With most design, engineering and environmental practices being based on the seller-doer model, business development as well can be resource-hungry with unintended inefficiencies.

Businesses undergoing rapid expansion or contraction can sometimes inadvertently find themselves with processes that rely on less people having to do more with respect to developing business.

Our experience is that technical services and technical development/innovation should always be core to the service offering. A sustainable business is one built on client service excellence.

Lessons learned

We know lessons learned from failures as well as success. People learn from failures, but are afraid of sharing failures. There are common failures that must be avoided. Continual growth of the collective knowledge is instead vital for the success.

What to add and what to abandon

Plans, policies and procedures alone will not deliver success. People/employees (and their behaviours) make the difference, supported by systems that add value to the client service. Being from the technical consultancy services background, we have had hundreds of years collective experience on what works and what does not.

We may focus on what needs to be abandoned more than what to be added. Organisations tend to add, which in the short term is easier than prune. The outcome is an inevitable spreading too thin in terms of a client portfolio, services and relationship structures. Often the outcome also includes complex matrix structures which are obstacle to the continual change.

Technical professionals need to take decisions by themselves

We learned a simple vital thing: technical professionals need to take decisions by themselves, making the full use of the collective knowledge of the firm with the help of other professionals in business development.

Professionals react very well if the right environment surrounds them. The right blend of freedom and discipline – values versus processes, short versus long-term. Professionals can and should take decisions by themselves. However, too many firms do not know what they know and delegate to manage this – with poor results at best.

BD Professionals are vital as well

Although varying with size, complexity and nature of different companies, having the skills of business development in addition to the seller-doer model is vital – if integrated correctly. Examples will be Key Account/Key Client, Proposal Writers and Marketing. However, too often as companies plan to grow or need to contract companies must avoid costly mistakes in ineffective models.

Commercial Strategies

Having a robust commercial strategy in combination with a higher level of Technical Quality and Client Service is a powerful combination. A commercial strategy is not just about the pricing, but rather an integral part of Client Relationship Management where opportunities are tracked through the complete lifecycle of:

  • assessing and managing opportunities – dealing with prospects and opportunities
  • managing proposals
  • through the project to ensure repeat business

A bespoke commercial strategy combined with highest technical quality and client service delivery is the equation for successful sustainable business growth.

Different commercial strategies may be used for singular project opportunities or whole client portfolios. The term ‘commercial strategy’ describes the steps to be taken to win the opportunity. A commercial strategy may be concerned with a single project opportunity, a service to be provided, or suite of projects over an extended period of time.

There is no hard and fast prescriptive method to be used in a commercial strategy, but there are guidelines to be used to inform the commercial strategy. These include:

  • Understanding risk – addressing perceived and known risks to ensure risk aversion does not suffocate business growth
  • Understanding the impact of actions – knowing at which stage and when certain actions will have to maximise positive effect to increase the win rate
    Developing a win strategy that is client-focused
  • Commercial strategies are not just about pricing but also includes the tactics, actions, tools and needs in the aspects of value propositioning and putting the best team together.