Public health efforts led to business closures around the country from March through May. By mid-May, though, most states had declared construction and building materials businesses essential, meaning they could once again operate, though often with modified practices.
While the reopening was good news for the industry overall, the temporary closure was a wakeup call for many and a call to action to find ways of selling that don’t rely on in-person sales meetings or visits to lumberyards, storefronts, or warehouses.
Here, we’ll explain how vendors can boost building materials sales by tapping into the power of 3D and augmented reality (AR) to sell when customers prefer to (or have to) stay at home.
Show Every Angle of Every Component on Your Website
3D visuals and AR functionality can transform the experience of shopping for building materials online.
Even before the pandemic hit, architects, builders, contractors, and other building materials customers were spending more time researching online. And while most vendors offer websites, these sites don’t always have detailed visual content of what they’re selling.
Figure 1: product page featuring only line diagram (source)
Figure 2: product page without product image (source)
Customers might be met with line diagrams (Figure 1), “image not available” text (Figure 2), or just one or two static images of a product, which makes it almost impossible to get a sense of what the actual product might look like in context.
That’s a problem, given the way today’s business buyers shop:
- 82 percent look at least five pieces of content before making a purchase, and half look at eight or more.
- They spend 27 percent of their purchase process researching independently online, versus just 17 percent meeting with potential suppliers.
In other words, the people buying building materials are actively seeking information about these products online.
3D visuals, including those that show your products in augmented reality, ensure that buyers easily understand what you're offering, even before they reach out for a demo. When they do, 3D and AR continue to shine.
Customize Building Materials Products in Real-Time Demos
The 3D and AR elements on your website help get customers into your sales funnel; in demos, they can also bolster your sales team’s efforts.
As we’ve noted before, “we’ll get back to you” is a death knell in B2B sales conversations. Adding 3D and AR components to sales demos can help prevent customers from uttering those words.
- 3D configuration lets sales reps render custom building materials in real time, on a screen everyone can see (or in a shared screen in a video call). That means they can update styles, dimensions, and finishes so customers can see them – and make a decision about them – instantly (see example below).
- AR applications let sales reps show what various materials would look like in their actual context. That could mean anything from showing how custom cabinets would look like in an existing kitchen to showing how modular building components would look on a vacant lot.
A Gartner study on the B2B buying process shows that salespeople who act as “information connectors” – those who connect customers with as much information as possible, from as many sources as possible – are four times more effective than those who act as “information authorities” – those who rely on deep personal experience to help customers.
By enhancing sales conversations with highly detailed, real-time 3D and AR visual information, salespeople act as connectors. Gartner also found that when customers work with connectors, they’re 90 percent more likely to make a larger, more complex, and low-regret purchase.
Generate Building Materials Quotes in Real Time
If generating quotes is the slowest part of your building materials sales process, introducing 3D and AR could help.
That’s because the software that generates real-time 3D and AR assets can also organize, visualize, and document those outputs as you generate them. The result: sales reps can update customers on prices as they tweak styles, dimensions, and finishes in a demo. This makes it much easier for customers to make real-time decisions about whether certain features will fit into their budgets.
And when sales reps can end a demo by sending a complete, accurate quote more or less instantly, they’re able to shorten the sales cycle and prevent the communication disruption that might otherwise leave to customer drop-off.
Track Building Materials Orders Seamlessly
In addition to generating real-time custom quotes, the software that generates 3D and AR visuals can also tie to BOMs, ERPs, and PIMs. This means:
- Automatic creation of parts lists as customers choose customizations.
- Automatic orders placed if parts are needed to fulfill customer orders.
- Quicker order delivery to customers.
Besides saving your team time and energy, the quicker turnaround that customers see makes for a much smoother, more retail-like experience. That’s exactly what today’s B2B buyers want, according to recent Salesforce research: 67 percent have switched vendors to work with one that provides a more consumer-like buying experience.
Create a Faster, More Visual Building Materials Sales Process with 3D and AR
Whether you’re selling to contractors, architects, builders, or homeowners, being able to provide a more visual, consumer-like experience will set you apart. You’ll be able to deliver greater certainty, faster.
What’s more, the tech that enables 3D and AR will make you more efficient on the back end, meaning you can deliver a better end-to-end experience: faster and more accurate quotes, faster delivery of parts, and greater customer satisfaction upon delivery.
Read more about how 3D and AR technology can support building materials vendors or see how they might work for you specifically by setting up a demo today.