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How Architectural & Engineering Consulting Firms Can Win More Work

By: William G Handlos, P.E.

Why do some Architectural and Engineering consultants perennially get their choice of work?

Let’s face it, most of the time; all of the invited and interviewed teams have the requisite experience and competence to accomplish the stated scope of work. You’re pretty sure that you have checked all the boxes on your Statement of Qualifications and your written proposal is complete and clearly shows your team has the design solution experience relevant to the task at hand. So why do you not have more wins?

Let’s take a look at how clients really make decisions.

Here is how we think that we choose. Does the consultant have:

  • Unimpeachable character
  • Relevant solid experience
  • Exhibits problem-solving skills
  • Outstanding communications skills
  • Excellent interpersonal skills


Most consultants also believe that the best way to reach success in a presentation is to build the case for their side using reason and facts. Of course, there always needs to be a fundamental foundation of experience and qualification as a cost of entry. Written proposals are much more objectively weighed. However, neuroscience tells us that the factors that really affect decision-making are more emotional than logical.

Here is how we really choose:

  • Do I feel that I can trust them?
  • Do I feel like we would work well together?
  • Do I like them?
  • Will they be open to my ideas?
  • Will they give me cover, make me look good?

Even though we put together systems to help us focus on the facts such as checklist, rating grids, attribute grades and well documented scorecards—our biases towards emotions are driving our decisions even as we go through our systematic approach.

One particularly powerful obstacle to be chosen as a successful consultant occurs when the presenter is perceived as unwilling or unqualified to present options. A typical client will want to play a role in the decision-making and will resent a candidate who appears to be interested in only one solution. The client doesn’t typically know it, but they will give more credence to a candidate who appears to have more than one arrow in their quiver.

Returning to the original question. How do you get more wins?

Differentiation. You need to make your firm memorable. One way to leave a lasting impression on a potential client is to show that your team has knowledge and access to both traditional solutions and to proven nontraditional solutions.

For example, you are asked to make a proposal to solve severe slope stability issues for steep slope conditions in an erosive soil condition. You include examples of terraced wall solutions using gabions to retain the soil. You show several success stories in case study format.

Rather than stopping there, you include a less mainstream solution that allows for green vegetation on the face of the walls utilizing geocell technology. While your clients will not always choose to employ specialty geosynthetic options, they will be impressed by consultants who offer options and most importantly—you will be remembered as a knowledgeable, innovative, and creative service provider.

The first step in becoming a memorable firm starts with exposing your professionals to new ideas.

Our professionals on the Geosystems Technical Team and our worldwide network of trained distributors are happy to present unique solution sets that are responsible for saving owners millions of dollars in reduced excavation & base preparation costs; contractors countless days off schedule; and we help engineers differentiate themselves from the crowd.

Win more work. Make yourself memorable.

Contact for more information.