0

“I Can’t Do It.”

I recently met with the head of an architectural firm who is trying to ‘re-invent’ himself due to the need of the particular specialty of design in which he has built his practice has pretty much disappeared.  As we discussed various options, I could not help but to be reminded of one of the very first architectural clients I ever had.

This contract was to help develop a business and marketing plan for a very accomplished architect who was one of three partners of a well-known regional firm.  For some reason, he decided to go out on his own with a new firm and start from scratch.  I have a saying I have often repeated and will again now, ‘In all my years of being in the A/E/C industry, I have yet to meet an architect, engineer, contractor or sub, who started their own business because they wanted to be in sales.”  This client may have been the epitome of that.

After we completed all the research and legwork for the business plan and after getting to know him, his goals and vision for his new venture, we began working on his marketing plan.  I soon realized he needed some coaching on sales and marketing as that was going to be one of his main functions. 

Following along the old line of, “The best way to appear sincere is to be sincere.”…I am a big believer that no one should be able to sell a company better than the owner.  No, I am not saying owning a company suddenly turns one into Jeffrey Gitomer or Zig Ziglar but there is a lot to be said for being the one who has their ‘name on the door’ and their reputation at stake when marketing the goods and/or services of a company they own.

As we finished the marketing plan the last part of my contract was to help him with his presentation of why an interested party should hire his company.  Since he was out of state, we decided we would meet at a restaurant on his next trip through Atlanta and role play the following scenario.  I would be a businessman looking to develop my own office building and he would be the third architectural firm I was considering.  Pretty simple.

After we met, ordered dinner, chatted and caught up, it was ‘show time’!  I reached into my briefcase, pulled out his marketing package and went into character.  “Joe, I appreciate you meeting with me and have to admit, I am very impressed with your brochure and portfolio.  As you know, I am looking to develop a 20,000 square foot building and am trying to select an architectural firm that will be able to help me with this goal.  Tell me why I should consider your firm.”

(Long pause…)

After what seemed like minutes, he finally looked at me and said, “I can’t do it.” 

Not only could he not make a presentation on the how’s and why’s someone should consider his firm, he could not even make a ‘pretend’ presentation. 

Granted, not everyone is cut out for sales, which, as a business development sales and marketing consultant is good news for me.  However, I believe everyone in every company is in sales in some shape or form.  So, after my client confessed his ‘stage fright’ we discussed techniques that would work for him and he left happy and not as concerned about his next presentation.

The reason I share this with you today is lately I have been inundated with calls and emails from people who, because of the economy, find themselves looking for new opportunities.  I can sincerely tell you that I have a real heart for people in this situation as I have been there before.  We all thought we would retire and die with CMD (Construction Market Data), my former employer, and when I got the message that I had a meeting with Human Resources in five minutes and just a few hours later, I was walking to the parking lot with a cardboard box of personal items and 13 years of memories, I too had to ‘re-invent’ myself.

My father is full of sayings and one that sticks out to me is ‘Can’t never could.’  The meaning of that is the shortest lesson in believing in yourself.  There are many examples of people who came to greatness through a path they never dreamed.  In today’s tough economy, these people are not necessarily looking for greatness, just a way to earn a living. 

I will close with yet another saying I picked up along the way which I have found value in more than once.  “Man can live for about 30 days without food, for about seven days without water, for about eight minutes without oxygen but not for one second without hope.”

I know it is easy to toss out a ‘hang in there’ to someone who seriously needs that one connection, that one lead, that one contact that will lead them to their next opportunity but if you are one of those people or know someone who is, whatever you do, don’t say, ‘I can’t do it.’  At least not where I can hear you.  I know things are genuinely tough out there for many, many people but as long as one has hope, there will be less ‘I can’t do it’ mindsets. 

Pardon me if I sounded a bit maudlin with this post but I truly love what I do, I truly enjoy seeing people build new business and truly enjoy helping others as best I can.  If you are, or a friend, relative or neighbor is close to saying, ‘I can’t do it’…don’t stop…shoot me an email and I will send you my ‘New Opportunity Starter Kit’ which is really nothing more than a list of ideas, links and a short outline of ideas I have developed through the years.  Because we do recruiting for the A/E/C industry, we get all kinds of calls from our friends or neighbors when someone is looking and though they are usually not a good candidate for our clients, the blueprint for finding something new is quite transferrable. 

Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged people who kept on working and had more hope than they had ‘I can’t do it.’

———————–

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc. An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Bobby can be reached at bobbydarnell [at] cmconl.com

www.cmconl.com

About the Author

Bobby Darnell is the founder and Principal of Construction Market Consultants, Inc., An Atlanta based management consulting group specializing in business development, sales, marketing and profitability as well as executive placement for the Architectural, Engineering and Construction industry.

Leave a Reply




If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.