Gaining the Upper Hand in a Business Environment that's 85% Digital
By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a company without interacting with a human being. That's according to a recent Gartner Customer 360 Report. For better or for worse, this well-researched prediction does not exclude building product manufacturers (BPMs).
To me, this means that, today, manufacturers who do not have digital systems in place to facilitate marketing, sales, and customer service are in serious jeopardy, and those with superior systems in place will increasingly enjoy the upper hand.
These digital systems are known as Customer Relationship Management systems or CRMs and, right now, the CRM industry is a rare bright spot in our economy. It's booming, with numerous companies – from small start-ups to Goliath's like Microsoft – each vying to develop the definitive CRM application.
In my experience with these off-the-shelf CRMs (yes, I've explored most of them), I've concluded that not one addresses the unique needs of building product manufacturers effectively. Not one takes into account the intricacies of the our industry – i.e., multi-year sales cycles, variable contracting methods, multiple buying influencers at various phases of project development, variable distribution channels, and most BPMs must track ongoing opportunities as they relate to projects, not just singular opportunities with people and companies.
As a result of these deficiencies, BPMs usually respond in one of two ways, neither of which produce an ideal outcome. Some pay big bucks to have their "off-the-shelf" CRM custom tailored by the provider to align with what the BPM feels are their own feature requirements (this in addition to the big bucks they already pay for monthly seat license fees). Others elect to task their internal web development staff (or worse yet, outsource to a firm with zero experience in the building industry) to build a CRM tool from scratch according to what the BPM feels are their needs. Typically in these instances, more money and other resources are spent and problems persist. Development time required to arrive at a complete solution far exceeds expectation and company-wide adoption of the system continues to lag as users are forced to adapt their own processes to fit the application's methodologies. Ultimately, opportunities continue to be missed and calculating ROI for the system's development and implementation remains intangible.
During my time in sales/marketing management positions in the industry, the essential missing ingredient in the creation of a useful CRM for BPMs was input from marketing and sales professionals who have extensive building industry knowledge and experience; people who understand how to navigate successfully through the most complex sales process in all of B2B, and those who not only know how to generate demand, but how to nurture leads within our industry.
Many of our clients find themselves researching new tools to introduce to their sales arsenal right now, so if you're looking for a CRM solution that will give your company the upper hand for 2020 and beyond, I urge you to contact me today for a no obligation discussion about a budget conscious, forward thinking approach to CRM application development – custom developed tools designed and built by seasoned sales and marketing experts in the building products industry to specifically meet the complex needs of BPMs.