Contact US

Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you an
Engineering professional?
Join Eng-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!

*Eng-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here

Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Hi guys, I've previously worked for a medium sized firm where we had the luxury of jobs come to us, in-fact the biggest issue I had then was having too many project but so little staff. I haven't really experienced how to chase after new projects. However, I lost all that when I moved on to very small and young firm. We have several clients but no new projects coming in. Is it too cheeky to ring them up and ask if they have anything that we can help them with (or even ask for a referral)? I feel that this might negatively affect those relationships (or leave them annoyed) and give off a desperate vibe, hence I'm uncomfortable in doing this.

I would be happy to hear your thoughts about this and interested to know how you go about this particular part of our business.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

I would give a generic overview of your company annually for existing customers, beyond that I would let them be. In lieu of other work, I would start pursuing new customers.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

This lockdown is hard on a lot of firms, not just small and young, so that's the main thing to bear in mind.

Client poaching can be healthy if its in the realm of providing a better service or filling in capability gaps. Its unhealthy when it become acrimonious between the firms. In my world everyone is a frenemy - We have to work with competitors on projects and peer reviews, and clients often have in house engineers which effectively are my competitors. I try to think of it as "how am I going to maintain respect with everyone involved".

The hard sell is usually not the way to go with engineering services. It needs to be more like a flirtation. Find some quieter ways to reach out to them.

Also remember that marketing is to an extent a specialist activity like finite element analysis, and dabbling in it can be a bit dangerous. That said, I think everyone at a consulting firm should be involved in marketing, at least to the extent of maintaining good client relations.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

It depends on your relationship with the client, I mean the actual contact person. If its already somewhat close, you could phone them to "keep in touch", and mention casually that your firm continues to work under the lockdown and you are available to help them if needed.

But for what you wrote, this does not seems the case.

If you didn't yet, you could, at least, send an email to all your customers, like a newsletter, to inform them that you are active under lockdown. It's not that annoying, it's pertinent and that way you mantain your firm's presence.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Once the lockdown is over, consider offering a "Lunch and Learn" where you give a mini-seminar on your expertise. If you can get authorized by your engineering, architecture or construction licensing boards for continuing education, you can give them credit for the L&L.....otherwise just give them info and get yourself in front of them. This is low key, non-aggressive but effective marketing.

If you have the capability, set up a virtual L&L before the lockdown is over. Doesn't take much, just some planning and Skype, Zoom or GoToMeeting or similar. Don't forget to have lunch delivered to them!lol

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Good stuff. Just confirming my gut instinct is correct. The newsletter is a good idea and haven't really thought about the lunch and learn approach (which I think is also effective). It gets difficult if there is only one or two people to bounce ideas with and this forum helps a lot. Thanks

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Quote (OP)

Is it too cheeky to ring them up and ask if they have anything that we can help them with (or even ask for a referral)? I feel that this might negatively affect those relationships (or leave them annoyed) and give off a desperate vibe, hence I'm uncomfortable in doing this.

I called it "Advertising".

Have a brochure made up of your firms services.

Send the brochure in an email.
Send a brochure in snail mail.
Send a brochure in messages on your Linked-In page
Send a brochure ……
Use social media, contact, connect, friend.

That's what companies do, that's how they find business without appearing desperate. You don't have to be uncomfortable; because, that's what companies do.

Do it a few times and you will be more comfortable.
If they say "No" well so what? Move on to the next one.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

I think just notifying everyone that you are still open and available despite the stay-at home order is reasonable and shows you care. It wouldn't look desperate.
I received many emails from vendors letting us know they are still operating, or what their limitations are.

I personally wouldn't waste money on snail mail or sending lunch to people (not sure if that was a joke, though). In these days, you want to show yourself as someone who can work electronically. If this crisis does one thing, it will accelerate the move to electronic communication.

And I hate every piece of junk mail I get in my mailbox. This is one more piece I have to touch with gloves and then keep in my garage for a day to de-contaminate (from the mail man possible having COVID-19). No thanks. And as for sending food - these days all people have so many different tastes and dietary restrictions, impossible to make all happy. And people are at home cooking their favorite meals, the subway sandwich won't impress anyone. Better put that money in the quality of your learning program.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Lunch and learn in my world usually either means they are looking for free pizza and pdh's or they are basically going to work with you and this is just firming things up. It's not the first contact.

Lunch with a friend beats lunch and learn in my mind (even if they are junior).

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

More general than getting work from existing clients, how about putting yourself in the shoes of someone who would hire your type of services? What would be your motivation to look for someone new -capacity? -quality? -cost? -personality? Then where would you look to solve that?

In addition to the advertising suggestions made, my own first thought was to simply Google structural engineer for my town. While getting placed high in Google results is not easy, one idea did come up and that is that there is a local Structural Engineers Association and their site had a search facility to enable customers to find someone in the specialty and town needed. I also recollect the regional licensing society allowing business card ads in their paper newsletter. These steps would put you in the general reference place that would-be customers might go to. Google is my source for services for my home and the sample projects on would-be supplier's websites give me the impression of who fits my need. The website becomes a mini interview.


RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

I didn't read through all of the posts, but I have tend to lean towards just "popping" into offices to see what is going on (Obviously you can't do this in the current environment). I do this with clients I have had for a while and I hope that the people are there who make the decisions. I find this is a good way to dig up projects. It keeps you in their mind. I never plan the trip just to meet clients, but I do it on my way home from site visits or client meetings.

