Build Business 2008: Navigating Uncertain Times

Navigating Uncertain Times: An Executive Briefing on What to Do Now

Randy Pollock, FSMPS – Walter P Moore
Praful Kulkarni, AIA – GKK Corporation
Monica Bell – HDR/CUH2A
Bill Viehman – Perkins + Will
Greg Nook – JE Dunn Construction
(note: speaker names were not provided in the program so I pulled them from Google searches. As a result this information may not be perfect)

Favorite Quote from the Session
“Even optimists have to come to grips with uncertain market conditions.”

Key Takeaways

  1. The speakers were generally optimistic on the market. Overall the feeling was a strong institutional/public sector market, and a weak residential market.  Only limited comments were made on the retail and commercial markets.
  2. In every market condition it is imperative that firms ‘follow the money.’  Research the market to identify future growth sectors and then work to lead in those sectors.
  3. Relationships must be the focus to succeed in this (and every) market.
  4. Prepare for the upturn that is coming through market positioning. Be prepared to take advantage of opportunities, be nimble and ready to react, anticipate the market.
  5. Look to the future and identify the trends that will dictate success: energy crisis, economic changes, and cultural changes are all important to explore.
  6. We are becoming an expertise driven industry; clients are beginning to expect the “A” team on every project.
  7. Trust and Shared Values are two of the top reasons that clients are hiring firms. Clients are looking for more than great design, they are looking for values in the companies that serve them.
  8. Politics: There was a debatable belief that the upcoming elections will not have a major impact on the industry post-election.
  9. Public Private Partnerships (P3) are a wave of the future for the A/E industry.  They represent a new change in how clients want projects to be managed.
  10. Marketing needs to intersect with human resources to develop programs that focus on hiring a new generation of leaders.
  11. Never stop marketing. Firms that do quickly find their backlogs depleted.
  12. Embrace change – with volatility comes opportunity.

Build Business 2008: The Medici Effect

The Medici Effect
Groundbreaking Innovation at the Intersection of Disciplines and Cultures

Speaker: Frank Johnson
Bestselling author of The Medici Effect: Breakthrough Ideas at the Intersection of Ideas, Concepts, & Cultures.

Favorite Quote from the session
“If you always look at the same places you will always come up with the same ideas.”

Key Takeaways
Diversity Drives Innovation
The world is changing quickly so we must innovate to survive
Intersections of diverse ideas, people, concepts, etc… are the best places for innovation

Keys to Transform:
1. Find inspiration from fields or cultures other than your own… then dare to explore the connections
2. Staff for Innovation
     – Surround yourself with people that are different than yourself
     – Go to different people for advise
     – Hire people from outside your industry
3. Leverage Existing Diversity
     – Actively try to find the connections between existing knowledge bases
4. Unique prospectives do not automatically happen
     – You must place team members in new circumstances and in new places to get new innovations
5. Get ideas from people in other industries
6. Diverse teams outperform homogeneous teams… but they need more time to ramp-up
7. ACT! Try as many ideas as you can.  Many will fail, but some will succeed
8. Use diversity to make connections that yield success. 

Someone is going to innovate and make the connections, why not you?

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 3

Group 3 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Carie Dunn, CPSM – Trivers Associates

