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Here’s How to Get Free Construction Leads

by Sarah LorekConstruction, Cosential, Uncategorized

Jun 18, 2021

Comprehensive guide for finding free construction leads… Getting construction leads can be a challenge. AEC Business development and sales professionals know that paying for leads or cold calling are options, but strategies for finding free construction leads shouldn’t be ignored. There are tons of free tactics, resources, and tricks that firms can leverage right now to find qualified, industry-specific prospects. The best part is that Business Developers, AEC Marketers, and Sales teams can focus on platforms and tools that prospects are already using daily.   In this article, you’ll learn how to get 100% free construction leads today, using tools that are easy and familiar to both you and potential prospects.  Read on to learn how to get free construction leads for your AEC firm.  Join LinkedIn Groups to Access the Right Audience for Free Construction Leads LinkedIn is a great resource for networking with like-minded peers and companies. But there are also groups that can be joined which include members of your exact target audience and potentially, customers. I have been using LinkedIn groups for years to learn the latest trends in AEC and to find people who might be interested in thought leadership articles, blogs, or eBooks. The same can be achieved for finding potential customers who could be interested in your product or service offering. Below are a few LinkedIn groups to join if you are looking to connect with more like-minded AEC professionals who could be interested in using your firm for work. LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Construction  Design and Construction Network – This group boasts more than 80,000 members (about the seating capacity of the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum). It’s a great resource for connecting with construction professionals who mostly fall under the design-build category.  Construction Marketing Association – With more than 4,600 members, this group focuses on exactly how to market your construction firm to win more work. Online Expo’s & Virtual Trade Shows- Construction Who’s Who – This 3,000-person LinkedIn group is great for finding virtual conferences and local events to connect with construction professionals and find potential leads.  Top Construction Jobs – If you look at the posts in this massive 25,000-person group, you’ll notice that some firms and owners are looking to hire. Furthermore, you can find some posts looking for RFPs for construction work as well.  CIM | The Chartered Institute of Marketing – Construction Industry Group – CIMCIG – This 3,500-person group focuses on marketing your construction firm.   AGC Business Development Forum – This group by the Associated General Contractors of America is focused specifically on GC business developers. It’s a great resource to see how others are finding quality leads.    LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Architecture  TEKLA Structures Users – Users of Tekla, a software for architecture professionals, could find this group helpful for finding leads. A lot of posts are related to individuals in architecture that are trying to fill vacancies on their team or find qualified individuals or firms to fill in where their team is lacking.    LinkedIn Groups Specifically for Engineering & CEC  Quantity Surveyors, Commercial Managers, Cost Managers/Engineers and Estimators Forum – More geared towards estimators and cost engineers, this group includes posts from a plethora of users dedicated to sharing ideas and concepts.  Civil Engineering Jobs – This group boasts over 160,000 members and includes information about jobs related to CE.  Civil/Structural Engineering Network – With over 115,800 members, this network is great for sharing ideas, project pursuits, and information about how your firm is running the business.  Civil Engineering & Construction – This 68,800-person group shares best practice knowledge in CEC. Here, you’ll find people looking for but also be able to use business development knowledge to ensure you’re always staying ahead of the competition.    LinkedIn Groups for Overall AEC   Engineering News-Record – ENR is one of the top news sources for the AEC industry. Their group is full of information from firms across the entire architecture, engineering, and construction spectrum.  BIM (Building Information Modeling) Experts – Posts from this BIM (Building Information Modeling) experts group come from professionals across the AEC spectrum. Many of the 97,600 members are owners or operators looking for workers or jobs.  BIM (Building Information Modeling) and Architecture, Engineering, & Construction Projects and Jobs – This 91,000-person group is chocked-full of companies looking for subcontractors or individuals that can fill in where their team is lacking. It’s also a great resource to see what types of projects certain firms are working on. Just by connecting with others in this group, you should be able to find quality projects.    