Mandeville: The Next Generation

Stu’s News
with Trina’s Tips



Until the economy took its drop a couple of years ago, work – for the most part – walked in the door.  Clients had plenty of needs.  The funding was attainable.  And consultants were reasonably busy.  Now, the situation has clearly changed.  The supply of consultants is greater than the amount of available work.  Competition has stiffened.  And the need to go out and identify early leads and build relationships – prior to RFPs coming out – is essential again.  However …

The leaders in firms – most having had Mandeville training before – now want their project managers to go out and help bring in new business.  But the new generation has never had training in how to do that.  Their comfort is low, so they’ll resist doing marketing activities that are uncomfortable – such as going out to meet new clients, rather than email them – which is comfortable … but ineffective.

How do you bring them up to speed, so you have a new cadre of skillful marketers?

First:  Skill Development

The easiest option, of course, is a workshop.  And firms seem eager to do that.  Last fall and early this spring, the Portland, OR ACEC chapter sponsored a simple one-day Mandeville workshop, which fills at 24.  It filled in a few days.  So we added a second day – which took almost a week to fill.  Then we added a third day, which also filled.  And we went back early this year for a fourth group.  Portland isn’t a small town, but it’s not the largest city.  That rapid response suggests that firms – and their next generation of people – are eager to develop their marketing skills.

Some firms with sufficient numbers are setting up workshops just for their people.  All include basic Mandeville skills.  Many also include skills in presentations and proposal writing.  And many use weekends, to drop the downtime cost.  However …

What if you don’t have enough people to warrant having a workshop?

Begin with “Mandeville, the Video, 2.0.”  You may have a copy.  If not, order one via our web site in either VHS or DVD format.  Have people view the first tape/DVD and then one of the demonstrations on Tape/DVD 2 or 3, so people can see what the process looks like.  Then – and this is critical – set up your skill practice.  Make copies of the forms, and have people practice doing it … just as you did in your initial workshop.  It’s the best way for people to “internalize” the skills, get a feeling for what the process is like, in action, and realize the comfort it creates for clients.

Firm leaders who had the training “many moons ago” may also wish to participate in the skill practice exercises.  You accomplish two additional outcomes …

  1. The practice refreshes their thinking and re-sharpens their skills;  some workshop alumni become a bit lax in some aspects – such as their summaries, or the depth to which they pursue Mystery Words.
  2. The video has a few twists that were not in early Mandeville workshops.  For example, non-physical follow-on questions … or summarizing without your notes, and beginning with the client’s project goal … are “twists” that have noticeable affects on client comfort.
  3. Having senior firm members involved says that it’s how everyone is supposed to do their marketing, top to bottom, in your firm.

If you have two professionals interviewing one client, team a younger professional with a firm leader.  They get comfortable with one another and use the same system.

Second:  On-the-Job-Coaching

Virtually every firm leader with whom I’ve worked has said that when they were young professionals in the firm, one of the senior principals put their arm around their shoulder and guided them through marketing activity.  I remember one saying,

“Now when we go up to that town next week, we want to get there two hours before the Council meeting and have supper at this one diner.  That’s where all the key players meet before each meeting.  If we want to keep working for that town, we need to know those people.”

I tell senior people to always take one of their younger people (who have had the training) with them when they call on a client.  It may cost a little more, but after a few such team efforts, your younger people will be sufficiently comfortable to carry the ball themselves … to maintain current clients and to help you secure new ones.

Third:  Recognition

I’m not big on awarding cash bonuses to people who help bring in a big project – although their value to your firm does go up … and that will likely be reflected in their next salary review.  But overt recognition is important.  Some I’ve seen …

  • An email to everyone who went through the training, announcing the success and citing the people who contributed to it.
  • Gathering everyone in the office, near day’s end, and announcing your new success and publicly citing those who helped win the job.
  • Ringing a bell when word of a win comes in – or a gong for a bigger win – and announcing the success and citing those who won the job.

The first method is lowest key and most common.  But regardless of method, when people see overt praise given to those contributions, they’ll all want to be a part of it.  The work is there, but you have to go get it.  You’ll now have a team that can!
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Many of you know of the Net Zero sustainable housing development I’m completing, and of the new book, “Sustainability,” that fostered.  I’ve also been encouraged to do a blog,;  visit if it’s of interest.