Denise Ann Balko, CPSM – BBC&M Engineering

Diane Hathcoat, CPSM – BAMO

Dinah Layton, CPSM – SLATERPAULL Architects

Elizabeth Connolly, CPSM – TOWILL

James Byrnes, CPSM – Erdman Anthony

Jennifer Ganley, CPSM – ARUP

Jessica McGaa, CPSM – Perkins + Will

Joanmarie Eggert, CPSM – Kennedy/Jenks Consultants


Karen Carr, CPSM – Stafford King Wiese

Lee Jarboe, CPSM – McCarthy

Marisa Verga, CPSM – Barton Malow

Mary Fogle, CPSM – Structural Engineering Services

Phyllis Boyea, CPSM – Rolf Jensen & Associates

Sean Lewis, CPSM – Absher Construction Company

Stacey Ho, MBA, CPSM – Kennedy/Jenks Consultants

Suvi Caton, CPSM – Adolfson & Peterson Construction


Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:
Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads
  1. Link all of your systems together (Marketing, Accounting, and HR)
  2. Develop Standards, Processes, and Procedures
  3. Don’t just train users how to use the system, but also train them about the purposes of the system (Build Buy-in)
  4. Develop a strong project close-out process that updates the data upon project completion
  5. Build accountability to the system by linking it with things that must be done
  6. Limit projects that you develop project write-ups about. One way to do this is to choose a fee amount for projects that won’t be entered into the system.
  7. Have a ‘sync’ feature between your CRM and individuals Microsoft Outlook contacts
  8. Match-Key software can be used to identify duplicate entries in your CRM
  9. Build a strong link between users in Marketing, Accounting, and HR
  10. Pay the extra money for 1st class mail so you can identify errors in your client information with every mailing.
  11. BONUS: Having buy-in from the top of an organization is needed for successful implementation

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 2

Group 2 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Carrie Mandelin, CPSM – Mortenson Construction

Debbie Gilbert, CPSM – McCulloch England Associates Architects

Emily Crandall, CPSM – Horizon Engineering

Kelly Ryan, CPSM – Architects Mosher Drew Watson Ferguson

Lori Slivensky, CPSM – Swinerton Builders

Matt deWit, CPSM – Geosyntec Consultants

Megan Muter, CPSM – HDR Architecture

Michelle Yates, CPSM – Lawrence Group

Paula Harris, CPSM – Barge Waggoner Sumner & Cannon

Robin Tsuchida, AIA, LEED AP, DBIA, CPSM – SUNDT


Sheila Gonzales, CPSM – Provost & Pritchard Engineering Group

Stacy Robben, LEED AP, CPSM – HOK

Terry Ann Clifford, CPSM – Dibble Engineering

Tracy Sagehorn, CPSM – ColeJenest & Stone


Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:


Group 2: Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads

  1. Build an accountability system linked to your CRM
  2. Control and limit access to the system to preserve data integrity
  3. Establish specific standards on data entry and enforce them
  4. Identify ownership of not just the system, but also the fields in the system. What fields are Marketing, Accounting, and HR accountable for?
  5. When starting a new client relationship tracking system make marketing department responsible for the initial data entry and then transition the responsibility to the users of that data.
  6. Develop an effective “carrot” to motivate employees to use the system such as goals that are linked to the data drawn from the system.
  7. Ensure that project closeout forms are completed prior to accounting closing the job so that the database is always up to date.
  8. Clean up data before you download it into a new system
  9. “Draw a line in the sand” when starting a new lead tracking system. Do not complete old data entry unless it is required. This will significantly lower starting costs and allow for a focus on new information.
  10. Bring marketing and accounting together on a regular basis to facilitate communication regarding the shared systems.
  11. BONUS: Start with your end goals/objectives in mind

Build Business 2008: Lead Tracking and Client Relationship Management – Group 1

Group 1 Members:

Tim Klabunde – William H. Gordon Associates – Moderator

Dale A. Walker, CPSM – Francis Cauffman

Danna Olivo, CPSM – Turner Construction

Harry Lawrence, CPSM – RGA Environmental

Julia Oseland, CPSM – Harris & Associates

Lisa Thut, CPSM – Furgo Onshore Geotechnics

Lynn DiPlacito, CPSM – GossenLivingston

Shannon Bond, CPSM – PSOMAS

Shivina Waterman, CPSM – Winter Construction

Tracy Allen, CPSM – SANDIS


Session Overview:

Regularly turning leads into work is one of the most important actions that a company takes to solidify its future workloads and establish its growth path. Discussions centered on best practices and lessons learned on managing the lead tracking and relationship process through client relationship management systems.  Each of the three groups (Posted separately here) developed a list of the ‘Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads.”  That list for this group is provided below:

Group 1: Top 10 Keys to Managing Leads

  1. When developing a CRM you need to identify your end product first, and then base the development of your system on achieving that end result.
  2. No one system is the right solution for every company. Identify your needs and develop a system that fits your requirements and company culture.
  3. All user groups need to be involved in the discussions about and selection of a new CRM system.
  4. Clearly define the terms you use in a database. For example: be certain everyone agrees what a ‘lead’ is versus a ‘prospect.’
  5. Develop realistic expectations about the system before it is implemented. This will ensure managers and users understand the limitations and opportunities of the system.
  6. Look at your existing systems to develop what you need. What tools are you missing today that would help your staff be more successful?
  7. Discuss who will maintain control of the system before you implement it.
  8. Focus on getting buy-in prior to purchasing your system.
  9. Your system needs to track relationships for followed up and provide a reminder when the follow-up needs to occur.
  10. “Draw a line in the sand” when starting a new lead tracking system. Do not complete old data entry unless it is required. This will significantly lower starting costs and allow for a focus on new information.

