Your technical specialty has its terminology, so does marketing. Some terms frequently used in the consulting engineering business, and adaptable beyond, are defined below where they are listed in the approximate order they would arise or occur in the marketing process.

  • Prospect: A qualified potential client, owner, or customer. That is, an organization or an individual in that organization, that a professional services firm would like to serve based on the organization’s or the individual’s favorable profile as defined by characteristics such as the desire for assistance, reputation, stability, financial capacity, and willingness to communicate.
  • Lead: A prospect’s want or need that a professional services firm may be able to fill.
  • Request for Qualifications (RFQ): The formal request from a prospect to a professional services firm inviting the latter to provide its Statement of Qualifications.
  • Statement of Qualifications (SOQ): A document that presents the qualifications of a professional services firm emphasizing its experience on projects similar to that being considered by a client, owner, or customer. An SOQ typically does not address the manner in which the consultant, if selected, would approach the specific project. SOQs usually include basic information about the consulting firm such as  its size; office location or locations; services offered; clients, owners, and customers served; references;  and experience with emphasis on projects similar to that about to be undertaken by organization receiving the SOQ.  Resumes of selected professional staff, which include descriptions of participation in relevant projects, are usually provided.
  • Request for Proposal (RFP): The formal request from a prospect to a professional services firm inviting the latter to submit a proposal to provide services. The RFP typically includes items such as a letter of explanation and invitation; a description of the project; an explanation of the required scope of services (e.g., feasibility study, preliminary engineering, preparation of plans and specifications, construction management, start up, education and training); a project schedule; and the due date for the proposal. The RFP may also include items such as a list of available related reports, studies, and investigations; a description of data and information available from or known by the prospect; the name of a contact person; an indication of whether or not the proposers should provide an estimate of the cost of services; and a description of Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) requirements.
  • Proposal: A document prepared by a professional services firm, in response to an RFP, and hopefully with a clear understanding of the project requirements. It describes what the firm will do, how they will do it, how long it will take, and, possibly, what it will cost. In a sense, the project is worked out “on paper” as part of the proposal preparation process.
  • Organization chart or “Org” chart: Adiagram, often included in a consultant’s proposal. It typically shows key members of the prospect’s organization; key members of the professional services team, including any subconsultants; the roles of all individuals; and the manner in which they will interact.
  • Price-Based Selection (PBS): A client, owner, or customer selects a professional service firm solely or mostly on the basis of price (fees plus expenses). Note: Click here for the related essay “Price Based Selection: Three Costs to the Consultant.”
  • Qualifications-based selection (QBS): A prospect, after evaluating and short-listing firms based on their qualifications, selects the top-ranked firm for price negotiation based on a detailed project scope. If an agreement cannot be reached, which is uncommon, negotiations begin with the second most qualified firm and so on.
  • Two-envelope method: The process by which an organization requiring consulting services invites two or more professional service firms to submit proposals. Each firm is asked to provide their proposal in two envelopes. One envelope is to contain their proposal, without their cost. The other envelope should include the cost of the service, that is, estimated fee plus expenses. On receiving the envelope pairs from each interested consulting firm, the organization seeking a consultant ostensibly opens just the proposal envelopes, evaluates the firms based on the proposals, and prioritizes the firms. Then the second envelope for the top-ranked firm is opened and, if the cost is reasonable, the prospect and the firm negotiate. If they are not successful, then the client, owner, or customer opens the second envelope for the second ranked firm and so on. This method can involve other variations.
  • Go/No Go: One of more decisions, made by a professional services firm, during the consultant selection process. At critical milestones, the firm weighs the pros and cons of proceeding further and makes a decision. Typical Go/No Go milestones in the context of the consultant selection process are receiving an RFQ, RFP, or invitation to interview and during contract negotiations. The professional services firm may also have a Go/No Go discussion upon learning that what they thought was to be QBS will instead be PBS.
  • Platinum Rule: This “rule” says do unto others as they would have done unto them. It contrasts with the traditional Golden Rule which is do unto others as we would have done unto us. The value of the Platinum Rule in marketing and in managing projects is that is focuses the service provider on those being served.


Might one or more marketing webinars or in-house workshops enable your personnel to contribute even more effectively to your organization’s marketing effort? I have presented the well-received topics “Marketing 101: It’s Everyone’s Business” and “Five Habits of Highly-Effective Marketers” in a variety of ways and settings. If this interests you, call me at 219-242-1704 or send an email to


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