Posts tagged ‘Business Development’

Understand Your Clients’ Motivations – Part 2

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Author, Do YOU Mean Business? Technical / Non Technical Collaboration, Business Development and YOU
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

[This is the second of a two-part series. Part 1 was posted on 1/23/2012 on the Sales Aerobics for Engineers® blog. Click here to read it! http://bit.ly/wDZE3S ]

Do we really understand each other?

If you are a civil or other type of engineer involved in the sales process (which means all of you), or if you are a business development professional working for a civil engineering firm, sometimes client relationships really frustrate us!

Part 1 of this two-part series addresses what happens when our clients “go away” or disappear after what we feel is a sure-fire, slam-dunk win for us. A lot of time, it’s because we make assumptions about the way the sales close is progressing. From our perspective, not theirs.

Why else might our clients disappear during the business development or design/engineering process? Just when we thought we had them from “hello!”

One reason we are frustrated is that our customers do not make decisions in a straight line.

The straightest path towards winning business for your company is not that straight line. Of course you spoke with the CEO, another civil engineer, or their company’s business development professional, and said all the stuff you were supposed to say, created empathy and “connected”, determined what their focus and priorities were, and their timeline and budget for making the decision to do business with your company. So the next logical step should be to ask for their business and sign that contract.

Except it never quite happens that way, the majority of the time. Because there are a ton of other factors impacting your client’s ability to give you the thumbs up. And they are never going to share these factors with you, no matter how well you know them, how frequently you golf with them, no matter how many interesting bits of information you share with them.

Our customers do not make decisions the same way we do.

So while your company may have sold you on “how great they are” as a solutions provider, you are not the one making that decision to sign that contract, are you? Clear the business development process of all of your own biases and baggage. You bring a lot of “you” into the business of winning business for your company. Identify a number of potential, sometimes illogical, and certainly not straightforward, paths your customer may take on their way to signing that contract.

Consider their revenue stream and prior years’ profit margins, the number of projects and commitments they already have on their own plate, the human assets on board to oversee and manage projects, the cost of logistics and raw materials, whether they have a diverse presence in the marketplace or whether they rely on a niche market. Where does your design solution fit into their overall business and market mix? How does your design solution solve a current business priority? (Hint: this is not the same as solving a discrete project’s needs)

We are too myopic in our client relationships. It’s not about you and them. It’s about you in relation to them and their business universe.

Where do you fit into their constantly shifting, dynamic business universe? Something to think about, isn’t it?

civil engineering jobs :: civil engineering resumes :: civil engineering blog :: civil engineering discussion

January 24, 2012 at 6:36 pm 2 comments

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

Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Internet Business Development Strategies for Manufacturers, Distributors and Service Companies

Featured Guest Blogger: Babette Ten Haken
Sales Aerobics for Engineers
Strategies and Toolkit for the Sales-Engineering Interface
Connect With Babette On Linkedin Linkedin Logo
Read The Sales Aerobics For Engineers Blog

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.

September 27, 2011 at 11:35 am 2 comments


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