Build Business 2008: Building a Company of Rainmakers

I am leaving for Denver Colorado tomorrow to attend this year’s SMPS Build Business 2008 convention. I am going with a refreshing sense of excitement as I look forward to meeting, in person, many new friends that I have made while blogging this past year.  While I am gone it is my intention to “whiteboard” the sessions that I attend on this blog every evening, so if you are unable to attend this year, just stay tuned for the key takeaways from those sessions. 

While at Build Business, I will be speaking at this years CPSM day on the topic of ‘Building a Company of Rainmakers’. I have attached a copy of my PowerPoint presentation to this blog for those that won’t be able to make it, as well as for those that would like to download it after I speak on Wednesday. I have attached two versions: 1) a .pdf handout version of the PowerPoint that is an easy reference tool and 2) a full, editable, and usable copy PowerPoint that you are welcome to download and use for your own purposes.  (As always, please provide credit where credit is due) I look forward to seeing many of you in Denver later this week! 

.pdf – Building a Company of Rain Makers

.ppt – Building a Company of Rain Makers

Thank you for your kind words

I received this gracious note today from J. Rossi, the Chief Marketing Officer of Burt Hill, regarding my blog and bio this past week on SMPS Connections.  I have had the privilege of working with the Washington DC office of Burt Hill in the past and found that they are a world-class firm that has a knack for beautiful design.  Again, thank you for your kind words J., I consider it a privilege to write and an honor that others take the time to glean from my writing. 

Hi Tim —

Life is really busy these days — as anyone in professional services marketing knows.  So I often take a quick look at SMPS Connections, close the email, and delete.  Don’t know why, but today I read your profile.  And then your blog.

I’m really impressed.  I’ve been in the business quite a while now, and I’ve seen a lot.  I’m impressed with your attitude and your desire to share information.  You embody the concepts in BOOM!, the book that I reviewed for the August Marketer.

Great job!  Just wanted to let you know.



J. Rossi
Chief Marketing Officer
Burt Hill

Survival Strategies – Marketer Article

In my recent posting Survival Strategies for 2008 (and Beyond) I provided a quick excerpt on Randy Pollock’s article in the April edition of Marketer on “Making the Most of an Economic Downturn.” Over the past week I have heard from many of you that wanted to read the article in its entirety.

I was able to connect with Randy this last week and received his permission to post a .pdf of the article on this website.  Thank you again Randy for a great article, and to the many marketing experts that also contributed to the article. 

Let me again share with you several more of my favorite quotes from the article from top some marketers on responding to changing market conditions:

“One word comes to mind when I think about how to address the impact of a potential slower economy on our industry: FOCUS on all of the marketing activities of the firm, on business development pursuits, and where marketing dollars would be best spent.”
J. Rossi, Burt Hill, Philadelphia, PA

“Keep your focus: It’s positioning for the change and being there for the client and his business.”
Harlan Hallquist, FSMPS 

The Experts on Networking

Networking ProfessionalsThis weekend, as I prepared for a seminar I will be giving at the SMPS Build Business 2008 national conference on “Building a Company of Rain Makers”, I ran across a number of blogs and articles that clearly articulated the path to success in networking.

If you are a regular on my blog you already know that I believe Networking is about helping other people.  Most people aren’t successful at networking simply because they don’t understand how to effectively network. (Network Like and Introvert and Rethink Networking are two articles I have published on the topic that clearly articulate these thoughts).

