The earliest iterations of customer relationship management (CRM) software began in the 1980s when Robert and Kate Kestnbaum — early pioneers of database marketing — put together a rudimentary system that used data to identify what customers would statistically be most likely to engage with a marketing campaign. Since then, CRM software has evolved to become highly sophisticated and adopted by businesses spanning countless industries.
However, one of the industries slowest to adopt the use of CRM solutions has been the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry.
Historically, AEC firms have relied on manual databases for storing client, vendor, and partner information. AEC marketing teams have often run in silos, disconnected from the rest of the organization, relying on outdated or poorly managed data sets. In many cases, AEC firms have depended on leveraging existing relationships to win new bids.
But as competition increases and the demand for a more sophisticated approach to bidding arises, AEC firms are feeling the pressure to improve their communication and proposal workflows.
To understand how to choose the right construction CRM solution to win more bids, it is important to start at the beginning — with the foundational benefits of an AEC CRM.
The Importance of a CRM
In many cases, CRMs are seen solely as a tool for storing contact information and as sales pipeline management software. However, in the world of AEC, CRMs are also a critical tool for referencing past winning bids and pulling together project data. In fact, according to recent studies, AEC companies can decrease time-to-close new business by nearly 43% with a quality CRM.
The importance of an AEC CRM can be seen in four key areas. Let’s take a look.
1. A Database of Referenceable Projects
When providing a proposal, it is often necessary to reference past successful bids and projects that offer support to the bid. In the past, many professionals have relied on memory alone to recollect what previous projects and bids are worth including. In best-case scenarios, AEC firms have built local databases to store this information. However, this data often resides in a folder on a desktop, hardly making this the sophisticated solution that is necessary.
With a quality AEC CRM, this information can be stored in a structured format. This allows past project and bid information to be pulled up in real-time, sorting work by relevancy and connecting it to current proposals.
2. Connecting Early and Often With Key Stakeholders
In the AEC industry, relationships have always driven sales. Making key connections at the right moment can make or break the chance of winning a bid.
While many AEC professionals have already established key connections, decision-makers do not often take advantage of these connections at the ideal moment. This is partly due to the siloed nature of the information.
A CRM can help centralize this data and allow firms to connect with key decision-makers early in the process. This also helps prevent missed connections from occurring due to information falling through the cracks. All team members can see the progress of a bid, and relationships can be nurtured.
3. A Single Source of Truth
Data is only worthwhile if it can be trusted. Too often, contact information at an AEC firm is riddled with errors. A sales team might be working off of one data set while a marketing team is working off of another. Campaigns are disorganized, with business units running on top of one another.
Through the use of an AEC CRM, everyone can work off of a single source of truth. The moment one team has an update to contact, this information can be added to a centralized database. This helps inform every sale, marketing, and communication effort.
4. Effective Task Management
Too often, AEC teams miss out on important opportunities because the ball got dropped at a critical moment. This is often due to information slipping through the cracks.
With the right CRM in place, tasks can be tracked and managed throughout the entire process. Workflows can be automated, with key team players being informed and reminded of time-sensitive tasks. Through the centralization of task management, communication can be dramatically improved.
Evaluating a Construction CRM Solution
Understanding the value of an AEC CRM solution is just the start. Historically, many CRM systems have been a poor fit for the needs of AEC firms. After all, CRM software began solely as a tool for B2C sales.
Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Today, there are CRM solutions tailor-made for the construction industry. When evaluating these solutions, keep the following key features in mind:
- Project Focus: An AEC CRM should have a strong project focus. All data should be centralized around projects from bid to closeout.
- Centralized Communication: When choosing a CRM, be sure that the solution can consolidate all internal communication from any device. This helps ensure that the ball is never dropped and that all team members are working off of the same information.
- Task and Activity Tracking: Having a bird’s-eye view of projects can help move bids along faster. Look for a tool that will capture and assign tasks, allowing leadership to easily track activities and ensure that critical deadlines are met.
- Interactive Dashboards and Reporting: Spreadsheets filled with data sets are only as useful as the insights you can derive from them. Look for a CRM that will transform data into interactive dashboards, making it easy to report back to key stakeholders.
- Automation Tools: One of the top benefits of using a CRM is cutting down on manual data entry and setting up automated workflows. Implement a tool that will use AI engines to power intelligent automation.
- Security: Throughout any digital transformation initiative, security should always be a number-one priority. Always investigate the quality of security offered by a CRM solution.
Request a Free Demo
TrebleHook is a project pursuit platform for AEC teams that helps centralize your project data. With our AEC CRM, you can enhance customer relationships and pursue and land the right projects. To learn more about how our CRM works, we invite you to request a free demo today or reach out to our team through our online chat.