No more SOQs!
SOQs that are assembled without any direction just end up in the delete folder or the wastebasket. There’s a better way.
“W e need an SOQ” is probably one of the most common statements in the AEC industry. SOQs, or Statement of Qualifications, are the biggest crutch in the history of business development. OK, that sounds like an exaggeration (and probably is), but it is time we talk about how we work with SOQs and if we even need them at all. In my more than 25-year career, I have not met one person who has read an SOQ; glanced at it, sure, but read it in its entirety? No way.
A typical scenario looks like this: Practitioners secure an in-person meeting with a potential new client and then request that marketing put together a comprehensive set of qualifications for a particular market sector and/or practice area. At this junction, we need to reply with the ever-so-powerful question: Why? Usually, the reply is that we need to show the prospective client our expertise in writing and that this SOQ will support what will be shared at the meeting. Hold on a second – first face-to-face meetings should be overwhelmingly more about active listening. The goal is to understand the potential client’s pain points and what they may need from us in the near term. Do you honestly think anyone will read an eight-, 12-, or 24-page document? They barely read your proposals!
Let’s go through the typical sections of an SOQ:
Title page. What a beautiful photo! Next...
■ About us. I guess the assumption here is that the person who agreed to a meeting did not even bother to check your website. Put yourself in the reader’s shoes and imagine getting this document – do you see yourself reading it? To make matters worse, most “about us” sections are like Mad Libs: “XYZ firm was founded in whatever year and has grown to something or other with a significant number of offices.” At the very least,
See JAVIER SUAREZ, page 4
THE ZWEIG LETTER FEBRUARY 6, 2023, ISSUE 1475
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