Capturing and Winning New Business – Where to Start?
For Business Development & Sales executives in the AEC industry, the question of how to create winning growth strategies can keep you up at night.
by Sarah Lorek
You need an approach that is reliable, yet innovative. You must maintain close relationships with your contacts while expanding your network. You want to leverage technology and data without losing that personal human touch.
With so much conflicting information and advice out there, it can be difficult to know where to start. That’s why Unanet has put together this quick guide on capturing new business and winning work in AEC. Here are our top tips:
Seek out free leads
Hunting for new leads is, of course, a huge part of construction business development. While paying for leads and cold calling are two common options, firms should also take advantage of free pathways to find qualified, industry-specific prospects. The key is meeting your leads where they are – on the platforms and tools they use every day.
LinkedIn is an excellent place to start. With dozens of groups focused on construction, engineering, and architecture as individual disciplines, as well as the overall AEC industry, the platform is a goldmine for sourcing potential customers likely to express interest in your product or service offering. The group Bd4aec, a d.b.a of COMPASS Consultants Corporation, is specifically designed to help business developers in AEC improve their game, build skills, and grow their firm.
In addition to LinkedIn, you can check out other hiring websites like Glassdoor and Indeed to track companies that are planning big projects and might be interested in working with you. The startup community, AngelList, also offers an extensive list of construction angel investors whom you can follow or reach out to for free.
Attend meetups and conferences
Another great source for free leads are local meetups for AEC professionals. The website meetup.com is free to join and offers both in-person and virtual events to connect with AEC businesses in your area. You can select a specific topic and search for events related to it or create your own events and invite others who you wish to meet. Inviting potential prospects to a curated thought leadership event is a great way to build credibility and trust in both yourself and your firm.
Conferences, while not usually free, are tried and true places to discover new construction business development leads. The large number of virtual conferences popping up in recent years has made these events more accessible than ever before. If you’re going remote, creative workarounds like virtual booths, live Q&A sessions, interactive content, and online “happy hours” are comparable alternatives to the in-person experience and give you an opportunity to network with anyone regardless of location.
Request reviews and referrals
Each time a client has a positive experience collaborating with you represents an opportunity to win more work. Request ratings, reviews, and referrals from existing customers to show any new prospects that your sales points are more than just talk. Beyond proof and credibility, maintaining a high volume of positive reviews also makes your firm appear higher in search results.
Google reviews are the most common entry point for prospects to see your ratings. Another reliable way to stay at the top of search results are Glassdoor reviews, which don’t even require you to reach out to past customers. Instead, simply recruit your current employees to add their reviews, and you will be well on your way to becoming a well-known five-star firm. Other platforms include Clearly Rated reviews, Facebook reviews, and Trustpilot reviews.
Referrals are another way to grow your client base. Look for opportunities to make the referral process benefit both parties to show you appreciate your client’s time and potential contacts, as well as incentivize a larger quantity of referrals.
Profit, cost, customer churn, percent complete, win-loss rates – data is the backbone of business development for any industry, and AEC is no exception. But simply collecting data is not enough. Your firm must decide what metrics and KPIs are most valuable to your organization to transform that data into actionable insights. It’s also critical that this data be tracked in real time. Otherwise, decision makers question whether they can rely on the information in front of them.
The first step to a successful data strategy in AEC is determining the KPIs that will further the larger organization’s growth strategy. For those prioritizing growth, the Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is an effective metric. No matter what your unique strategy is, it’s important to analyze trends in your own data and monitor external benchmarks of what other businesses are doing to succeed.
Unfortunately, many companies still rely on siloed processes and systems, obstructing the exchange of information. A fully integrated tool set reduces human error and labor expended, saving the organization time and money.
Align go/no go strategies with your firm’s mission
Like letting your business goals drive your data strategy, construction business executives should align their go/no-go strategies with their firm’s mission. Pursuing every contract reduces staff bandwidth and takes time away from the projects that matter most. Meanwhile, developing calculated processes for go/no-go decisions allows firms to focus on projects that are highly winnable and highly profitable. Oftentimes this comes down to learning when to say, “No Go.”
You should also consider which projects will inspire the most passion in your staff, since they will ultimately be the ones driving the effort. Commitment to the process often challenges organizations more than developing the processes themselves and getting your team on board is a major step toward that commitment.
The secret to winning and retaining not just work, but meaningful work, in the AEC industry is strategy, plain and simple – strategies to find leads, whether on free platforms or paid conferences, appear higher in search, streamline data management, and make better go/no go decisions.
Managing all the above requires a platform where you can consolidate people, processes, and tools in one unified dashboard. Meet: Unanet CRM for Architects and Engineers:
Unanet CRM for Architects and Engineers
CRM (Customer Relationship Management) is a solution that helps businesses manage sales opportunities, log activities and customer interactions, store internal and external contacts, track leads, and grow their business—but not all CRMs are alike. Some AEC firms have tested well-known CRM tools, like Salesforce, to manage their customer relationship activities. What they found is that these CRM tools don’t have the specific capabilities that the uniqueness of the AEC industry requires. These “one-size-fits-all” CRM tools aren’t built for the AEC industry, and thus aren’t tracking some of the most important aspects of the AEC sales lifecycle. Many firms discovered that they needed more specific tracking for business development and sales activities that these “one-size-fits-all” solutions weren’t designed to address.
Unanet CRM for AE is the only CRM built specifically for architecture, engineering, and construction. The company has spent the last 20+ years tailoring its platform’s robust CRM and proposal generation features to the AEC industry, enabling business developers, marketers, executives, and project teams to win better projects and grow more revenue.
If you’ve applied any of the tactics in this blog and want to learn more about how to win more meaningful business, make better decisions, and grow revenue, request a demo today.