LinkedIn Groups for AEC Business Development  Bd4aec – Business Development for Architecture, Engineering, and Construction Markets – With a little over 300 members, this group has a specific audience. According to the page owner, the goal of this group is “to bring together the best-of-the best ideas, concepts, strategies and tactics and put them in front of you to make a difference in your business. If you’re a principal of an AEC firm and want to get more business, or you’re a business developer wanting to improve your game, or you’re an estimator or a project manager wanting to improve your skills, or just someone who wants to move into the business development field, then this group is for you.”    Attend Local Meetups for Qualified Construction Leads You can find local meetups for architecture, engineering, and construction on meetup.com. It’s free to join, and they even have online events for those who are concerned about social distancing during in-person events. This is a fantastic way to learn more about businesses in your area that could be looking to partner with a firm like yours. Just search for the topic you’re interested in meeting up about and you’ll find a list of events in your area.       You can also create your own events and invite others who might be interested in attending. Creating a thought leadership event and inviting potential prospects can help build credibility as an individual and build trust for your firm.  There are even events specifically for Business Developers to connect and network about clients looking for jobs across industries. The event in the screenshot below offers networking opportunities for BDs and sales professionals to “build better business by referral.”         Attend In-Person and Virtual AE and Construction Industry Conferences for Lead Opportunities Although several in-person conferences were canceled for 2020, many popular AEC events have gone virtual. Event hosts across the country are using creative ways to make the conference experience feel as immersive and real as possible— think virtual booths, live Q&A sessions, interactive content, and online “happy-hours” to network with like-minded AEC professionals. These events are a gold mine for networking with people who could refer your firm to quality construction leads. Some of the events are user conferences for customers of a particular product, while other conferences invite anyone in the AEC industry to attend. Below are a few conferences to check out this year.    Champions Conference 2021: Built2Win  June 15–16, 2021 – This virtual user conference, hosted by Unanet and Cosential, focuses on best practice techniques for users of Unanet’s ERP and Cosential’s CRM (Customer Relationship Management) products. Learn how to use the family of Unanet products to their fullest capabilities, network with like-minded individuals or business developers who can help grow your client base, and attend online presentations with live Q&A.  Current Unanet and Cosential customers can Register here.  Not a Cosential CRM customer but want to be? Request a demo.  Not a customer of Unanet but want to be? Contact the team.    ENR Future Tech  June 9–11, 2021 – Hosted virtually this year, ENR future tech is “the go-to source for business and IT leaders in architecture, engineering, and construction to explore emerging technologies that can enhance construction productivity, profits, and safety.” Connect with business leaders, meet others who are facing similar business development and sales challenges, and brainstorm with other professionals in your area of expertise.  Register here    PSMJ’s THRIVE Conference  September 22-24, 2021 – A/E/C THRIVE Conference will be hosted in-person in Scottsdale, Arizona this year. The conference will focus on growth, profit, and success for AEC firm leaders across the nation. You’ll learn what the most successful firms are doing today to drive more revenue, increase business performance, and truly scale their firms for the future. This is a great opportunity to network and meet potential partners who can help refer you and your firm for future projects. Register here    2021 Elevate AEC Conference & ElevateHER Symposium      September 13-October 8, 2021—This event hosted by Zweig Group will be virtual this year. Offered at only $49 per person, this event is one of the AEC industry’s top networking and learning events. You can even enter your firm to win an award across Zeig group’s selection of award entries. To celebrate great projects and teams across the AEC industry, the awards will be presented at the conference in front of all the attendees. This is an excellent strategy to promote your firm and to celebrate a job well done.   Register here    There are so many more conferences to check out for 2021! Take a look at this full list of upcoming AEC conferences from Construction Dive.    Request Ratings, Reviews, and Referrals to Encourage Free Construction Leads Are you currently requesting reviews and referrals from past or existing clients? Any time your clients have a positive experience while working with your firm throughout the project lifecycle—from conception to completion—you should request a review.   The most common way for potential prospects to see reviews for your firm is via Google reviews, as shown in the screenshot below. The more five-star reviews you have, the higher you’ll appear in search results anytime someone searches for something like “Top rated construction/architecture/engineering firms near me” or “Best commercial construction firms in (state).”       