In the architecture, engineering, and construction industries, marketing, business development, and sales are typically all lumped into one word: marketing. Although these three areas are closely tied together, they are very different departments within a business. They have specific functions and each usually requires a different type of personality/staff member. It’s important to realize these differences, because you don’t treat each department the same and don’t measure them the same.
Marketing involves everything that happens before the client meets an employee within your firm. Marketing helps prospects become familiar with your firm and warm up to it. Marketing includes branding, advertising, website, social media, and sponsorships. It’s important to be consistent in your marketing practices, because there aren’t instant results. It takes time to build your brand and your image. Research shows that a prospect has to see your brand thirteen times before he or she remembers it. Be consistent!
In the past, marketing success has been difficult to measure but with the addition of all the digital marketing, it’s become easier to see results. Marketers can see Google analytics (website traffic) and social media platform insights, which shows what pages are being visited, what social media platforms are being used, and how visitors get to your website and social media platforms. These measures are constantly changing because of the technology, but marketers must be aware of the impact we can make by showing principals and owners the tangible success of digital marketing.
Business development is building relationships with prospects and clients. This is face-to-face interactions with prospects and clients. Business development occurs every day in your business. Whether you have a full-time business developer or project managers who are in charge of business development, your employee(s) are building relationships. Business developers are typically responsible for making cold calls and being the face of the company at various community, client, and prospect events. They are opening the door for the project managers and owners to close the sale. Business developers aren’t usually technical people as it’s rare to find an architect, engineer, or construction professional with those skill sets.
Business development can be measured through direction and accountability. A detailed business development plan gives the individual the firm’s direction and target audience. Setting those expectations is important, so owners and principals see the results they want. It’s not immediate that you’ll see results, so you must be patient. If you have given a detailed plan and set realistic expectations and still don’t see results in twelve months, then you probably don’t have the right person in charge of business development for your firm.
Sales is confirming the deal and signing the contract. Many times the owner, principal, or project manager closes the sale. Marketing and business developers aren’t responsible for closing the sale. They are responsible for shortening the sales cycle, building your firm’s brand, supporting the technical team, and giving the technical team insight into what the prospect/client really wants or needs. The sale usually happens during the presentation/interview for the project, in which the owner, principal, project manager, and/or superintendent are involved. It’s up to this team of individuals to close the sale and make it a no-brainer to select their team for the project!
As you can see, it takes a team effort from all three departments — marketing, business development, and sales —to make a project a reality. By strategizing, collaborating, and implementing these three areas of your business, you will increase profits and build your business.