Thank you to readers who have expressed their appreciation for Red Hound’s blog! I appreciate the feedback! Today’s blog is short – it’s more important, this weekend, to celebrate those who have served. A huge thank you from all of us who appreciate your sacrifice in preserving our freedoms!
I’ve spent the past several months with increased focus on seller-doers and am hearing some consistent themes on the challenges seller-doers are facing across design and construction firms. Here they are:
Those are good challenges, across-the-board, and, fortunately, there are solutions to them all. Some of the solutions are found in changing perspectives on the seller-doer role, some are in finding good processes to use, and some are in understanding people and how to build and expand relationships.
Think through the challenges your seller-doers are facing. Try to look at them in a different light. For example, when thinking there’s not enough time for BD, consider viewing the planning of activities differently. Project work ebbs and flows and it’s possible to have BD activities ebb and flow when you expand your planning window. Instead of planning on a daily or weekly basis, with short time frames for activities, have your seller-doers plan out their time on a monthly or quarterly basis. That longer time period provides flexibility, especially, when project emergencies arise and some BD meetings slip and have to be re-scheduled.
Food for thought!
It’s so interesting to watch what happens when you shine the light on something. Everyone runs over to the lighted spot and pours all their energy into improving that issue. In AEC BD and marketing, the light is continuously shone on proposals and interviews. For so many firms, that’s the only point of measurement and that is where most everyone runs to when revenues start to slide. How about getting everyone to run to other key performance indicators (KPI’s) to improve the behavior and performance that can affect your bottom line? So, what do you want to improve?
More opportunities to submit on?
Shine the light on the quantity of opportunities you have in your bucket at any one time PLUS the other accounts in your bucket you’re teeing up for future work. If you’re only pursuing current opportunities (leads) and not setting up your future opportunities, you’ll be chasing those leads from now until forever. Doesn’t sound like much fun!
Larger average project size?
Shine the light on your Preferred Client Profile. Huh? A Preferred Client Profile defines the optimal high-value client that best fits your firm’s operational capabilities, culture, goals, etc. Thus, you’re shining the light on the types, sizes, quality of the projects you’re pursuing. Better quality of account per your standards can equate to better project size.
More repeat & referred work?
Shine the light on your client relations. Train your seller-doers in your firm’s client relations program and bring that topic forward on a regular basis. Coach them on how to obtain repeat and referred work, follow-up with them on their pursuits, and embed quality service delivery into your firm’s culture.
Improve your short list rate?
Some firms ignore the short list rate KPI, but, they do so at their own peril. The short list KPI reflects a different behavior / performance than the win rate does. If you’re struggling to get short listed, shine the light on the quality and quantity of upfront legwork being done on the projects you’re pursuing. The more upfront work done going into a proposal, the better your proposal should be (as long as a team knows what goes into a great, winning proposal). If you’re sending out boilerplate most of the time and / or submitting at the last minute without any upfront project knowledge, don’t count on a strong short list KPI.
Shining the light can apply to all kinds of behavior at your firm. Want to improve performance? Find the behavior, process, system, etc. that you want to improve and shine that big old spotlight on it. Everyone will start paying greater attention to it.
Got questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Want to win more in 2017? FOLLOW-UP . . . on your prospect conversations, your meetings, your emails, and introductions.
If you want a relationship with a prospect, it’s in your bucket of responsibilities to build, maintain, and manage that relationship. It’s not in their hands, it’s in yours. So many people don’t get around to following up, saying thank you, sending relevant information to a contact or inviting them to coffee or lunch. They just let it be. And, I love that! That means the competition just self-eliminated themselves from the field by not being professionally persistent enough to make the effort to win that new relationship.
Here’s what you can do:
Always think about ways to move the relationship forward. What will be your next point of contact? What can I provide that person to help them solve their challenges?
Your goal, with every meeting, is to advance the relationship. Don’t leave a meeting saying, “See you around some time.” Leave every meeting and conversation by establishing the next point of contact with comments such as, “I’ll check back in with you in three months” or “I’ll send you an article I just read that I think you’ll appreciate.” Be the principal-in-charge of the relationship and don’t leave it to chance for the other person to manage it.
What about anchoring relationships? How do I do that?
