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Monday, July 19, 2010

Sell More by Automating Your Sales, Marketing and Customer Service Process

Written by CSG President Jeff Knutson e-mail: 800-866-3083

“Whoever controls the leads controls the destiny of their company,” is a simple but successful principle to follow. As word-of-mouth referrals lessen as an outcome to the construction economy, many homebuilders and contractors are turning to CRM programs. A fully integrated sales, marketing and customer service warranty software system will help you generate more leads, sell more, and build happier customers.

Going back to the simple principle, many homebuilders have found out the hard way what happens when you are not in charge of your leads. Many have invested hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars on models and developments only to let outside realtors control their lead management systems. When the housing bubble busted many realtors left with the buyers and basically took their leads with them leaving builders with no prospects and no sales.

Whether you generate a lead from paid advertisements, your web site, search engine optimization, social networks or a happy customer, it still takes time, hard work and money to produce that lead. It is in your best interest to control, track and follow-up on each lead to the best of your ability because each lead is incredibly valuable.

Automated sales and marketing systems have been in existence for years with the intention to help manage prospect and client information. Lead management systems help contractors turn their hottest leads into sales. Most lead management systems track client names, postal addresses, telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and demographics. With software programs like SalesBuilder Plus from Contractors Software Group, Inc., builders and contractors are also able to capture ongoing notes and continuing traffic/activities. Several contractors are taking their lead management system to another level by attaching pictures to their blueprints, documents and e-mails. The same contractors are turning programs like SalesBuilder Plus into a central portal for client information for everyone in their organization to access. With the use of laptops and new wireless 4G cards sales people, superintendents or office staff engaged with your clients can have access to contact information anytime from anywhere, thereby reducing communicational errors.

It would be ideal if every lead turned into a sale, but we understand that not every lead qualifies as an “A” lead. Sometimes we come across “B,” “C,” “D” leads. When times are good many of us focus only on the hottest leads, which can be normal. It is not until our ‘sales funnel’ of qualified leads dries up that we start to follow-up on the other leads. Unfortunately, by the time you address your cooler leads, it’s too late. The cool lead has likely purchased from someone else. Wait! There is a solution for reducing the chances of losing these sales!

Using a lead management system, set up pre-defined marketing action plans that are scheduled with telephone calls, e-mails and direct mail marketing campaigns. The action plans can be assigned to prospects and follow suit based upon their ranking (i.e. “A”, “B,” and so on). For instance, perhaps the marketing action plan assigns your “A” leads to receive two calls and one e-mail in one week while your “B” leads receives one call in two weeks with a direct mail item. Based upon the marketing action plan that is scheduled with each lead, the system will automatically notify your sales people and staff that certain marketing tasks need to be completed at a specific date and time.

Software programs like SalesBuilder Plus integrate your e-mails and direct mail allowing for your marketing plans to be done in minutes rather than hours. Once tasks are completed they’re taken off the list. This process provides creates accountability and assures marketing tasks are completed in a timely fashion. Saving time and being organized is cost effective.

Another excellent benefit in using sales and marketing software is the ability to reach more people via e-mail or direct marketing. This especially rings true when you are introducing new products or services. Programs like SalesBuilder Plus are completely integrated to Microsoft Outlook and third party e-mail services making it easy to do broadcast e-mails to hundreds or thousands of contacts in minutes. SalesBuilder Plus also integrates with third party direct mail services so you can get marketing pieces mailed directly to your clients or prospects.

The sales process can be improved and managed as long as you can measure the results. To increase sales Contractors Software Group incorporated within SalesBuilder Plus the tracking and management of job opportunities. Job opportunities are sales opportunities that are attached to prospects or clients. Each opportunity tracks the job type, creation date, job description, sales stage, forecasted close date, % close, the estimated price, selling price and the date sold. With SalesBuilder Plus’ flexible reporting, you can measure the success of your sales process by sales person, job type and by sales stage. You can also generate reports by creation, forecasted or by contract date. These reports can be used to help manage sales people, the sales process and ultimately in the closing of more sales.

You can have the greatest product and market the product well but if you do not have happy referring customers it makes the process of selling much harder. Our best leads come from happy referring customers. To increase the chances of attaining happy, referring customers many contractors are relying on customer service software to generate and track customer ‘Request-for-Service.’ Rather than purchasing a separate customer service application, they are adding to the same program like SalesBuilder Plus that is already tracking their leads and follow-up marketing. When adding features like customer service and warranty to a lead tracking foundation you are eliminating double or triple entry of information. When a customer calls in requesting service, employees can view all information easily, make informed decisions, and quickly generate and track work orders.

Another reason for integrating the follow-up marketing with customer service is that once a prospect is classified as a customer or owner, they can also be assigned a follow-up marketing action plan of phone calls, e-mails and direct mail. With this automated process, your customers can be informed on a regular basis of new products, services or new projects. How many times have you called one of your old customers only to find out their working with a competitor? The common phrase, “out of sight, out of mind,” rings true in the construction industry. Your company will be more likely to attain your contacts’ attention with consistent communication.

The old days of waiting for the phone to ring or having a full supply of referrals has passed. If you are not marketing, tracking your leads and providing good customer service, your competitors will be. Investing in integrated automated sales, marketing and customer service software is going to help take your business to the next level. An integrated system will help you sell more, generate more leads and build happier customers quickly with fewer costs.

SalesBuilder Plus is one solution within the Plus Series from Contractors Software Group. The Plus Series is a fully integrated lead tracking, follow-up marketing, customer service/warranty, estimating, proposal writing, purchasing, scheduling, and job cost accounting system. The Plus Series consists of four solutions; SalesBuilder Plus, TakeOff Plus, Scheduling Plus and Job Accounting Plus. The Plus Series is modular so you can invest in the SalesBuilder Plus today and add-on the other applications as your needs grow.

For more information, please go to or call 1-800-866-3083

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