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3 Essential business development tips for professional & engineering firms post-pandemic

3 Essential business development tips for professional & engineering firms post-pandemic

3 Essential business development tips for professional & engineering firms post-pandemic

How can professional services firms best transition from survival to growth mode?

The past 18 months has seen many professional and engineering services firms batten down the hatches as the pandemic took a grip on our lives and the economy. Thankfully, many of these organisations are now moving from survival mode into growth mode. And, while this is hugely encouraging, there are a few essential things to consider to ensure you maximise opportunities so that the growth is as effective as possible.

So, how can professional and engineering services firms maximise business development opportunities in this post-pandemic era?

A recent McKinsey article tells us that growth comes from both short and long-term initiatives – quick wins and strategic transformation. It also asserts that execution triumphs over analysing and that measurement is a source of competitive advantage. Working with professional services and engineering firms since 2004, I have seen the economy rollercoaster in action and the impact that upturns and downturns have on organisations.

Put people first – nurture client-facing staff

Professional service based businesses have two fundamental assets: people and time. Sure, the people are providing expertise, and it’s true that more companies are now offering technology-based innovations, but at their core these businesses measure their income in terms of the numbers of hours their people invoice. What this means is that in strong markets the biggest problem is resourcing, and when times are tough the biggest problem is too much overhead. The response? Reduce the overhead. But the first to go are usually those who are lower down on the utilisation spreadsheet. Unfortunately this can (and in my experience often does) include work winners.

I have been in the world of business development and client relationship management for my entire career so inevitably I see this through a particular lens. I accept that when market conditions dictate that the flow of work is reduced to a trickle, clients are in their own ‘lockdown’ and it is difficult to keep paying expensive salaries because the return on that investment can’t be realised any time soon. However, we have now reached an economic turning point. This means it is time to put the foot down on the accelerator. And I’ve seen first-hand that the best way to move from survival mode to growth mode is to nurture client facing people and actively engage them in a three-part strategy:

Client-facing people are often the work winners and connectors in engineering firms

  1. Get focussed on where the opportunities are
  2. Have more face to face BD meetings
  3. Measure the effectiveness

Lets have a look at each of these steps:

1

Get focussed

 

Whilst we don’t want to be struck down with ‘analysis paralysis’ we also don’t want to waste useful time, effort and energy. This is not the time to be going after the wrong type of work. Here three quick questions to help get you focussed:

  • Is the market strong for this kind of work?
  • What is our reputation like for this type of work?
  • Do we already have relationships with decision makers?

If you can answer a solid YES to each of these it is probably worth putting a business development plan together. These plans needn’t be overly complicated but should focus on getting in front of target clients through referral, or valuable content marketing.

2

Face to face BD meetings

 

Even when selling into the public sector – who almost always buy through a tender process – nothing beats getting in front of clients, both existing and new. People (still) buy from people and so your people need to be better than the people from other organisations. And by ‘better’ I don’t mean better technically, I mean better at motivating clients to buy!

These meetings provide fantastic opportunities, if not immediately then often at some point in the future. For more information on how to ensure these meetings will maximise the opportunity please see our Effective BD Meetings guide.

3

Measure the effectiveness of business development activity

 

It has been said that it is difficult to measure selling activity. Certainly it’s challenging to look at the numbers and work out what income was due to what particular marketing/BD activity, as well as considering if it was simply down to market conditions. However, that approach is trying to measure the output. I have found that it is much easier and more effective to measure the inputs. For example count:

  • Number of meetings with decision makers
  • Introductions made to colleagues with other expertise (see our valuable Cross Selling post here)
  • Referrals from clients to others in their network
  • Opportunities identified at meetings
  • Follow up meetings with other stakeholders
As firms lift the shutters and head back out into the market, professional service based businesses need to identify and maximise every business development opportunity. Those who are ready, willing and able to spread the BD load to many (if not all) client-facing people will certainly reap the rewards.

Want to maximise opportunities for your business to grow, and your team to thrive? Please get in touch, email us at hello@questas.co.uk. Or if you’d like to see more growth ideas for professional & engineering firms we’d recommend ‘Selling to the public sector’ here, and definitely look into our 30 minute trainings on ‘Getting to the client’s table’ here.

 

Negotiation Skills

Negotiation Skills

Negotiation Skills Questas face to face classroom training icon Live virtual classroom

Everything is negotiable. Whether or not the negotiation is easy is another matter, but the first step is always communication.

Course overview

This course is designed to take you through the theory and practice of ‘Principled Negotiation’. It provides the tools and tips to allow you to separate people from the problem, evaluate options and find a position of mutual acceptance to achieve the win/win with your clients (and colleagues!)

Who’s it for?

Anyone who is involved in internal or external negotiations, particularly in final stages of securing bids and contracts. It is also very useful for those situations where clients are trying to push the boundaries of the contract – commonly known as ‘scope creep’.

