Continuing Your Momentum of Business Development and Client Engagement
In recent months, marketing and business development in the A/E/C industry has been turned upside down. Our normal opportunities to gather at industry events, conference rooms, lunch meetings, golf outings, and other means have been postponed. It has left us scrambling to find ways to connect with our existing and potential clients in unique and creative ways.
This has left us wondering how we can continue to build relationships. How do you maintain and expand your network? How do you stay relevant and present with clients without the typical opportunities? How can we continue our lead gathering, qualifying, and competitive advantage?
As we continue to adapt to the new paradigm, we must adjust to the limited ability to meet face to face, while remembering how important this activity is to creating a longstanding relationship. Here are six suggestions for pivoting and making the most of your business development efforts:
- Be consistent. According to Bryan Williams, PhD, author of the Harvard Business Review, 80% of successful transactions require AT LEAST five follow-up calls, interactions, or virtual face-to-face conversations AFTER the initial meeting. This does not include the additional suggested 5-7 indirect contacts it takes to solidify your personal and firm brand. That’s 10-12 interactions needed to make an impression and be remembered by EACH contact. The key to success is making a 12-contact plan that outlines specific objectives, tasks, assignments, dates, and needed resources. This planning will help you be more successful in accomplishing your goals.
- Don’t wait. You might be surprised! While assisting a client in some business development activities, I learned a valuable lesson. Prior to quarantine, the firm had not been selected for a project after a proposal and interview campaign. Quarantine hit and we were uncertain how to proceed. However, during a virtual BD meeting we decided a debriefing was still needed. I contacted the City Manager and he was thrilled to receive the request and asked if we could do a virtual meeting. He told us he missed the normal interactions he was used to having with our industry firms. During our virtual meeting we were pleasantly surprised to see him in his living room dressed in a hat and golf shirt. We were all in our homes as well and joked about dogs barking and dealing with working while kids were home from school. It provided opportunities for us to learn about one another and our personal interests. We did get the debriefing, but what may have been more valuable was the time spent getting to know each other better. This interaction taught me to “just do it”. Once you make the request, you will soon realize your clients want to have some time with you and it’s a perfect opportunity to get to know them personally.
- Utilize your team and industry partners. We are all in this together. Have you tapped into your consultant or vendor relationships? Do you know a contractor who has worked with a particular client with whom you’d like to connect? Introductions, even if virtual or through email/text, can be extremely valuable. Help one another out. Share leads and knowledge.
- Be a value-added partner to your clients. In a sea of information we process every day, it is vitally important that your efforts differentiate you. Generic messages will get lost in the white noise and your opportunity for an impression will be lost. Take this time to make your marketing messages targeted and informational. If your message can focus on helping the client solve challenges and become more educated on mitigating risk, inefficiency, expense, or stress, you will make a huge impact.
- Do some good. Ask your client which charities or social groups he/she is involved with and why. Inquire if there are ways you can support or assist them.
- Be a social butterfly. Find ways to connect with your clients as you learn more about them personally. There are many opportunities to engage that are new and unique, even if you can’t take them to a basketball game. Consider a virtual book club night among industry peers, biking group where you can keep appropriate physical distance, online chocolate tasting, an invite to an industry webinar or virtual conference, or come up with your own unique outreach!
This article was originally published by SMPS Utah.