Strong Client Relationship

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When Do You Know Your Client Relationship Is Truly Strong?

As tenured business development professionals, we know very well that our primary job is to position our A/E/C firms for project work that can lead to successful engagements and outcomes. What we do each day to create these opportunities involves a myriad of strategic and personal efforts that affect our firms’ bottom lines. Let’s look at the how and why of business development.

I’ve often shared that the number-one criterion for a productive business development effort is hit rate. Meaning, what percentage of the projects your firm commits to pursue results in a win? Many A/E/C firms still believe that the more proposals you pump out, the better chances you have of getting work. On the contrary—spending time and money to submit proposals without meaningful positioning effort is throwing money down the drain. Without a connection to the recipients and a shared understanding of the project drivers, your proposal is just another one in the pile.

The three things that impact hit rate the most (in typical order of engagement) include:

  • Personal and effective due diligence before the RFP
  • An honest go/no-go process
  • Client and user-focused proposals and presentations

When business development has done its job, the most important messages in your proposals and presentations are not only anticipated by your selection committees, but they are also much easier to understand and applaud. When your clients already believe that you are completely in tune with the purpose and success factors of their project before the RFP, you are lined up for a smoother transition from opportunity to victory.

Now, for us business development leaders to generate a high hit rate (over 50 percent should always be the baseline of your goal), we need to develop honest and open rapport with our top client contacts. There are 10 things we do (or can do) to make sure our client relationships are strong.

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This article, written by Michael T. Buell, FSMPS, CPSM, Assoc. DBIA,  first appeared in the April 2018 issue of Marketer.