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Two reasons why business development is first among equals! So, how is business development going to save your firm?

Last month we asked one of our clients about any projects they were considering in the next quarter.  His response was, “how can I think about new projects when I’m worried about which employees I have to lay off?”  While not all our clients are in this situation, enough of them are being cautious with their spending that the project pool is shrinking.  When the project pool shrinks, every firm begins fighting for enough water to at least keep their feet wet.

Has your firm changed their approach to Business Development as we transition into the Recovery/Rebuild phase?  If not, what is holding you back from making changes to improve your BD efforts? 

Earlier this year the leadership team at my engineering firm created our focus areas for 2020.  One of those focus areas is that Business Development is First Among Equals.  I cannot count how many times we’ve referred to that focus area in the past few weeks.  Amid the uncertainty of recent weeks, we have used this focus area to drive home two key concepts. 

  1. Those who are good at business development always come in first
  2. Business Development is the first thing to be done among all the important things on your list

Consider this situation; An email came through from a great client requesting proposals for the perfect project for your firm.  Nobody has more experience in that arena than you do, you need the work, you spent several days putting together the perfect proposal and you turned in the proposal knowing that you were in the driver’s seat to get this project.  When the results came out, you were not selected.  They went with the firm that didn’t have very good experience in the field, but they knew the client well and seemed to have the upper hand from the beginning.  What made the difference?  The winning firm put more effort into their Business Development than just writing a great proposal.  Business Development is about relationships.  Relationships cannot be built with a proposal.  Those who are good at building relationships always seem to come in first.  Focus on relationships now to come in first when a project is advertised.

This crisis was the perfect storm of bad timing.  2019 was a great year for your firm and you carried a lot of backlog into 2020.  You may still be very busy working through that backlog.  Do you really have time right now to do Business Development when project deadlines are looming?  We have challenged our teams to put Business Development first among the important things on their list.  We are focusing on two firsts: 

  • Plan your business development efforts the first part of every week 
  • Take the first hour of every day and complete those business development tasks

Conserving cash was critical early in the crisis, but business development is crucial going forward.  We are using Plentive to highly reward those who are putting business development first.  Business development is going to save your firm.  Find your way of putting it first.

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