM and have set out to solve them.

That’s not marketing fluff – the Baucore app is successfully used by more than 30 building materials companies in Germany and it has delivered real results. Current users report a 7% increase in sales successes and a 27% increase in revenue.

Those are impressive numbers, and they’re only possible because they have focused on giving their users exactly what they need:

  • A simple interface that provides salespeople with the key information they need
  • A data-driven software that helps users make smarter decisions
  • Ease of use to help salespeople adopt it quickly and see its value immediately
  • An affordable price to deliver even higher returns
  • Quick setup so companies can benefit from it right away, not after finding a dozen workarounds

Baucore is not a replacement CRM, is it an application that makes your CRM work better.

If your CRM isn’t delivering the results it should, I recommend you check out Baucore’s site and get a demo. You should never settle for a CRM that can’t handle the complex needs of a building materials sale. And now, you won’t have to.

What is the biggest challenge to your sales growth?

Contact me to discuss how I can help you grow your sales.

About The Author

I am the leading sales growth consultant in the building materials industry, I identify the blind spots that enable building materials companies to grow their sales and retain more customers.  As I am not an ad agency, my recommendations are focused on your sales growth and not my future income.

My mission is to help building materials companies be the preferred supplier of their customers and to turn those customers into their best salespeople. Contact me to discuss your situation.