8 Strategic tips for AEC firms to boost business development

Here’s the business development strategy you need to stay ahead of the game.

The architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industry is facing a dynamic and challenging landscape. Today, successful AEC firms are not just focusing on delivering quality projects but also refining their business development strategies. The question is, how can you step up your business development game? 

According to Unanet's 2022-2023 Inspire Report, the answer lies in a strategic blend of technology, strategic targeting, and quantitative metrics. Here are eight game-changing tips inspired by feedback from top AEC executives to help your AEC firm stay ahead in the competitive market.  

Adopt a tech-forward pursuit strategy 

The report suggests forward-thinking firms that embrace modern technologies outperform their tech-static counterparts. So, why not ride the wave of digital transformation and give your firm a tech-boost?  

Using software solutions for common but critical business functions such as project management, accounting, or timekeeping can automate repetitive tasks and allow you to focus on high-level, strategic thinking that enables you to win more work.  

Pursue  - and win  - the "right" work 

In the current climate, chasing every opportunity can be counterproductive. Sometimes, it’s as much about the projects you don’t pursue as the ones you do. While many firms feel the need to pursue a high volume of projects, they could be pursuing – and winning – projects that don’t align with their overarching goals.  

Instead, hone in on the most suitable projects that align with your firm's area of specialization and growth. Consider leveraging data analytics tools to target projects that are most likely to lead to long-term success.  

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Use business development tools 

AEC firms often overlook the power and potential of using tools to help them achieve their business development goals. Don't fall into the same trap. Use them to streamline processes, improve efficiency, and lighten your team's workload. 

Selecting the right software solutions for your organization – ones that you can tailor to your unique business needs – can help you enhance how you identify and win the opportunities that keep your firm growing.  

Know your past performance metrics 

Your firm's history holds vital insights. By tracking and analyzing past performance, you can identify improvement areas and convincingly showcase your firm's capabilities to potential clients.  

Don't forget the capture rate 

The report highlights that a mere 58% of firms track their capture rate, a statistic that provides a clearer picture of your business sustainability than the win rate alone. Make sure to track both metrics for a more comprehensive understanding of your business development performance.  

Invest in strategic relationships 

In the AEC industry, where trust and reputation are everything, investing in long-term relationships can be invaluable. Cultivate partnerships with past clients, consultants, and collaborators to expand your network and generate leads.  

There are plenty of actions you can take to build and grow these connections. Attend industry-relevant conferences and events. Maintain personal and professional relationships with your leads and contacts. You can even use a customer relationship management (CRM) tool to help you categorize your contacts.  

Tap into market intelligence tools 

How well do you know your own industry? While you no doubt have a comprehensive understanding of the services you provide, understanding your market landscape might be a different story.  

Only a third of AEC firms are using market intelligence solutions to better understand their own market. Make use of these platforms to stay informed about industry trends and generate new leads. You can be certain the top performing firms in your field are doing so. 

Go formal with the go/no-go process 

Relying solely on gut instinct or individual expertise can be risky. Establish a formal go/no-go process that bases decisions on objective criteria. 

By integrating these tips into your business development strategy, you can increase your win rates and carve a bigger slice of the market for yourself. Remember, the road to success in the AEC industry doesn't have to be a lonely one. It's paved with strategic insights from industry pioneers and invaluable tools at your disposal. 

For more on what top AEC executives are thinking, download a free copy of the AEC Inspire Report today. The final post in our series will cover how to use benchmarking to benefit your firm.