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Business NOT as Usual: Navigating Business Development during COVID-19 | Lisa Frisbie, AGC MA

It has been challenging for business development professionals to find ways to stay relevant and connected to clients and project management teams. In a Google search for best business development quotes, I was amazed at how many apply perfectly now. For example: 

“Out of your vulnerabilities will come your strength.” Sigmund Freud

“Every problem is a gift — without problems we would not grow.” Anthony Robbins

"All progress takes place outside the comfort zone." Michael John Bobak

We are certainly outside of our comfort zones right now so how do we conduct business NOT as usual?

Sourcing the 2016 Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), Domain 3, Client and Business Development we learn that business development has a nine-stage process from the client’s point of view. The AGC of America Business Development Steering Committee has collaborated on a few of the most critical steps to formulate ways your B.D. approach can still follow these guidelines even at your most vulnerable times--or as we now call it―social distancing.

Awareness: This is the very first step (and most logical). Your client has recognized the need/demand for the next project and will be looking for a solution provider. In typical times you would be staying top of mind via networking events, coffee meetings and other face-to-face opportunities. In today’s climate there are still ways to maintain your credibility and visibility:

Strategize: Be sure to come right out of the gate as an industry thought-leader. Show a solid understanding of the situation and prepare your messaging accordingly. Don't become tone deaf to your client's (and everyone’s) situation.
Leverage digital formats: Schedule weekly posts that provide relevant information targeted to the client that provides value. Reach out and invite clients, industry experts, and association executives to group platform meetings and coffee hours.
Snail mail: Send fun and interesting articles and images focusing on the client’s interests—cooking, crafts, sports, and animals are all great topics that can lift spirits. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a little appropriate humor every once in a while―we all need the relief!

Knowledge: Whether your client or potential client is familiar with your firm or not, they will need to be updated on the entirety of the services you provide. Take the opportunity to conduct in-depth research of the type of work they have done in the past and tailor your message that aligns with their goals.
Get creative: Work with your marketing team to capture your client’s attention with a dynamic two-minute video highlighting the services and culture of your company.
Social proof: Share social media posts that thank and recommend your industry partners and suppliers highlighting the work you have accomplished together. (Be sure to tag them!)
Ask for a referral: Reach out to those industry partners and suppliers and ask for referrals and recommendations based on successful project examples.

Association with the entity: As a result of your hard work, the client begins to see the link between hiring your design/construction firm and achieving their goal. It is particularly critical to stay sensitive with the current environment. Realistic conversations on deliverables and timelines need to be addressed up front.
Keep it real: Humanize the situation― showcase how your solution is feasible given the situation at hand.
Relate: Don't be afraid to share what you are doing and the impact it has on you-but also take the added step of asking the client what new challenges they are facing and how it has impacted their world.
Be proactive: Ask for it― do you consider us an option? If it’s a yes, go even further by asking what specifically more is needed from you to seal the deal. Follow up!

Stay safe, Stay home.

“No matter what has transpired over the past weeks our goal hasn't changed; the goal has always been to help solve our client’s problems. Now we have to find new ways to be of assistance, to help solve the problems of today and be prepared for tomorrow”. Julie Brown, Founder JB | BD

About the Author:
Lisa Frisbie, Director of Business Development & Marketing AGC MA

Lisa’s role at AGC MA is to increase engagement with member CM’s, GC’s, Subcontractors, and Service Providers by implementing and overseeing innovating new communications and social media strategies & tools. She oversees multiple committees and their respective programming, including; Building Women in Construction (BWiC) and the public relations and marketing efforts of all Chapter news, events, programs, and activities.

Resource: 2016 Society of Marketing Professional Services (SMPS), Domain 3, Client and Business Development, p. 15.