Anchoring a relationship means that the other individual can, finally, remember who you are when you call them next or see them. That takes multiple contacts with them, whether those are face-to-face, email, phone or text contacts. Don’t expect someone to remember you after one howdy-do at an organization event. Don’t expect them to know who you are after sending them one email. It takes repetition and a lot of it.
It also takes concentrated repetition. That means your contact with them is focused within a time-period. Meeting someone at an event in January, then, expecting them to remember you in September doesn’t work. Anchor the relationship within 30 – 60 days of meeting them and anchor that relationship after your initial introduction with these ideas:
Be creative, but, be YOU! Your goal is to make sure that after a two-month period of being in touch with this individual, they will remember who you are. That makes it much easier to continue to stay in touch, build the relationship, and have a new, great person in your network that you can assist and who can assist you.
Got questions? Let us know! email@example.com
Trying to win more work? Trying to build new relationships in 2017? Try going the extra mile to make that happen!
When initiating new relationships or following up on opportunities, most everyone makes the first contact. They’ll make the call, leave a message, send an email or, somehow, try to make a connection with the individual they want to talk with. A lot of people will make the second attempt at the relationship, but, you know what? When it comes to the third, fourth or fifth attempt, the competition drops considerably. It’s too much work . . . I don’t have the time . . . I don’t want to be a pest. It takes persistence and professionalism to initiate and build a relationship and it doesn’t happen on one or two attempts.
Here are some of the consistent excuses I’ve heard on why a contact attempt failed . . .
It is all about going the extra mile. A whole lot of people don’t have the persistence, professionalism, and stamina to do that, but, consider the experts . . . the gold medal winners or the thought leaders. They didn’t give up when they were too tired to practice their sport. They didn’t drop out of school because they didn’t like certain classes. They didn’t stop learning the details of their profession because there were “too many other things to do.” They kept on going because they wanted to be the best!
Want to win in 2017? Go the extra mile, even when you don’t feel like it. It pays off!
Ever hear the phrase, “you can’t get blood from a turnip?” It means that you can’t get something you want from something that can’t provide it.
It applies just as well when it comes to AEC business development. You can’t get more from not enough. In other words, you can’t expect to get more work from pursuing the same old contacts in the same size of market. Non-AEC marketing professionals understand this. They know that the size of the market will be a major contributor to how much revenue they can capture. When they want more, they expand their market reach.
Imagine this: If there are only ten people who are interested in purple widgets in your target market, the odds are against you that you can capture all ten of those people. Maybe not all those individuals like purple widgets. Perhaps, some of the users saw budget cuts and they can’t afford purple widgets. You can only get so much of the market and the size of the market will drive your firm’s abilities to draw revenue out of it.
There is only so much capacity for revenue in any given market and there will always be competitors going after the same market. So, how do you make sure you can get more? You expand. You expand your geographic reach so you can pursue a larger market. You expand your services so you can offer more to your prospects. You expand your relationships with existing clients. You enter new types of markets.
What have you planned for 2017? Are you anticipating increased revenues by pursuing the same number and quality of prospects you’ve chased for the past ten years? Have you included a good dose of “new relationship development” activities in your BD/marketing program to carry you forward for the next several years? Are you being effective in expanding your existing client relationships by paying attention to those valuable accounts with a formal client relations program?
Believe it or not, a lot of winning is a numbers game. If you’re only pursuing ten prospects, you will only capture so much revenue. It’s time to expand your targeted account base (companies, agencies, organizations) and build in the capacity to increase revenues by purposefully pursuing new and repeat accounts and relationships – especially those ones that you want to work with and are a good fit for your firm.
Looking for more info on how to “size” your target markets to reach the revenues you want? Click HERE to download our white paper on the Target Market Formula.
Where will you be on January 30?
If you’re not at Dena Wyatt’s book signing, you’ll be missing out! Dena’s new book,
BE . . . The Winning Presentation,
is just out and it’s a great source to get your team up and winning in presentations. She’ll be holding a book signing on January 30. Here are the details:
BE . . . The Winning Presentation Book Signing
Dena Wyatt, Marketing Evolutions
January 30, 2017
4:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Infinite Monkey Theorem Winery
3200 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80205
Consider this: Your seller-doers spent four years or more, in school, learning their profession. They understand the details, the structure, and how to measure performance. They know how to create a great project and they usually understand how to allocate their time to get the job done. They know they have control over 100% of their time to make a successful project.
