Large construction firms are an obviously attractive target for many B2B sales organizations. By the year 2020, the global construction market is forecast to be worth approximately $10.3 trillion, and the vast majority of these companies are constantly searching for new ways to enhance productivity, reduce costs, and streamline operations.
Opportunities abound currently, and they will continue to increase in the future, but sales professionals must be prepared for the realities of pitching their solutions to buyers in the construction industry.
Learn how to navigate the complexity of the industry
There’s no getting around the fact that complexity is the operative word when it comes to large construction enterprises. These companies have sprawling supply chains, numerous channel partners, geographically-scattered job sites, safety concerns, government regulations, and that’s just scratching the surface. Being a successful B2B sales professional in any industry requires attaining specific and detailed knowledge about the target industry’s particulars, but reps who are targeting construction professionals need to know that their customers’ concerns may be wide-ranging.
Prepare for wide variation in your customers’ situations
Similarly, it’s critical to understand that there is no one-size-fits-all construction enterprise, and this means you will have to tailor your sales strategy depending upon the type of prospect you are engaging. For instance, if you sell a software solution, you may come across a prospect whose technological sophistication resembles that of a cutting-edge Silicon Valley firm. Or, you may be selling to a company that relies solely on filing and maintaining paper invoices. There are construction businesses that are still dealing with the effects of the 2008 financial crisis, as well as those that are in a stronger financial position than before the crash.
Connecting with these prospects hinges on understanding their value proposition to their customers. If their main draw is that they employ technological solutions to ensure all equipment is used as effectively as possible, they’re going to have very different needs than if they tout the quality of their construction materials. It’s up to you to learn how they speak to their customers, so that you can decide how best to speak to them.
Be an exceptional educator
Be prepared to spend an extended amount of time educating your clients about your product and its value when you are selling to professionals in the construction industry. Because these leaders work in an industry that is massively complex they are often laser-focused on their specific responsibilities. This may mean that they are more unfamiliar with various solutions than decision makers in some other sectors. Maintaining patience without dipping into condescension is paramount. Focus on clear communication, and always listen to their insights concerning the potential implications of your product on their regulatory, legal, logistical, or safety processes.
Prioritize building trust
Trust is integral to the very nature of the construction industry. Leaders of these companies know that a developer is not going to hand them a contract to build a 60-story skyscraper unless they have established a solid base of trust, so that’s what they’re looking for from their vendor partners as well. Embrace any opportunity to learn more about their industry and its specific challenges. Try to get value-added content published in trade journals and other trusted publications. Publish relevant white papers as well, and always ensure that your claims are backed up by data to establish your authority.
Know how to overcome price objections
Many construction firms face an everyday reality of operating with very thin net margins. A study of 41 firms by the NYU Stern School of Business found an average margin of just over 6.7%. This means that many of your prospects are going to raise price objections, because they are concerned of the effects that any added expenditures will have on their bottom line. Always remain committed to your prospect’s value, and demonstrate to them that inaction now will be more expensive over the long term than making a purchase.
Prove your dedication to an ongoing partnership
For many construction industry leaders relationship building is the most integral part of an ongoing partnership. If they believe you are devoted to helping them succeed, then you’ll have likely invested in a relationship that will pay dividends years into the future. You can achieve this by constantly educating yourself about their company and their industry well after the initial sale, and by being a reliable resource they can turn to time and time again.