Managing A&E Business Development in the New Normal

Posted by Megan Miller on August 24, 2020

business group

Business development and marketing in the new normal is different. Although some traditional methods of business development are alive and well, some strategies have to adapt and change to accommodate the ever-evolving landscape. One thing that doesn’t change is the need to prioritize business development and manage client relationships and pipeline proactively – the business side of business development.

What metrics matter most? What do the numbers say about your business, and how can they help inform better decisions?

Although last year was another strong financial year for companies throughout the architecture and engineering (A&E) industry, current economic uncertainty is forcing firms to refocus on business development and marketing. This is how firms are determining how and where they can pivot to stay in front of the right clients and monitor changing pipeline.

In fact, this year’s Annual Deltek Clarity Architecture & Engineering Industry Report identified several ways for firms to amplify their business development and marketing efforts, while focusing on three key themes – processes, engagement and visibility.

Business Development Processes and Training Best Practices

Although there is no magic formula for business development, how is your company equipping your project managers, business developers and marketers to succeed? In this year’s Deltek Clarity report, nearly 60% of firms reported not having any kind of formal business development process. Additionally, small firms and architectural firms were the least likely to have a formal process, with 70% and 61% respectively. Only 38% of firms offer business development training for project managers –- the people that often have the most interaction with clients and prospects.

Firms continue to struggle with finding time to nurture client relationships. A potential barrier could be not knowing what to do with the limited business development time they have. This is especially true for project managers that are sellers and doers. Although it may not be an overly rigid and formal process, having something in place to capture best practices and train leaders on client engagement will benefit firms well, especially during times of economic uncertainty.

How to Monitor Your A&E Business

Efficient processes to help find, pursue and deliver projects is important, but holding teams accountable and monitoring success is vital to the health of your business. Can you easily see how your pipeline is changing? Do you know which clients are at the top of your revenue list? How are your pursuits impacting your bottom line?

To get a better sense of industry benchmarking statics, here are a few key metrics from this year’s Clarity report:

  • Firms reported nearly 43% of their revenue comes from just three clients
  • Going into 2020, firms projected a 2.1% growth in revenue
  • Firms reported a 46.5% win rate and 42.3% capture rate
  • Overall, firms’ utilization rate increased (59.9%) and overhead rates decreased (154%)
  • More projects were on budget and on schedule than the previous year – 71.2% and 66.2% respectively

Although many of these metrics are positive, there is still work to do be done. Nearly 30% of companies do not use a formal go/no-go process, and nearly 10% of companies are still not tracking win rates. Having the right technology in place to help you monitor the business can help ensure you are investing your time where it can have the biggest impact on your business.

Business development and marketing require accountability, just like project management. But are you holding your teams accountable, and if so, how? Firms can easily set targets for number of client interactions, new opportunities identified, new clients identified, training courses attended and much more. However, the key is to find the right metrics for the role. If one person is focused on net new clients, set a target for number of interactions they have with new people or how many new companies they have identified. The key isn’t the specific goal --  it’s having accountability and using it as a conversation starter to better understand what’s working, what isn’t working and where they may need help.


[REPORT] Business Development Trends In The A&E Industry: A Clarity Mini-Report



A&E Emerging Technologies and Top Marketing Techniques

More A&E firms are prioritizing investment in technology, and one area that is gaining traction is emerging technology trends. This year, there was a considerable increase in the number of firms that identified emerging technology trends such as the Internet of things (IoT), geo location, augmented/virtual reality, big data and data science as important to their business. And, most firms are applying these trends to project execution, project management and business development/marketing.

How is your company staying on top of the latest trends, applying them to your business and leveraging these as a competitive advantage in the market?

As marketing platforms and tactics change, marketing teams are constantly changing and adapting to stay in front of clients, prospects, teaming partners and future employees. In this year’s Clarity report, participants were asked to identify the top three marketing techniques they use most successfully and which techniques they expect to be the most important in the next five years.

The top marketing techniques were social media posts (60%), trade shows/exhibits (48%), public relations (36%), thought leadership (27%) and account-based marketing (27%). Looking to the next five years, marketers expect to see a shift in the top techniques, most notably in the importance of thought leadership. Companies anticipate social media will continue to play a vital role followed by thought leadership, public relations, trade shows/exhibits and account-based marketing.

Whether it’s emerging technology or marketing techniques, it’s critical to ensure your teams are prioritizing the latest trends, the application in the industry, and how receptive clients are to each technique to elevate your business and presence in the market.

Implementing A&E Best Practices

Although economic uncertainty is impacting the near-term outlook, focusing on the business side of marketing and business development can better position your firm for success. The Deltek Clarity report delivers dozens of benchmarks and industry trends to help your firm see how you compare to your competition, while identifying areas to improve your business. It’s time to focus on business development processes, invest in training project managers, improve accountability and visibility, and leverage technology as a competitive advantage. Investing in your people, your processes and technology will elevate your business and help drive your business forward.

To learn more about the Deltek Clarity report, check out the Business Development Deep Dive webinar and download the complete Deltek Clarity Report.