Leveraging Their Strengths
My in-depth interviews of their Best Clients and partners revealed a genuine appreciation and respect for the way XL handled highly technical and business-critical projects. The executive team was shocked to hear of over-the-top happy clients who nonetheless turned to competitors because they were unaware of some of XL’s capabilities.
XL’s Best Clients didn’t talk in terms of buildings; they spoke about revenue-generating business assets: a bio-tech product development laboratory, a data center, or even a school. For these projects, not getting details perfect the first time, or even small delays impose unusually large consequences for the client.
Not surprisingly, XL’s culture, organization, and management style developed to “over-manage” these very demanding projects. While this worked exceptionally well for the highly complex projects where they thrived, it presented a challenge for other types of less-demanding work that was more price-sensitive.
Vulnerability Hiding Behind Strength
The stockholders wanted XL to grow, and planned to take the conventional route of expanding the range of projects they sought. I recommended an alternate course focusing on their Best Clients and the types of projects where XL brought a real advantage. This approach promised to be more profitable and easier for the company to execute. Framed like that—and with the firm’s strong culture—the choice was easy.
Fewer Proposals. More wins.
The company culture quickly embraced thinking LIKE their Best Clients. The business development team talked of adding capabilities to the client’s business. Positive feedback came immediately; they found it surprisingly easy to demonstrate to potential clients why they were the best choice. Soon, they stopped pursuing projects where they were merely one of several good choices. They focused on proposals for great clients where projects matched XL’s sweet spot.
The better thought-out proposals won consistently. Despite submitting fewer proposals, overall revenue grew.
Breaking the Boom & Bust Mentality
With a Strategic Marketing Plan providing detailed—and prioritized—guidance, the corporate website, collateral, events and campaigns, social media, proposal generation, and recruiting all began to operate in tight alignment. Recognizing an opportunity to transform their firm, the two founders boldly decided to send all new management employees—including those working primarily on job sites—to a half day of marketing training.
Looking forward, the executive team seized the opportunity to break with the boom or bust construction mentality. Determined to be the strongest player in their segments, a consistent and focused strategy positioned XL not just to survive, but to gain competitively the next time boom turned to bust.