By Tom Woodcock
The question many companies ask when they’ve spent significant money on their marketing is; “When will my marketing produce sales?” The fundamental premise of that question is flawed.
Having been responsible for sales numbers for the largest portion of my professional
career, I have marveled at the unrealistic expectations for marketing campaigns and marketing pieces. Marketing plays a critical role in business and must be done effectively, but sales are simply that, sales. People often don’t understand that sales performance is related to interaction with the customer base and not a read/buy proposition.
Because marketing is far more tangible than sales work, it tends to draw greater attention from management. It’s more immediately rewarding to create a new logo, refresh a website or dig into a social media campaign than do the hard
sales work necessary.
Hours are spent reviewing artwork, copy, and design to try and get the customer to bite. Even if they bite, who’s gonna reel them in? It’s extremely important to have a top notch brand and an active marketing strategy, but it is more important to strengthen your sales effort. What is the difference? The fact that the question is even asked makes my point.
Sales in the construction industry is often veiled by some old school mentalities. The mistaken belief that all work is awarded either via performance or low bid is still very prevalent. Such a belief removes the need to invest in an effective marketing campaign and drive a sales effort.
There’s no way to expect a sales effort to be effective when it isn’t worked diligently. Throwing out some marketing dollars and sitting back waiting for the deluge of business is amateurish. For marketing efforts to be successful they have to be tethered to an aggressive sales plan. Even if the overall construction market improves you won’t reach your desired results if those two areas are not on the same page.
The problem is that most creative marketers cannot help engage the sales team, so management or ownership pours more money into the marketing and waits for results. Usually they end up very disappointed.
Often a company is having success, but management cannot tie point A to point B in
regards to their sales and marketing efforts. Truth be told, both have probably been worked to some degree and the business is following. Wondering how can drive you crazy. I have clients that are having great success, but they fail to recognize that they’ve invested years in their sales and marketing work and are reaping the rewards.
Consistently seeing and entertaining customers, engaging closely with clients through the bidding process and keeping your company brand in front of the marketplace all contribute greatly to sales success, even to increasing numbers with existing customers.
After all, even your regulars can forget about you or the level of your capabilities if you don’t stay in front of them.
I’ve often said, if you want better sales as well as profitability, what are you going to do instead of investing in your sales and marketing efforts? I haven’t found the magic wand you need to wave to change your current situation.
Applying dated, ineffective techniques to try and spark some interest can be a waste of
effort. The construction industry is not immune to marketing and traditional sales dynamics. Well, you have a customer, a product – the work you perform, a distribution network, and a price. Sounds like a traditional sales dynamic to me. The contractors that not only realize this, but embrace it, will prosper.
Acknowledging you have to invest in sales and marketing efforts will start the process of
improving. Effective marketing will increase your brand awareness and keep the company consistently in front of the customer base. Effective selling will engage the customer base and influence the decision-making process. It also will begin to affect the profitability of projects on the front end during the bidding process. These are undeniable truths.
Simply not believing in the need for these business basics is not a recipe for success. Honestly, if I hear one more contractor say spending on sales and marketing is a waste of money I’ll, I’ll…okay, I’ll probably do nothing, but it still drives me crazy!
Hoping your marketing will sell for you is extremely shortsighted. Contractors often
are very good at what they do in the field, but weak in these business disciplines. There’s never been a project performed that was not sold first. To assume your company is exempt from marketing AND sales work is a simplistic perception that probably is hurting your company’s performance. Wondering when your marketing will produce business displays a lack of understanding of its role and the need for sales work. Getting a hold of both can light a fire under your financial performance.
Tom Woodcock, president, seal the deal, is a speaker and trainer to the construction industry nationwide. He can be reached at his website: www.tomwoodcocksealthedeal.com or at 314-775-9217.