Pitching Your Project – Seven Tips for Engineers
Mastering the art of the pitch is key to starting your own engineering company. If you can’t communicate your ideas well, your engineering consulting firm startup may fail.
So you’ve started your own engineering firm and you’re raring to go. You have your engineering business plan in place, and can’t wait to show off your abilities.
There’s only one problem. Engineers often aren’t natural sellers.
Attracting new clients is one of the most difficult tasks you’ll face as an engineering consulting firm startup. To do that, you need a great pitch.
Presenting your drawings isn’t enough to attract new clients. Remember that most don’t have the expertise that you’ve developed over the years. They’ll look at your drawings and rely on you to explain what’s going on. Your job is to ensure the drawings make sense to those who don’t understand them.
Many engineers struggle with this task, especially when starting their own firms. Pitching may not have been an issue in their previous jobs. Others may have handled the pitches for them, while they got on with the engineering work.
You can’t do that when starting your own engineering company. Becoming a jack of all trades is key. Engineering firm owners need to sell themselves, and their ideas, before they can find work.
As a result, a great pitch can make a huge difference to an engineering consulting firm startup. It sets you apart from the competition, and shows that you understand the needs of potential clients. Follow these tips to create great pitches.
Tip #1 – Focus on the Benefits
You may overlook the most important sales strategy when starting your own engineering company.
Every pitch must communicate the benefits of your ideas.
Your potential clients want to know about the ins and outs of your work. However, how your work benefits them is most important. The design details take a back seat to helping clients to understand why your solution helps them more than others.
There are plenty of things you can point to as benefits. Anything that saves money for your clients over the long-term helps. For example, you could note how using a lighter material allows you to save money in operating a design containing an engine. Alternatively, discuss how the materials you’ll use can save on maintenance costs, or extend the structure’s lifespan.
Look at your proposal and find the most direct benefits that come from it. Think about how it improves an aspect of your client’s life, then zero in on that aspect of the structure.
If you need more help, think about every sales pitch that has ever worked on you. Did the salesperson open things by talking about the mechanical components of the product? Or did they tell you what the product can do to improve your life?
Odds are that it was the latter. Take a page out of their book when creating your pitches for your engineering consulting firm startup. You can expand on all of the exciting design stuff later on. The practical benefits come before your passion for the little things clients may not understand right away.
Tip #2 – Draw on What You See in the Media
Think back to everything you see on television, or on the web. Performers, presenters, and professional entertainers make up an enormous part of our daily intake. From political speeches to new reports, everybody who speaks in public has something to separate them. Take inspiration from that fact to create presentations that will wow your clients.
Remember that your clients consume the same media as you. They have certain expectations when it comes to the quality of your presentation. They’ll also compare you to every other firm that pitches to them. If you come off as second-rate when pitching, you won’t get any further than the initial meeting.
Do you need an example?. Compare the presentation levels of your local news shows and the national news. Or stack a television show up against an amateurish YouTube show. You’ll soon find that you prefer the professional presentation to the amateur one. Now think about how your pitches compare to those of the major firms in your area. If you pale in comparison, you’re not going to attract business.
Consider the vocal delivery and methods presenters and news reporters use to dissect complex issues. You can use all that to make your engineering consulting firm startup pitches accessible. Aim to inspire in the same way that your favourite entertainers inspire you.
Tip #3 – Don’t Forget the Facts
The people you pitch to may not be aware that they need your work. A business proposal for civil engineers can’t succeed if clients don’t think they need to hear it. It’s your job to show them why they need you, even if they don’t know it. That’s where the facts and figures come into play.
Look to third-party sources for any facts or figures you could use in your pitch. There’s an important reason for this. Clients won’t trust your engineering consulting firm startup figures if they can’t verify them. Saying “our estimates show…” has far less power than using a respected third-party source to demonstrate the same point. Use the facts you collect to reinforce the benefits you discuss. They’re not the focal point, but they are the glue that holds the rest of the presentation together.
It also helps to understand what your competition is doing. Talk about how their solutions fall down when compared to yours. Anything that sets your ideas apart on a factual basis improves your pitch. Try to bring it back to dollar savings, or some other benefit, keeping in mind that you need that third-party source to add credibility to your claim.
Finally, avoid spurious claims. Your prospective clients will compare your pitch to the others they receive. If your facts don’t gel with everybody else’s, you lose the trust that’s so vital to creating new working relationships.
Tip #4 – Sell Yourself
What is your engineering consulting firm startup selling during its pitch? We’ve covered the benefits, but there’s something else your clients want to see in your pitch. Successful pitches tell the stories of the people behind them. By selling yourself, as well as your product, you give clients a reason to care about you.
