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Business Development

8 strategies for more successful presentations

If your firm has implemented a strategic business development process, then you’re spending plenty of time identifying and researching prospective clients, pre-positioning for work, and making thoughtful go-no go decisions.

But what happens when you’re in the room where the final decisions are made? Over many years of conducting client interviews, we’ve heard the horror stories and the success stories. If you want to impress your clients—and win more work—then it may be time to raise your shortlist and client presentation game.

As one client we spoke with recently put it: “Nine times out of ten, deals are made in the interviews. You think you have the front-runners selected from the proposals, and then they go in and bomb. It’s all about how they connect with our group.”

While there is no cookie-cutter formula to a winning presentation, there’s also not as much mystery as you […]

By |2019-08-05T11:45:56+00:00August 2019|Business Development|

How strong are your client relationships? Here’s how to make them even better.

Many times, when AEC and environmental consulting firms think about business development, they’re focused on bringing in new clients and expanding their reach. While this is an incredibly important part of your business growth, what’s equally important is building your relationships with the clients that you already have.

This month in The Friedman File, we’re focusing on how you can—and must— actively strengthen your relationships with existing clients on an ongoing basis. It can be easy to fall into the trap of putting this type of engagement on autopilot, especially when you’re managing a heavy workload. But having solid client relationship management practices in place can streamline the process and help to protect your firm from changing economic or market cycles.

Not only is it more cost-effective and easier to sell more work to your existing clients (and have them refer you) than to continually […]

By |2019-04-04T14:41:32+00:00April 2019|Business Development, Market/Client Research|

It’s time to change your story about business development

As readers of The Friedman File know, business development is one of Friedman & Partners’ specialties. And over the years, I’ve witnessed many AEC and environmental consulting professionals and firms shroud this topic in a level of mystery and complexity that’s just not serving them well.

In fact, when I conduct business development training, I ask people to share what comes to mind when I say the words “business development.” Often what I hear is that BD is “salesy” and reserved for extroverted, outgoing people who like to play golf. In other words, many folks are telling themselves a lot of false stories about BD!

So, in this issue, we’re examining what business development is—and is not—and what it really takes to succeed at it. I truly believe that anyone can learn the skills and develop the mindsets to get great at BD. Here are a few […]

By |2018-12-02T16:00:58+00:00December 2018|Business Development|

The one social media tool you must master

We’re switching gears with this issue of The Friedman File to address a question that often comes up during our training workshops and client engagements: What should we be doing with social media?

Many A/E/C and environmental firms remain skeptical about social media—and that skepticism can be well-founded. While some firms have jumped in with both feet and even mastered this area, too many are overwhelmed or simply not sure where, or even IF, to focus their efforts.

For most firms, creating a sustainable, realistic and effective social media strategy means starting small and mastering what we call Marketing 101 before moving on to more.

The social channel you need to master? LinkedIn.

Why Linked In?

LinkedIn has carved out a clear niche as the world’s largest social media platform for business. Starting out as a top recruiting tool, it quickly became the place to network. Now, with […]

Can an introvert succeed at business development? (Yes, here’s how.)

If you’ve been reading The Friedman File for any length of time, you know that I’m a strong proponent of building a firmwide culture of business development (BD) by having everyone contribute in ways that are consistent with their career juncture, functional role, and BD acumen. It’s been my experience over my 27 years in the A/E/C and environmental consulting industries that growing your BD skills means growing your career – and your firm.

Yet one of the most common questions that comes up in Friedman & Partners’ BD training workshops is “That sounds good, but what if you’re an introvert?”

The reality is that many professionals in this industry, especially engineers and environmental scientists, are introverts by nature. At a recent class I taught for the Massachusetts chapter of the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC), 66% of the room identified themselves as such. […]

By |2018-06-08T18:48:03+00:00June 2018|Business Development, Leadership|

This is not your typical architecture firm, and that’s by design.

