Most leadership teams in A/E/C firms are fastidious about tracking their hit rate – the number of proposals submitted minus the number of proposals won. In fact, the average hit rate in A/E firms was 37.1%, according to Zweig White’s 2013 Annual Marketing Survey. Endless meetings occur to discuss and debate the best way to increase those hit rates, and most of those conversations revolve around “the quality of their firm’s “go-no-go” process. What’s wrong with this picture? Well, by the time this conversation occurs, it is too late!

The “go-no-go” process can help a firm determine if it is worth pursuing an opportunity. When leadership is considering an opportunity, and it is the right fit, there’s hardly ever the need to invoke the “go-no-go.” It’s only when there is a disconnect within firm management as to the “fit” of the opportunity that things get heated.

There’s a better way to drive up the hit rate. Here are three things your firm can do now.

  1. Accept what your firm just CANNOT do. Professional service providers are notorious for taking on more than their core expertise. After all, that’s often a way to grow a firm. However, lack of specialization muddles the firm brand. From our primary research of professional services firms, we know that firms that have highly specific and detailed differentiators grow 3X faster than those firms that don’t. By being critical about what you can’t do, you’ll be able to zero in on what you can do.
  2. Stop responding to any and every RFP. Against popular belief, it does not help your firm’s visibility to respond to RFPs for which the firm is unqualified. This happens all the time. Instead of buying into this myth, drive a change in firm behavior – preposition for work and be realistic about worthy pursuits.What’s the best way to improve the firm’s knowledge on worthy pursuits?  Conduct external research on prospects. Find out the types of issues prospects are dealing with, what tips the selection scale – from their perspective – and even what they believe your firm is known for. You’ll gain tremendous insights into them, and along the way, you’ll learn about how they perceive your firm. By responding to RFPs where the firm has prepositioned, you’ll be building greater reputation.
  3. Aim low. Sounds counterintuitive, but it can still be powerful. Aggressiveness can be a great thing, but it can also be overwhelming – ultimately causing paralysis. Instead of aiming for 10% increase in hit rate, consider aiming for just 1%. An additional 1% increase in hit rate can add multiple thousands if not millions to a firm’s bottom line. Sometimes, slow and steady can win the race.

Given the hyper-competitive landscape today, the A/E/C firms that are succeeding are those that are embracing risk and are challenging conventional wisdom. In the spectrum of risk and conventional wisdom, where does your firm stack up?

Check out our free Professional Services Guide to Research for information on conducting research that drives growth and increases your firm’s success.

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