Then, along comes the requirement to be a “seller-doer.” Questions come out of the woodwork . . .
For grins, let’s reverse this. How about dedicated business developers who have multiple years of formal or informal training in pursuing work? Let’s look at how they might try to carve out a piece of their time, each week, to work on one of the firm’s projects. First, they haven’t been formally trained to be an engineer, architect or construction manager. Then, along come the questions . . .
Yep – those are the same questions on either side of the line. The whole who, what, when, where, why, and how of doing the job you are asked to do.
So, how do we make our seller-doers more effective?
That should get you started. There are plenty more in-depth ideas on how to make seller-doers more effective within their limited available time. The most important thing – consider BD from their point of view and understand they need and want your guidance and the learning opportunities on how to be a great contributor to the firm’s success.
Looking for more info? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Happy Holidays to all Red Hound Studios’ great followers! We wish you a wonderful season with your family and friends and a successful 2017!!
Converting doers into sellers doesn’t happen overnight and it doesn’t happen without a clear plan. If anyone thinks that taking a doer to a few networking events is going to make that individual into a seller will soon discover it will be a long and frustrating, uphill climb.
Put some basics in place in order to get that doer over into the seller column. Here are some ideas on what you need so you can provide the optimal environment for your new seller-doers.
1. There must be an understanding, across the firm, that business development is a core component of the firm’s business operations and its success. All staff must know that it is everyone’s responsibility to participate in the pursuit of work in a variety of ways . . . ways that fit with their role and planned career path within the firm. It’s not the sole responsibility of a few individuals; it takes an approach of all-hands-on-deck. Without new and repeat work, the firm doesn’t move ahead.
2. Seller-doers must know there will be new thinking, skills, processes, and approaches to be learned and adopted. That expertise can and will be different, at times, from what they were trained to do. However, to be successful as a seller-doer, that learning is crucial and will be an ongoing activity via additional training and coaching.
3. The seller-doer model must be sanctioned, from the top, and the program must be provided continued support, in the form of time and funding for training and coaching. That mandate from top management and ongoing support means you’re creating seller-doers who can successfully pursue work while still producing quality projects for existing clients.
4. A clear metric on utilization must be in place and understood by all, from operations through project production and business development. That way, seller-doers, BD’ers, and marketers understand how much time the seller-doer has available to apply to pursuing work. That time metric should be reviewed quarterly and overlaid onto project quality and success, for projects in production, and onto new and repeat revenues, for project pursuit.
5. A proven, repeatable, and systematic approach to the pursuit of new and repeat business must already be in place within the firm. It must be trainable to and repeatable by others, i.e., the seller-doers. This should include, at a minimum:
6. A knowledgeable business developer to lead and manage the seller-doer program. That key role means your firm has a champion for the entire seller-doer program . . . someone to coordinate their activities and programs, coach them, and follow-up with their activities on a regular basis. Outside of the AEC industry, this person would be known as a sales manager.
It’s important to note, that in the AEC industry, virtually all the individuals working within the profession are very linear thinkers and process-oriented people. It’s in their nature to follow process. If you don’t have something in place for them to follow, it will reduce their desire and willingness to participate, and, subsequently, reduce the results they can produce.
Per Paul Selden, author of Sales Process Engineering, “The majority of the time, if a process is failing, it’s more likely the process than the people.” Make it easy, enjoyable, and rewarding to participate in building business for the firm and you’ll find more takers at the table.
A key point to remember: Seller-doers are not professional BD’ers. They were trained to do another type of work and they require guidance, knowledge, and support from the BD and marketing experts so they can be successful. No one wants to fail, so, don't leave them hanging out there on their own.
Other items to have in place as you move to a seller-doer model . . .
If you’re considering the move to a seller-doer model, head that direction! It’s the best combined use of your dedicated business developers and marketers and the technical expertise of your professional staff. Best advice: Move forward with a PLAN!
Want more info? Email email@example.com.
Whether public or private sector, if potential clients and existing clients don’t hear from you or about you, they don’t know you exist. And, to win, when the project shows up, you need to be already actively visible, known, and trusted. Other topics take up space in your targets’ minds before that project arises, including your competition! So, how do you communicate with your prospects and clients before the project shows up?