Another thing I do is to place a phone call to follow up on outstanding invoices followed with "what are you working on" or "how are things going over there" may help as well.

Sometimes new people are brought into these companies and they try to bring their guys with them.

I guess this all just boils down to... anything you can do to come up with an excuse to contact them without specifically trying to dig up work.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Don't do what SteelPE recommends. At least not with me. Unless you for sure don't want to get a project.

Use electronic means of communication. That gives the client the chance to respond on THEIR terms. Respect their time. Assume they have important things to do while you disrupt them.

Also just showing up in someone's office unannounced assumes that they are just sitting around doing nothing and waiting for some talk. I hate it when sales people just show up in my office, especially since that is to THEIR benefit. Same with meaningless phone calls. Always assume I'm in the middle of something important, and the caller is distracting me.

All those meaningless phone calls and visits tell me that you have nothing useful to do. Not a good value proposition.

Prospective clients want to know how you can help them, not how they can help you.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

I suppose I have no idea what I am doing as I have run a successful business for the past 10 years.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

SteelPE/EnergyProfessional - I think this is a really good example of the importance of knowing your clients. And also realizing that our profession, particularly at the smaller firm/solo-practitioner level, it's as much about relating to the other person as it is about providing a quality product.

SteelPE either wouldn't be able to work with EP and moved on to somebody else or, after the first few exchanges, SteelPE would have figured out how to get along with EP and modified his approach to that particular client.

There's no one size fits all - for the salesman or the client. I don't have much experience in this myself, so I'm posting this as much to keep track of the conversation as I am anything else. I'm just starting to dabble part time on the side and will see where things go.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Just keep that in mind: every time you call or visit someone and there is a gate-keeper (i.e. receptionist etc.), the first thing they ask is: "Do you have an appointment, does he know you are coming?". What do you think why that is? Because they want people to just waltz in unannounced? Unsolicited calls and visitors the reason why they pay such gate-keepers.

Or imagine yourself working and you are in between meetings and have work to do, how much do you like getting an unsolicited call or visit that doesn't' benefit you?

Obviously you need to know and adapt to your clients, I only give you the perspective of the one receiving those calls and visits. Send me a good detailed email and I will take the time to read and respond on my terms, maybe the next day, or I may even give you some hints on who else to contact. But disturb me during my work because you think you are important -that will leave a sour taste.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

I will gladly sit through most any sales pitch that is remotely relevant to my work as doing so has benefitted me greatly in the past. Depending on the position, that's historically been anywhere from 1-25/month. If a supplier already has an escort/other business in the building, drops by my desk with <2 minute question about an ongoing project or wants a quick handshake & hello and I'm not busy, that's also fine. If a supplier randomly stops by completely uninvited, as EP mentions they wont make it into the building without an escort. If a supplier tries to lie their way past security by claiming that I'm expecting the visit then its my job or theirs bc we take public image, security, and our values very seriously. The individual goes on the blacklist and depending on history, their employer may as well.

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Before setting up a meeting, I request that they send me information about what they want to talk about beforehand. That way I can screen out the jokers ("hey, we have that 100 mpg carburetor that also makes coffee! No, we don't need UL certification for this electrical equipment!") or technologies not applicable to my projects (i.e. commercial products vs. residential, small 2" valves if you work on industrial projects etc.)

That way I also can invite other people that may benefit from the information.

This isn't my main concern, but that way I also save the sales person's time talking to the wrong prospective client.

I'd suggest before attempting to set up a meeting to provide them useful information so THEY can decide if meeting you is beneficial for THEM.

CWB1 has a point if that person already has business in your building and just walks by ... no harm in a casual talk. That also doesn't make it look like you have nothing else to do and started stalking people at their work place.

thee is a sales guy who always stopped by mu desk when he was in the building hoping to find out when I buy something. kind of annoying. then i got moved into a different building where they have to meet a secretary first who has to summon me... I thought I was safe... no, one day he found me! Don't be that guy!

RE: Fishing for new projects with previous clients

Thanks for all the messages. I understand where SteelPE and EP are coming from, there is a geocultural aspect that will be different from one place to another, some places are casual/friendly and others are more formal/rigid. I find it really interesting what other engineers say on this matter, as there is no one-size-fits-all answer to it as phamENG said, but knowing what others do gives me a list of ideas that I can start off from and iterate from there.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Eng-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Eng-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Eng-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Eng-Tips and talk with other members! Already a Member? Login


Low-Volume Rapid Injection Molding With 3D Printed Molds
Learn methods and guidelines for using stereolithography (SLA) 3D printed molds in the injection molding process to lower costs and lead time. Discover how this hybrid manufacturing process enables on-demand mold fabrication to quickly produce small batches of thermoplastic parts. Download Now
Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM)
Examine how the principles of DfAM upend many of the long-standing rules around manufacturability - allowing engineers and designers to place a part’s function at the center of their design considerations. Download Now
Taking Control of Engineering Documents
This ebook covers tips for creating and managing workflows, security best practices and protection of intellectual property, Cloud vs. on-premise software solutions, CAD file management, compliance, and more. Download Now

Close Box

Join Eng-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical engineering professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Eng-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close