Marketing In Times of Recovery

Marketing In Times Of Crisis has changed its name to Marketing In Times of Recovery. It's still a bi-weekly interview-led podcast series featuring inspirational built environment business leaders but more with a look to the future. We’ve had to weather crisis’ before and podcast listeners hear lively conversations, jam-packed with hints, tips and takeaways that you can apply to your business now. Hosted by Ayo Abbas, Founder / Consultant, Abbas Marketing. Subscribe now, rate, review and help us to spread the word.

https://www.abbasmarketing.com/mitc-podcast

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episode 24: Ep. 24 - Marketing and Business Development Fundamentals, Iben Falconer, SOM [transcript]


Hello and welcome to the latest episode of Marketing In Times of Recovery.  And I’m your host Ayo Abbas, a built environment marketing consultant who delivers strategy, awesome content and campaigns for leading built environment firms.   

I first heard today’s guest on a podcast last year and she has been on my wishlist ever since. She is Iben Falconer from SOM and she’s based in New York.

In this fascinating interview we touch on:

  • how large firms handle and manage marketing and BD,  
  • her quest to demystify business development and how she’s working on a long-term strategy to embed BD across their global firm.  
  • how she leads their global marketing and BD team and what it’s like to start a new role during a global pandemic. 

Rate and review
If you like the show and you’re listening on Apple or Spotify do take a second to hit the button that gives us a 5-star rating as that helps more people find out about us. Plus if you’re feeling really inspired why not leave us a written review on Apple podcasts as I really do love hearing what you think. 

This episode was recorded on Thurs June 03 2021

Resources
Abbas Marketing
SOM



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 2021-10-15  38m
 
 
00:05  Ayo Abbas
Hello, and welcome to
00:05
the latest episode of Marketing
00:07
In Times of Recovery. I'm your
00:07
host Ayo Abbas, a built
00:11
environment marketing
00:11
consultant, who delivers
00:13
strategy content and campaigns
00:13
for major firms. I first heard
00:17
today's guest on a podcast last
00:17
year and she has been on my wish
00:20
list since then. She is Iben
00:20
Falconer from SOM and she's
00:25
based in New York. This is a
00:25
fascinating interview as we
00:29
unpack how large firms handle
00:29
and manage marketing and BD.
00:33
Iben's quest to demystify
00:33
business development, how she's
00:36
working on a long term strategy
00:36
to embed it across her firm. We
00:39
also touched on how she leads
00:39
her marketing team, and what
00:42
it's like to start a new role
00:42
during a global pandemic. If you
00:46
like the show, and you're
00:46
listening on Apple, Spotify,
00:49
make sure you hit subscribe
00:49
button, and also give us a five
00:52
star rating if you can, because
00:52
it really does help more people
00:54
to find out about us. Anyway,
00:54
this episode was recorded on
00:58
Thursday June 1 2021. And now
00:58
I'll stop talking so you can
01:03
settle down and enjoy the show.
01:11  Iben Falconer
My name is Iben
01:11
Falconer. I'm the Global Leader
01:13
of Marketing and Business
01:13
Development at Skidmore, Owings
01:16
and Merrill. So, I have been in
01:16
this role since August of last
01:20
year (2020). And I lead a 35
01:20
person global team, primarily
01:28
located in our larger marketing
01:28
and business development team in
01:32
our larger offices. But we work
01:32
globally, it's great. It's a
01:36
great group.
01:38  Ayo Abbas
And in terms of the
01:38
marketing and BD team, what kind
01:41
of things do you cover?
01:43  Iben Falconer
It's good
01:43
question. So, I would say our
01:47
team is primarily focused on
01:47
working on things like proposals
01:51
and qualifications, packages and
01:51
marketing collateral to support
01:55
meetings with with potential
01:55
clients, that sort of thing. But
01:59
we're also getting more and more
01:59
involved with creating and
02:04
implementing our business plans
02:04
and getting more involved with
02:08
supporting and partaking in, I
02:08
would say broader business
02:11
development activities.
02:14  Ayo Abbas
Fantastic. And in
02:14
terms of your roles, you started
02:17
in August 2020, which is
02:17
obviously a global pandemic. How
02:21
was that?
02:23  Iben Falconer
I mean, I it's
02:23
funny, I was talking with a
02:25
friend yesterday, who also
02:25
started she's in a new role in a
02:28
marketing role. And she started
02:28
two months ago, and we were kind
02:32
of trading war stories is maybe
02:32
too dramatic. But trading notes
02:38
on on how it went. And I said,
02:38
you know, both of us had the,
02:42
we're lucky enough to start a
02:42
way into the pandemic, where
02:46
everyone had gotten used to Zoom
02:46
where some of the all the
02:50
complexities of working from
02:50
home, not that they're gone
02:52
away, but we're at least all
02:52
we're used to them, and we kind
02:55
of settled into our new
02:55
routines. So, I joked that I
02:59
would rather actually have
02:59
started mid pandemic, rather
03:04
than two months before. So you
03:04
know, imagine get starting two
03:07
months before and you think, you
03:07
know, what everything's going to
03:09
look like and then all of a
03:09
sudden, everyone's working from
03:12  Ayo Abbas
home. Yeah, yeah.
