Business Development


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.

 

Espresso Shot Learning Webinars

Espresso Shot Learning Webinars

Espresso Shot Learning Webinar

questas steaming coffee cupOur Espresso Shot Learning sessions are punchy and effective 30 minute webinars, specifically designed to deliver your team the key points and latest thinking in Business Development and Client Relationship Management.

These bite sized learning sessions are delivered on a virtual platform to suit you, and are good for all teams. You can also register as many participants to the session as you need.

Book now, and let’s get everyone contributing to business growth.

Cost: £500

Turning up the listening to 11!

Active listening has long been spoken about as a key skill for anyone involved in sales.

There is a case to say that now we are selling online AND that it is getting more competitive, we need to be even better at listening than ever. It is often extremely difficult to come up with strong USPs and differentiators, but those who listen best will understand more and are more likely to find that little ‘nugget’ they can use to motivate the client to choose them.

To arrange your training, you can email hello@questas.co.uk or click the button below to get in touch.

Turning the Listening Up to 11 - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars

In this session we cover:

  • Listening as a differentiator
  • Active listening and how to do it online
  • Types of listening
  • PhD listening
  • Building rapport
Getting to the Table of Target Clients - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars

In this session we cover:

  • Targeting the right kind of clients
  • Building an action-driven BD plan
  • Understanding why clients will want to meet
  • Creating a compelling ‘meeting proposition’
  • Developing a ‘BD Habit’

Getting to the ‘table’ of target clients

Whether the ‘table’ you’re trying to get to is real or virtual, we must generate new business with clients and potential clients. If we are not regularly speaking to these people our competitors (who are speaking to them) will increase their market share at the expense of ours. Whatever you call it, all successful firms see this activity at least as important if not more important than fee earning work.

To arrange your training, you can email hello@questas.co.uk or click the button below to get in touch.

Structuring online
BD conversations

Technical experts need to be able to sell but many people in this area would consider selling to be, at best, unnatural. At worst, something they feel they simply can’t do! In our experience, part of the challenge is knowing how to structure a BD (‘sales’ if you prefer) call. Our definition of this conversation is ‘building the client’s motivation to buy’.

To arrange your training, you can email hello@questas.co.uk or click the button below to get in touch.

Structuring Online BD Conversations - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars

In this session we cover:

  • Preparing for the call
  • Tech check – ensuring your set up won’t let you down
  • First impressions – you can’t win a new client in the first 100 seconds but you can lose one! Make sure you set off on the right foot
  • Inform/Investigate/Inspire – Use our 3i© model to help you
    structure the optimum call/meeting
  • Gain the client’s commitment to the next step

Free consultation

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

CONTACT US

Cross-selling skills

Cross-selling skills

Cross Selling Skills Questas face to face classroom training icon Live virtual classroom Questas e-learning icon

There has to be added value for the client to buy additional services from you. If they already buy that second service from an alternative provider, you must clearly ’sell’ the benefit of them buying both services from you.

Course overview

By recognising your own company’s wider business capabilities this course allows you to explore more opportunity to offer these services into your clients.

There are many reasons why cross selling is harder than we think it should be. Our research has shown the same barriers exist in many organisations. We shine the light on each of these and offer solutions as to how to overcome them.

Who’s it for?

Anyone responsible for retaining and building upon existing client relationships, whether to uncover new opportunities or deliver existing projects. This course aligns well with ‘Client Relationship Skills’.

Course format

Questas face to face classroom training iconFace to face: A half-day workshop for up to 12 people. Based on research, this is highly practical session where we design scenarios for participants to practice.

Questas e-learning iconE-learning: A 30 minute ‘plug and play’ course designed for those new to cross-selling.

Live virtual classroomLive Virtual Classroom: A 2 hr practical workshop covering the dos and don’ts of cross selling along with an opportunity to uncover the cross-selling opportunities in a case study.

Outcomes

Participants will be able to adopt a more strategic approach to addressing clients’ requirements. Delegates will be equipped to look for ways to help their clients grow while offering opportunities to win work for their own business.

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

CPD Certified by the CPD Certification Service Cross-Selling e-Learning

Our free e-Learning module is an interactive introduction to best practice.
Questas Cross Selling

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Content Outline

  • Identifying the opportunity
  • Understanding the barriers to Cross Selling and overcoming them
  • Understanding your wider business capabilities
  • Building trust
  • Managing internal communication
  • Developing your selling skills

From our blog

Discover five ways to create a cross-selling culture to achieve growth

Gary Williams explains why professional services firms need to embed a cross-selling culture to achieve smart growth at low cost.