A lot of firms focus only on face-to-face meetings, i.e., introductory meetings, follow-up meetings, lunches with prospects and clients, entertainment, etc. That will get you by, especially in these times of increased opportunities. But . . .
I’ve run the numbers over 30 years of being in the trenches of AEC BD and marketing and here’s what the numbers say. (Stick with me, here. There’s a good conclusion at the end!)
In unburdened staff time, it costs approximately $150 - $200+ per head to initiate a relationship, send that person introductory information, follow-up, and have one 30-minute meeting. And, that doesn’t include any hard costs. As you continue to build the relationship, just count on $150 - $200+ per head of staff time for every time you meet with this individual. So, if you’re only using face-to-face meetings to pursue work, it becomes very expensive.
Is there a way to offset that cost? Absolutely! Use an integrated marketing program to manage your prospects (and a lot more of them!) until a hot opportunity comes up. When that hot opportunity starts to loom on the horizon, throw that opportunity over to your BD’ers and seller-doers and let your marketing program continue to stir your BIG pot of future clients. In staff time, stirring the pot costs approximately $5 - $10 per head for a contact list of 4,000 – 8,000 contacts (Yes, you may need that many in your database to reach your revenue projections depending on the size of your firm.) And, with the right program in place, that cost is further reduced as your pot gets larger and the cost is spread over a greater number of prospects.
THIS IS IMPORTANT . . . Not all contacts are created equal, so why would you spend the same amount of dollars on all of your prospects?
H-m-m-m . . . Perhaps, we should combine the two activities. Put our bigger dollars on the clients and hot accounts that are our top priority and keep in touch with our other prospects (which can now be a bigger audience!) with our smaller dollars. Wouldn’t that reap better benefits?
YES . . .
The goal of your marketing program is to build the prospect and revenue pipeline, while your dedicated BD’ers and seller-doers focus their attention where they are most valuable – solidifying the relationship, understanding the project, and sealing the deal! Use your resources (time and dollars) where they count the most. When you do that, it means you’re headed to . . .
Best-in-class, effective (and efficient) revenue generation! Yep, that's dollars in the piggy bank!
Recently published in Engineering News-Record:
Supercharge Your Revenue Generating Engine by Deb Schindler
When you’re ready to get started, let us know. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wouldn’t that be great? Revenue stability – revenue that comes in the door at a more even pace instead of in major highs and lows. Revenue sustainability – knowing that you’re pursuing work with strategies and processes that will carry your firm over an extended time span, not just for months.
There are three components to stability and sustainability that I’ve seen consistently perform in the AEC industry.
1. Structure, Process, Measurement
Structure . . . Where everyone knows who is doing what, who reports to whom, and how to get reviews, approvals, and responsibilities completed more efficiently. It makes your revenue generation operations run more efficiently and effectively – that takes wasted time off the boards and makes time available for producing results.
Process . . . Where everyone involved in revenue generation is following proven, repeatable processes and strategies. No more “seat-of-the-pants” approaches, no more guessing what works and what doesn’t . . . effective! Plus, when using proven, repeatable processes and strategies, you can train your staff in a consistent approach to pursuing the best revenue!
Measurement . . .Where business development, marketing, and client relations activities are measured, and they are measured throughout the process, not just at the end. It provides you with the opportunity to adjust your activities, before you reach the big proposal and crucial interview, in order to increase your confidence in the final outcome.
2. Account-Based BD / Marketing / Client Relations
Account-based programs put your focus on the companies, agencies, and organizations you want to work with, whether they have a project right now or not. It allows you to purposefully pursue the “accounts” that are a best fit for your firm and build solid relationships. It takes you out of a chase-the-lead approach and into one that makes your BD and marketing work with purpose. A shift to an account-based program doesn’t happen overnight, but the change is well worth it.
3. Integrated Communications
If you’re not communicating with your target audiences on a regular basis, someone else is. Just because your firm has been in town for years and everyone knows your firm, it doesn’t mean your competitors have gone away or that you’ll automatically win that next big project. Your competition may, in fact, be working harder and smarter to win that next project from you.
An integrated communications program allows your firm to consistently stay in touch with your target audiences over an extended period of time. A strong program uses multiple communication channels to keep your firm visible with those targeted prospects and carries consistent messages to those companies and agencies.