Course format

Questas face to face classroom training iconFace to face: A one-day workshop for up to 12 people. This course includes hands-on techniques, working through theory and practical exercises.

Live virtual classroomLive Virtual Classroom: A 2 hour workshop designed to teach participants the fundamentals of negotiating, The difference between Positions & Interests, where the ZOPA (zone of potential agreement) is and how to ensure a win/win outcome.

Outcomes

This course will leave the participant equipped with:

  • a variety of negotiation styles and the know-how of when to use them
  • the methodology to frame your negotiation
  • the skill to identify your acceptance zone
  • the ability to manage conflict through to resolution.

Couple with this the ability to think creatively to provide options that focus on the interests of all parties. Finally, delegates will be able to find a mutually satisfactory outcome that helps the client relationship remain strong.

Content Outline

  • Defining negotiation – what is ‘Principled Negotiation’
  • Negotiation styles – qualities of a great negotiator
  • Know your BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement) and understand your ‘walk-away’ before you start
  • Preparing and structuring a negotiation
  • Creative thinking for optimum solutions
  • The LADDER of Assertiveness

Interested in this course?

Email hello@questas.co.uk or click the button below to get in touch.

Questas is based in London, and travels internationally to deliver training.

If desired we can help you design and/or organise your own training courses tailored to your team.

Drop us a line

Two experts engineers in protective helmets and fluorescent vests showing the construction site and building activities after the successful project phase.

Cross-Selling e-learning

Our free e-Learning module for Cross-Selling (no selling required) is an interactive introduction to best practice.

This informative and well-presented 30-minute course is certified for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).

Start now

Disagree without being disgreeable

How do you handle the ‘bad news’ conversations with your clients? Could you do better? We all have to deal with tricky topics such as ‘scope creep’, project delays or unexpected costs. The course ‘Difficult Client Conversations‘ is designed to equip project managers, directors and other staff who need to handle awkard situations with valued clients.

Take what you’ve learnt and use it!

Research suggests that 80% of sales training is lost within 180 days. We also know that it takes at least six weeks to start embedding new behaviours as habits. So how do you maximise your training investment? One great way is one-to-one coaching.

“One-to-one coaching helped me overcome some of the barriers I faced as a technically minded person. I am now much more confident with clients.” Technical Director, RPS.

Free consultation

Have questions for us? Get your team started today and gain a new competitive advantage.

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Presentation and Pitching Skills

Presentation and Pitching Skills

Presentation and Pitching Skills Questas face to face classroom training icon Live virtual classroom

Presenting, especially a pitch, can be a very pressured situation and it is normal to feel anxious. Learning visualisation skills to cope with ‘what if’ scenarios leaves headspace to generate a successful outcome.

Course overview

The focus of this professional development is learning practical skills to deliver excellent presentations and pitches.We look at preparation, both in terms of structure and approach to a pitch, and the practice and visualisation activities to mentally prepare for it.

In this course we challenge our participants at times to operate outside of their comfort zones. This allows us to provide the strategies and tools to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety that so many of us come up against when we are asked to speak publicly.

Who’s it for?

This course is for anyone with a remit to present internally and/or externally. Clients are encouraged to bring along real life scenarios to work through.

Course format

Questas face to face classroom training iconFace to face: a highly practical one-day workshop. Participants will present to a group at least twice in the day and be filmed.

Live virtual classroomLive Virtual Classroom: A 2-hour workshop. Using the medium we develop online presentation skills. This will include how to prepare and set up the environment, how to create impact, engage the audience and make it memorable!

Outcomes

  • Present with greater confidence and professionalism.
  • Learn to plan and structure presentations.
  • Be clear when pitching, ensuring emphasis on key messages.
  • Keep an audience engaged.

Content Outline

  • Who is your audience, what are their expectations?
  • How to engage your audience
  • Making it memorable – key messages, unique elements, clear calls to action
  • Presentation format and structure
  • Speaking with confidence, controlling your nerves
  • Body language, gestures, vocal tone and pitch
Questas Quote Marks Circle

“It was great to see everyone engaged all the way through and I noted the calibration to our needs during the day.”

Director, RPS

Questas Quote Marks Circle

“Great day! Really fun and innovative way to beat the fear of presenting to an audience.”

Tim Howlings, Brasier Freeth

Need this course?

Email hello@questas.co.uk or click the button below to get in touch.

Questas is based in London, and travels internationally to deliver training.

If desired we can help you design and/or organise your own training courses tailored to your team.

Drop us a line

From our blog

Four easy ways to manage nerves before a presentation

Trainer, Annabel Miller, looks into why we get nervous and how we can manage nerves so that it doesn’t hinder our performance.

Read more

Excel at sales meetings

Questas Effective Business Development Meetings booklet cover

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Make every sales meeting a long-term success with new and existing clients

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Have questions for us? Get your team started today and gain a new competitive advantage.

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