03:14  Iben Falconer
So, in a way that
03:14
has, you know, there's always a
03:20
way that it could be harder. And
03:20
so I think, I think that you
03:23
know, it was it was actually it
03:23
was it was okay, I it shifted
03:27
how I thought about engaging
03:27
with my colleagues and my team
03:31
because I knew I had to be much
03:31
more deliberate about getting to
03:35
know people and getting to know
03:35
people virtually. So,I that was
03:39
very clear. In my first two
03:39
months, I really prioritised
03:43
that having meetings getting to
03:43
know the the leadership broadly
03:48
across the firm, where we didn't
03:48
necessarily have an agenda. It
03:51
was really just a get to know
03:51
you session and frankly, I'm,
03:55
I'm still doing those, there's
03:55
still there's still we're a 1200
03:58
person firm, there's still lots
03:58
of people for me to get to know.
04:01  Ayo Abbas
And how do you get to
04:01
know someone.
04:03  Iben Falconer
Well, you know,
04:03
it's funny, I, maybe because
04:06
we've just all gotten used to
04:06
everything being over Zoom. I
04:10
don't think it's actually hard
04:10
to build rapport. As long as you
04:15
are intentional about taking
04:15
that time and saying Okay, I
04:19
know we might have an agenda for
04:19
this meeting, but let's take 15
04:23
minutes or it doesn't have to be
04:23
so formal about it. But let's
04:26
just also have some time in the
04:26
beginning where we're just
04:29
talking and then the other thing
04:29
about of course, people working
04:32
from home is that you can their
04:32
lives encroached upon. Yeah,
04:38
like I don't like what I'm
04:38
telling you. Find you kind of
04:42
thing and, and you know, my kid
04:42
would pop up, you know, anyone
04:45
who was at 9am call with me, my
04:45
daughter goes to daycare, but
04:48
usually around 9am so usually
04:48
there's like a little head that
04:50
pops up at some point here and
04:50
likes to say hi to my
04:54
colleagues. Yeah, she's she's
04:54
three, but she knows the word
04:57
colleagues because I talk about
04:57
my colleagues. A lot. Good word.
05:03
It's a big word for a little,
05:03
little person, but I use it a
05:06
lot. I talk about them a lot.
05:06
Um, yeah, I think I think I
05:12
don't know, it's the same way.
05:12
I've always thought about
05:13
business development here. This
05:13
is going to segue quite
05:15
gracefully. Similar thing about
05:15
business development, which is
05:18
nice that you're not just having
05:18
a conversation with a potential
05:21
client. Because you want them to
05:21
hire you. Like, yes, that's a
05:26
goal. But the real goal is to
05:26
connect with them as people and
05:30
so on any call I'm having with
05:30
my colleagues. I want to get to
05:34
know them as people, I want to
05:34
understand how, you know, what
05:37
matters to them, what's
05:37
challenging for them, how they
05:40
worked with my team in the past,
05:40
how that's gone, what we could
05:44
do better, you know, what's,
05:44
what's standing in their way,
05:48
and then have like, really
05:48
interesting conversations about
05:50
that. But really, I want to
05:50
know, what they're like and if
05:56
we were in an office, I would
05:56
have that sort of stuff usually
06:00
happens over, you know, a cup of
06:00
coffee in the kitchen, and you
06:02
kind of chat about, yeah, what
06:02
you did over the over the
06:05
weekend, and I just, I tried to
06:05
still do that on these calls.
06:09
And that means sometimes they
06:09
take a little bit longer. That's
06:13
fine, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed
06:13
it. Yeah, yeah. And you asked
06:18  Ayo Abbas
something about
06:18
watercooler that moment, yeah.
06:21
You asked
06:21  Iben Falconer
How does that
06:21
affect you getting to know like
06:26
working globally. I mean, one
06:26
thing that I've observed which
06:29
is quite interesting is under
06:29
normal circumstances, I would be
06:32
visiting all of our offices
06:32
every every year. And obviously
06:38
I didn't do that I've been to
06:38
none of our offices not even our
06:41
New York office. And what it has
06:41
meant though, is that I've
06:45
actually gotten to know the
06:45
global team equally well. I
06:52
think if we had been in person I
06:52
would have gotten to know our
06:56
New York marketing business
06:56
development team very well very
06:59
quickly. And it might have I
06:59
might have held back on or we
07:03
all might have held back a bit
07:03
on making those relationships
07:05
with my team in Chicago or my
07:05
team in London. Because of we'd
07:09
have been oh well let's wait
07:09
until Let's wait until I visit
07:11
and then we can have coffee and
07:11
get to know you all that stuff.
07:15
But because I've been doing this
07:15
with everyone, I have made a
07:20
point and it's been really
07:20
enjoyable to to get to know you
07:25
know everyone at this kind of in
07:25
the same level. But what I'm
07:33
very aware of is that I don't
07:33
get to know so I have a group of
07:37
really smart managers who report
07:37
to me. And they have for most
07:43
part they have their own teams.
07:43
I haven't gotten to know those
07:46
teams as well as I would have
07:46
liked but I've been trying to
07:49
make a point of having we've
07:49
been calling them coffees but
07:53
it's just a Zoom meeting.
07:53
Because everything's a Zoom
07:55
meeting but just kind of a
07:55
chance just to have fun. Yeah,
08:00
and talk with them and get to
08:00
know you conversations with that
08:05
group as I have with as I've
08:05
gotten to have with the with the
08:07
managers
08:09  Ayo Abbas
But I guess having
08:09
such a kind of open agenda must
08:11
be quite refreshing for people
08:11
isn't it because you're used to
08:13
meetings being quite I guess
08:13
linear? That's kind of how you
08:17
run them right but having a
08:17
wider discussions and then just
08:21
going wherever that discussion
08:21
goes must be quite freeing in a
08:23
way right?
