ON THE MOVE DEWBERRY PROMOTES TORBEN AGESEN, ALAN BARNEY, AND CURT CROUCH IN D.C.-METRO AREA Dewberry , a privately held professional services firm, has announced the promotion of nearly 50 professionals nationwide, including three in its Maryland, and Northern Virginia, offices. Torben Agesen, RLA, has been promoted to senior associate in the Lanham, Maryland, office; Alan Barney, PE, has been promoted to associate in the Rockville, Maryland, office; and Curt Crouch, PE, has been promoted to associate in the Gainesville, Virginia, office. Torben Agesen is a senior project manager and has more than 30 years of experience. He has extensive land planning, management, land acquisition, and land development expertise and has worked on a variety of projects
throughout Maryland. Agesen earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from the Pennsylvania State University (1987) and is a registered landscape architect in Maryland. Alan Barney is a senior project manager and has more than 20 years of experience. He has a background in stormwater management, storm drainage, and erosion and sediment control design related to roadway and land development projects. Barney earned his bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering from the University of Maryland (1998) and is a professional engineer in Maryland. Curt Crouch is a senior project manager and has more than 15 years of experience. He has used his civil engineering expertise to work with both private- and public-sector
clients on land development, substation, and telecommunications projects throughout northern Virginia. Crouch earned his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from George Mason University (2005) and is a professional engineer in Virginia. Dewberry is a leading, market-facing firm with a proven history of providing professional services to a wide variety of public- and private-sector clients. Recognized for combining unsurpassed commitment to client service with deep subject matter expertise, Dewberry is dedicated to solving clients’ most complex challenges and transforming their communities. Established in 1956, Dewberry is headquartered in Fairfax, Virginia, with more than 50 locations and more than 2,000 professionals nationwide.
MERCEDEZ THOMPSON, from page 3
1)Client first. Build trust by showing an understanding of the client’s issues, hot buttons, challenges, and purpose. The first section of any cover letter should describe the client’s problem in detail, honing in on the project’s challenges and demonstrating knowledge of the big-picture purpose or long- term goal. You should use one to two paragraphs to do this. 2)Why us? Next up, sell your firm. Justify the decision to award your firm the contract through thoughtful solutions and specific benefits backed by evidence. Be specific about how you plan to solve the client’s problems and what the client gets by partnering with you. Challenge yourself to answer the following two questions: “What makes us better than the competition?” and “Why should the client believe us?” This is the meat of the cover letter and often takes two to three paragraphs. Consider using bullets to make it easy for the reader to digest the advantages of working with your firm. 3)Move forward. It’s well known that in shortlist interviews, you conclude by asking for the work. This is the proposal’s version of that. In the final section of the cover letter, connect with the client’s vision and demonstrate a commitment to the bigger picture. You may want to quickly summarize what you offer the client, list next steps for starting the project, and/or describe why the client and project are so important to your firm. Do this in one concluding paragraph. Compelling cover letters are client-focused, concise, and correct. Your job is to center the client and be specific about how you solve the client’s problems, giving the reader exactly what they need to feel confident in choosing your firm. Whether proposal writing is a new responsibility or part of your typical daily tasks, using the Triple Play method as a template can help you create cover letters that connect with your client and win your firm more work. MERCEDEZ THOMPSON finds and shares a firm’s unique stories to connect with clients and build business. She is a proposal manager at Michael Baker International, where she leads capture planning and proposal development for company strategic opportunities. Before entering the AEC industry, Mercedez taught writing at the University of Nevada and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. She earned her master’s degree in English from Indiana University and her bachelor’s degree in literature from Ohio State University. You can find her on LinkedIn or her blog at simplywritingblog.com.
to spend the most valuable real estate of the entire proposal – that first page – talking about your firm, its accolades, and general experience. In fact, you should only talk about your firm insofar as you can solve the client’s problem. So, shift the focus to the client, their issues and challenges, and then deliver your solution in terms of the client’s needs. “Your job is to center the client and be specific about how you solve the client’s problems, giving the reader exactly what they need to feel confident in choosing your firm.” ❚ ❚ Making it difficult for our readers to find what they need. Readers are raiders. They want to get in and get out. As such, many might closely read only your cover letter. Do not make them go searching for why they should choose your firm. Define the benefits of working with you right there on that first page, making it easy to justify the contract award. Clear, concise writing that answers the question “Why us?” makes it easy on our readers and yields quicker decisions. ❚ ❚ Appearing uninvested while asking others to trust us. Another way to blow it is with careless, incorrect writing. You may not think a few grammatical mistakes will cost you, but consistent mistakes send the message that you are careless, uninvested, or lazy. On the other hand, a well- edited, error-free document builds trust in your ideas and services. Preferably, a cover letter should be drafted pre-RFP and revised a handful of times over proposal development. At least three different sets of eyes should land on it before it hits the client’s desk. So, how do we avoid these mistakes? By creating client- focused cover letters that build trust, provide clear client benefits, and connect to our client’s broader goals or vision. The simplest way to write a compelling cover letter is to follow the Triple Play method.
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THE ZWEIG LETTER FEBRUARY 22, 2021, ISSUE 1380
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