When new business is bad business

Have you ever lost a pitch and thought “knowing what we know now, we wouldn’t have gone for it” or “we probably dodged a bullet there”?
Losing a pitch that you didn’t (in hindsight) want to win, is with out doubt the worst possible scenario. You will have dedicated untold hours of strategic and creative time and budget, not to mention travel, research and materials. And then there is the damage to morale. Losing, just doesn’t make people feel good.
So how do you avoid losing what you didn’t want to win? You need to learn to look a gift horse in the mouth.

  1. Work out what a good client or project looks like for your business.
  2. Create a set of criteria that each opportuntity can easily be scored against.
  3. When that new business opportunity comes knocking, make sure you ask all the questions you need to, to satisfy yourself that this represents a viable opportunity, and one that you feel you can win. Ask about budgets, ask about deadlines, ask why the opportunity has arisen and most importantly of all, ask who’ll be making the final decision and how.
  4. If the answers don’t satisfy your criteria. Just say no.

Interestingly, saying no is even more important for a start up. In those early months and years, it is very easy to take any business that comes your way. Hungry for revenue,  and with your first salaries and other overheads to consider, it’s hard to say no but beware: the projects that you accept in the early days will define you as a business as you grow. With limited resources you need to think ahead to how those case studies will help you attract your ideal clients.
Turning down new business opportunities will always feel like going against nature. We spend so much time and energy trying to get noticed, that an approach from a new prospect, particularly an unsolicited one is exciting to say the least. It means the website is working, your network is delivering, and that last blog post must have really struck a chord.
But evaluating the opportuntity against an agreed set of criteria will simply give you greater control, and the more questions you ask, the more answers you’ll get and the more informed decisions you can make.
For more information about lead qualification and new business planning see me.