08:25  Iben Falconer
Yeah, and of
08:25
course I also have meetings
08:27
where it's like well yeah, we
08:27
have you know, things we need to
08:29
decide. But I also I tried to
08:29
intersperse that with meetings
08:37
where it's just kind of like
08:37
'Tell me what's happening'. I
08:41
had a call the other day with
08:41
our director who runs our
08:44
interiors practice and just kind
08:44
of checking in like what's
08:47
working what's not, how can I be
08:47
of help? How can my team be of
08:53
help? And it was just very open
08:53
ended. And to have those over
08:58
time and to be able to come back
08:58
to it like Oh, I remember you
09:00
told me that that this issue
09:00
we're still working on that I
09:03
haven't totally figured it out
09:03
but we're chipping away at it in
09:08
these three ways is nice. It's
09:08
a big it's a shift for me
09:14
because I come from being very
09:14
client facing, very much leading
09:19
the business development efforts
09:19
for a certain market. And, so I
09:25
would always my deadlines I
09:25
would be very aware of our
09:28
proposal deadlines. You know
09:28
when we're meeting with that
09:31
particular client and and now my
09:31
winning you. Yep. Yeah and now
09:36
my my projects are like one year
09:36
and five year projects and so
09:41
there's a different template
09:41
which is a change. It's a
09:46
welcome change, but I also
09:46
sometimes I do miss the you
09:49
know, there is deep satisfaction
09:49
of putting together a strong
09:53
proposal and sending it out the
09:53
door and being like, cross that
09:57
off the list. I did it. Now I
09:57
can go home. Yeah, so I do.
10:06  Ayo Abbas
I was gonna say, but
10:06
is that hard? Is it harder to
10:09
motivate yourself in this way?
10:09
Because you haven't got those
10:11
pressing deadlines? Or do you
10:11
make fake deadlines? You know
10:14
what I mean that kind of give
10:14
yourself that kind of.
10:18  Iben Falconer
I guess I don't
10:18
know so much big deadlines, I
10:20
have to divide my big projects
10:20
have sub-smaller projects, and I
10:25
need to be pushing forward and
10:25
say like, Okay, this is the
10:28
thing that I need to do. This is
10:28
what I need to do this week to
10:32
move that project forward. So
10:32
it's Yeah, it's, it's a
10:38
different kind of, yeah, a
10:38
different kind of time
10:41
management. But still, it's
10:41
about tasks and tactics towards
10:47
larger strategies. Yeah, and to
10:47
not look back on my weak. Yeah,
10:53
smaller milestones. I look back
10:53
on the weekend sale? Did I did I
10:57
move things forward the way I
10:57
wanted to? And some weeks Yes,
11:01
definitely. Other weeks? Oh, no,
11:01
I got stuck on something.
11:07  Ayo Abbas
The way it kind of
11:07
works, how do you lead a team
11:09
globally from you're in New York
11:09
and you've never met? And are
11:12
there any specific things that
11:12
you do to kind of build that
11:14
rapport? Or is it mainly having
11:14
one to ones with people and
11:17
things like that, or
11:19  Iben Falconer
It's the
11:19
combination of one on ones, you
11:21
know, connect is people, just as
11:21
I would do with any with anyone
11:25
else, but also, I have found,
11:25
especially in my first month.
11:32
I'm reliant on the team that I
11:32
manage every day, that for them
11:37
to do the work that they know
11:37
how to do. And to bring their
11:40
talents to their, to their role,
11:40
I was very reliant on them in a
11:44
particular way, when I started,
11:44
which was to help me understand
11:47
the organisation. And to help me
11:47
to understand how decisions are
11:52
made and and, you know, who, who
11:52
does what, and who works on what
11:57
project and that sort of thing.
11:57
And they were, you know, I was
12:01
coming from often with
12:01
questions, like, explain this to
12:03
me, how does this work and, and
12:03
also, it wasn't identical in
12:06
every office. So, it was, you
12:06
know, really kind of helping,
12:10
they were a little bit of
12:10
translating the office for me.
12:14
And so that was, I think, was
12:14
very intensely the way it was in
12:16
the beginning on now, after I've
12:16
been here for a few months. I am
12:23
also really reliant on them
12:23
still for that, but also because
12:27
we are starting to make some
12:27
changes in our organisation, how
12:30
we structure ourselves, how we
12:30
do work, what's the makeup of
12:34
our team? We're starting to make
12:34
some changes there. And I yeah,
12:37
it's really important to me that
12:37
they have buy-in into those
12:42
changes, and they don't feel
12:42
like those changes have simply
12:44
been laid out. Oh, you know,
12:44
from on high. Yeah, no, and I
12:50
know this is the biggest
12:50
organisation I've ever worked
12:52
for. But I know I had friends
12:52
who've worked in offices of
12:57
larger firms and and sometimes I
12:57
heard I remember this a friend,
13:01
I won't say she works for, at
13:01
the time, she was working for an
13:04
engineering firm. And I won't
13:04
say who it is or what firm, but
13:09
she was in the US office of a
13:09
non US engineering firm. And she
13:12
said, you know, we're getting
13:12
these kind of decisions, these
13:17
kind of new materials that are
13:17
being made. Yeah, that are
13:20
coming from the the main office,
13:20
and they don't really make sense
13:24
for our market, but we're being
13:24
told that we need to use them,
13:27
and it really stuck out in my
13:27
head like that. That was a very
13:31
bewildering experience. So, it
13:31
demotivated her. And she's a
13:38
very bright person, and good at
13:38
her job. And so it's been really
13:42
important to me that yes, we are
13:42
in our team. Yes, I am the
13:48
leader of this team. But good
13:48
ideas can come from anywhere,
13:52
and good ideas that are actually
13:52
effective need to have buy in
13:56
from the team. So I look at our
13:56
managers and say, this is what
14:01
I'm seeing. This is a problem.