When you’re looking for what works in Integrated Revenue Generation, give a call (720-346-8331) or email us at email@example.com.
ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re kicking off our new one-topic, occasional email “INSIGHT SESSION.” If you’d like to receive your next edition, sign up on the form located on our blog webpage here http://www.redhoundstudios.com/blog.
For those still thinking they’re in complete charge of their reputation, brand, and who in the AEC industry decides to interact with their firm, think again! The Internet and digital communications have changed so much in the AEC marketing and business development world, it’s time to appreciate that they’re here to stay.
Consider this eye-brow-raising presidential election we’re having the opportunity to experience this year. Regardless of which candidate you support, it’s amazing to watch both sides take bits and pieces of the other side’s presentations and conversations and, then, use social media, traditional broadcast and print media, online media, and word-of-mouth marketing to AMPLIFY (and sometimes distort) theirs or the other side’s message. Neither side can control all of it and it all happens in an instant! What you don’t see are the behind-the-scenes online, digital and communications experts who are, second-by-second, evaluating and doing everything they can to manage and counter what is happening.
So, let’s learn some lessons from what is going on so you can better evaluate and manage your firm’s online and digital communications, keep your firm visible on a consistent basis and in a positive way, and allow your prospects to easily enter the door of your firm.
Your digital footprint counts!
Your digital footprint drives your firm’s findability online. The bigger and better it is, the easier it is to find your firm. If you want to expand your firm, extend your geographic reach, strengthen your position in a particular market or enter a new market, you’ll need to pay attention to your digital footprint because it’s the engine behind your firm’s online findability. And, yes, you must be easily findable to play in today’s game. Your digital footprint is built around your online assets (see below under PESO), search engine optimization, data analytics, and more.
There are multiple doors into your firm
Before the Internet, there was only one door into your firm – through the principals in the firm who were out glad-handing with prospects, making presentations, and participating in organizations. Now, prospects can enter your firm through multiple doors, i.e., your website, social media, your blog, online publicity, online search, and so on. All doors must be open all the time to allow your prospects in.
Almost two thirds of prospects will search out your firm, online, before communicating with you about a project or to research your firm during a selection
Thus, all of your online assets (website, blog, video, webinars, social media, etc.) must consistently tell the best story about you. Consistency is credibility, so make sure your marketing team is on top of what is said about your firm across all communication channels.
No, that’s not money! But, it can convert to money. Know the basics of the four kinds of media (communications with your audiences) so you know where and how to manage each and get the biggest bang for your buck.
PAID: You pay for this and you control the message, i.e. advertising, whether print or online. Expensive for a lot in the AEC industry, but can be done well with a sufficient budget. It can contribute to your digital footprint.
EARNED: You earn this coverage in these communication channels by providing excellent content to a third party. Your content is so valuable to a readership or audience that the media prints or posts it for you, i.e. feature stories, press releases or you’re invited to speak at a conference. It’s very credible coverage to have the third party endorsement plus it can contribute to your digital footprint.
SHARED: This is all about social media. You may start the conversation, but where it goes from there is up to the people who read it. They may like it and share it with others. They may also have a contrary opinion, so may post negative comments about what you’ve said. Once your original post is up, you don’t control anything after that. It contributes to your digital footprint.
OWNED: These are the assets you own, i.e. your website, your email campaigns, your brochures. You control the message and you push the message out. It contributes to your digital footprint.
Biggest lesson from this election year?
Don’t ever, ever, ever put anything negative in a digital communication, online or in social media. It never, ever, ever goes away!
So, the point is – you can control some of the messages some of the time, but you can’t control all of the messages all of the time. Be focused in your communication channels, make sure your messaging is high quality and consistent across all channels, and understand it’s in your hands to manage it all.
ANNOUNCEMENT: We’re kicking off our new one-topic, occasional email “INSIGHT SESSION” this month. If you’d like to receive your edition, sign up on the form located on our blog webpage here http://www.redhoundstudios.com/blog.
Friday Chow is posted weekly, or thereabouts, to provide you with insights and considerations for AEC sales and marketing. Good stuff to feed your revenue engine!
When you're ready to improve your business development, marketing, and client relations programs, contact Red Hound Studios at firstname.lastname@example.org