Preparation for the next 10 years must begin now
Undoubtedly, the tumultuous election cycle of 2016 has left many companies wondering what the results would mean to the building products industry. While we are still far from understanding all of the changes to come, we are starting to see proposed shifts in spending and policy that may have an effect across the country.
In mid-November, 2016, then President-Elect Donald Trump announced a $1 trillion investment in infrastructure over the next 10 years — more than twice the proposed plan of President Barack Obama and more than three times the last congressionally approved infrastructure plan. With unprecedented spending in repairing and expanding the nation’s airports, highways, bridges, and pipelines, building product manufacturers and installers must be ready to effectively place their products and services in the hands and minds of decision makers to ensure inclusion in new projects. Preparation for the next 10 years of projects must begin now, and few manufacturers and contractors have cohesive plans to become specified in the long term.
In the majority of large renovation or new construction projects, building product manufacturers and contractors have limited visibility into the vast number of opportunities present due to the sheer number of disparate projects. Even once a project is identified, visibility into the interconnected layers of decision makers is limited, making it difficult to identify who actually drives decisions at any stage of the project. Most manufacturers subscribe to project news feeds to help gain this type of information, but data without the coordinated ability to analyze it creates additional work for field sales without a clear benefit in return. Understanding the full landscape within $1 trillion of new work will take more analysis than most building project manufacturers and contractors have capacity for, potentially leaving significant revenue on the table.
Even if every project and decision maker is identified, a new challenge arises in effectively contacting and influencing decisions using the right message at the right time. The typically used field sales model cannot scale fast enough, with a high enough return on investment (ROI) to reach even a small percentage of projects and influencers. Scaling to reach all decision makers across all new potential projects is an economic impossibility and one that must be overcome to significantly grow revenue and profit. Because of this, many manufacturers have attempted to build technology stacks to close the gap in marketing and sales. Even in the best of cases, these composite software as a service (SaaS) solutions cannot successfully analyze all project data and coordinate marketing in the most effective way. In the worst of cases, disparate systems that cannot work together cause an illusion of marketing activity but ultimately waste time and significant resources without a measurable marketing success.
When tasked with navigating and influencing specifications in a very large and previous nonexistent market, building product manufacturers and contractors must have consistent success at every part of the marketing life cycle. Starting well before any projects break ground, project news feeds must be analyzed deeply to understand all upcoming work and those who are involved. Decision makers and contact information needs to be identified and cleaned, and specific messaging should be created to target the right people at the right time with the right content. In conjunction with field representatives, all marketing and sales channels must be explored and leveraged — from email and direct mail to online advertising, digital engagement, and remote rep voice communications. A full multichannel marketing and sales strategy allows for the use of the most cost-effective methods possible for any given situation, which lowers the overall cost of reach and frequency of communication. All of this must be continuously monitored, tracked, analyzed, and improved over time. What works for one decision maker in the first months of the project may be completely different than what works for another in the final days before installation. Only continuous improvement and a deep understanding of data can ensure the right methods and channels are being used.
While homegrown, in-house teams or one-off SaaS solutions can look like promising methods of boosting marketing reach and effectiveness, only fully integrated programs will drive a long-term sustainable competitive advantage for building products manufacturers and contractors. When faced with the need to significantly scale marketing and sales to win a share of more than $1 trillion of new spending, outsourced sales optimization companies can provide an ROI unlike any single technology. When integrated with a successful field sales team, external marketing support is invaluable for driving growth and, ultimately, lowering the overall cost of sale. Building products manufacturers and contractors must make changes now in order to benefit from the new infrastructure that will be created over the next decade.