14:01
And I think and here's my hunch
14:03
on how we could fix it but tell
14:03
me what you think poke holes in
14:08
my theory, challenge it or add
14:08
to it, improve upon it. And tell
14:13
me because I really, if we're
14:13
going to do this, if we're going
14:15
to make this change I wanted it
14:15
had all of you and it needs to
14:19
work for you. And it needs to
14:19
then be supported by you. So
14:23
that is also something that I've
14:23
been really intentional about.
14:27
And even when we were setting
14:27
the priorities for our team, I
14:30
said, this is what I'm this is
14:30
what I'm seeing. Here are the
14:34
top 10 or 10 things that we
14:34
could work on. Will you help me
14:37
prioritise it based on what you
14:37
feel you're seeing? Yeah. And I
14:43
enjoyed it. And frankly, I think
14:43
they do I you know, I think but
14:49
I also think we're getting we're
14:49
getting better strategies from
14:51
that, because it's been tested,
14:51
at least mentally tested by some
14:57
of the people who were closer to
14:57
their markets first.
14:59  Ayo Abbas
Well I think that's
14:59
the thing, isn't it? When you
15:01
look at things as a global s
15:01
rategy, it's like, how can ever
15:03
thing be global, when you're l
15:03
oking at the built environm
15:05
nt, we all work to differen
15:05
RIBA stages. You know differen
15:07
building standards build di
15:07
ferent, you know, and it's, yo
15:09
're dealing with so many dif
15:09
erent climates, you're dealing
15:12
ith so many different material
15:12
, you know, there's all these di
15:14
ferences, and it's kind of like,
15:14
you want a global strategy
15:16
but there also has to be, I gu
15:16
ss, local sensitivities in there
15:19
Yes, definitely. And those gu
15:19
s are definitely gonna be the b
15:24
st people that can sort of turn
15:24
round and go, actually, that doe
15:26
n't really translate well her
15:26
. And this is what's going on
15:29
So yeah, and
15:31  Iben Falconer
And we have
15:31
listen to that, right? We can't
15:33
just be kind of so certain that
15:33
one way works, I think,
15:37
particularly I'll give you just
15:37
like a very small example. But I
15:42
think it's revealing how to make
15:42
sure that our marketing
15:45
collateral exists not only an
15:45
eight and a half by 11, but also
15:50
in A4 Oh, my goodness. Letter.
15:50
Yeah, Letter or A4 and it's
15:54
something that it's so little,
15:54
but it means a lot to our teams,
15:58
and our team in London, our team
15:58
in Hong Kong. We can't just have
16:02
materials that look good in one
16:02
shape, and then just like, oh,
16:06
let's just squeeze it and make
16:06
it a little skinnier. And then
16:11
it's, it'll be the same or even
16:11
with, with spelling, right, I
16:15
mean, this, you know, I was very
16:15
aware of this when I when I
16:19
worked at BIG because I was in
16:19
the US office. And and so you
16:23
know, Copenhagen was the
16:23
headquarters and, and when we
16:27
first opened the office in New
16:27
York, my colleague, who oversaw
16:31
who was involved with our
16:31
business development in Europe,
16:35
outside of the Nordics, who was
16:35
British, he had done he was, you
16:39
know, of course, everyone in
16:39
Denmark speaks English very
16:43
well. But he had written a lot
16:43
of the text and checked it. And
16:47
there was a lot of there's not
16:47
so much Britishisms. But there
16:51
was British spelling. And yeah,
16:51
there's a lot of extraneous use.
16:56
Or neighbourhood.
16:57  Ayo Abbas
You guys use Zs or
16:57
zees as you call them. Right.
17:00
Right.
17:04  Iben Falconer
Yeah. So and, and
17:04
I, you know, it was really
17:09
important to us landing in the
17:09
US that we be seen, you know, we
17:12
aren't trying to fool anyone
17:12
telling us that I think that
17:15
we're all Americans, but we
17:15
don't want to, there's moments
17:18
for being foreign is to your
17:18
advantage. And there's moments
17:20
of being foreign, it's not to
17:20
your advantage. And so being
17:22
very intentional about that. So
17:22
we've actually, we've been
17:24
having the same conversations.
17:24
It's the reverse here, because
17:27
we're an American firm. And, and
17:27
they're so colleagues in London,
17:31
you know, yes, we need things in
17:31
A4. And yes, we should probably
17:34
be using British English for our
17:34
materials.
17:38  Ayo Abbas
Difficult, though,
17:38
isn't it. But also, I mean, I
17:40
worked for an edtech company for
17:40
a year, and we had offices in
17:43
the US as well. And one of the
17:43
things that came across was
17:46
like, they were like, we produce
17:46
a brochure, they go, actually,
17:49
we don't just need one side, we
17:49
only like things really short in
17:51
the US, which is, which was
17:51
completely different, which I
17:54
hadn't heard of. This is a
17:54
length and the size difference,
17:59
and it's like, oh, okay, that's
17:59
another thing. Like, yeah, we
18:02
keep it short.
18:04  Iben Falconer
These Americans
18:04
have very short attention spans.