When a downturn strikes, it can be tempting to take whatever work is available to keep the doors open. For a smaller firm in a competitive market, that can be a matter of survival.

In this issue of The Friedman File, we talk to one firm that made a different, bolder choice: to double down on serving one client type as thoroughly as possible. As a result, the firm not only survived the downturn, it grew exponentially during the lean years.

How it happened

Today, 250-person Huckabee, Inc. (Fort Worth, TX) is celebrating its 50th anniversary as a highly profitable, debt-free firm and a sought-after thought leader in Texas’ K-12 schools market. The firm has more than quadrupled its staff in that time, and in 2016 was named by ENR as the top educational design firm in Texas. It’s also been recognized as one of the […]

Where many mergers fail, this one didn’t. Here’s why

Mergers and acquisitions are currently on the upswing in the A/E/C industry, and that activity shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. But just because it’s happening more doesn’t mean it’s happening successfully.

Depending on whose statistics you follow, the failure rate of mergers and acquisitions as a whole ranges from 70% to 90%, and the A/E/C industry is no different. There is no magic formula for success, but there are factors that will enhance your chances. In this issue of The Friedman File, we talk to two firm leaders about their successful merger—and the lessons they learned from doing it right (and from an acquisition that didn’t fare as well).

Know your potential match

While some firms go through extensive searches to find the right partner, Willy Stewart, P.E., and George Stanziale, Jr., ASLA, CLARB, of 200-person engineering, planning and landscape architecture firm […]

By |2017-09-26T12:25:05+00:00August 2017|Business Development|

What your clients want you to know about your next shortlist presentation

Shortlist presentations could be called “stress list presentations” for the amount of angst they cause A/E/C and environmental consulting firms.

The timeframes are short and the preparation is long. What’s worse is that many firms that do the hard work required (opportunity research and selection, prepositioning, and thoughtful, client-centered proposal writing) to routinely get shortlisted still struggle to win the big show.

How can you improve your win rate? In this issue of The Friedman File, we’re going to the source: your clients. In the numerous loss debrief interviews I’ve conducted on behalf of my clients over the years, I’ve heard many recurring themes.

(If you’re in the fortunate position of having plenty of sole source work or master service agreements, this intel can also help you make a stronger case for your ideas, internally and with clients.)

What clients see

  • Firms that have rushed their preparation […]
By |2017-07-18T15:13:49+00:00October 2016|Business Development, Case Studies|

Market research words to the wise

In this issue of The Friedman File, business partner Jerry Guerra of The JAGG Group shares his candid thoughts and advice on the much-debated topic of market research. Jerry is a skilled researcher, writer, and PR/communications specialist who has collaborated with me on many projects for architects, engineers and environmental consultants. —Rich Friedman.

In many A/E/C firms, market research is a wasted activity driven by ignorance, cursed by laziness and devoid of any understanding of where its true value lies. The inevitable result is a massive gap between the promise of an intelligent market research program that helps a firm succeed and grow, and the futility of the actual market research efforts that far too many firms pursue.

We pay for expensive online services, scour the business papers and trade journals for long-range leads, hire ex-government employees to identify and harvest opportunities, sit through economic […]

One firm decided to change how they pursue work. Here’s what happened

One of my goals in sending The Friedman File is to spur new thinking about ideas and practices to move your firm forward. In this issue, I’m shining a spotlight on a firm that’s having great success in redesigning how they do something critical: pursue new work.

While the degree to which each A/E/C or environmental consulting firm participates in the competitive procurement process differs, this story has lessons for those that struggle with effective knowledge sharing, identifying and developing leaders, and cultivating a firm-wide business development (BD) culture. And that’s the majority of firms I’ve encountered in my years in this industry.

(In the interest of full disclosure, the firm highlighted is a client of Friedman & Partners, and we recruited the principal interviewed. I have no doubt that you’ll take away valuable learning from their experience.)

When it comes to pursuing new work, the […]

By |2017-07-31T14:01:55+00:00February 2016|Business Development, Case Studies|