Google isn’t the only place to request reviews, however. There are many other ways for prospects to find you based on your high rating. On Glassdoor, you can ask your own employees to give your company a five-star review. When potential prospects are searching for firms to handle their next big project or when they’re reviewing RFPs, they’ll read your company reviews from current and past employees. The best part about Glassdoor reviews is that you don’t have to reach out to past customers. Simply send an email to your employees asking them to add their review, and you’ll be well on your way to showing up as a five-star firm in search results. Look at the full list below for instructions on how to get reviews on Google, Glassdoor, and a few other platforms.  Google Reviews  Glassdoor Reviews Clearly Rated Reviews  Facebook Reviews  Trustpilot Reviews   For strategies on exactly how to request reviews from customers, check out this article from Forbes.    Check Job Postings and Investor Websites for Free Construction Leads One way to find out which companies are planning big projects is to check out job postings across Glassdoor, LinkedIn jobs, Indeed, and other hiring websites. This is a great way to understand companies that might be planning their next big project. Companies are constantly using Glassdoor to hire subcontractors, architects, engineers, and to outsource work that they might not have the resources to complete with their current team.   Also, browse investor forums to see who is willing to front some cash for the right project. AngelList, the world’s largest startup community, offers an extensive list of construction angel investors that you can follow or reach out to for free.    Monitor Community Forums and List Your Business in Their Directories  NextDoor is an online community where residents can post about happenings in their town, request recommendations, or discuss issues affecting their area. Although most of the posts related to construction serve the residential community, any local businesses can add their details to NextDoor and will appear when anyone searches for your services. Expanding your brand locally is a fantastic way to connect with the local community and potentially find new leads.   Another tactic for your firm to find leads (and for leads to find you) locally is through Facebook. Over the years, Facebook has become more than a social networking tool. It now has a marketplace to sell and buy products, groups to join that are specific to interest and industry, “looking for recommendations” posts, job listings, town hall discussions, business pages, events, and even an “Offers” page. If your firm has a Facebook business page, you can post offers or updates, and anyone searching for services you offer will see it in their feed, as shown in the screenshot below.      So, what happens next?  If your business development, sales, or marketing budget is tight, we hope you found a few of these strategies helpful. Before long, you’ll find qualified architecture, engineering, or construction leads and, more importantly, they will find you.  Here’s what you could expect after successfully applying any of these construction lead tactics for your firm:  Your contact list will grow exponentially.  Business development activities will increase significantly.  Your time will become more valuable.  You’ll need to assess pursuits as go/no-go to quickly decide which projects are worth your time and effort.  Your boss will love you even more than he/she did before. If you’re your own boss, go ahead and pat yourself on the back.   Finally, once you have all these free construction leads, you’ll need a way to manage them. CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a solution that helps businesses manage sales opportunities, log activities and customer interactions, store internal and external contacts, track leads, and grow their business—but not all CRMs are alike. Some AEC firms have tested well-known CRM tools, like Salesforce, to manage their customer relationship activities. What they found is that these CRM tools don’t have the specific capabilities that the uniqueness of the AEC industry requires. These “one-size-fits-all” CRM tools aren’t built for the AEC industry, and thus aren’t tracking some of the most important aspects of the AEC sales lifecycle. Many firms discovered that they needed more specific tracking for business development and sales activities that these “one-size-fits-all” solutions weren’t designed to address.     Want to win more work with a CRM built specifically for architecture, engineering, and construction? Access this free guide.    Unanet CRM by Cosential is the only CRM built specifically for architecture, engineering, and construction. The company has spent the last 20+ years tailoring its platform’s robust CRM and proposal generation features to the AEC industry, enabling business developers, marketers, executives, and project teams to win better projects and grow more revenue.   If you’ve applied any of the tactics listed in this blog and want to learn more about how to win better business, make better decisions, and grow revenue, be sure to request a demo of Unanet CRM by Cosential today. 

