Illustration of workers doing construction on smartphone
The impact of a seller-doer program on customer retention

In the dynamic landscape of business, the role of the project management team in developing new business has emerged as a linchpin for organizations seeking to improve customer acquisition, growth and customer retention. 

Introducing a structured business development training initiative for project professionals, commonly known as a “seller-doer” program, can yield many benefits. This goes beyond reshaping a company’s approach to business development; it also contributes to customer retention and expansion of opportunities within current customer accounts.


What Is a Seller-Doer?

A seller-doer is an employee of an organization who is responsible for both technical work and business development activities. Expectations can range from bringing in new business to maintaining customer relationships while also performing technical work for the company.


Investing in a Seller-Doer Program

Construction company leaders who have successfully integrated the project team into business development have dispelled the myth that only natural rainmakers can win new work. Instead, they recognize that selling and serving clients in the architecture, engineering and construction (AEC) market today, especially large corporate or institutional clients, requires a higher level of technical skill and business acumen than most industries. 

These leaders have invested in the project team members who are already engaged in substantive, issue-based conversations with customers and developed a program to support them. A well-defined seller-doer program clarifies expectations, provides training and coaching, and identifies areas of specialization where staff can contribute to business development and customer-retention efforts.  


The Seller-Doer as a Customer Advisor

To follow the success of the companies that have successfully developed a seller-doer program, avoid the noise of sales-based approaches and encourage your project professionals to build on their technical capabilities and develop a more expansive, advisor mindset.  

Help your seller-doers to gain a more a holistic understanding of the client’s strategic and operational issues that go deeper than the day and daily project issues. This knowledge becomes the bedrock of developing long-term, value-driven customer relationships based on undeniable professional competence.


Benefits of a Seller-Doer Program

A well-developed program can be particularly beneficial during times of market uncertainty — providing resilience and adaptability in an ever-shifting economic landscape:

  • Customer relationship focus — Building and maintaining customer relationships is a core aspect of the seller-doer model. In times of uncertainty, the ability to nurture existing customer relationships becomes crucial. Seller-doers, by being actively engaged in both technical work and business development, can better understand customer needs and respond effectively to changes in those needs.
  • Customer-centric approach — Seller-doers are typically focused on building long-term relationships with customers. This customer-centric approach can be a competitive advantage during uncertain times when trust and reliability become critical factors in business relationships.
  • Quick decision-making — Seller-doers often have a more direct line of communication with customers. This streamlined communication facilitates quicker decision-making, allowing organizations to respond promptly to market shifts or customer requirements.
  • Cost-effective lead generation — A seller-doer program supports cost-effective lead generation, allowing the organization to generate more prospective opportunities without significantly increasing costs. Through targeted training, seller-doers can focus on qualified opportunities, eliminating time spent on low-value prospects and ensuring a higher return on investment.
  • Market intelligence — Seller-doers, being involved in both technical and business aspects, are well positioned to gather market intelligence. This firsthand knowledge enables organizations to make informed decisions and adapt strategies based on real-time information. 


Developing a Seller-Doer Program


Once you recognize the need to involve everyone in your organization in fostering new business and retaining customers, the next step is to take action: Secure the support and commitment of your leadership team, business development and marketing. The process does not have to be complicated, but it takes some preparation.

Below are five steps to get started:

  • Identify objectives and goals — Clearly define the objectives and goals of the seller-doer program. Determine what you aim to achieve, whether it’s increased revenue, improved customer relationships, market expansion or a combination of these and other factors.
  • Craft a compelling business case — Develop a comprehensive business case that outlines the need for the seller-doer program. Highlight potential benefits, such as revenue growth, improved customer relationships and market expansion. Clearly articulate how the program aligns with organizational goals. Be sure to address risks and challenges to the program.
  • Define who will participate — Specify the technical professionals for the program. This could include specific departments, teams or individuals within the organization who will be designated as seller-doers. Consider seasoned professionals to include as trainers. Develop a clear framework that outlines the roles, responsibilities and expectations of seller-doers. Define how technical work and business development activities will be balanced, ensuring that individuals understand their dual roles.
  • Get buy-in — Getting the buy-in of stakeholders before launching a seller-doer program is crucial for its success. Identify key stakeholders who will be impacted by the seller-doer program. This may include executives, managers, team members and customers. Understand their perspectives, concerns and expectations. Anticipate and address potential concerns or objections from stakeholders whether it’s about resource allocation, changes in workflow or perceived challenges. 
  • Develop topics and training plans — Design a comprehensive training program that equips technical staff with the necessary skills for effective business development. This may include sales training, communication skills, customer relationship management and other relevant competencies. Equip seller-doers with the tools and resources they need to succeed. This could involve implementing customer relationship management (CRM) systems, providing marketing materials and offering ongoing support. Consider implementing a pilot or test phase of the seller-doer program. This allows stakeholders to observe the program in action on a smaller scale before full implementation. Gather feedback during this phase to make necessary adjustments.



By following these five steps, construction organizations can develop a robust seller-doer program that aligns with their
business objectives, enhances the skills of technical staff and contributes to sustained business growth.

When it’s time to implement, be careful to avoid boilerplate sales training. Engage a consultant specializing in AEC industry business development and organizational strategies to work closely with your organization to customize the seller-doer program based on your unique goals, culture and challenges. This tailored approach will enhance the program’s relevance and effectiveness. 


Maintaining your competitive position with your customers requires a plan to guide your sales and marketing activities through the coming years. By incorporating a seller-doer program that combines technical proficiency with business acumen, it can enable an organization to stay relevant, adapt quickly and retain customers.