If there’s anything ubiquitous about a building materials company’s website, it’s a dealer locator. (Or contractor locator. Or both. How about we just call it a “Locator” for this post?)

Now, what would you like your Locator to do for you? Well, if you put in a postal code, you’d like it to return a list of the closest dealers or contractors closest?

What else would you like? Let’s think about that for a minute; hmm …

  1. Well, first you’d like that list to be current and accurate.
  2. You’d like to maintain the underlying database that gets polled to be easy. Or maybe even zero effort on your website.
  3. You’d like to be able to prioritize your best (or preferred) dealers & contractors so they show up first
  4. You’d like to rotate through those favorites so everyone gets a shot at the top
  5. You’d probably like to be able to let your contractors and dealers choose which ZIPs they show up in, not just which they’re closest to, since their shop might be pretty far from the chichi neighborhoods most likely to make big purchases.
  6. You’d like to let your customers connect directly with your partners, but have some control over knowing that they did
  7. You’d like to give your sales reps a way to show your contractor’s how many times they’ve shown up on your site.
  8. You’d like to show your contractors which postal codes are the hottest for them (to guide them in their own efforts)

How are we doing so far?

Well, first things first. Well, first, do you really want to try to maintain that database on your website CMS when it’s a standalone, parallel tool to your other databases? That’s a pain. So let’s just not do that.

If not CMS, then where? Ain’t the ERP – that’s for customers who buy directly from you. Your locator should show a lot more than that. Some spreadsheet? Yuck.

Ah. How about the CRM? All your customers, prospects, and channel partners should be in there. And you’ve got an army of sales reps with some motivation to keep it up-to-date and current. It’s already maintained. And a powerful CRM like Salesforce can embed all that automation we’ve talked about above, plus store the data.

So let’s call the CRM from the website for each search and let it do all the work. No database at all on your website, just rendering real-time data. Clean, simple, more accurate, and lower cost.

The CRM data should be highly maintainable, as well. There are a lot of tools available for cleansing, bulk updating, and complete addresses.

If you have a loyalty program that offers perks like website preference for the most dedicated dealers and contracts, well, that should surely be in the CRM. So the CRM can push results based on importance. And it can keep track of who was last shown and provide some rotation for “fairness”.

Since the data is in the CRM, your sales reps are already accessing it. All the locator data is then right in front of them. When they make a routine call on the dealer, they can pull it up right there and show them, providing immediate value.