18:06
No, I think there's also Yeah,
18:06
there's how you talk about
18:09
projects that, you know, wanting
18:09
to also seems really important
18:13
that our, our projects in, you
18:13
know, I'll just keep using the
18:17
UK that those that we can talk
18:17
about them in a way that makes
18:23
sense for a British audience,
18:23
that they that there's I mean, I
18:29
wouldn't say there's like vast
18:29
cultural differences between the
18:33
US and the UK. But there's
18:33
enough that if we if we don't
18:37
just remind ourselves that we
18:37
have to think about it, you can,
18:40
you can miss stuff. And you can
18:40
come across seeming like you
18:44
don't like, oh, if they don't
18:44
understand this difference in
18:46
language, maybe they're not
18:46
gonna understand this difference
18:48
in culture, this difference in
18:48
how and how we work. And I mean,
18:53
I will say that one thing that's
18:53
incredible work another global
18:57
firm, yes, we're based in the
18:57
US, but we are our my colleagues
19:01
are wildly global, you know,
19:01
people are people are from all
19:07
sorts of places, all languages,.
19:07
It's so kind of anywhere we'd
19:11
work, we have someone who
19:11
probably knows something about
19:14
the area, because that's where
19:14
they're from. So that, you know,
19:18
it's not like a total
19:18
translation process. It's just,
19:21
important to us that on the on
19:21
the marketing business
19:23
development side that we are
19:23
being respectful of that and
19:26
mindful of that.
19:27  Ayo Abbas
Yeah, I think I'd say
19:27
it's just a fine balance, isn't
19:29
it of just being aware, really.
19:29
I guess one of the reasons that
19:33
you were brought into your
19:33
current role was to strengthen
19:35
the whole role of BD. Can you
19:35
explain what you're doing in
19:39
this area, or who your long term
19:39
vision is, or their long term
19:42
vision is for the firm and the
19:42
business development area and
19:45
where you're looking to take
19:45
things for how?
19:48  Iben Falconer
Yeah, happy to,
19:48
so my goal for our goal for
19:56
business development marketing
19:56
at SOM is we want to be as
19:59
excellent as business
19:59
development and marketing as we
20:01
are at architecture and planning
20:01
and engineering, we know it SOM
20:07
is a firm that has incredible
20:07
pride of, of thought and of
20:12
craftsmanship and incredibly and
20:12
the legacy of the work that we
20:16
that we do our buildings and our
20:16
projects stand the test of time.
20:19
Yeah. And that's because there's
20:19
just extremely talented,
20:25
thoughtful, long thinking people
20:25
who work here who work on those
20:29
projects. And it is our goal,
20:29
that we are just as thoughtful
20:36
and strategic and careful and
20:36
curious, as we're as excellent
20:42
at business development and
20:42
marketing as we are at design.
20:44
And that that has actually been
20:44
something that's it is, in a way
20:52
easy to rally around, because
20:52
people at SOM are very proud of
20:55
the work that they do. So, that
20:55
I think has resonated with a lot
21:00
of people. I would say, just
21:00
going back to your question, and
21:07
what are what are we working on?
21:07
A lot of what I found in my
21:14
career, and this isn't this
21:14
isn't specific to SOM, but just
21:16
working with architects and
21:16
planners and designers in
21:19
general, is that there's a lot
21:19
of mystery around business
21:23
development. There's a lot of,
21:23
you know, people, it's like
21:27
someone has a magic wand and
21:27
they wave it and projects
21:30
appear. And I think that that is
21:30
deeply harmful to a profession.
21:37
That is a professional services,
21:37
right that we we only work if
21:43
someone has engaged us to work.
21:43
Of course, they're speculative
21:45
projects. Of course, there's
21:45
research, yes, but for the most
21:48
part, the bulk of our work is
21:48
done with clients. So if I think
21:52
that as a profession, there,
21:52
there isn't enough conversations
21:55
about what business development
21:55
is, and like high level and what
22:00
it is, like low level, what are
22:00
the small day to day? Yeah. And
22:06
so I define that, for me,
22:06
business development is
22:08
everything that we do to get
22:08
work. And so that is an
22:10
incredibly broad definition.
22:10
That's everything from Yes, it's
22:16
proposals and RFQ or PQQs, yes,
22:16
it's marketing collateral. But
22:22
it's also relationships. Really,
22:22
it's relationships, and strategy
22:27
and storytelling is how I've
22:27
really defined it. So it's about
22:30
the relationships that we that
22:30
we have with people and the ones
22:33
that we want to have. It's about
22:33
the strategy, how are we going
22:35
to get there? What are we going
22:35
to? What are the steps to get in
22:39
front of it? And then it's about
22:39
storytelling? How do we engage
22:41
people in, in the work that we
22:41
do through how we talk about how
22:46
we take them through it? So
22:46
yeah, okay, so we're now Where
22:54
do I take it from there? I think
22:54
it's really important to
23:01
demystify that, and to have
23:01
conversations about where work
23:04
comes from. And I think
23:04
sometimes one thing that gets is
23:09
misunderstood about what we do,
23:09
as a business development
23:14
marketing people is that, you
23:14
know, they say, you know, say,
23:17
oh, we'll hire someone, and then
23:17
they'll tell us the strategy.
23:20
And I think a really, really
23:20
good business development person
23:26
isn't good, because they have
23:26
all the answers. It's, they're
23:29
good, because they know how to
23:29
ask really good questions, and
23:33
they know how to stay, to take
23:33
the answers to those questions,
23:36
and to build out a roadmap of,
23:36
like, action of implementation.
