Date: February 1, 2019
Location: Workplace Solutions
Led by: Rashmi Murthy, Veronica Villanueva
Location Sponsor: Workplace Solutions
- Crossville Studios
- CW Lighting
- Hallmark Building Supplies, Inc.
- Walter P Moore
The fifth session of the Christopher Kelley Leadership Development Program, “Closing the Deal” was organized by Rashmi Murthy and Veronica Villanueva, discussing the topics of business development, networking and public speaking, and presentation skills.
The afternoon started off with Dillon Brady, Vice President of Prime Contractors, discussing closing the deal from an owner’s perspective. Dillon is the former General Manager of Construction for Houston Independent School District and Assistant Superintendent of Facilities and Construction for Cypress-Fairbanks Independent School District, and he was able to bring perspectives from both the owner’s and contractor’s point of view. He discussed how architecture is a relationship based profession and developing sound client relationships is the single most important contributor to success. Dillon’s tools for knowing your client are about understanding the client’s business, the client’s personality, and the client’s personal life. He discussed rules to use in developing a good rapport with the client: it is important to be early, do the job you promised to do, and be honest. During and following the conversation, the scholars exchanged in questions and dialogue with Dillon to utilize his insight on the profession from multiple points of view.
The second speaker of the day was Matt Conner, Head Coach of Coach Conner Consulting, who provided training on business development, networking, and public speaking. Matt has 24 years of relationship-driven, executive-level marketing and business development experience and has worked in the AEC industry for over 17 years as a Marketing and Business Development Director for Architecture, Engineering, Construction and Project Management Firms. This part of the session started with discussing business development as part of everyone’s job; a team sport and a process. Matt walked the scholars through steps to business development which include in order: planning, positioning, lead identification, lead qualification, project pursuit, written response, interview/presentation, negotiation, project delivery, collect fees, feedback, client maintenance, and “rinse and repeat”. Matt then discussed the importance of networking for everyone and good strategies for introductions, including observing the situation, having a wingman, making eye contact, and having a good handshake.
After a break, Matt presented on public speaking and presentation skills. He talked about why it was important and keys to effective public speaking which included: knowing your material, knowing your audience, knowing the room, relax, visualize giving the presentation, concentrate on the message, do it and then watch yourself. After discussing these strategies, Matt put the scholars to work practicing their public speaking. Two scholars, Natasha and Peter, gave short speeches on topics of their choosing and the other scholars observed and critiqued the speaker’s eyes, hands, feet, volume, pace, inflection, and use of non-words. After these two scholars presented, the remaining scholars broke out into small groups to practice and receive critique on their public speaking. To conclude, Natasha and Peter presented a second time, focusing on the critiques they received and adjusting their techniques to demonstrate more effective public speaking
To wrap up the afternoon, Shannon Quadros, a commercial trial lawyer of Kilmer Crosby & Quadros, gave a presentation titled “Closing the Deal for Professional Services – Business Advice from a Legal Rainmaker”. He talked about how closing a deal for professional services really happens much before and after the deal is closed and how closing the deal for professional service firms is completing the work and not just winning the contract. He presented on how closing the deal is about visibility and credibility which then lead to profitability. Shannon discussed how to limit choices to nudge a client into a decision and sometimes how powerful it is to say “no” so that the client says “yes”. He closed his presentation with a discussion about powerful questions versus powerless questions, with power questions being about focus, passion, empowerment, aspiration, and depth. Throughout the presentation, the scholars asked questions and practiced their “pitch” with Shannon.
The scholars received a copy of “Thinking Fast and Slow” by Daniel Kahneman, a recommendation of Shannon, to take home to continue developing strategies for closing the deal. After the session, the scholars and speakers continued the lively conversation at Kirby Ice House.