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The changing culture around growth & sales in the AEC industry

Growth is often considered a primary “goal”, but understanding what growth actually means and how you work towards it can be a complex discussion.  

Not to fear, this very topic was discussed in our recent webinar with a panel of AEC industry experts. They shared some of the mistakes they’ve made and/or observed when driving pipeline, as well as the key considerations to think about. 

Driving leads, pipeline and sales

The culture around driving leads, pipeline and sales in the AEC industry is changing. For Joe Emanuele, Head of AEC at CMap Software, the pandemic had a significant impact on this shift in culture. “I think it taught us how important it was to look forward and have more reliance on forward figures.” 

“All too often, firms fall into the trap of concentrating on “to date” figures—which can lead them to a cliff edge," Joe warned. Fortunately, he believes there’s a growing awareness of the need for accurate forecasting. Identifying problems ahead of time, looking at the inflow of leads, how much becomes pipeline, when we’re likely to win it, how busy (or not) we’re likely to be, and doing all of this with a level of consistent accuracy is key to avoiding significant difficulties. 

Tanya Quelch, Head of Business Systems at Grimshaw, observed a balance of focus in senior leadership. “While some partners are focused on creativity, operations or finance, others are focused on growth. This ensures we have a combined focus across all areas."

While it’s in our nature to want to talk about and focus on design, ensuring that other areas achieve parity in senior leadership meetings, form the backbone of monthly reporting—and so on—ensures companies capture and maintain this critical data.

Driving growth

“Interestingly, we don’t often talk about growth,” said Joe. But with some firms beginning to hire people that specifically focus on “growth”, it’s becoming an important topic of discussion. To drive growth, you need to understand what it actually is. Is it growth in terms of profitability? Staff numbers? Locations? Sectors? “All of those things need to be thought about.” 

Joe believes systems have a huge part to play. “I’ve worked with CMap clients to show how they can report on the “value” of their contacts. For example, is the individual they’re talking to a decision maker, or not? Equally, it’s important to understand who your past clients are, and if we’re keeping our finger on their pulse to identify opportunities for more work when they come back to market.” 

Joe also believes it’s important to carefully choose which clients we work with. “What are their sustainability credentials? Do they pay on time? Do they value design?” When these factors are input into the CRM, you can develop an understanding of which clients you want to work with—and then take proactive steps to work with them. 

Ultimately, for Joe, “the key is choosing where your activity happens, and driving growth in a strategic direction. Today, this is made possible with sophisticated technology rather than hunches and gut feel.” 

Introducing new technologies

For Kyle Bryant, Customer Success Manager at OpenAsset, his most successful clients are extremely forward-thinking and, in order to win new business, they’re focusing on remaining competitive.  

Investing in new technologies is one of the ways they’re doing this. By adopting new technologies into their tech stacks, they're becoming more efficient, getting greater accuracy in reporting, and able to improve their decision making.

To watch the full discussion, click here.