Centralized Access to Information Enables Architecture Firm to Improve Pursuit and Opportunity Tracking

Andy Yeomans
17 Oct, 2022

Rapid growth can be both an opportunity and a threat for architecture firms. It’s great to expand the client base and increase revenues. But efficiently managing prospect pursuits and proposal opportunities—to make sure the firm does not lose any business—becomes more difficult as marketing and business development teams also grow and new offices open.

It’s become easy for critical information to get isolated in individual spreadsheets. Internal teams can’t share data and tap into up-to-date information to know what’s going on in real time with a particular pursuit or opportunity. Even though the firm is doing well overall, it’s not growing at the rate it’s capable of.

Improved CRM a must to drive future growth

As Cushing Terrell steadily expanded operations to more than 450 professionals working out of 14 offices in 7 states, the senior leadership team was determined to manage this growth efficiently by improving the company’s customer relationship management capabilities. This included streamlining processes for tracking prospect pursuits as well as existing customer relationships. Accelerating workflows in both areas was necessary to continue driving growth.

One particular capability Cushing Terrell needed to add was quickly determining if a pursuit is a “Go” or “No Go” so the business development team could assign the necessary resources to manage the deal. With a specific set of questions for business development to answer, this required a CRM system with the flexibility to build in the firm’s unique qualification process.

Cushing Terrell also sought to migrate to a CRM platform that could consolidate all marketing and business development activities, along with customer and project data, into one system. This would make information readily available to all team members and allow managers to understand the status of prospect pursuits and proposals.

The answer: aec360

To solve these challenges, Cushing Terrell turned to HSO’s aec360, built on Microsoft Dynamics 365.

In addition to tracking and automating contact, lead, opportunity, proposal, and customer relationship activities, aec360 integrates with the existing Cushing Terrell ERP system as well as Microsoft Outlook and the firm’s OpenAsset digital asset management system. The ability to customize aec360 was also critical—Cushing can add any new functionality the marketing and business development teams require.

Access to information was another key benefit. aec360 provides dashboards with quick views into reports and runs in the cloud with a mobile interface so the marketing and business development teams can tap into the CRM system from anywhere they work. Having all the data in a central CRM system makes it easy to search for information—rather than checking multiple spreadsheets. The internal teams also know the information won’t move—it’s always in the same place.

Go/no-go feature a big hit

Cushing Terrell uses aec360 to analyze prospect pursuit data, proposals, requests for qualification, project information, and project closeouts. The business development team tracks lead communications, who last talked to a prospect, and whether leads are worth pursuing. They can also track when leads are promoted to opportunities and when opportunities are promoted to projects. aec360 keeps all the records in one place.

The go/no-go workflows in aec360 have been a big hit. HSO built a field that calculates the likelihood of a project closing, which is based on the answers business development team members give to a series of questions. Each question has its own calculated weight, and if the total number equals a high percentage, Cushing Terrell knows they will pursue it. If it’s a middle grade, they consider bringing in a third party. And for the lower grades they don’t want to pursue, they note the reason, which is helpful for future qualification efforts.

"From the beginning, HSO has been helpful and responsive. They gave us quality training on aec360 so we could pick up the back end to the point where people without a technical degree can create new features."

Toni Schneider Regional Marketing Director @ Cushing Terrell

A partner who always responds

Looking ahead, functions that Cushing Terrell plans to add include contact harvesting and email signature scraping. These services—provided by HSO’s relationships360—analyze prospect information and score relationships based on key interactions including emails, tasks, appointments, phone calls, and notes. This will enable Cushing Terrell to know who in the company has the strongest connection with each prospect. Cushing Terrell will also track where prospects come from and how many have visited their website.

“From the beginning, HSO has been helpful and responsive,” said Toni Schneider,  Regional Marketing Director at Cushing Terrell. “They gave us quality training on aec360 so we could pick up the backend to the point where people without a technical degree can create new features.”

“Not only does HSO give us the training to do a lot on our own, they also provide resources we can use in a pinch,” added CRM Manager Victoria Matthews. “They gave us tips on how to search for help, which is a big reason why we picked up so quickly on aec360. And we never run into a scenario where HSO can’t fix something. If there’s an issue, they find an alternative—we’ve never been left empty-handed.”

Read the Cushing Terrell case study

Read more about how HSO helped Cushing Terrell lay the foundation for rapid growth.

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