It was great to see several experts getting networking so right. Here is what they are saying:

Business Networking Advise
Author: Josh Hinds interviewing Steve Harper, author of The Ripple Effect

“In my opinion a lot of people have the wrong idea about business networking. They think it all begins and ends with a snazzy business card and a creative “elevator pitch” about what they do…  My definition of networking is different. I define it as connecting. Meeting people based on who they are and what they are about not what product or service they sell, represent of simply work for. Though I agree networking is important, I believe people need to do it better and that means setting aside their professional agendas first to really connect with people as people first. In my opinion, if you do that, huge Ripples and often business will come back to you.”

Networking for Introverts on
Author: Allison Wolf

“Relationships develop over time. Finding the opening for meaningful follow-up is the crucial first step. The ask don’t tell approach allows you to uncover meaningful reasons for staying in touch. Sometimes you will find the next step is simply to continue the conversation over lunch or coffee. Other times it is to send an email or to introduce the person to someone you know. Uncovering the follow-up allows you to continue building the relationship with people who you are interested in getting to know.”

Networking Insight
Author: Jason Jacobsohn interviewing Lillian Bjorseth, Author of Breakthrough Networking

“I define business networking as an active, dynamic process that links people into mutually beneficial relationships. Most people do not know that to be effective you have to network strategically, i.e. they don’t take time to create a relationship-building plan. They often attend events that don’t focus on their target markets… Secondly, I know that large companies have yet to embrace the relationship-building concepts that small businesses have long used successfully.”

Let me just add that I love how Lillian defined Networking as linking people into “Mutually Beneficial Relationships.” I couldn’t summarize it better…

Network Like an Introvert

If you ever meet John you’d take him for a hard working guy that likes to have fun. He is an introvert by nature that has succeeded at embracing networking. John is one of those guys that can pick-up the phone and bring more work in the door in one day than others do in a year. He has learned to succeed at networking not by perfecting his elevator speech or by collecting business cards, but through the knowledge that developing one strong relationship is better than developing a thousand acquaintances.

For years we have been told that extroverts are better networkers than introverts, and there is no doubt that would be true if networking was about getting more business cards than your competition. But networking isn’t about business cards; it’s about building relationships with the objective of helping others, knowing that as you help others they will in-turn help you. It is time we re-evaluate how we network and learn a few lessons from introverts on networking.

Introverts on Building Relationships
Relationships are the foundation of networking. Introverts and extroverts alike have a God given instinct to develop relationships. The difference is that introverts have fewer relationships, but those they have tend to be more meaningful than those of extroverts. Surprisingly, this innate focus on relationships is the primary thing that stifles extroverts’ success when networking. Introverts succeed because they concentrate on a small select group of relationships that are positioned to make them succeed.

Who would you rather network with: an introvert that is devoted to building a relationship with you and is constantly looking for ways to help you be successful, or an extrovert that knows everyone and treats you as just one of many?

Introverts on Helping Others
While relationships are the foundation of networking, helping people is the objective. For an introvert it is easy to focus on helping a small group of people by providing leads, referrals, information, and ideas to others. Extroverts may think they are helping hundreds of people, but in reality they are failing to focus on the key relationships that are poised to make them succeed. This broad approach leads to mediocre results, because it is strong relationships that truly become mutually beneficial. To succeed at networking, an extrovert needs to likewise develop a small group of key relationships.

Introverts on Small Groups
Why only focus on a small group of people? Because networking succeeds when it creates a sense of obligation and urgency between two people. When someone provides you with a lead or referral you have an innate desire to help them in return. If they provide you with ten leads and ten referrals a month, now you have developed a healthy obligation to help them.
Most people perceive an obligation as a bad thing, yet introverts know that a strong sense of obligation is beneficial to developing a networking relationship. It creates urgency as both people work to help one another. The obligation that is developed by helping someone will keep you in the forefront of their mind, and them in the forefront of yours. As a result, both parties benefit as the relationship develops and they are actively motivated to help one another.

Success is based on your plan, not your relational tendencies
You are not going to succeed at networking just because you were born an extrovert. It is time to sit down and write out a list of your top ten key relationships that are poised to help you succeed. Then take those top ten relationships and start focusing on introvert networking; that is developing meaningful relationships with each of those people and focus on how you can help each of them succeed.

Article published in the June 2007 Edition of SMPS Marketer