Building Our Internal and External BD Culture

Business development is a deliberate and calculated process, but it needs a human touch. Pennoni has excelled as one of the top consulting firms in the country; not only because of our award-winning projects and strategic expansion, but also because we are built from these three foundational pillars: building an excellent professional reputation, developing profits to invest in staff and reinvest into our firm, and maintaining growth for our firm and our employees. How does a growing and multidisciplinary firm with a global reach, like Pennoni, achieve this? And how do we do it while investing in our staff as much as our clients?

Building an internal and external company culture that supports all three of these principals is obviously a major challenge, but not impossible to overcome if you have the right tools. Our Vice President, Jonathan Savage, recently shared these valuable principles and discussed how we maintain them at Pennoni, published in Mark Zweig’s Zweig Letter, a leading AEC publication.

  • Teamwork/Culture of Support & Cross Marketing: Our BD team holds regular internal team meetings and supports internal “wayfinding” processes for project experience and proposal advice; these functions are great internal cross-marketing tools. Internal BD “hot topics” are also regularly discussed and encouraged (design-build, GIS, new technologies, etc.).
  • Consistent Communication/Messages (Internal and External): Clearly defined chains of command, reporting structures, and targeted campaigns are coordinated with the Corporate Communications staff for consistency and “truth checking” of needs and support requirements. At our company, we ensure that every manager, PM, and BD person has prepared an “elevator speech”, that we are cognizant of everyone else’s discipline concentrations duties and responsibilities, and that we reinforce these roles (and BD prospects) throughout our corporate footprint. Our BD and Senior Management teams closely coordinate alliances with design-build contractors, architects, and other engineering firms. These “strategic teaming partnerships” are critical to the firm’s annual revenue growth, and coordination of effort is important to avoid duplication of effort and increase our win percentages.
  • Accountability & Results Reporting: Engineers, PMs, and Executive Staff are involved in the development, review, and buy-in of business plans and annual revenue projections for our firm, based on corporate “strategic plan” goals. Regional VPs and Office Directors encourage these “roll-up” projections and follow-up on results on a monthly, quarterly, and annual basis. These projections are coordinated with the executive staff and incorporated into annual operations budgets. Our BD staff members set their own expectations every year, through the development of annual business development plans. BD plans are updated, revised, and results are tabulated every quarter and on an annual basis. Our CRM lead and proposal databases are updated on an “as-needed” basis and are part of the annual review process for BD staff.
  • Persistence/Bird-Dogging/Reminders/Timely Follow-Ups: We rely heavily on CRM to keep us all focused on our go/no-go processes and account management objectives. Suffice it to say, any company needs a centralized proposal and client management system to ensure a high-quality approach to and for clients and their objectives. CRM also plays a substantial role in following up on our numerous, annual proposal submittals and ensuring timely follow-ups occur.


Jonathan Savage

Jonathan  Savage serves as a Vice President and is responsible for the development of new business opportunities for the firm throughout the company’s geographic areas and engineering disciplines. Jonathan concentrates his efforts to attract new, growth-oriented clients in regional, national, and international marketplaces, and particularly for large energy and infrastructure-related projects. Jonathan is also responsible for maintaining relationships with a significant number of locally-based clients.

Contact Jonathan for more information. 


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