Read more

Be your clients’ trusted advisor

Doing an excellent job is a first step to winning more work, but it’s not enough. We need to be proactive in building relationships, understanding our clients and their objectives, and positioning ourselves as trusted advisers. Our Client Relationship Skills course provides tools and skills that will strenthen and broaden client relationships.

Do you dread negotiations?

Negotations are often seen in terms of winners and losers, but this approach is likely put us on the back foot. Actually the first step to successful negoation is always communication to help both parties feel like winners. Our Negotiation Skills course provides the tools and tips to help you find a position of mutual acceptance with your clients (and colleagues).

Free consultation

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

CONTACT US

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

First Impressions Count: Creating a positive impact at a first client meeting.

Whether your industry is engineering, law, property or the public sector, here are some ways you can prepare and optimise the opportunity at your first business development meeting with new clients. The Dos and Don’ts if you will, of creating the right first impression.

Respect

Treat everyone you meet from the organisation as you would treat the client themselves – you never know who is influential!

Don’t be late!

Always arrive a little earlier than the start time – this way you won’t be flustered and the client won’t be distracted by you being late.

Introduce Yourself

A receptionist’s life is usually a hectic one, so go out of your way to make their life easy. Introduce yourself and say your name clearly. You might want to present your business card so there is no misunderstanding. Explain who you are there to see.

Coffee?

If you are offered coffee at this point, politely refuse – it just gets in the way and you will probably get another chance once the meeting begins when you can join your host in a drink.

Take advantage of your surroundings

Reception areas are often full of client information. If you have time, take a look at any press clippings, annual statements, or in-house magazines. There might be some interesting things in any literature from your industry (from engineering and commerical to the public sector) that you can use as a conversation opener in the meeting.

It’s now time to meet and get to know your potential new client. Creating a bond and finding common ground is vital to create a positive first impression. Here’s how to get the conversation started.

Chat checklist for a Sales or Business Development Meeting

The most common topics of discussion at this point (in British culture at least) are weather and transport. Time to break the norm!

Be ready with one or two more interesting conversation topics – potentially things you found out while waiting in reception.

Positive comments about the environment you’re in and the greeting you received when you arrived show that you are attentive and appreciative…two good human qualities.

Make a link to how the meeting came about – perhaps you met at an industry or networking event, or someone referred you.

When you’re ready to turn the discussion to business, say,“Before we get onto the agenda, can I just check how you are for time?”

Now you are fully prepared and ready to go, it’s time for the big meeting. Read our article ‘How To Have A Highly Effective Business Development Meeting’ to ensure your business’s impact and success with new clients.

Our training is bespoke to each client – see our approach and how we can help your business grow.

questas steaming coffee cupGetting to the ‘table’ of target clients

Getting to the Table of Target Clients - Questas Espresso Shot Webinars
Are you targeting the right clients and speaking to them regularly? Don’t lose out to your competitors, develop your own action driven BD Plan.

Try our Espresso Shot Learning – Our 30 min live webinar to give your team the key points and latest thinking in Business Development and Client Relationship Management.

FIND OUT MORE

Latest posts

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Be Brilliant! How to prepare for that effective first meeting

Initial meetings with potential clients or with new people at existing clients are critical opportunities. This applies to every industry whether it be engineering, law, property or commercial. A first meeting can be the difference between years of work and no work at all.

So how can you ensure your all-important meeting goes swimmingly (or some other kind of wow statement? How do you maximise the effectiveness you have when face to face with a client? Like many things it is 70% in the preparation and 30% in the execution/delivery on the day. Follow our proven steps to success, and you’ll find yourself having more impact when it comes to the crunch.

Get Our Free Business Development Meetings Training

Learn tried and tested strategies to help you excel at sales meetings tailored to the professional and engineering services sector

A free and unique sales training guide

DO YOUR RESEARCH

Knowledge is power, and never more so than when you’re walking into a room full of strangers. That means research is vital.

  • What do you know about the client organisation and the person or people you are going to meet? Do some background research using their website, LinkedIn, and search engines. What can you learn about the individuals you’re trying to connect with?
  • Ensure you are up to speed with news in their world. Find out what the hot topics and key issues are in their industry at the moment. This applies to all industries including engineering, law and all professional services. What are the lastest technological innovations in the engineering industries? Are you up to date on the latest legal developments? What’s current in the commercial property sector? Keeping your knowledge current will be key in portraying yourself as an industry expert they’ll want to do business with.

PREPARE A POSITIONING STATEMENT

It’s now time to plan a short and snappy positioning statement for your meeting . This should be an extended introduction to you and your organisation – not a ‘pitch’, but more to ensure the client really understands what your business does. Ensure your Positioning Statement has the 3 following elements:

An overview of your business – where you operate, numbers of people, industry sectors
Your Department – Specific details about your area of the business, for example, the types of clients and projects your department has worked on

Your Areas of Interest – what have YOU been involved in? How have YOU helped clients?

