Planning for Business Development

Planning for AEC Business Development: Know the 7P’s

[Video Transcript for Planning for AEC Business Development: Know the 7P’s by Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM. Minor edits for clarity.]

Greetings everyone, I’m Scott Butcher and today I want to talk about preparing for business development, specifically the 7 P’s; that is, Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance!

Are you familiar with the 7 P’s? If you Google the 7 P’s, you’ll see various interpretations, but all have a similar meaning, and that is Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Say that five times fast! I was first introduced to the concept by my friend Barry Kain, who is a sales coach serving the AEC industry.

The 7P’s originated in the British Army and they emphasize the importance of being prepared.

So really, the Boy Scout Motto: “Be Prepared,” essentially says the same thing, but with six fewer P’s!

It doesn’t, however, have quite the same impact, now does it?

The lesson of the 7P’s is that you should always be prepared before undertaking an initiative. Within the world of business development, this means being prepared for a conversation, a meeting, or a presentation.

This means doing your homework.

In the context of a phone call, it means planning out the purpose of your call – why are you calling? What will you ask? What do you want the other person to do? What is the end goal of the conversation?

In the context of a networking event, it means knowing who you want to meet, messaging you want to share, actions that you want others to take.

It is not just the AEC industry that suffers from Premature Selling, but the reality is that far too often our business developers – specifically seller-doers – jump in to business development conversations without an end-goal in mind.

In my video 9 Ways to Add Value to Business Development Conversations, I lamented that project managers often pick up the phone to contact former clients and pretty much begin and end with “Do you have any projects coming up?”

This is a recipe for failure and, in fact, embarrassment. How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of that phone call?

The 7P’s are all about preparation, which is the state of being prepared, of being ready.

For the British Army – or any army really – it is about the importance of having a sound battle plan before moving forward.

The Seven P’s

So let’s look at our P’s:

  • Prior, which means preceding in time; before
  • Proper is appropriate for the circumstances
  • Planning means to make arrangements before; literally, to develop plans
  • Prevents, to keep from occurring
  • Piss-Poor means of a very low standard
  • Performance, the execution or accomplishment of a feat or a goal

The 7P’s is a reminder of the negatives that can happen if we don’t think through our purpose and develop our plan.

Four Questions to Ask Before Making A Contact

Let us use a former client as an example. We want to reach out to them and reconnect. Ideally we’re doing this by phone, but perhaps by email as well. Here’s some questions to ask before we make that contact:

First, what do we know about them? This could be past projects that we’ve done with them. Other projects we were not involved with. Other AEC firms that are currently working with them or have recently. Who we know there. Who we used to know there. What their roles are or were. What problems did they have, and how did we help solve them?

Second, what do we know about the trends and challenges that may be facing them right now? This can be knowledge gained from environmental scanning, from primary research, or lessons learned from other organizations or corporations that we’ve worked with in the same industry.

Third, what value can we bring to them? What solutions do we offer that can directly address and solve their specific issues and challenges?

Fourth, what do we want them to do next? Is our goal to set up a meeting with them? To invite them to something? To become prequalified in their system? To have our contact introduce us to somebody else within the organization? What is the call to action, or the CTA?

Gaining intelligence and being prepared for the sales call greatly impacts the success or failure of an interaction.

This is why the 7P’s are so critical: If your performance is piss-poor, what are the odds that you’ll get a second chance?

While a former client may cut you a little bit of slack – and may is the operative term here – what about a new prospect? Remember, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

However, there’s a flipside to the 7P’s. We also can’t suffer from analysis paralysis. With business development, we will probably never know enough information. It is far too easy to put off making a call or attending an event because we “don’t yet have enough information.” This becomes an excuse for not moving forward and doing what we really need to do.

In fact, while the British Army’s 7P’s are a great example of the importance of preparation, we can look to the United States Army and General George S. Patton for another famous quote:

“A good plan, violently executed now, is better than a perfect plan next week.”

On the battlefield, this quote is about making informed-but-quick decisions to avoid being outmaneuvered.

In the business world, it’s not that much different. We need to be prepared and know our purpose and intended outcomes, but we can’t wait too long or the competition may outmaneuver us.

Because that’s happening right now. We are being outmaneuvered. Our prospects, as well as our current and former clients, are being targeted by our competitors.

So let’s commit to being prepared. Let’s see the value in Prior Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance. Let us plan.

And then let us act. Let us violently execute our good plan today, lest that next opportunity slip through our fingertips while we await the perfect plan next week.

I’m Scott Butcher, and I help design and construction firms improve their marketing and business development acumen through consulting, training, and facilitation.

Thank you so much for your time and I look forward to seeing you soon.

[End of Transcript]

Need help planning your business development calls? Looking to better train your business developers and seller-doers to be prepared for business development? Contact Scott D. Butcher, FSMPS, CPSM at or 717.891.1393.

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