23:43  Ayo Abbas
I think the thing is,
23:43
you also equip your equipping
23:45
them as well, with with those
23:45
skills, aren't you? Because in
23:48
some ways, you want to harness
23:48
the whole firm, right? So that
23:51
as warriors going out to
23:51
actually do BD, right,
23:54  Iben Falconer
Yeah. Arch
23:54
tecture. Yeah. Okay. Yeah. I me
23:57
n, architecture is is prim
23:57
rily, you know, in the doer sell
24:00
r model. There are other firm
24:00
that there are some firms that
24:03
have that have different mode
24:03
s, but I think, you know, the
24:06
he dominant one is doer sell
24:06
r. I say that, I think it is a
24:10  Ayo Abbas
I think when I worked
24:10
in-house a lot where people
24:10
good model, as long as we are
24:10
ery clear about its stre
24:14
gths and its weaknesses. And
24:14
he strengths are that the peop
24:17
e who are selling, they know
24:17
the work, they can speak very
24:19
specifically to the what it take
24:19
to get a building built or,
24:24
r to get a masterplan crea
24:24
ed and adopted. But its weak
24:32
esses are, there are two prim
24:32
ry weaknesses. And that to me i
24:34
bandwidth. And, like time, and
24:34
he competency and comfort and
24:42
onfidence in the seller aspe
24:42
t of it. And so if you don'
24:49
address those two, then then
24:49
the model doesn't work. So that
24:54
s also what we're having conv
24:54
rsations about here is what can
24:57
e do to be very open and hones
24:57
about bandwidth? And how much t
25:04
me should people be spending on
25:04
it and doing what? And then
25:07
the competence competency and
25:07
and confidence in how how do you
25:13
make sure that people feel pr
25:13
pped and ready to go and that do
25:19
sn't just mean that they have
25:19
like a marketing brochure in ha
25:22
d. I think that's the other chal
25:22
enge is that people don't fee
25:27
ready until someone has giv
25:27
n them a deck and then like ok
25:30
y now I'm just gonna go out I h
25:30
ve this deck I can now I'm re
25:32
dy but that's that's half th
25:32
battle right? Yeah, I mean,
25:36
hat's not necessary but not suf
25:36
icent.
25:45
would go I really need a
25:45
brochure before I have a
25:46
brochure I can't really do BD or
25:46
I can't really have that
25:49
conversation and you like you
25:49
could just pick up the phone.
25:55
But it is isn't it and I think
25:55
it's a bit of a crutch in a way
25:58
that people are kind of like oh
25:58
I need this before I can do
26:00
this. And it's like actually you
26:00
could just have a conversation
26:03
on what you've just read or you
26:03
could just share an article that
26:05
you've seen or there's lots of
26:05
kind of different things you
26:08
could be doing which could be
26:08
classed as BD but I think that
26:12
traditional I've got something
26:12
in my hand that can go out now
26:15
to somebody which is Yeah, I
26:15
think it's that emotional thing
26:19
as well.
26:20  Iben Falconer
Yeah, I do think
26:20
it becomes it can become a
26:22
crutch. And also I you know I
26:22
think about you know when I'm
26:28
having conversations with my
26:28
colleagues about this it's not
26:33
fair because they are they are
26:33
deeply expert in what they do
26:38
for a living. So, it's very
26:38
important to me to never be seen
26:42
as dismissive of their concerns
26:42
or like I don't care I'll just
26:47
buck up and just go do it just
26:47
call someone. But to really
26:50
understand like psychologically
26:50
like what is what is holding you
26:55
back and let's let's talk about
26:55
that. Yeah, so it's a little bit
26:57
like being a I guess a coach or
26:57
like a peer. That's an important
27:04
role that I want to play for my
27:04
colleagues at SOM just as I
27:06
would say, if I ever had a
27:06
question about how you design a
27:10
building. I want to be able to
27:10
go to them and have them explain
27:13
to me Oh, you know, this is if
27:13
there's a certain building type
27:17
that I want to understand I want
27:17
to be able to have that
27:19
conversation where they explain
27:19
it to me. And similarly I want
27:22
them to come to me where if
27:22
there's anything that they have
27:24
concerns or questions about. To
27:24
equip people not only with you
27:31
know, good thoughtful marketing
27:31
collateral, but also the
27:34
recognition that as human beings
27:34
they already have a lot of the
27:38
qualities that it would take to
27:38
be effective at business
27:42
development. Especially as
27:42
designers I mean, this is the
27:44
thing that always blows my mind
27:44
is that design Okay, some there
27:48
are some egomaniac designers out
27:48
there who would who would
27:53
happily design without ever
27:53
talking to the client. But the
27:55
really really good architects
27:55
let's just say we're just like
27:59
an architect they they ask good
27:59
questions right when you when
28:05
you come in and you're trying to
28:05
understand the brief and you
28:08
want understand what the clients
28:08
goals are like you're asking
28:10
them questions you're tell me
28:10
what's important to you tell me
28:13
what's not working right now.
