The End of the World is Upon Us! (Naw, not really, its just the end of the 3rd quarter)

September 27, 2011 at 11:35 am 2 comments


Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
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This is the time of year when many civil engineering and A/E consulting firms start pressuring their employees to complete outstanding projects for invoicing by year’s end. Now is the time of year when companies start pressuring their business development folks to bring in more work, win more contracts, make appointments with more people, talk to somebody, anybody who appears mildly interested in doing business with your company. It’s also the time when management simultaneously starts to threaten and cajole employees to become more productive and generate more revenue…. “or else.”  It’s the time of year when we sometimes sit with our collective heads in our hands and wonder how we ever got ourselves into all this.

OK. Time to climb off your mental ledge and get your feet firmly back into the building. While I am not about to wave a magic wand and tell you that all will be OK, there are some things you should think about doing if you haven’t already started. Regardless of whether your corporate fiscal year aligns with the calendar year. 

Some thoughts for teeing up for this fiscal year’s end and beyond….

  1. Next year’s business development campaign starts January 1 of the previous year. Clients’ and prospects’ sales years and cash flow simply do not align with your or your company’s need to generate revenue. You work for them, not the opposite. As you identify prospects and projects, put them into your “mental file folder:” is this particular project or client worth your time and effort, should they not be in a position to move forward for, say 12 months? Some of the big projects are won in this manner. You have to work differently with these types of clients and develop a strong understanding of how decisions are made within their corporate culture and infrastructure.
  2. Providing value to your clients doesn’t involve constantly jumping through their hoops. Some clients are sadistic: they treat all of their vendors in this manner, constantly changing their minds, upping the ante, and expecting not to be charged for their indecision and vanity. (You are not an advertising agency which self-selects for individuals who like living on the edge like this). Perhaps these are not the types of clients your company should be pursuing, even though they may offer the potential for landing big, juicy, high-profile projects. They may not treat you very well, while expecting you to put up with them and rack up a huge amount of non-billable hours in the process. If all of your clients are like this, how compromised and exhausted do you feel by the end of the year? Perhaps it’s time to clean out your client closet.
  3. Best may be better than optimal. While you pursue your technical quest for the optimal solution, how much is it costing your company? Unless you are an architectural or engineering genius and are the only reason your company was awarded the contract in the first place, you are part of a collaborative team effort. So communicate and determine whether the optimal solution really is optimal in the long run, before you pursue that design path. Depending on where we sit around the table, we see the same thing differently. Make sure you validate your ideas along with everyone else’s perspective. The best solution may be the most robust, in the long run.

What is your strategy for finishing up the current fiscal year? Let me know.

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Entry filed under: Civil Engineering, civil engineering blog, Civil Engineering Companies, Civil Engineering Issues, Dealing With Clients, Marketing, Networking, Project Management, The U.S. Economy & Civil Engineering, The Workplace, Uncategorized. Tags: , , .

One World Trade Center Civil Engineering “Dream Projects”

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Babette Ten Haken  |  October 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

    Interesting post as well. Thanks for sharing the link. It takes some guts and confidence for vendors to step away from their client’s table. However, I recommend that the companies I work with see this step as an essential part of their professional arsenal, regardless of whether they ever need to use it or not. Knowing you have “plan B” in your pocket gives you a negotiating position that you didn’t have before. Win-win doesn’t always mean everyone is happy on both sides of the table, and that conflict has been avoided or ignored. It does mean that everyone around the table has the option of exercising their rights, as professionals, to seek collaboration and respect… in an ideal world.

    Reply
  • 2. PM Hut  |  September 28, 2011 at 12:45 am

    Hi Babette,

    like point #2, not only that some clients like to torture the vendor, but also many clients don’t know what they want, and they take the client’s time for granted (how many hours were spent in useless conversations with clients?).

    I have recently published an article (see: http://www.pmhut.com/i-just-want-everyone-to-be-happy ) which is a perfect example of point #2.

    Reply

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