Client Sales Cycle in Construction

As I mentioned last week, I attended SMPS’ The Basics of Business Development here in New Orleans. Last week I shared a graphic from the class about business development’s involvement through the client (see post). The course offered another great graphic that represents the client sales cycle and is especially helpful with non-marketers and business developers. Most people do not realize how hard it is to acquire new clients and this chart shows how the internal teams the importance in maintaining happy clients because you can bypass 7 of the 10 steps. Who wouldn’t want things to be 70% easier?



The track starts off with marketing at (1) Position and Promote the Firm. Marketing & Business Development (BD) needs to work hand-in-hand to have a cohesive brand position, message, and target. When Marketing & BD do not agree, the company’s success is greatly diminished and can easily sink the entire company. Step (2) is developing the relationship, which may start at a conference, business mixer, or the client searching your website. This step can take years before a deal is available and is the most important step not to rush.

Step (3) starts when a deal is on the tab and generally goes hand-in-hand with Step (4) when the RFP is issued. Many veteran business developers say if you don’t know the RFP is coming, its too late to get in. This is not always the case, but when you’re in the process of (5) Making the Go/No Go Decision, you need to take in consideration your competitors have been tracking this deal and courting the decision makers for months or years. The Go/No Go step is vital because wasting time and resources on a job you have no business responding to because you’re not qualified and do not have the relationships is not just a waste of money, it impacts your efforts on proposals that you’re better qualified to respond to anyway. Most companies increase their hit rate by eliminating the deals out of reach, not be doing more proposals. How many many jobs do you expect to win if you had to do 10 proposals next year? What if you had to do 100 proposals in the same time period? The quality of all the responses would plummet and you’d only be able to compete on low-bid.

Step (6) is actually submitting the proposal and then waiting for (and praying for) Step (7) the Short List. Just because you’re Short Listed, doesn’t mean you have the job. The next step (8) the Presentation is where your brand & people count. Getting past the proposals is about qualifications and price, while winning the shortlist is about you. I (and many of those experienced BD teams I mentioned earlier) have another Go/No Go here because things change, you may know who you’re competing with or the client may set you up for failure to test you with a 48 hour notice to your shortlist presentation. It’s okay to back out here, you’re invested, but not totally invested much like dating someone – break up before it leads to a wedding and foreseeable divorce.

Step (9) is Winning the Job! The work doesn’t end here, but this is do-or-die time for the rest of team as they are in the drivers seat in regards to solidifying that relationship with the client and getting repeat and uncontested work in the future. The large arrow in the middle of the graphic ideally goes round and round numerous times without the cost and uncertainty of bidding.