Bob Schultek
My good friend is a passionate biker, and an entrepreneur.  He often uses his cycling experience to make a point about business. We were discussing the rapid evolution of technology as a driver of competition when Mike uttered:
“Intense competition is the new normal, and there’s no time to rest. Bikers prefer to ride in hilly country – it’s a hard ride up and restful ride down. But when you ride on flat ground, you can’t rest.”
Mike’s comment brought to mind a client who is concerned that she is missing new business opportunities. Competition is so relentless that there’s no time to rest. She understands that too often missed opportunities are recognized after the fact.
New business opportunities occur randomly and typically when you are most busy.  You need a process to help “perceive” opportunities and promptly act on them so you don’t miss a chance to discover a new customer or develop a novel concept that can grow your business. This process should include how to recognize a significant opportunity, how to evaluate it, and how to respond to it.
Not every opportunity deserves extra effort so define what constitutes a substantial opportunity:

  • Is a key or core customer inquiring about new products or services?
  • Is the inquiry from a targeted market or prospect?
  • Could the opportunity generate profit in a reasonable ROI timeframe?

Evaluate the opportunity outside of the normal proposal development process:

  • Use a focused, cross-functional response team, chaired by your senior business development person, to evaluate opportunities.
  • Discover the customer’s goals/needs driving the opportunity and determine how your unique competencies can produce quantifiable and competitive advantages for the customer.
Balance the urgency of response with the need to propose solutions that achieve the customer’s goals. Don’t be commoditized…if the customer refuses to engage in a comprehensive pre-proposal discovery dialogue, then is the opportunity worthy of the time and effort you’ll invest to develop a solution?
How does your organization evaluate new business opportunities?
How do you ensure that an opportunity meets your
new business investment criteria?