Scarlett Letter #137: One of the top five ways to get technical staff involved in business development
Lackluster. Push-back. Naysayer. Pessimist. Half-hearted.
These were some of the descriptors that a group of marketing and business development professionals used when describing their AEC technical staff’s contributions towards business development at a recent networking event. So we dug in and brainstormed for awhile, discussing intentions, expectations, and challenges—both real and imagined.
These days in this continued down economy, involvement of technical staff in business development is more vital than ever. I’m nearing completion of a full article on the topic, but for today I’ll share what I believe is a top method for ensuring their active and results-driven participation:
Weave business development into the project delivery process. Project managers take pride in their ability to keep a project organized and moving forward, every step of the way. Therefore, if they add something to the schedule–say, a series of key milestone meetings where a team representative meets with the client off-site to discuss the bigger picture of how things are going within the relationship (not just the project-at-hand)–then it will get done, because it’s on the schedule. And incidentally, this should be visible to the client. Relationship checks are a two-way street and the client will appreciate your firm’s effort to have a bird’s eye discussion about the overall evolution of the relationship.
In addition to a ‘relationship check’ (or ‘sanity check’, if you prefer!) meeting, there are a few other business development activities that belong on the internal project schedule. How about having individuals from the project team at various levels of responsibility (anyone who is already communicating with anyone on the client or consultant side) place casual check-in calls to their counterparts to see how things are going? This is a zipper effect, which can work quite nicely to ensure that good tidings are not just developing at the top. Another good addition to the internal schedule is to include dates when e a BD/marketing representative from the firm will walk through the drawing sets; discuss the project parameters, surprises, and shifts; or go visit the site. As a project moves forward, educating biz dev people is greatly helpful and is most certainly considered a contribution to the firm’s overall business development.
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