10MMM: How Architects Increase Sales

February 5, 2023

Tyler Suomala

Founder of Growthitect

We tend to believe the difference between average and extraordinary is extensive.

After all, we read stories about Founders spending years working 100+ hours per week committed to a single idea before it finally becomes a meaningful business. We hear about professional athletes that wake up at 4am to exercise for a few hours only to repeat that process after lunch. We learn about incredibly talented architects that spend decades pushing out unique projects before finally getting discovered.

We’re lead to believe that being extraordinary requires an insane time investment.

Guess what? That’s kind of true…if you want to become among the best in the world. The top 0.0001%.

But what about those of us that aren’t trying to be the best in the world? What if we just want to be the best in our region? Or local community? Or firm? Or position? Or, heck, we’ll even take being in the top 10%, right?

What if I told you that it only takes 10 extra minutes?

Back in the day…

Years ago, when I was applying to M.Arch programs, I experienced the power of pockets of 10 extra minutes. I had decided to apply to some of the nation’s top programs - Harvard, Yale, MIT, and Princeton.

I asked myself two questions:

  1. What’s the status quo?

  2. What small things can I do that are likely to make a big impact?

The status quo is pretty clear. All these programs had very similar, if not identical, application processes and guidelines. And I assumed that the vast majority of applicants had stellar GPAs, great GMAT scores, and awesome design portfolios.

So how could I differentiate myself? Here’s a few things I identified:

  • Status quo: Use the same general Letter of Intent for all applications.

  • Small extra: Change one paragraph for each application to specifically address my interest in the program.

  • Status quo: Use the same 3 recommendation letters for all applications.

  • Small extra: Get 5 recommendation letters and choose the most relevant 3 for each application.

  • Status quo: Assume that you can learn about a program from the website.

  • Small extra: Ask a couple of alumni about their experience in the program.

I found 1-2 of these for every area of the application process.

Sure, there’s lots of nuance to these applications and their execution. But guess what? I was accepted to all 4 programs. And I promise you, I’m nothing special - I truly believe those “small extras” made a difference.

I’ve carried that lesson forward since then and I continue to ask myself those two questions on a regular basis.

Today, we see the world’s best making unfathomable time commitments while “productivity experts” tell us 47 ways to save 2 minutes a day.

Is there a middle ground?

Yes. I call it the 10 More Minutes Model (10MMM).

How does it work? Identify areas within your career or business where you can ask yourself the two questions above and then act on those “small extras” that only take 10 minutes.

Five 10MMM Examples

  • Status quo: Only calling prospective clients or partners if they reach out to you.

  • 10MMM: Proactively call a few potential partners every week. (Need help? Use my cold calling script!)

  • Status quo: Learning more about a prospective client during the first meeting.

  • 10MMM: Doing some research prior to the first meeting so that you can build a strong rapport.

  • Status quo: Sending a proposal via email.

  • 10MMM: Guiding your client through the proposal via a phone call or in-person meeting.

  • Status quo: Sending a thank you email to clients after the project is complete.

  • 10MMM: Handwriting a letter and including a thoughtful gift.

These “small extras” aggregate over time into huge differentiators that attract high-quality clients.

So next time you feel like you can’t get ahead, just ask yourself what you can do with 10 extra minutes.

Let me know how it goes 🙂

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