David Stone is one of the smartest guys we know when it comes to AEC marketing and business development. The founder of Stone and Company, he’s seen it all in 30+ years working at and closely with hundreds of design and construction firms around the globe ranging in size from one person to $2 billion in annual revenue.
In this new blog series, Deltek is excited to bring you some of David’s best thinking. With this insight (backed by Deltek Vision CRM and the integrated suite of Vision marketing solutions), Deltek’s goal is simple: To help your firm win more work! Enjoy. To learn more about Deltek Vision CRM, check out this demo.
I recently happened to view an old photograph from the mid-1800’s showing a group of pioneers trundling across the prairies in their covered wagons. So many green fields to claim! So much open space!
Not so much today. The ‘green field’ project is the exception as we work to recycle the old ones.
The same is true with clients. When it comes to growing your firm, there are no new clients. Every client out there today is currently being served by someone else. Now, whether they’re being well served or not is another question. But you simply won’t find a client who isn’t already being served by one of your competitors.
That means that every new client you gain will have to be won away from an opponent. And that makes things a lot tougher. In any competition, the incumbent always has the advantage. Just ask any politician. The one who’s there first has already won once, they’re the proverbial ‘devil you know’ and they have habit and inertia on their side.
Your job to unseat them is a double challenge: Not only must you persuade the client to hire you, you have to persuade them to let the previous consultant go.
What does this mean for your marketing efforts? It means you can’t win on your merits alone. It means there’s no holding back and you have to win by clearly demonstrating the overwhelming advantage of working with you.
Your entire win strategy must focus on those things that differentiate you from the competition. Let’s face it – your list of past projects is just like theirs. So in addition to talking about your experience you’re going to have to show what they’ll get by working with you that they won’t get from the other guy.
The best way to unseat an incumbent is to overwhelm the client with such an impressive effort that they’ll wonder why they ever hired the other guy in the first place. You’re going to need:
- A top-notch proposal with a huge ‘WOW!’ factor. That means professional-grade graphic design, writing and packaging
- Lots and lots and lots of client testimonials
- Engaging, exciting and well-written success stories. Not those boring ‘challenge-solution’ sleepers and certainly not a collection of lists
- A presentation that’s so well choreographed and polished it could be a Broadway show
- A clear demonstration of service that’s so far above the average that it sets its own new standard
The client wants to know what they’re going to get from you that they aren’t getting now. And it has to be worth the effort of switching. They won’t be willing to switch, if they’re simply going to end up with the same or even just slightly better skills, experience and service they have now. Your argument has to be unique, compelling and enthusiastic.
How will you make their effort to switch worthwhile?