MAKE CONTACT PRE MEETING

It’s always a good idea to send a short note in advance of the meeting to cover off things like:

  • Where and when the meeting is taking place
  • Ask who will be there from their side ( ideally find out their job roles/remit and why) – this is useful to ensure you match up the attendees from your side..
  • Outline the areas for discussion
  • Ask them if there are any specific areas they would like to cover – and make sure you include those in your meeting plan
  • Send relevant content in advance (ie slide deck, research paper) and explain why you think it might be useful. This demonstrates to the client that you are tuned in to their business and the potential challenges they may be facing.

Think about attendees

It’s important to give some thought to who will be going to the meeting so you are prepared in how to engage with them and create that all important great first impression. Here are some tips:

  • Broadly match numbers. For example, if you are meeting two people, send two or three people, not five.
  • Meetings are much easier with a colleague. It is difficult to conduct a business development meeting on your own, given that you will need to ask questions, actively listen and also take notes.
  • Consider the type of people you are meeting, and try to reflect the dynamic when it comes to age, seniority and gender.
Questas – Business development training

Running effective meetings is just one strategy to help develop a business. Questas provide business development training for industries such as engineering, law and property to help professionals from a technical mindset create significant results and sales performance.

Read more about our business development training.

We are a business development consultancy which is passionate about helping our clients develop processes, skills and behaviours that will result in increased sales and improved margins.

Start our online cross selling course today

Cross Selling is a skill that, once mastered by engineering and professional services executives, can have a radical impact on business growth.

The interactive e-learning is CPD certified and is designed to help you uncover new opportunities with existing clients.

Questas Cross Selling

 

Our Professional Services Cross Selling Training is online today, so now you can start honing your cross selling capabilities in just 30 minutes.

Start here

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Attending a ‘World Leading’ Event can be very daunting.

Don’t let being a little fish in a big pond overwhelm you –  Gary Williams shares how he addressed his concerns and went prepared to optimise the opportunity.

I recently attended #MIPIM2018. It was my first time and I thought I would share some experiences and pass on some tips to anyone venturing to something similar and next year’s newbies.

Held at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes with over 24,000 visitors and more than 3000 exhibitors, Mipim (which I learnt stands for Le marché international des professionnels de l’immobilier) is the international property event of the year.

It is safe to say I felt some trepidation which only grew after booking…

‘Would it be worth it? (it’s expensive), a week away from work, would I meet the right people, how does a small business like mine find a ‘voice’?’ People were already teaming up – there was a whole contingency cycling down!!

Time to focus, follow my own Questas BD philosophy and prepare to address my concerns.

Preparation

Would I meet the right people? Well to meet them I had to tell them I was going. Using the database made available to registered visitors I created a realistic target list of people (around 50) I wanted to see and contacted them. I received several replies, some of which were “great, lets catch up when your there” plus a few who were happy to book a specific time.

Once I had a few meetings booked in advance, I looked at the list of speaker events and chose a couple that looked interesting leaving space in my diary to be flexible.  I was starting to feel better.

The Reality

The first meeting went very well which boosted my confidence and lead to an invite to an event later in the week!  I was off and running…. The realisation that everyone is there with similar objectives – to develop existing and to make new relationships was reassuring. Add to that the fact that most people I spoke to seemed to be interested in my ‘story’ it meant that my Imposter Syndrome was quickly quashed.

People were happy to introduce me to others and I was able to do the same for them.

Three days and a lot of coffee and croissants (plus the odd beer!) later I am very glad I made the decision to go.

My Event Takeaways

  • Reach out to people you want to see before the event. It settles nerves, gives you focus and even if they don’t connect beforehand there is a good chance they will have seen the request come in and will be primed if you do bump into them.
  • Don’t expect to stand still. The way I described it to someone was that you tend to ‘bounce’ from one event to the next and you have to be open to allowing things to develop that way.
  • Spend time with existing clients as well as looking for new. I was able to really develop relationships with some existing clients as I was getting to know them in a completely different environment.

Some practical tips for an event in Cannes

  • Stay within a 20min walk of the Palais if you can
  • Taking the train from Nice airport to Cannes saved about €100 each way!
  • The old town is lovely but restaurants are very busy and very expensive, better to try restaurants on the Quay-side.

What next?

You have returned from the event with a stash of business cards, it is time to follow up the good ones and managed to get a few meetings in the diary with some really interesting people from companies you’d like as clients… Make the most of these golden opportunities!

Download our free GUIDE TO EFFECTIVE BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MEETINGS

Optimise your selling Opportunity

Creating a possitive impact at that first client meeting.
Effective Business Development Meetings - free training guide from Questas Consulting

Get it now

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