Analyst Insight: Many producers and suppliers in the heavy building materials and construction industry regularly struggle with how to manage and enforce a sales process that minimizes missed opportunities and provides actionable information back to sales and operational management. Progressive producers and suppliers are realizing that mobile sales solutions can help gain the visibility needed to monitor and enforce sales activities, and ensure a consistent and professional buying experience.
Technology enthusiasts point to a lack of automation and resistance to the adoption of new technology as two primary reasons for the heavy building materials industry’s poor performance. It’s one of the least digitized industries worldwide, having failed to significantly increase worker productivity for decades. The impact is especially felt when the ability to make strategic sales decisions is hampered by an inaccurate sales pipeline and information backlog.
An increasingly mobile sales workforce needs to adopt mobile solutions to boost productivity and avoid the risk of losing competitive ground. Losses associated with wasted hours, misplaced assets, or time spent manually entering order information can become virtually nonexistent. For many companies, the difference between success and failure comes down to correctly managing a mobile sales workforce and the assets needed to complete the job at hand.
Many companies still run their sales processes using Excel. Although it’s ubiquitous, it’s a bad idea to keep corporate memory in Excel. It limits the ability to turn plans into execution through analytics. With mobile technology, you experience an easy-to use platform (your mobile phone or tablet), along with advanced analytics capabilities for insights, what-if scenario analyses to evaluate the financial impact if the plan changes, and the corporate memory to measure performance effectively.
Sales are often lost due to a lack of visibility in the field, or missed opportunity thanks to the time sales staff spends on administrative work instead of direct selling activities. Enforcing sales processes helps keep your sales force highly mobile — out and productive in the field. Mobile sales solutions can simplify information capture, allowing reps to focus on building client relationships rather than trying to record information and other nonproductive tasks.
Current quoting processes in the heavy building materials industry are inherently riddled with lagging information and inaccuracies that hinder sales processes. Incorrect information leads to pricing errors that can cause headaches downstream through accounting reworks and other unforeseen costs, such as credits and rebills. Too many owners or general managers don’t trust their own sales forecasts, pipeline estimates or even their backlog, regularly accepting under- or overestimated revenue forecasts along with a fabricated “fudge factor.” Mobile software solutions provide real-time visibility via an accurate job backlog and sales forecast, so that reps can easily make decisions and adjustments.
Often, quotes placed into the system start shipping before paperwork has even made it into the dispatch system. Adding to this perplexity, roughly 25% of heavy building materials production volume is quoted and shipped within 24 hours. In the hustle and bustle to win and immediately ship the order, errors can creep into the process, such as outdated pricing and unauthorized accounts. Implementing standardized processes ensures that quotes are generated with accurate pricing information. With a mobile sales solution, accurate quotes can be generated from the field and instantaneously turned into correctly priced orders in dispatch.
Adhering to a sales process that can be monitored and enforced will enable accurate sales pipeline reporting and forecasting, generate sales uplift by reducing or possibly eliminating missed opportunities in the market, and greatly enhance the ability to make decisions.
The percentage of time that sales reps have to stop and fire up their outdated Excel sheets is dramatically shrinking, especially in a dynamic industry like heavy building materials. Many companies are focusing on building an “enforced” sales process using mobile sales solutions. We’ll continue to see the move to solutions that allow sales reps to be on the go while still being productive. The result will be maximized sales performance with an accurate forecast, backlog, and pipeline.
Marina Bolshinskaya is Operations Manager, Innovation Applications with Command Alkon.