[Video Transcript for 9 Ways to Bring Value to AEC Business Development Conversations by Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM. Minor edits for clarity]
Greetings everyone, I’m Scott Butcher, and today I’m going to speak with you about bringing value to each and every business development conversation.
I heard about this firm, several years ago, that had a simple philosophy for business development and it was this:
If you can’t bring value to the conversation, don’t have the conversation.
I thought this was absolutely brilliant – it’s simple, it’s effective, and it’s very pointed, because think about how many meaningless business development conversations you’ve had; how many times have you’ve received that disruptive phone call at the office, or even worse, at home. Or those emails that pop up – somebody’s trying to sell you something.
Do we like that? Of course we don’t, so we never want to be that person.
The Lack of Value
We want to bring value to the conversation, but the problem is in our industry we often encourage project managers to go and behave like that!
How many times have you sat in a meeting where one of the firm leaders looked around and said, “Hey, our sales look like they’re slowing down for the next quarter. Project managers, why don’t you reach out to all your former clients, kick the tires to see if anything pops up, see if any leads are generated”?
And so the PMs do diligently what they’re requested to do: they make that phone call.
They say, “Hey, it’s Scott Butcher – yeah, yeah, it has been a couple of years – so yeah, oh nice to hear from you too – you have any projects coming up?”
We don’t want to be that person!
You wait six months, a year, two years between calls, and suddenly that’s what your ask is?
Or, the evil twin to that, which is actually even worse: “Do you have anything we can bid on?”
We don’t want to be bidders. We don’t want to be commodities. We don’t want to be in that market. So we want to make sure every business development conversation we have, whether with a new prospect or an existing client, we want to make sure we’re bringing value.
So here’s nine ways that you can bring value, and the good news is we’re not talking about free services. We’re not talking about high-level stuff here. We’re just talking about incremental ways that you can bring value, that you can improve somebody’s day, or help them do their business better.
1 – Share an Article, Blog, Website, or Video
So number one – this is a pretty simple one – share an article, a blog, a website link, or maybe a video.
Make sure it’s something that would be of interest or value to the recipient.
In the “old days” we used to take magazines – we’d rip out pages, do a short handwritten note, and say “Hey, thought you might be interested in this.” Well, technology allows us to do it vastly differently than we used to, although there’s nothing wrong with that old tried-and-true snail mail approach.
It could be about industry trends – focus on their industry, not yours – because this is about them.
It could be articles about what other similar organizations have done, challenges they were facing, how they overcame them.
It could even be new products that are out there in the marketplace, or new technologies.
2 – Provide a Case Study
Number two, provide a case study – something that your firm did to help another client.
But be careful, you don’t want to do these project data dumps that really aren’t case studies. It should look at the challenges that the client was facing, their goals moving forward, the project the alternatives considered, the optimal solution, any other challenges that arose during the design or construction process, and the success on the back-end – proof that it worked.
That’s a case study, and by sharing that with a prospect or a client it may trigger some new ideas for them, so that’s a good value-add.
3 – Offer to Introduce Them to Someone
Number three, offer to introduce them to someone – someone that can help them.
This could be one of your existing clients.
This could be a vendor that can provide a new service or a new product to them.
This could be somebody that could help them obtain financing for their next project, or write a grant for them.
This could be somebody that’s faced similar challenges that they have in the past.
4 – Give Information About Changing Regulations
Number four, inform them about changing codes or regulations that will impact them.
What does that look like?
How will it affect them?
What steps should they be taking right now?
What should they be doing moving forward?
5 – Give Them a Lead
Number five, provide a lead.
This is really applicable if you work with developers – maybe you can hook them up with some property that’s coming on the market.
If you’re an MEP engineering firm, or a structural engineering firm, maybe you’ll hear early about a project and you reach out to an architect and give them a lead.
Maybe you’re a specialty contractor – you work with construction managers a lot, and you obtain a lead from another source in your network, maybe a vendor, maybe someone else. Share that with a construction manager.
If you’re sharing these leads and these early opportunities, and it’s not already on the radar of the person you’re talking with, there’s a very good chance you’ll get invited to be involved with the project or be part of the team pursuing the project.
6 – Invite Them to Something
Number six, invite them to something.
Invite them to a business after-hours or an industry networking event.
Invite them to an open house.
Invite them to a sporting or a theater event.
Invite them out for lunch or coffee.
Now, you’ve got to be careful because a lot of firms – a lot of institutions – have limitations on what their employees can and can’t do, so be aware of this.
And also another thing to consider, if you have tickets to the baseball game or the musical at the local theater, it might be worthwhile just offering the tickets to them so they can take family members.
That’s a great way of providing value in your outreach.
7 – Find Out How You Are Doing – Or Did
Number seven, find out how you are doing, or how you did.
So think about your current projects. There are so many project communications happening, perhaps even daily. Sometimes you need to step outside of those project communications and find out what’s going on,
What are you doing well? Are there any potential issues or concerns? Has anything else arisen? Have there been changes in the project that you should be aware of? Do they have other challenges that you can perhaps help them solve?
So it’s above and beyond the day-to-day rigorous conversations that you may be having.
Likewise, when a project ends, you hand over the keys. You’re sort of in the “honeymoon” period. Everything might be great, or maybe the client is like, “thank God that’s over!”
Either way, you want to circle back in three months, in six months, in a year and check to find out how things are going.
How’s the building working out for you? How’s the bridge holding up? How’s the stormwater detention pond or the parking lot?
If you had it to do over again, what would you do differently?
Do you have any concerns with durability or with the layout or anything else?
Circle back and find out how you did, because you might be able to identify some other issues that you could help them solve, or maybe some grievances that they have about the way the project was delivered. You can fix them because you’re now aware of them, and that will help you moving forward for the next project.
8 – Ask Them to Co-Author or Co-Present
Number eight, ask them to co-author an article or a blog, or ask them to co-present with you at an industry event.
The article or blog could be for an industry publication, or could be for your own company blog. Share experiences of working together on a project. What lessons did you learn?
Or maybe create a case study that you present at your local IMFA, SCUP, or COAA chapter.
You’ll be doing your client a favor here because you’ll be helping them elevate their profile with their organization, and build their own personal brand.
9 – Say Happy Birthday or Congratulations
Finally, say “happy birthday.” Or “Congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter.” Or “Congratulations on the wedding of your son.” Or “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Remember at the end of the day, we are people we are working with other people.
We need to bring humanity. We need to bring empathy. So we need to understand the challenges, the ups and downs, that our clients and our contacts are going through, and respond accordingly.
“Just Checking In”
So “Just checking in to see if there’s anything going on” – well, why don’t we drop that from our vernacular because that’s going to get us nowhere?
Instead think about how we can bring value to a conversation because remember this rule: “If you can’t bring value to the conversation, don’t have the conversation!”
Change your mindset. Pre-plan every outreach, whether it’s a phone call, whether it’s an email, whether it’s a social media ping.
Why are you reaching out to them? What do you expect to get out of that? And how are you adding value to the conversation?
What are you bringing them? How’s it going to help them do their job better? How’s it going to improve their day? How’s it going to enhance the relationship between the two of you?
I hope this was helpful for you, hope this video added a little “value” – see what I did there?
I’m Scott Butcher. I help design the construction firms improve their business development and marketing acumen through consulting, training, and facilitation.
Thank you so much for your time today, and we’ll see you again soon.
[End of transcript.]
Looking to increase the skillset of our seller-doers or business developers? Reach out to Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM at 717.891.1393 or sbutcher@aecumen to learn about our training programs, or surf here for more information.
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