28:13
And this is very curious
28:18
mentality and so I we talk a lot
28:18
about how do you bring that
28:23
curious open mentality to
28:23
business development. So, if
28:27
you're meeting with a potential
28:27
client for the first time, it's
28:31
not just about you yammering on
28:31
about the projects that you've
28:35
done. It's also about mostly
28:35
about you building a
28:38
relationship with the client
28:38
understanding what matters to
28:40
them and then pulling you know,
28:40
pulling some examples out based
28:43
on the things that they've said
28:43
are important to them. Rather
28:46
than coming in with some like
28:46
prescriptive slide deck or
28:52
lecture at them like I already
28:52
made this so I'm going to talk
28:55
about it no matter what you say
28:55
is important to you, I'm just
28:57
going to show you this. And
28:57
that also, that's where it can
29:01
really become a crutch. And
29:01
again, so I guess the tapping
29:07
into that latent natural
29:07
curiosity that I think good
29:12
architects, planners and
29:12
engineers have and say like,
29:16
let's bring that to business
29:16
development.
29:18  Ayo Abbas
That's so true. And I
29:18
did an event last week for
29:21
BuildUp! which is like an
29:21
architecture marketing group I'm
29:24
in, and we had some architects
29:24
talking and there was talking
29:27
small practices and they were
29:27
talking about where they work
29:29
comes from. And they were like,
29:29
you know, when we look back over
29:31
the past year for our first
29:31
year, a lot of it is all linked
29:33
to cycling. So, we've people
29:33
we've met on like, you know,
29:36
charity cycle rides, we go to
29:36
cycling events and like they
29:39
were literally like, all our
29:39
work is linked to cycling. But
29:43
working doing something they're
29:43
passionate about. Yeah, and then
29:46
they're building relationships.
29:46
So you know, I think that kind
29:49
of thing is where people think
29:49
it's something else but it's not
29:51
it's this is how it works.
29:54  Iben Falconer
Yeah, it was
29:54
showing again, like showing up
29:55
as a whole person and then
29:55
natural and then relationships
29:59
will naturally be formed. And
29:59
then if there and then finding a
30:02
way, I guess maybe that's the
30:02
thing is finding that way is how
30:04
do you parlay that into into
30:04
work? And it can be tricky,
30:08
right? Not everyone's
30:08
extracurricular passions will
30:13
clearly line up with with
30:13
business development
30:16
opportunities. And that's okay,
30:16
too. Sometimes it's just good to
30:20
have an extracurricular
30:20
interest. But how nice when and
30:24
how nice when it does, and how
30:24
insightful that they were able
30:27
to see that about everything
30:27
else. Yeah, that's cool.
30:30  Ayo Abbas
Yeah. I mean, they
30:30
were a small practice, but they
30:33
set up their own CRM. So they
30:33
they tracked everything. So you
30:37
know, he I was like, I'm so
30:37
impressed. Because it was like,
30:41
yeah, honestly, I was like,
30:41
Whoa, I need to get back on
30:44
doing that.
30:50
So how do you get people fired
30:50
up to want to do marketing and
30:53
BD?
30:54  Iben Falconer
Well, I guess
30:54
there's, there's both like the
30:57
carrot and the stick model,
30:57
right? Like, there's, you know,
31:02
right, the stick is that we have
31:02
goals, and we need to meet them
31:06
globally. So like, we've just
31:06
got to do it. And that probably
31:12
works for a certain percentage
31:12
of our of our group. I guess the
31:18
others I, some people, it's not
31:18
terribly hard to get them. Well,
31:25
let's see, when we think this
31:25
through, how do you get people
31:27
fired up? I guess I guess I just
31:27
go back to what I was saying
31:34
before is that, I think by
31:34
demystifying it a bit by showing
31:38
them that it's not some foreign
31:38
thing, it's not some like,
31:42
performance, they have to do. t
31:42
I don't know if it gets them
31:47
fired up but I think it's more
31:47
about relieving anxiety. How do
31:50
we relieve anxiety about
31:50
business development, we show
31:53
them that it's not a it's not a
31:53
form of performance that they
31:56
have to do. I also think really
31:56
making things bite sized, and
32:02
focused. Who are we trying to
32:02
have a meet with? What do we
32:06
want to happen in this meeting?
32:06
How did the meeting go? What is
32:10
our follow up? What is our next
32:10
step, the kind of really
32:13
breaking things down? And yeah,
32:13
that helps, again, because
32:20
that's, going back to the
32:20
challenge of the doer seller
32:23
model is that most of the people
32:23
that I'm working with, well all
32:28
of whom I'm working with are
32:28
very busy. But their head is in
32:33
their project and their projects
32:33
as it should be. That's what
32:36
makes them really good at their
32:36
job is that they're very, you
32:39
know, they are 80 to 90% of
32:39
their time they're spent working
32:43
on our specific projects. So the
32:43
other challenges. Yeah, when
32:47
they, when they raise their
32:47
heads up, and they have some
32:49
time, whether it's five minutes,
32:49
or half an hour or half a day,
32:55
how do we make sure that that
32:55
they know what to do with that
32:58
time. What's the thing they can
32:58
do in five minutes? What's they
33:00
can do in half an hour? What's
33:00
the thing they can do in half a
33:03
day? And that is what I'm also
33:03
shifting for our team is I want
33:06
our team to be kind of at the
33:06
ready, I want our team to be
33:09
creating beautiful, convincing,
33:09
enticing marketing collateral,
33:16
yes. But I also want them to be
33:16
keeping us thinking about those
33:22
medium and long term goals. And
33:22
so that when someone's like, I
33:25
have some bandwidth. They go
33:25
okay, remember that you had
33:29
test, that was the thing you
33:29
were going to call, you're going
33:31
to call this person, you are
33:31
going to set up a coffee with
33:33
this person. And and they're
33:33
going to be ready with when when
33:37
people have the time that we're
33:37
ready with an action, something
33:40
they can do.
