Top 10 strategies for winning more business in AEC
In the hyper-competitive AEC industry, it is imperative that firms bring their ‘A-game’ to their business development practices. Developing intelligent strategies to optimize your firm’s relationships, determining which pursuits to invest your firm’s resources in, and creating winning pursuit strategies are critical to a firm’s business development success.
In this article, we will explore 10 winning strategies for optimizing your architecture or engineering firm’s business development success and winning more work. Here we go!
- Have a plan
- Who knows who?
- Keep an eye on your clients
- Make CRM ‘dirt simple’
- Gain a complete view of your experience
- Put your best foot forward
- Focus on the right opportunities
- Use predictive intelligence to win more deals
- Conduct post-loss surveys
- Give mixed reality a try
In many firms, business development is a reactive, ad hoc exercise. This results in chasing only what’s in front of you, not building a strategic plan for generating revenue. Today’s most mature AEC firms are developing formal business development plans that define target clients, profitable revenue opportunities, and business development strategies that further the strategic interests of the firm.
Many firms lack a complete understanding of their contacts and relationships, something we refer to as ‘who knows who?’. Having a comprehensive view of your firm’s contacts, connections, and relationship strength can help ensure the right people are on the front lines of your pursuits, and can be a valuable tool in driving cross-practice selling initiatives. Sounds like a lot of work? Modern CRM/ERM tools can automatically harvest relationship data and put relationship insights at your fingertips.
Having visibility of key developments within your client base can help you identify and follow up on new opportunities. Digital information services like InsideView and LinkedIn can proactively update your relationship owners when key events transpire with your clients. These tools can be embedded in modern CRM solutions to notify you when keywords are met (example = Amazon + land acquisition) as well as automatically create follow-up activities.
For many firms, CRM is a four-letter acronym. Legacy AEC industry CRM systems are notoriously difficult to use, resulting in low adoption among sellers/doers, and therefore incomplete data and limited value to the firm. Modern CRM systems not only offer strong mobile apps and Outlook integration to simplify the user experience, but can automatically contribute contacts, emails, appointments, and tasks from Outlook/Exchange so that your sellers/doers don’t have to enter data.
With data at many firms scattered across multiple systems, it can be hard to gain a complete view of your firm’s experience and qualifications. With the integrated platforms available today, these experience profiles can build automatically. Don’t have one of these? Don’t worry, integration tools exist that can automatically harvest data from your accounting, project management, and HR systems to build this 360-degree view for you.
Now that you have a complete view of your firm’s experience, make sure you put your best foot forward by having the ability to easily search this experience and dynamically create proposal documents such as project cut sheets and employee resumes.
Pursuing new business often requires significant investments from your firm. That’s great when you are pursuing work that plays to your firm’s strengths. But pursuing the wrong work not only misuses scarce resources but takes time away from pursuing opportunities you can actually win. Make win/loss analytics and systematized go/no-go approvals a priority, and make sure your firm is chasing the right work.
Today’s AI and predictive intelligence technologies make it easier than ever to get valuable insights when making go/no-go decisions. Today’s modern CRM solutions provide pursuit strength algorithms that can help your firm understand how well you are positioned in a deal based on your past work experience and relationships with parties involved in a new bid.
The last thing your firm probably wants to do after losing a bid is conduct a post-loss analysis, but these surveys provide great context around why you are winning and losing. Want some help from technology to simplify this? Today’s advanced technologies like cognitive services can transcribe interviews from voice recordings and use keywords and advanced analytics to help understand why you won or lost.
It’s not enough to be competent in business development – you have to be different too. Forward-thinking firms are now using tools like mixed reality to give prospective clients a virtual experience during the bid process. Imagine using a Hololens to design a mixed reality experience for your clients to walk the halls of the new structure you are designing! Not only powerful, but different too!
Developing and winning new business is not easy. But firms that can properly leverage their experience, their relationships, and today’s emerging technologies have a leg up on the rest. With the stakes as high as ever before, the time may be right to reconsider how your firm competes and wins new business. Want more information on how we can help along these lines? Visit www.aec360.com.
About the Author
Andy Yeomans is Director of Business Development for sa.global, where his role is to help project-driven organizations evaluate and select ERP software systems to better manage their finances, projects, clients, and resources. Andy was instrumental in developing the organization's Microsoft Dynamics 365 industry solutions and practice area for the AE & Environmental industry. Andy has over 17 years of ERP experience and has helped dozens of AE & Environmental firms evaluate, select, and implement ERP software systems for their business.