This serves two purposes. The first is that it builds trust. When your prospective client knows more about you and where you come from, they’re more likely to trust the information in your pitch. This is particularly important for an engineering consulting firm startup. You may not have enough of a presence in the sector for your clients to conduct research on you. As a result, they’ll look to you to provide the detail about who you are before they’re willing to trust you.
The second is that it adds some variety to your pitch. Anybody can cycle through a set of slides while droning on at their listeners. Sure, they want to hear about your ideas. But you break things up when you tell them about yourself too. Craft a story, and present it in an interesting way. You’ll engage your audience, making them more receptive to the dryer portions of your pitch.
Tip #5 – Know Your Client
Knowing who you are and what you can offer is just the start. That all comes from your engineering business plan.
Your clients want to see that you’ve done your research on them too. If you just launch into a pitch without addressing your client’s business, you alienate them. They’ll think you’re giving them a boilerplate pitch that you’ve given to dozens of other potential clients before.
Research the business and the people behind it. The company’s website should tell you about the company, and any projects they’re working on. Social media sites, such as LinkedIn, teach you more about the people.
Importantly, try to find out who you’ll pitch to. This helps you to tailor your delivery. For example, a chief of finance will want to know more about the facts and figures, whereas an in-house engineer can handle your technical jargon. Get a list of the key stakeholders and use LinkedIn to find out more about them.
Your engineering consulting firm startup makes a better impression when it displays respect for the client. Your research may also reveal issues that you can solve. Use this knowledge as the basis for your pitch.
Tip #6 – Avoid Jargon
Your clients don’t know as much about engineering as you. Most aren’t trained in the field. As a result, they won’t understand your technical jargon.
Try to boil down the complexities into the essentials. Find the information hidden away in the jargon. That’s what your client needs and wants to hear.
However, it’s not just industry jargon that your engineering consulting firm startup must avoid. Be wary of corporate buzzwords too. You may think they make you sound more professional, but many clients will catch on quickly. They’ll think that you’re distracting them from the point. Buzzwords don’t communicate your knowledge effectively, and many people don’t have patience for them anymore.
Avoid phrases like “paradigm-changing” or “consumer-centric”. They don’t really say anything. Instead, be concise and clear about what your pitch delivers. Keep it to the point, instead of trying to baffle your potential clients.
Tip #7 – Practice Constantly
Picture the scene. You’ve written a presentation that tells your story and showcases the benefits of your work. Everything is in place, so you step into the boardroom. All eyes are on you as you start delivering the pitch.
Then it happens. You freeze up, or you start mumbling and tripping over words. Every mistake makes you look less professional. In no time at all, you’ve ruined the pitch, despite having all of the information your clients need.
Few of us are natural presenters. It takes time and practice to develop the confidence to present to groups of people. A quick read-through of your pitch isn’t enough. Constant practice is how you turn a good pitch into a great one.
Take every opportunity to practice, and focus on all aspects of the pitch. Stand in front of a mirror and watch yourself talk. Pick out bad body language and work on your timing. You want to convey confidence, but you can’t do that if you’re shuffling on your feet or rocketing through your pitch.
When you feel like you have it down, get in front of people. Ask your friends and family to watch your pitch. Get people in your engineering consulting firm startup to watch and criticise too. Their input will show you what others see when you present. As a result, you can touch up all the little things that may damage your pitch.
Starting your own engineering company means taking on a host of new responsibilities. You’re responsible for creating the engineering business plan, and pitching to new clients. It’s a lot to take on board, especially for those who’ve never needed to look beyond their engineering work before.
Unfortunately, pitching is a necessary evil of running an engineering consulting firm startup. In fact, it’s one of the most effective tools for separating yourself from your competition. When clients see you face-to-face, they get a feel for who you are. That’s something that a website can’t deliver. If your pitch doesn’t measure up, you’ll lose the prospective client, no matter how talented you are.
Combine these tips to create great pitches. Understand who you are, who your clients are, and what you can deliver to them. Cut out all the jargon, and practice constantly. Finally, think of how you can make your pitch stand out. Tell your story, and look to experienced presenters and speechmakers for ideas.
Of course, a successful pitch is only the start. You need to deliver on what you promise. That’s where ArchiStar Academy can help. We offer an array of courses in the digital design software packages you’ll use to create your models. An ArchiStar Academy course can help you to create eye-catching visuals for your pitch, and ensure you have the skills needed to deliver complex models.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Archistar Academy today if you have any questions.
If you would like to share your thoughts on our blog, we’d love to hear from you!
Get in touch with the ArchiStar Academy community via Facebook.
Posted on 28 Mar 2019