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Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision

by Sarah LorekAEC, Construction, Cosential, CRM, Uncategorized

Mar 07, 2021

Is your firm wasting time and money pursuing projects that… You have no chance of winning? Don’t make good business sense? Don’t fit your firm’s strategic goals? You’re not alone. Tons of firms go after every single opportunity that comes their way, thinking that gives them the best chance of winning as many new projects as possible. That’s simply not the case. Every second your firm spends on the wrong pursuits — every phone call made, every email sent, every piece of marketing collateral produced — is time you’re not focused on opportunities that actually make sense for your firm. And spending hours and hours chasing projects your firm ultimately loses will demoralize and burn out your marketing and business development staff. Not exactly a recipe for success. That’s why it’s crucial to develop an effective Go/No Go process. Consistently making the right Go/No Go decisions will empower your firm to focus on high-probability, high-profit projects. [Free tool]: Make Go/No Go Decisions in Seconds Below, industry experts share their advice for developing a Go/No Go decision-making process that supports firm-wide success.   5 Expert Tips to Improve Your Go/No Go Decisions Keep the Big Picture in Mind for Projects Understand Where Your Firm is Today and How You Plan to Grow Commit to the Process Only Pursue Opportunities that Inspire Passion Seek Outside Information   1. Keep the Big Picture in Mind for Projects One thing many firms lack when creating a Go/No Go decision-making process is a strategic firmwide plan. Without knowing your goals and how you define success, it’s impossible to know which projects are worth pursuing. “You have a ‘Go/No Go’ process, and sometimes your senior folks actually follow it. But you lack a major tool that would make your ‘Go/No Go’ process truly efficient: a PLAN! “The ‘Go/No Go’ process is designed to help you say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is the appropriate answer. The hard part is determining when ‘no’ is the appropriate answer. With a Strategic Plan, Marketing Plan and/or Business Plan, this determination is much easier.” — Bernie Siben, CPSM, AEC marketing consultant   2. Understand Where Your Firm is Today and How You Plan to Grow Go/No Go decision-making is about determining which projects you’re most likely to win and putting your firm’s effort into those opportunities. But that’s only half the story. It’s also important to develop a strategic plan for growth and view Go/No Go decisions based on where you see your firm several years down the line. “The framework of a go/no-go tool must blend strategy and historical evidence. For instance, the firm must use criteria that helps define its success, coupled with a blend of factors that enable the firm’s strategic plan. “For example, Brand X Construction’s ‘sweet spot’ is defined at $7 million in project revenue. This is an important characteristic to understand, as it helps create a picture of the ideal customer or project. Notice this does not say ‘average project size.’ It is important to conduct a thorough study of where a firm excels and where it does not. “The strategic growth niches also help define categories that are worthwhile targets. Without them, the firm might acquiesce and simply engage in identical work. While it may be currently profitable, it may also be myopic and fail to include a balance of long-term strategy.” — Gregg M. Schoppman, consultant at FMI [Get the Guide]: Top 5 Ways to Win More Work with an AEC-Focused CRM   3. Commit to the Process Your firm will never follow any process 100 percent of the time. And that’s okay. There are certain circumstances you can never plan for. You need to respond to each situation appropriately, regardless of the rigid rules you’ve put in place. But be careful. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking every opportunity deserves special consideration. That’s just not true. In the vast majority of cases, you should follow the strategic Go/No Go process you put in place to give your firm the greatest chance of success. “Be wary of end runs around the go/no go process. Sometimes there are bona fide emergencies or other reasons to stray from the committee review process, but the odds of getting stuck with a losing, or expensive, project increase if the go/no go process requirements are too easily sidestepped. “One example is that a business unit may delay asking for a ‘go’ decision, then claim it is too late for management to say ‘no go.’ The theory may be that commitments have been made to the subcontractors or JV partners, or that estimators have already done so much work and would be demoralized if the plug is pulled. Effective management should not allow this ‘end run’ tactic to be rewarded.” — Tom Porter, JD, DBIA, EVP at Barton Malow Company   4. Only Pursue Opportunities that Inspire Passion You can’t afford to think of every single Go/No Go decision solely in terms of numbers. While metrics and data are crucial to success, your firm and your clients consist of people, and that means emotions and mental states play a role in every task and initiative. Before making a final decision, find out how your staff feels about pursuing and working on the potential project. Their excitement — or lack thereof — just might sway your choice. “Are you ALL in it to win it? Mentally, we are wired to believe we can do anything and sometimes we can climb seemingly impossible mountains. The whole team must recognize the ‘fire in the belly’—the passion and inner drive to take action—when pursuing the win. If everyone from leadership to seller/doer, PM to marketing professional has the fire, then: GO. If even one person has reservations about getting to the top of the mountain, you will likely not get to the top: NO GO.” — Frank Lippert, FSMPS, CPSM, partner at Go Strategies   5. Seek Outside Information Even if you have the ability to access and analyze mountains of data about a potential opportunity, there’s likely certain information you can’t learn on your own. Take some time to research what those outside of your firm have to say about the client you’re evaluating. “Working with unappreciative clients, will sap your time and energy from working with great clients and designing top projects. You must research both the company and its leaders online and through speaking with colleagues, contractors, and furniture suppliers.” — Richard N. Pollack, FAIA, FIIDA, managing principal at Pollack Consulting   Take an Objective Approach to Go/No Go Decisions By developing and implementing an effective Go/No Go decision-making process, you’ll empower your staff to focus on the opportunities that make sense for your firm. While your total pursuits will decrease, your hit rate will likely improve at a level that increases your total wins and/or profits.   Want actionable tactics that can drive results? Get the calculator below! Download this 17-point, weighted-scoring tool to quickly and objectively determine which projects are worth pursuing.   If you liked this article, you might also enjoy: [Blog post] How to Get Free Construction Leads [eBook] Top 5 Ways to Win More Work with an AEC-Focused CRM [Blog post] Quick Tips to Improve Your Go/No Go Assessment

