CONSULTING ENGINEERS lack the training, support and financial incentives to win clients for their firm, a report this week has warned.
The report, 'Creating new clients', compiled by independent business development and training firm Pace Partnership, said that engineering firms lag far behind accounting, law, chartered surveying, IT and management consultanting firms when it comes to winning new work.
It describes the results of a biennial survey of business development practice in the UK.
The survey, which included responses from 10 of the top 20 UK civil engineering consultants as well as 65 leading firms in other fields, said that consulting engineers are strong in identifying which clients they wish to target and in holding someone responsible.
But only 40% of firms could say that this person was fairly rewarded and even less could say that this person would have received appropriate training.
'The overall picture that emerges is one of individuals given clear accountability for new business development but not provided with the resources, training or recognition and reward for the task, ' said report author and Pace partner Kevin Walker. 'Such circumstances make it very difficult to motivate people to engage in what is, in any event, a difficult aspect of any professional's role.'
The poor response to the statement 'Winning new work from clients is an activity that is recognised and fairly rewarded within our firm' was singled out as a particular concern: 'One can hardly expect those individuals held accountable for new client generation to embrace the task enthusiastically when they are operating in such an environment, ' said Walker. 'No other profession scored so poorly against this statement.'
The negative attitude of consultants towards winning new work appears rooted in company policy. Just 37% of civils firms identified winning new business from clients as a key objective within the firm.
Just 30% of consulting engineers have an agreed and communicated plan to follow up marketing initiatives, and less than a third have benchmarks to monitor their marketing efforts.
'This is basic project management, ' said Walker. 'If firms had the same discipline towards winning work as they have for managing projects the situation would improve a lot.'