In the competitive world of Architecture and Engineering (A&E) firms, the sales process is a crucial aspect of success. Securing new projects and clients heavily depends on going after the right projects, managing sales opportunities, and submitting well-crafted proposals. However, one common challenge that plagues many firms is the lack of a systematic sales process to ensure the highest revenue for the least amount of proposal submissions. 

In my book Find the Lost Dollars: 6 Steps to Increase Profits in Architecture, Engineering and Environmental Firms, I demonstrate the value of having a good sales process to ensure investments in marketing and sales are not wasted. 

The Problem: Lost Opportunities in the Pipeline 

Many A&E firm leaders have no clear idea of their real pipeline – the opportunities and proposals currently in progress. This is often because they lack a consistent sales process designed to ensure sales success. This lack of consistency and visibility hinders key decisions around hiring, resource management and cash flow. By establishing an effective sales process, firms can see a huge increase in sales wins with overall less effort and cost. 

Managing the Sales Process In a CRM 

An effective sales process should outline every step taken from lead generation through sales close. It should include the who, what, when and how of every step and data point required to manage sales to a high close rate. Using a Client Relationship Management (CRM) system to manage the entire sales process will increase consistency and accuracy of data used for crucial decisions.  

A&E firms have struggled for years in implementing and managing CRM systems to track leads, opportunities, proposals, and sales statistics. CRM systems can be an extremely valuable tool when maintained consistently and used by anyone responsible for working with clients and bringing in business. 

 Without a CRM, the data needed to ensure a high Win Rate will be tracked in multiple spreadsheets and be inconsistent and incomplete. Without this kind of data, firm leaders will not have adequate information to predict future revenue, backlog, and staffing requirements. 

Another major problem that will cause the firm’s Win Rate statistics to be low will be a lack of sufficient proposal follow-up. Without this follow-up, dollars spent on proposals are wasted and the firm will suffer from volatile sales and utilization. 

Creating an Effective Go / No-Go Process 

One challenge many A&E firms struggle with is deciding which project to pursue. An effective Go / No-Go process will keep your team focused on limiting project pursuits to those projects you have the highest chance to win, have the highest profit potential and are with clients and markets you are targeting in your strategic plan. 

Your Go / No-Go process should have a scoring system that will provide a hard cut-off for when opportunities should be pursued or not. This will help guide your team and ensure resources are not wasted on projects the firm should not go after. 

Track and Analyze Key Metrics 

The best measurement of sales success is the Win Rate metric. This is calculated by dividing sales wins by total proposals submitted. The Win Rate can be calculated by both units and dollars. It can also be calculated by market sector, seller-doer, departments, and any other valuable subcategory of the business. 

Another key metric that can provide great insight is the correlation between the Go / No-Go Score and the Win Rate. This metric will show you whether you are selecting the right opportunities to bid on and help you narrow down your proposal efforts to the types of clients and projects that your firm will be most effective at pursuing.

Designate a Proposal Follow-up Coordinator 

The key to successful proposal follow-up is designating a team member to track and follow-up on leads, opportunities, and proposals. This person will serve as the Proposal Follow-up Coordinator, responsible for monitoring the progress of each proposal and ensuring timely follow-up actions are taken. By centralizing this responsibility, you create accountability and avoid situations where proposals slip through the cracks. 

Create Accountability and Update Proposal Data 

The sales process should include a standardized system for updating sales progress in the CRM. Require team members to consistently update the status of each opportunity and proposal providing real-time visibility into the pipeline. Implement regular meetings or check-ins with the Proposal Follow-up Coordinator and Seller-Doers to discuss updates and any challenges faced during the sales process. This practice ensures that everyone involved stays on the same page and fosters a culture of accountability. 

Personalized and Timely Follow-up with Clients 

Effective follow-up goes beyond automated emails or generic phone calls. Encourage your team to engage in personalized interactions with clients. Timely follow-ups show that your firm is invested in the client’s project and values their business. A personalized touch demonstrates professionalism and builds rapport, increasing the likelihood of winning the project. 

In the competitive sales landscape of A&E firms, the sales process is a critical determinant of success. The key to transforming your proposal submission efforts into consistent wins lies in effective follow-up. By designating a Proposal Follow-up Coordinator, leveraging a CRM system, tracking important metrics, and fostering a culture of accountability, your firm can achieve improved win rates and more consistent results.  

Never let a proposal disappear into the void; instead, take charge and lead your firm towards a successful sales process that elevates your project lifecycle to new heights. Embrace the power of an effective sales process and watch your firm flourish with a robust pipeline of opportunities and satisfied clients. 


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  • Increase your Win Rate, Utilization and Project Profit Margins
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