33:42  Ayo Abbas
But I love it. I love
33:42
the way that you said that
33:44
actually, when you said like the
33:44
five minutes, if they've got
33:46
half a day and actually chun
33:46
ing the task into that beca
33:49
se then you suddenly go, actu
33:49
lly I've got a two hour wind
33:51
w here, right? Okay, this is w
33:51
at I can achieve for you. And
33:54
hat's really, lovely beca
33:54
se you've given them a shop
33:56
ing menu, aren't you? Righ
33:56
? Well, it does work.
34:01  Iben Falconer
And so I'm
34:01
chuckling because I gave a
34:06
presentation in the spring where
34:06
I said that too often we think
34:10
about business development and
34:10
like the activities is there's
34:13
kind of two they're too
34:13
rarified. So, I gave the analogy
34:17
of you know, going to a fine di
34:17
ing experience where you don't
34:21
even you're not even ordering
34:21
ff the menu, you're being tol
34:23
what you're going to have. And
34:23
I said something like I don't
34:28
hat can't be the way that we d
34:28
business development c
34:30
n't just have five things that p
34:30
ople can do. And so I said, I
34:34
ecognise I'm speaking to a glo
34:34
al audience, but anyone who ha
34:37
spent maybe a little time in th
34:37
US and can pretend that they
34:40
re not a food snob perhaps they
34:40
ve been to this restaurant c
34:42
lled the Cheesecake Factor
34:42
, which has a menu which is abo
34:45
t like an encyclopaedia, an
34:45
it's and you can get every kin
34:48  Ayo Abbas
It's amazing though,
34:48
I've been to the one in Vegas
34:48
of food it's like you want to
34:48
amaican jerk chicken. There it
34:50
is. You want like Thai food. T
34:50
ere it is. Italian food like
34:54
it's it isn't. It is an absurd m
34:54
nu.
35:02  Iben Falconer
Exactly what you
35:02
need when you go to Vegas and
35:06
and so I sit down I was like
35:06
this is we need to have this
35:08
expanded menu of business
35:08
development activities so that
35:11
when you have time we have
35:11
something that you could do. And
35:15
that all helps us move this kind
35:15
of towards this larger goal of
35:20
x, you know, it's. So that's
35:20
something that I think is a new,
35:24
a new way of thinking about it.
35:27  Ayo Abbas
And you can have
35:27
prizes where you give people
35:29
like vouchers for the Cheesecake
35:29
Factory?!
35:34  Iben Falconer
with everybody
35:34
like, I don't understand what
35:37
she means like, yeah, whoever
35:37
reaches thier sales targets gets
35:41
to have dinner with me at the
35:41
Cheesecake Factory!!!. I did
35:43
however learn that when I gave
35:43
this presentation that that one
35:48
of my colleagues who works a lot
35:48
in the Middle East told me that
35:50
there is actually a Cheesecake
35:50
Factory I think I don't know if
35:52
you said it was in Dubai or Abu
35:52
Dhabi, but somewhere she was
35:56
like, there is one. You're
35:56
welcome, like Americans greatest
36:01
export products.
36:05  Ayo Abbas
Anyhow, I mean,
36:05
American portions are huge,
36:10
though. That's the only thing.
36:10
So on to my final question. So
36:18
what one tip would you give to
36:18
business leaders looking to make
36:21
their mark in this crazy year of
36:21
2021?
36:26  Iben Falconer
Yes. And that was
36:26
the one where Oh, I know, my
36:30
thoughts. I was thinking about
36:30
this the other day when I was
36:32
reading this question. I think
36:32
my recommendation would be use
36:39
this kind of craziness, this
36:39
kind of insanity as a point of
36:44
resetting, and of not panicking,
36:44
but of saying what have we
36:48
learned from this year that what
36:48
do we need to be doing forever
36:53
now going forward? I have a lot
36:53
of conversations we're having a
36:59
couple conversations with
36:59
partners here SOM where they've
37:03
asked, well, is this you know,
37:03
would we have a different
37:07
strategy in a crisis year than
37:07
we would in a non crisis here?
37:13
And I said, No, like a lot of
37:13
what I'm talking about here are
37:17
business development
37:17
fundamentals like these, these
37:19
are good habits and good
37:19
practices that would serve us in
37:23
good times and in bad. So I
37:23
think using this year as a time
37:27
to say, Whoa, there was so much
37:27
uncertainty, so much
37:30
unsteadiness, so much trauma.
37:30
But how do we use it as a place
37:36
to kind of reset and say this is
37:36
these are good habits going
37:39
forward? So I mean, I've heard
37:39
people say, like, never never
37:42
waste a good crisis. I mean,
37:42
that's a very privileged thing
37:44
to say, right? But, and then I
37:44
recognise, you know, some firms
37:51
have, have not weathered this, a
37:51
lot of businesses haven't
37:55
weathered this. So I recognise
37:55
the privilege of that statement,
37:59
but I think to use it as a as a
37:59
reset. And a place to establish
38:04
good habits would be the the,
38:04
the advice that I would get
38:09  Ayo Abbas
Fantastic, thanks so
38:09
much, even that was brilliant.
38:12
And thank you for your time
38:12
today and for doing the
38:14
interview. Thank you so much.
38:15  Iben Falconer
My pleasure was
38:15
fun to do.
38:23  Ayo Abbas
Thanks for listening
38:23
to the latest episode of
38:25
Marketing In Times of Recovery.
38:25
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38:28
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n the episode, do look at the sh
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w notes which will give you mo
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e information about where to fi
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e you enjoyed it and have a gre
38:43
t day. B