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Customer relationship management (CRM) platforms get a lot of ink, yet are too frequently underestimated and overlooked. Specifically, almost all CRM conversations revolve around sales and marketing functions, but understanding and managing the customer relationship is a key component of everyone’s job.

Who Is Using CRM Technology in the Construction Industry

Survey publications, blog posts, web articles and any other source of commentary for CRM discussions and one will find a lot of sales and marketing speak. Construction Executive’s Tech Trends is no exception. All three articles with the CRM tag at the time of this publication focused on “attracting new business” and “marketing solutions.”

However, CRM is not inherently a sales and marketing tool. It is simply a tool to empower organizations to have better control over the customer’s record. Everyone in the organization is connected to the customer record.

For example, the CEO may handle and routinely reach out to key customer accounts, which is a practice that can be empowered by CRM platforms such as Contactually. The people in charge of credit, collections, accounts receivables and accounts payable must be intimately connected with the customer record as they make decisions about how to extend credit, pay and collect on bills and so they can be assisted with CRM technology like zlien. Even project managers must stay tuned in to the customer’s relationship progress and status, which is aided by tools such as FieldLens.

While CRM technology could be extraordinarily relevant to a variety of professional roles within the construction industry, the adoption of this technology is astonishingly low. In a survey conducted by JB Knowledge, 78.8 percent of respondents said they are not using a client relationship management (CRM) technology. Among the small set of groups answering affirmatively about using a CRM, 46 percent are using mail, 34 percent are using Excel and 28 percent are using a “manual process.” In other words, they are not actually using a CRM at all.

The poor showing of CRM adoption in the construction industry can be partially blamed by the lack of offerings and the lack of understanding about the tool. Progress in both areas are being made, and the remainder of this decade should usher in massive adoption and use of this exciting technology.

What Everyone Can Learn From CRM-Enabled Sales Groups

The association of CRM technology with sales and marketing is a chicken-or-the-egg question. Was CRM technology actually built around sales because it works best and only for these challenges, or did sales teams drive CRM technology as early adopters? The latter is likely true, for two primary reasons.

First, everyone is in sales and thus the “sales process” and information needs of a salesperson are closely related to other professions and roles. Most CRM solutions fit the workflows and needs of non-salespeople right out of the box. Second, other professionals within an organization can get or are already getting clear benefits from CRM platforms.

One example of this are construction financial professionals. This section of the company must carry just as heavy as a load as sales people and account managers in managing the customer relationship.

In Credit Managers Can Learn From The Sales Team, zlien’s Martin Roth describes how sales technologies can help non-sales functions, such as credit management. “Sales teams constantly look to automate those tasks that are redundant (writing cards, sending emails, etc.), and credit teams should be looking at their processes the same way,” he says.

Redundant functions are part of everyone’s day, but the trouble with automating these functions is that they are so intimately connected with...the customer’s record. Having a CRM tool to control that customer record positions organizations to employ these automations while accommodating for the nuanced nature of the customer relationship.

Love the CRM

Great technology is being built around the general idea of a CRM platform, and so many companies are taking this concept in interesting directions. Construction organizations can get a lot of mileage from investments in these solutions, as they can offer out-sized improvements to a company’s processes, as well as their top line.

In examining CRM platforms, remember that having a cloud-based platform is especially important. This allows the CRM to integrate into other databases and functions, which ultimately will be the difference between a fully empowered construction organization and one that is rummaging through email, Excel and paper to keep up with the companies doing it right.

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