As I mentioned in my post of March 16 regarding validation, I have been reading the A/E/C marketing bible, Weld Coxe's "Marketing Architectural and Engineering Services." For the most part, I have been amazed at his insights, and at how much of what he wrote in 1983 and 1990 about A/E/C marketing is still true and important.
But I have to take issue with one of his observations that I believe is not only incorrect, but can be dangerous to an A/E/C firm's success.
On page 95, in a discussion of "The Qualifications Paperwork Process" as part of the overall proposal process, Coxe says:
"...the real purpose of the documents submitted at this stage of the business development process is to get an interview, not to get the job."
On page 110, he continues:
"The primary purpose of the transmittal letter is to get on the short list. The job getting comes later."
My own experience says this should not be so. I offer two examples:
When I worked in a branch office of a major national A/E firm in the 1990s, the senior principal brought me an RFP and said, "There will be multiple projects coming out of this, so the short-list will be pretty extensive. Don't go all out. Just get me in the top 10."
I followed his instructions, did what I thought was good work, but didn't totally immerse myself in that effort. In other words, I didn't do my absolute best work. Our submittal came in at #8. But the client decided to short-list only seven firms.
The lesson: if you're making the effort to compete, ALWAYS compete to win!
The same firm had a project for a large urban public transit agency. Phase 1 included the initial planning and conceptual design. Phase 2 included detailed design and CM services.
Just before the end of Phase 1, the client decided to release a new RFQ for Phase 2 (as a separate project), thinking this might bring more minority firms to their project mix. Our senior principal decided that Phase 2 was a "must win" for us, and told me, "For the next 30 days, this SOQ is the only thing you work on. If anyone asks you to do anything that will take you longer than 2 minutes, send them to me."
Over the next 30 days, I ate, drank and slept this qualifications package. I wanted us to have the psychological boost of entering the proposal stage as the firm that ranked #1 after the SOQ.
When the evaluations were completed, and the results announced, I had gotten that first place ranking. Best of all, however, the client decided that, since our SOQ had beat the second ranked firm by more than 400 points, there was no need for technical proposals, and we were awarded the Phase 2 contract on the basis of the SOQ alone.
Once again, if you're making the effort to compete, ALWAYS compete to win!
Aside from this issue, I'm now up to page 112, and I'm very glad I finally pulled this book off my shelf to read. It was about time, and very much worth it!
"A psy-COW-delic Crossword Puzzle"
(Austin downtown art-cow collection)