The Business Development Meeting
“Hey, where’s Chris? He was supposed to be here at 8:00. We said we we’re going to discuss strategy for this county hospital project. The first response is due this week. I’ve read this RFP. I’m not in charge of this thing but Chris asked me to sit in on this strategy session. By the way, one of the things I bring to this group is the fact that I am an architect. Since an architect seems to be taking the lead on the Hospital project, I think I might be able to provide a little insight on what they might be looking for.”
“Oh, here’s Chris. I’ll see if I can get the president to join us. Hey marketing guy, can you show me a copy of the book we sent in response to this RFP? “
“Sure, I’ll be right back.”
The conference room which minutes earlier was populated by a dozen members of the estimating team is now occupied with a business development meeting that is trying to get underway.
“We really need to consider how we position our approach as an advantage. We’ve put 15 million cubic yards of concrete in place in this region. That gives us a ton of information and local knowledge.”
“Where did you get than figure.”
“I made it up. I’m kidding, it’s a real number.”
“You know this is a Brownfield site. Who in this room really understands Brownfield Sites? This is going to be important to these guys. “
“Well, the Construction Management part of this is something I have no experience in here. I mean I can try but true Construction Management and Conceptual Estimating in particular is not something I can point to a bunch of jobs where that has been my responsibility.”
“Your experience is more relevant here than you realize. Don’t kid yourself Dan, your experience might be more relevant than the B.S. some of your competitors put out there. I mean our primary competitor has a guy that does nothing but conceptual estimating in-house. We need to structure it so our team has a Mechanical, Electrical, Structural, Civil - These guys don’t have to even be in the room but they will want to see a team that is that comprehensive. Remember this is an architect leading this selection process. The thing architect dreads the most is having to re-draw. If you don’t have a good group up-front with conceptual estimating the architect will roll his eyes and think to himself – here we go again.”
“That’s right. When we do our estimating now we tend to send it out to a bunch of subs to get a number. We need an in-house guy that can come up with a number that is at least a starting point.”
“Now we can talk like developers.”
“Okay, so with all due respect - Who is going to lead this team?”
So, does this scenario seem at all familiar?
Business Development – Case Study
As a follow up to the scenario provided in part one of this two part blog we deconstruct a little and challenge you to consider how you can avoid common pitfalls. Based on our case example, here are eight common problems that arise.
Problem 1. Passive Aggressiveness “Hey, where’s so and so? He/she was supposed to be at this meeting. Make business development a routine part of business. Your business depends on timely responses to requests. Ad hoc teams sometimes are needed but winning new business should be an understood top priority.
Problem 2. Self-Declared Leader Just because someone claims to be uniquely qualified doesn’t mean they should drive. The more technical the job; The more complex the stakeholders; The more likely diverse skills will be required. This is not a time for musical chairs. Manage the business.
Problem 3. Marketing in a Silo Sometimes routine is so seamless we forget. Be involved in all the components of your company positioning and marketing materials. If someone in your project leadership team has to say: Hey marketing guy, can you show me a copy of the book we sent in response to this RFP? Something might not be quite right.
Problem 4. Positioning The object of the game is NOT to change colors like a chameleon. True positioning doesn’t work like that. You need to learn from each proposal but you also need to be true to your company strengths as you respond.
Problem 5. Gaps in Expertise Part of being true to your company and your brand is recognizing weaknesses and owning them. By doing so you can fortify or augment those gaps. Surprisingly, candor will strengthen your credibility. You must be willing to truly examine requests as they matches your capabilities. By doing so you will better understand the marketplace.
Problem 6. Believing your own Hype It is important to celebrate your accomplishments and pat your colleagues on the back. BUT, you are in a competitive situation. Put your best foot forward. But always with a clear understanding of your resources.
Problem 7. Trashing the Competition. It is a mistake to underestimate your opponent. It is also mistake to fall into a false sense of security because you allowed yourself to be superior. Things change.
Problem 8. Status Quo You may be playing a numbers game with responses RFQ/RFI/RRP (requests for qualification, information or proposals). Beware of the boilerplate assumptions and the idea that one size fits all. Treat every request as a unique opportunity. You may even decide to walk away from some of them. But if you decide to go for it: Go for it!