Preparing Your Business Development Teams For The Infrastructure Investment Boom

Citylitics’ CEO, Ahmed Badruddin, discusses recent mega trends in the infrastructure industry and what it means for business development executives in 2021 and beyond.

Ahmed Badruddin

Ahmed Badruddin

Following an uncertain year for the infrastructure industry in 2020 that saw capital projects delayed or cancelled, inability to do site visits to build relationships with municipal staff, and adapting to remote business operations, the outlook for 2021 is brimming with optimism and opportunities. We believe 2021 and the following years will see significant infrastructure investments in North America due to a number of converging mega trends:

  • Government Stimulus Programs: U.S. President Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan to invest over $1.3 Trillion will be a necessary element of the economic restart in North America. Increasing infrastructure investment, whether in roadways, power plants, water treatment facilities, public transit infrastructure, hydro dams, or government buildings not only results in productivity growth, but also raises economic output directly in the near term.
  • Recalibrating Infrastructure Needs: The pandemic and the ensuing population migration has forced cities to re-evaluate their roles and their infrastructure needs. Some cities are seeing a big influx in new population while others are seeing a decline in population. With remote work playing a more significant role in the foreseeable future, preferences & behaviours are changing, which impact the type of infrastructure that will be required to best support the local population.
  • Extreme Weather Events: A changing climate and extreme weather events, including the recent snowstorm in Texas, also highlight the need for more investment into resilient infrastructure to protect our communities from consequences such as loss of electricity, gas, and water.
  • Public Sector Digitization: Governments are investing in their own digital capabilities and generating far more data than ever before. Municipal planning & financial documents are becoming more widely available. The continued need for government services even in a pandemic has forced the public sector to adapt and increase investment in IT infrastructure & remote operations.

With so many opportunities for the infrastructure industry in the coming years, there are a new set of questions that solution providers and vendors in this industry are faced with:

  1. How do we identify opportunities that best match our unique set of products & services?
  2. How do we identify these opportunities early enough to gain the city’s or utilities’ trust?
  3. How do we best position our solution to demonstrate the value it can bring to the city’s or utility’s infrastructure needs?
  4. How do we build & strengthen public sector relationships when trade shows and business travel has been significantly reduced?
  5. How can we get in front of cities and utilities in a remote environment and communicate our value to those facing financial pressure due to loss in revenues?
  6. What are our next strategic moves & growth initiatives when our past relationships no longer guarantee future success?

As anyone in the infrastructure industry can attest to, navigating the new landscape, and tracking opportunities across such a fragmented industry is a challenge to say the least. Trillions of dollars are invested every year in all areas of infrastructure and there are tens of thousands of potential buyers. What these questions reveal is that old business development tactics no longer hold true. To best serve cities and utilities and to deliver solutions to their most pressing infrastructure challenges, companies need to adapt. They need the right insights to develop relationships and close deals in a proactive way, before the RFPs, not during.

The most efficient way to reliably generate these insights and discover key triggers in the infrastructure investment lifecycle is to mine data available in council meeting minutes, infrastructure plans, engineering studies, budgets, compliance violations, capital improvement plans, public notices, and more. These data sources provide a window into future opportunities, whether these opportunities have been realized by the municipality or utility yet or not. While they don’t replace the need for boots on the ground and strong relationships, they provide a valuable augmentation & boost to existing business development efforts.

There are many ways in which companies can take advantage of this unprecedented availability of data:

  1. Gaining early insights into opportunities not on their radar, allowing companies to build & strengthen relationships to win opportunities that are not yet concrete projects or RFPs
  2. Prioritize business development efforts and position solutions to align with the cities & utilities infrastructure plans, by building a clear picture into what issues utilities and cities are facing
  3. Have more intelligence meetings with prospects by extracting the right details at the right time, having a winning account strategy ahead of the meeting
  4. Get more validation and details on rumblings of an opportunity you are hearing about
  5. Have a reason to follow-up on an opportunity you have been tracking for a while, based on recent events and activity within the city or utility

With so much weight resting on relationship building as part of the business development cycle in the infrastructure industry, the ability to leverage early stage – and precise – intelligence is an advantage companies can no longer ignore. And it’s fair to say that those companies that invest in becoming data driven to boost market visibility and target business development opportunities will be the ones who will own the future of infrastructure.

Email us at [email protected] to learn more & discuss the types of early stage intelligence you need to boost your business development efforts.

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