Architects, Engineers and Contractors – What do Owners Really Think About Your Sales & Marketing Efforts?
We asked them – and they told us!
If you are a Principal of a professional service firm or construction company, chances are you didn’t go to college to be a sales person. Yet, you find yourself spending a lot of time and money trying to sell your next project. And, you have learned what works for one client doesn’t work for another. If you’ve been around for a few decades, you can probably remember a more simple time, absent of smart phones, videos, websites and blogs.
Historically, the design and construction industry has been a relationship-based business. Those with the best relationships with the Owners typically win more work. Right? Not anymore. Why?
Let’s start by looking at who typically has the strongest client relationships at a firm. If you are an established firm (20+ years in business), chances are the name on the door is your primary rainmaker. When these relationships were first established 20+ years ago – the world was still debating whether or not the internet and email were here to stay. There certainly wasn’t anything like LinkedIn or Facebook. The way people “followed-up” after a meeting was to write a hand-written note. Treating clients to golf or a nice dinner felt like a special occasion. The point here is that the design and construction industry adopted a sales model that was heavily focused on one-to-one relationships because there were really no other options.
Fast forward to today. There is no doubt we are living in a digital age where every question we can possibly think to ask can be answered with a quick Google search. Phone calls are now reserved for emergencies only or used when the subject matter is too sensitive to put in an email. In many cases, the younger buying audience finds phone calls far more intrusive than emails.
So there has been a huge shift in how people communicate and the speed in which communication occurs. At the same time, many of the names on the door are approaching retirement and new leaders are expected to become “seller-doers” for the first time.
Now, let’s also consider what’s happening on the Owner’s side. The decision makers are also getting younger. These buyers build relationships differently than their predecessors and they are very comfortable living in a digital world. While they may still appreciate the occasional lunch or round of golf, they are far more likely to be influenced by their overall impression of a firm’s brand than any one individual they know at a firm.
Many of our clients struggle with adopting new marketing tactics that are in line with the preferences of today’s buying audiences. As a strong believer in evidence-based marketing, we, at Smartegies, decided it was important to ask those who hire our clients whether or not our observations were accurate. The results confirmed that most of our assumptions were true, however, we did learn that some “old school” tactics are still relevant for public-sector and institutional Owners.
We conducted this survey in order to better understand procurement processes, buying preferences and online habits of some of Georgia’s most coveted public sector and institutional building owners. With this information, professional service firms can make informed marketing and sales related decisions. They can determine how their marketing efforts compare to the expectations of owners.