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The Importance of Remembering Your Employee’s Birthday

by Sarah LorekAEC, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Cosential, CRM

Feb 18, 2020

In How to Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie has his famous fourth principle: “Become genuinely interested in people.” And one way he did that was by remembering everyone’s birthday. Carnegie famously kept a birthday book where he wrote down people’s birthdays, and when their day came he would send them a telegram or a letter. “What a hit I made!” he declared. “I was frequently the only person on earth who remembered.” Remembering your employee’s birthday is a great way to show that you are interested in them.But we get it. It’s impossible to remember everything. You have 100+ employees on several projects going on simultaneously, so many of them being subcontractors that you haven’t worked within months, not to mention new people on the job that you don’t know all that well. And on top of all that you have to pick up your son from the mall, drop your daughter off at her friend’s house, and go grocery shopping before dinner. Wait, when was the last time you had a checkup at the dentist? Or went to yoga? And taxes . . . Geez! Did you file your taxes yet?!?! Look, we are certainly not judging. Instead, what we are doing is helping. In Unanet’s user-friendly modules you can keep track of both your employees’ and your clients’ birthday. In Contact Manager, along with their birthday, you can store all of your client’s necessary personal information: phone number, email, credentials, recent projects, and any other relevant information. In the Personnel module, you can do the same thing with your employees—all their contact information, project experience, certifications, leads, and so forth, so you never have to slap your head and say, “Did I forget your birthday? I’m so sorry!” Remember the last time you were at work on your birthday, walking with your head down looking at a file trying to perform some calculation in your head. The last thing on your mind was the fact that it was your birthday, and then all of a sudden someone says, “Hey! Happy birthday!” And what did you do? You looked up with a huge smile on your face. Doesn’t it feel nice? (Unless, of course, you would prefer not remembering your birthday. But that’s another story entirely . . .) Remembering your employee’s birthday is a great way to show that you care. It’s a way to show your employees that you have a relationship with them beyond the lead metrics and projected sales revenues, that they’re people, just like you. If you are in need of a solution for your data, proposals, or customer relations we would love to show you our CRM. Book your demo now! Feel free to also reach out to our sales team here or call 800-505-7089 ext. 1 with any questions you may have. Here are other articles that may be of interest to you: Here’s How to Get Free Construction Leads Transform your address book with Unanet CRM by Cosential CallerID. Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision

