Architect firms: six steps to find new customers

For well-known architect firms finding new clients is often an inevitable consequence of doing a good job. In order to grow as a company but, a significant portion of your time must be spent on acquiring new clients to cover any inevitable turnover. Here are some suggestions which can help to improve your business’s performance.

Know your brand

It doesn’t matter if it’s formal written or documented in a formal way, each company has a name but you might not be in charge of it. Controlling that level is the most important Business Development (BD) practice to master. A brand’s identity is a powerful tool to convey the company’s fundamental essence. It establishes the company’s image in the mind of the customer and is communicated visually or verbally as well as experientially. Brand voice is one of the most important qualities that clients must be aware of when they visit a business and the voice of the brand is the method by which these messages are communicated to the intended audience.

Your brand’s image is evident through all interactions you have with your company. Be aware of the elements that matter and then be consistent (and consistently) in expressing and living your brand in all instances. This is even the smallest things like signatures for emails, which are among the most under-utilized and overlooked branding touchpoints in the digital world. Set rules for what they should look like and follow the rules.

Make the same thing happen with your drawing boards and presentation sets, as well as the marketing material you use. It is important that everyone in the company is aware of the brand’s message, you’re branding and what they mean. Spend time during the new employee orientation period to explain the importance of this. Do review it regularly so that everyone understands how important it is to be the best ambassadors for your brand.

Put money into training

In design companies It is often believed that people who are extroverts with excellent interpersonal skills are able to manage all business development of the company. In reality, the degree of sales proficiency is an acquired talent that could be taught technical personnel who have had no or no formal education in the field.

However, it requires both time and cash. To establish good habits in order to prevent years of mistakes, you should make a point of investing in training in public speaking and sales. The Toastmasters program offers a low-cost and easy way to improve your speaking abilities; a variety of alternatives are available for basic sales education on the internet and in person.

Training staff who are new in the BD process can be an effective way to teach others. You should consider adding two employees on every sales call to boost the opportunities for learning.

Begin relationships early

If prospective clients are identified Start the relationship building process immediately; don’t delay until you’ve got a clearly defined project. Conduct your own research and make your first meeting with a lot of listening and little on speaking. After that, with all the facts, find ways to offer information that is valuable. It could be a simple piece of guidance. Technical details such as a resource or connection or something which is relevant to the client’s most pressing business issues.

Research suggests that , the sooner a company invests in relationships that it is the more constant communication. Another way to say “know more than the competition and use it to outsell them.” After you have invested the time and energy into the initial visit Be persistent about staying in contact with your hot prospects directly (face-to-face) as well as indirectly (email mailers, etc.). It is important to keep the BD process continuous regular, intentional, and consistent throughout both light and busy work hours.

Do not hesitate to use third-party bridges for an introduction. Ask those who know the potential client to introduce you to them. Make sure, however, to make it a point to help others at some point in the future.

Use capture planning

Capture planning is a method to pursue complex, high-value opportunities, It requires long sales cycles as well as committee decision-making in the context of federal procurement. It is an organized, action-oriented strategy designed to promote an organization to the buyer’s eye prior to a request for proposals.

The key elements of a plan for capture comprise gathering intelligence on the most important client concerns and project drivers, competitive analysis to identify differences; and the creation of a sales plan that provides unique data on clients’ decision-making processes, personalities and preferences. All of this is written down and documented as actions items. The process of planning for capture fosters collaboration and helps ensure that everyone is active and accountable.

The fundamentals of planning for capture can help designers stay in the forefront on their BD process. They can record the steps necessary to create a winning sales strategy. Capture planning can be completed on behalf of a customer or project. A ideal practice is to create these for proposals that will determine the year’s performance.

Make better go/no-go decisions

The Great Recession caused many design firms to put off making decisions. They pursue every project that came their way. Now that some stability is returning to the market it is time to reinstate a go/no-go system and apply it regularly. If relationships have been built in the early stages, the data required to make more effective. It strategically-sound decisions about go/no-go should be readily available.

It’s not about whether firms can perform the job, but the firm’s ability to win the job. The process of “go/no-go” can help take off the rose-colored glasses. It forces you to be real about the cost and chance of success for certain projects. Don’t send out proposals so that clients get to know the business; direct the funds to something that has greater likelihood of successful.

Rehearse and prepare

If the above is accomplished chances to be interviewed for work will flow. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be preparing and practicing for interviews. Utilize the capture plan as well as any information gained to construct an interview structure around the key points of differentiation, and then make use of them to sell instead of tell in creating the interview. Create the story on the benefits your business offers, not the features it.

Then, practice how to control your body language, timing and changes. Don’t put in all that effort doing the right thing in business development and then fall short of the winning goal in sight. Prepare your company to be something it is committed to and see it pay off in the form of increasing rate of wins.

Business development that is solid is a procedure that is well-executed over time. It’s steady and slow with a focus and consistency. If you apply these concepts to the operations of your company the rewards could be substantial.

 

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