Business Development Secrets of the Most Successful AEC Firms

Posted by Shari Gardner on February 7, 2015

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One of the keys to success in any professional sales pursuit is to focus your efforts on a goal. It’s important to establish goals that are attainable and “zero in” on what you want and make a total commitment to achieving those goals.

It’s all too easy in the sales pursuit to lose sight of our goals and lose that laser beam focus. Often we have a tendency to scatter our efforts across too many opportunities or ones that aren’t a good fit. It’s tempting to pursue big targets or ones that seem easy but we have no experience in, instead of focusing on the ones that are achievable and a better fit for our firm’s core competencies. The result is we spend lots of energy chasing opportunities when the odds of closing them are slim. It’s a common problem for many AE firms.

Stop for a moment and think how you would answer the following questions:

  • If you had to rank the types of work your firm is best at, what would be the top three?
  • Do you focus on finding opportunities that fit those top three or are you often pursuing number 9 and 10 on the list?
  • And what if your number 9 is someone else’s number 1? What are the chances you will close that deal?

In addition, of all the types of work you do, which ones are the most profitable for your firm? (If your projects are all over the board you may not know.)  Which customers are your most profitable and which ones provide the lowest margins?

By looking at your past projects by type, industries and profitability, you will start to paint a picture. You may find out that you always lose money on your golf course work and make the most money with hotels – and one hotel chain in particular. This may lead you to figuring out how to get more work from them and not moving forward with the new golf course proposals.

Narrowing your focus to where you can be successful is key. If you focus on everything, you focus on nothing. Every year we conduct the Deltek Clarity Study, a benchmarking survey that includes firms of all different sizes located in a wide variety of regions. In this study, we find over and over again, that high performing firms know where their best and most profitable work comes from and focus on it. They become leaders in those project disciplines, win more work and command higher rates because of their expertise.

So, can you answer these questions today?

  • Where does most of your work comes from?
  • What types of projects are your best?
  • Which industries do you work in?
  • Which are most profitable?
  • How much of the type of work you want more of is in your pipeline?
  • Where do you go to find more of it?
  • Do you have adequate skills on the bench to cover these projects? (capacity)

With a firm-wide CRM (customer relationship management or client relationship management system), you can answer these questions quickly and easily so you can make smarter, faster decisions. You can look at your pipeline across the firm, sort by project type or market, select the right types of projects to pursue and assign tasks to your team to find more work.

To learn more about CRM read the following blogs:

CRM Made Just for Projects

Project based CRM for AE Firms

Generating new and repeat profitable business is the lifeblood of architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) firms. Listen to the PSMJ Resources and Deltek webinar “Business Development Secrets of the Most Successful AEC Firms” to learn how you can drive pipeline with insight. <Watch webinar>