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Quick Tips to Improve your Go/No-Go Assessment

by Sarah LorekAEC, Architecture and Engineering, Construction, Cosential, Uncategorized

Jun 11, 2019

Quick Tips to Improve your Go/No-Go Assessment When designing your Go/No-Go process, it’s helpful to leverage the metrics you’re already tracking like relationship strength, competitive analyses, teaming partners, internal resources, hit rates, etc. to make more strategic decisions on which projects to chase. These questions will guide you toward building a Go/No-Go form to identify your firm’s winnable projects: Is the project in alignment with our Core Values? Do we have the staff available to take on the project? Do we have the marketing resources available? Is this a strategic owner, client, or prospect? Do we offer all the services in-house or do we have to contract them out? What is our relationship like with the client? Are we prepositioned for the RFP? What is the client payment activity like? Characterize our competitors’ relationships with the client? Is the contract with a developer or any other entity other than the owner? Is the project funded? Is a bid bond required or surety letter required? What are the project’s risk elements (i.e. schedule penalties)? If you’re using Unanets Go/No-Go functionality, you may want to add a workflow that alerts all necessary parties. Notify leaders if the score is too low so they can decide whether the project should be pursued Staff can be alerted when the score passes a certain threshold to take on next steps If the score is too high, leaders can be notified to confirm that the form was filled out accurately We hope these quick tips can help you make more informed decisions in your Go/No-Go strategy. Our clients have reported an increased hit rate and decrease in wasted resources after implementing a successful Go/No-Go process. If you are in need of a solution for your data, proposals, or customer relations we would love to show you our CRM. Book your demo now! Feel free to also reach out to our sales team or 800-505-7089 ext. 1 with any questions you may have. Here are other articles that may be of interest to you: Expert Advice: How to Make the Right Go/No Go Decision How to Get free Construction Leads Unique Project Costing Challenges for Architecture and Engineer firms Don’t forget about our resources page. It is packed full of whitepapers, case studies, ebooks and other goodies to help out your business.

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What exactly is CRM … And How Does It Help Construction Firms?

