Think back to your firm’s last major client project. Now consider the process of winning that contract in the first place. That journey can be almost as complicated and drawn out as the construction project itself.
In a perfect world, your business development team would love nothing more than smooth sailing from start to finish — question-free sales calls, a straightforward proposal presentation and full agreement across the board with no objections or back-and-forth whatsoever from the prospective client.
Alas, life isn’t an episode of “Friends” where all your problems are solved and loose ends tied up in just 22 minutes to the sound of a laugh track.
Why the right content accelerates AEC business development
Architecture, engineering and construction projects often cost thousands, if not millions, of dollars. So when it comes to winning these projects, your firm doesn’t have to convince just one person — a board or committee is often involved in approving who the company will contract for a major project.
Sometimes, more people = more problems.
The more cooks that are in the kitchen, the greater the probability that your business development team will encounter objections or concerns to your firm’s proposal. In fact, those doubts may come up in your prospects’ initial online research, before you even get shortlisted or submit a proposal at all. Some of the key stakeholders will believe you are the right solution, others will require more convincing. Maybe they are fans of your competition, believe you are over-priced, or are simply happy with the status quo.
So how does great content help? Content empowers your prospective clients instead of just selling to them.
How to use content to navigate prospective client objections
Let’s face it: Your prospects will have doubts, questions and objections. You should expect that and plan for it — but there are great ways to respond and not-so-great ways.
If your business development team reacts to objections with an extended sales pitch, it can feel pushy and may backfire. Instead, use a content approach to flip the script.
1. Listen to what your prospects are saying
This one sounds obvious, but it’s surprising how often business development professionals walk into a sales call and only focus on their pre-determined agenda. Encourage those team members to really listen to the concerns prospects are expressing, read into their needs and take note of specific issues they bring up. This will make your marketing efforts easier, and will better prepare your firm to respond to those objections instead of reacting to them.
2. Translate business development knowledge into marketing intel
Interview your business development team to learn what obstacles they’re encountering with prospects. If they’ve practiced effective listening, they should be able to report some of the major headlines: What questions keep coming up in their conversations? What are prospects typically most unsure about? What is the major problem most prospects are looking to solve? This information is essential for your marketing team in executing the next step.
3. Create content that solves specific problems
A key to overcoming prospect objections is to focus on them, not make it all about your firm and your services. That may sound counterintuitive, but your prospective client wants to feel like they’re in the driver’s seat, not that they’re being pressured into a deal. By creating content that is targeted, specific and addresses their needs, you’re providing value to prospects that helps them succeed. For example, we worked with our client, Stellar, to develop an e-book on low-charge packaged refrigeration equipment. Not only was this resource specific to a particular technology, audience segment and pain point, but it coincided with emerging market trends and timely regulation changes that were affecting the industry.
4. Empower your business development team to leverage the content
Great content doesn’t do anyone any good if no one sees it. Once you’ve created some of those resources, meet with your business development team to strategize how they’ll use it. Prepare for potential scenarios and anticipate how to best offer those resources to prospects when objections arise. Many times it may mean encouraging your point of contact to share the content with other members of their team or the committee involved in vetting your firm.
Of course, each prospect is different, trends evolve and needs change. This process isn’t a one-and-done deal, but it’s a cycle you revisit and improve as you go.
At the end of the day, the core strategy is the same:
Listen to your prospective clients
Prepare for their objections
Create content to address those concerns
Leverage that content in the sales process
Not only will your business development team thank you for making their job easier, but your firm will be positioned to make a lasting impression and win more of those seemingly hard-to-get contracts.
Quality content can turn a doubter into an evangelist — or at least into a “yes” vote — and can be the difference between millions in new business or a missed opportunity.