Here’s one clear trend during the current coronavirus crisis: businesses have new and urgent needs that integrators can solve, from networking infrastructure to remote monitoring to videoconferencing.
Before the crisis, integrators were already trending “resimercial”. In its 2020 State of the Industry report, CE Pro listed resimercial as the most noteworthy trend of the past year—with revenue from commercial projects up by 30%.
The possible benefits of getting more commercial projects are many: Diversifying for stability, avoiding commoditization trends in the residential market, growing recurring revenue streams in environments with higher price points, and greater opportunities to upsell.
But for residential integrators wanting to break into commercial, where do you start?
Commercial Integration Prospects Aren’t on Facebook
Ever feel like the decision-makers at the companies you’re targeting aren’t exactly browsing Facebook or searching Google looking for you? And on top of that, many businesses aren’t even aware of how you can help, or what the benefits to their bottom line are. If that’s the case, how would they even search for you?
This is precisely the issue. The marketing challenge with commercial integration is that reaching decision-makers through traditional channels is difficult, costly, and imprecise. For example, the cost in New York City to place commercial security ads in Google’s search results is commonly $30-$60+ per click.
And even with that, you’re casting a wide net. You already know the kind of businesses you love working with, and can have a huge impact on. Are these the ones clicking on your ads? What about the people who aren’t searching for you because they don’t know they have a problem and aren’t aware of the opportunity cost they’re incurring by not working with you.
For all of these reasons, integrators have traditionally preferred relying on referrals from contractors and builders. But how do you scale those referrals for growth?
Instead, make a list of who you want to work with. Then, reach out to them
The Power of Old-School Networking
Simply put, integrators need to adapt old-school networking and direct outreach for the digital age. Particularly in an age of ongoing coronavirus concerns, the most important tool in your arsenal is LinkedIn.
And not just posting – posting is the icing on the cake. We’re advocating a simple but multi-pronged approach that starts with building a list of high-potential prospects on LinkedIn, connecting with them, and finding opportunities to share the value you can provide.
But before you start reaching out, don’t skip the most important step: you need to know who you really want to work with. It not only makes targeting easier—it makes your messaging way more compelling.
Now you’re ready to customize the messaging on your LinkedIn profile to your target audience, and start reaching out. Wheelhouse Digital has also created a step-by-step guide to help integrators get started. Your LinkedIn efforts can help you book more meetings, and even help you avoid cold calling by using LinkedIn connections to get a foot in the door well before picking up the phone.
A Prospect Pipeline Can Help Transform Your Company
Think of it this way: if you’re an IT director at a mid-size company, which message would you rather get?
- “We do residential and commercial projects from automation to AV to security. Is there anything we can help you with?”
- “We help IT directors get peace of mind with remote network health monitoring. Can I shoot over a case study showing how we helped the IT team at SalesForce?”
Message #1 is annoying because it gives them homework. Message #2 is relevant, easy to respond to, and could be the start of a conversation that benefits both of you.
But remember, you’re not doing this just because being polite is good and spamming is bad. By keeping your outreach limited to profitable, enjoyable projects you’d love to work on, you’ll get better responses. In the process, you’ll make your business more profitable and enjoyable, one client at a time.
Narrowing Commercial Prospect Outreach
Here’s how you narrow down your outreach to commercial prospects:
First, identify who exactly you’re targeting. You’re looking to create what’s called an “avatar” in marketing language: your perfect client. A client that’s easy to work with and has a true need for services that are profitable and enjoyable for you. Who is that? What industry are they in? What role do they have in their company?
Next, identify one job you’ve done in the past to help a client in the above category. How did you benefit their business? Are there any claims you can reasonably make? (ie, our remote monitoring services helped reduce losses by 30% while increasing productivity).
Even better, reach out to a happy client to interview them. Hear directly from them what the biggest benefits of working with you are. What did their “before” and “after” working with you look like? Take their language, and use it in your outreach to prospects.
Now you’re ready to customize the messaging on your LinkedIn profile to your target audience, and start reaching out. We’ve created a step-by-step guide to help integrators get started. Your LinkedIn efforts can help you book more meetings, and even help you avoid cold calling by using LinkedIn connections to get a foot in the door well before picking up the phone.
The Time to Act is Now
Businesses are struggling around the world, and integrators are uniquely positioned to help. From remote security monitoring to facilitating the future of work with technology, there are many opportunities to help in relevant, meaningful ways.
Your job from a marketing perspective is to identify who you can best help, and which jobs are most profitable. From there, you can create a hyper relevant marketing message that will naturally draw your target audience in. You can also proactively reach out to that audience directly, making them aware of the benefits of what you do, and getting a better chance of uncovering a real need.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to update your website, or create a new brochure, before drumming up new business.
Stay focused on the things with the highest impact: adjust how you’re presenting yourself on LinkedIn, and communicate using the benefits and results you’ve created for similar clients.
Do this successfully, and you’ll be well on your way to repositioning your business to help more commercial clients.
This article originally appeared in our sister publication CE Pro.