by Sarah LorekConstruction, Cosential, CRM

Nov 02, 2018

Defining CRM In construction, CRM stands for client relationship management. It refers to cloud-based software that places key relationship, communication, lead and opportunity data at users’ fingertips. The construction industry revolves around relationships. Clients often award expensive, high-profile projects based on how well they know and trust a firm. Each point of communication with a client will strengthen or weaken that trust. That’s why it’s crucial for client-facing staff to know the full picture of their firm’s relationship with a client, including:   Who the client is. Who works for the client. What projects they’ve done with the client in the past. What projects they’ve done that resemble the one they’re attempting to win. What opportunities they have chased with the client, and how successful they have been (client hit-rate). How often their firm communicates with the client, and what they’ve said. And much more. Unfortunately, many construction firms rely on tools like Outlook and Excel to track this information, resulting in employees working from multiple, disparate documents … none of which provide an accurate, up-to-date picture of the firm’s current relationships. Without a clear understanding of previous conversations, employees often repeat questions or make contradictory promises, which can damage a firm’s reputation with clients and partners. A construction-centric CRM can eliminate this issue by making accurate, up-to-date, and actionable relationships easily accessible.   (Learn how Unanet CRM by Cosential — the CRM and Proposal Automation solution purpose-built for construction — can benefit your firm.)   CRMs offer measurable results that tools like Excel and Outlook simply can’t achieve. According to Software Advice: 74 percent of CRM users said their system offered improved access to customer data. 47 percent said it had a significant impact on customer retention. 47 percent said it had an impact on customer satisfaction. The kicker? This study analyzed generic CRMs designed for companies that sell products. Construction firms, which sell experience by demonstrating how the skills and knowledge used in previous projects can benefit future clients, have different needs. Firms that invest in a solution purpose-built for their unique challenges and business development processes can expect greater results.   Why construction-centric CRM matters In most industries, sales & business development is a two-stage process. In the first stage, the organization identifies a lead. In the second stage, the lead becomes an opportunity. The sales rep then aims to close the deal before delivering a product. But construction firms sell their experience and ultimately projects. For general contractors, this is a three-stage process. Leads or rumors become opportunities, which require proposals, bids or submittals before they can become projects. Finally, the firm uses that project data to win more projects.   For sub-contractors, the process is a bit different. Firms form relationships that lead to bids that eventually become projects. The firm then uses project data to win more bid invites.   With such a stark difference in the way construction firms and product-based companies win deals, it’s clear that construction firms need a CRM purpose-built to serve their needs. But what capabilities are most important for a construction-centric CRM?   7 things to look for when purchasing a CRM in construction: Network mapping Central database Industry-specific integrations Proposal and resume automation Hit rate-improving analytics Go/No Go functionality Mobile functionality 1. Network mapping Construction Executive warns that, when it comes to awarding a project, “multiple people can impact a decision.” That’s why construction firms must develop relationships “with everyone from top to bottom. A general rule of thumb is that every person at the prospect’s home or business is important, from the administrative staff to the president, as well as spouse and other family members.” That’s a lot to keep up with. And your firm and the prospect aren’t the only organizations involved in the deal. You also need to keep partners in mind — especially when it comes to joint ventures.   Juggling all these moving parts can get very complicated, very fast. To keep up with everyone involved, your CRM should allow you to map out and document your entire network, including: Clients Prospects Personnel Owners Owner’s reps Subconsultants Contractors Subcontractors Tracking down to the individual level is key. For example, imagine an employee leaves your firm. If they end up working for an architecture firm you work with or another construction firm you partner with in joint ventures, will your CRM recognize him or her as single person?   For most CRMs, the answer is no. Instead you would be forced to create a new record for your previous employee to associate with their new firm and mark the original record inactive. But with a construction-centric CRM, you can simply associate your former employee’s contact record with their new firm and not lose any rich details or history that is vital to your network. Put simply: All CRMs can handle contact management, but construction firms need a solution that can handle their unique use cases.   In addition to managing the contacts themselves, it’s also important to document communications between your firm and your network to empower greater internal collaboration.   “Our marketing and business development often teamed up with project managers to get new projects,” said Lisa Pitts, senior implementation specialist at Cosential, referring to her time as a marketer and business developer in construction firms like Satterfield & Pontikes Construction and Helps Phelps Construction Co. “Knowing who is talking to whom and when is key to a successful procurement.”   2. Central database Marketers and business developers in construction often live in several spreadsheets, wondering whether they’ve missed out on a great opportunity because of a forgotten lead — as Travis Wilson, director of marketing at Layton Construction, knows all too well.   “My team was struggling to collect information, and then, when they finally collected what they needed, it didn’t always make it into a central repository,” he explained. “We were using this constantly growing spreadsheet to try and keep track of all the data we had, but over time, it just became overwhelming. We were constantly saying to ourselves, ‘There’s got to be a better way.”   Now that he uses Unanet CRM, he no longer has this problem. In fact, the information he and his team need is so easy to access, he uses the CRM to quickly onboard new employees. “We used to struggle with a few people holding key institutional knowledge in their heads. I’ve been here for 13 years, and I have a few team members who are long-term employees. We know a lot about our projects, but as we grow and bring in new people, they don’t have the historical knowledge we do,” Travis said. “With Unanet, they can get a clear idea of the history behind our projects. It definitely gets them up to speed quicker and makes them less reliant on our veteran employees.”     3. Industry-specific integrations Integrations are incredibly important when it comes to CRMs, but many vendors don’t handle them well. In fact, 49 percent of CRM users said integrating with other systems is a challenge. And once again, this figure is based on generic CRMs and users from all industries. That means your chances of successfully integrating a generic CRM with construction-specific systems is slim. (Think financial systems, like Vista by Viewpoint, or project management systems, like Procore Project Management.)   But a CRM created for construction will provide integrations with these services and more. That eliminates duplicate data entry and addresses any data integrity concerns.   4. Proposal and resume automation  One of the reasons integrations are so important is they put project data at marketers’ fingertips, allowing them to generate proposals and resumes without the typical headache … a change they would welcome with open arms. “The thing about building proposals is it always comes down to the last minute,” Lisa said. “It’s really high pressure, and everybody gets frantic. Anything that saves time — that keeps you from having to dig or chase someone down for information — is huge.”   By pulling key project and resume data from your financial system or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software into your CRM, marketers can use the time they save hunting down and updating this information to better tailor proposals to the client’s key issues, leading to a greater success rate.   “Project managers can get irritated at marketers who ask the same question 20 times because they don’t know where they put their response or they want to double check that it’s right,” Lisa explained. “Once marketers have a single source of truth for the information, that problem is solved.”   And knowing the project data is accurate because the CRM pulls it from the system of record is invaluable. “Having that accurate data feeding from one source is key,” Lisa said. “Any incorrect information will bring your score down and may prevent you from getting shortlisted or winning the job.”   5. Hit rate-improving analytics In 2015, the Southern Illinois University Master of Marketing Research program partnered with SMPS to uncover which metrics matter most to success in architecture, engineering and construction. One of the most important, as you might expect, is the hit rate.   By understanding where your most profitable projects come from, you can create a more effective pursuit strategy that increases your hit rate. According to PSMJ, “In the past, the process was fraught with hunches and incomplete data. At present and in the future, there is no need for hunches or lack of data.”   Thanks to construction-focused CRMs, they’re right. To understand where your firm has the biggest opportunities to increase revenue, a CRM should allow you to analyze: The locations where you usually win work. This will help you develop a better understanding of your ideal customers and target regions where your firm thrives. Which relationships help you win more work. Measure which partnerships lead to the most wins. Maybe when you partner with organization A and compete against firm B, you win 90 percent of the time, but when you partner with organization C and compete against firm D, you lose 85 percent of the time. This information can help you determine whether pursuing an opportunity is likely to lead to a new project or become a wasted investment. Which lead sources most often lead to projects. You may already have some idea of which leads are most effective. For example, maybe you know conference leads perform well. But do you know if that’s true for all conferences or just some? Pinpoint your best lead sources at a granular level to decide which leads are worth pursuing. Which types of projects are most profitable. This analysis isn’t related to hit rate, but it’s crucial to understand. You may have certain project types or market sectors that frequently lead to wins, but if they’re not profitable, they’re not worth pursuing. 6. Go/No Go functionality A construction-centric CRM will provide tons of data to help you create an effective Go/No Go process, allowing your team to invest in high-probability opportunities and avoid wasting resources … a goal many in AEC overlook. According to Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM, vice president and CMO of JDB Engineering, too many firms put marketers “on wild goose chases because of poor go/no-go decision-making for clients and proposals.”   Fortunately, a construction-centric CRM will simplify this process, providing the data needed to answer key questions, such as: Is this a high-profile project? Does the project align with our core values? Do we have an existing, positive relationship with the owner? Is this owner collaborative and appreciative of our values? Will this result in an enduring relationship? Do we have the right team available for this project? (Want more help with your Go/No Go decision? Use this template from SMPS.)   7. Mobile functionality 81 percent of CRM users said they access their CRM using multiple types of devices. Even if you think you won’t need mobile access, it’s good to have the option. Your best sales people are not behind a desk. Mobile accessibility allows your business developers and seller-doers to capture key lead information while on the go. And that’s crucial for ensuring important information isn’t forgotten.   Your CRM should also allow you to do the following on your mobile device: Automatically log phone calls. Enter notes using voice to text. List and search your projects. Organize, search and filter contacts, companies, projects, call and opportunities. Receive enabled push notifications. Access driving directions to any address in your system. Review your upcoming and past due call logs. The #1 CRM in Construction Unanet CRM by Cosential empowers firms to: Improve their marketing and business development processes and communication. Access key project, personnel and client information anywhere, anytime. Win projects based on their existing relationships and proven experience Ditch frustrating and time-consuming spreadsheets. Leverage their entire network to win more projects. Integrate with crucial industry-specific solutions. Quickly generate bids, resumes and proposals. Analyze opportunities to improve their hit rate. Develop a strategic Go/No Go process. Want to find out if Cosential is right for your firm? See it in action.