Everyone welcomes new business opportunities and gets excited at the thought of a new challenge, not to mention more revenue for the company. But, we know that not all opportunities are a good thing to pursue. So, we evaluate every aspect before we leap.
What’s the right way to go about making the assessment? In most agencies, the director of business development isn’t the only one to weigh in on the go/no-go decision to go after a business opportunity. In some agencies, the entire executive team assembles to review the assignment – which isn’t necessarily a bad approach. After all, the discipline leads possess the strongest grasp of how their agency’s capabilities align with the prospect’s stated needs. Issues can arise in this dynamic, however, when personal motivations influence the decision-making process. For instance, the CFO may be under pressure to hit a defined revenue target and be blinded by the revenue opportunity of a particular prospect. Or a department head eager to grow a practice or capability may push to pursue an opportunity that includes a scope of work that is outside of the agency’s skill set.
At the end of the day, the decision to move forward in a review should always be determined by an honest and realistic assessment of the agency’s chance of winning. And yes, for some opportunities the collective decision will be made to move forward knowing that your agency will be the underdog – but when this practice is commonplace, the impact will not only be financially damaging but will negatively drain the overall morale and culture of your agency.
The agency leadership team should spend some time together developing a prospect screening process. What’s relevant for your agency will vary dramatically based on your capabilities, size, and structure. You may find it helpful to develop a weighted scorecard that is issued to key decision makers along with the RFI/RFP and later discussed during an in-person “opportunity assessment” meeting. Or, depending on the strength of your business development executive, you may choose to rely on this individual to make the assessment and then share their recommendation with the key decision makers.
Following are a few critical questions that apply to all review situations which I find to be helpful in making smarter decisions about pitch participation. And though these principles are geared toward agencies, having a clear understanding of an agency’s screening criteria is very useful information to marketers who are seeking to put their business into review.
Regardless of where you net out on the development of your agency’s screening criteria, the most important factor to weigh should always be an honest assessment of your chance of winning.
About the Author
Jane Matthews is the Director of Client Services at CreativeDrive and the founder of Hook, a consultancy focused on agency search and review management, business development, and agency marketing. Prior to forming Hook in early 2018, Jane spent five years at Moxie where she oversaw all growth initiatives for the agency, including marketing, PR and new business. Jane came to Moxie by way of another Atlanta-based agency, 22squared, where for nearly seven years she led all business development efforts. Prior to that, Jane held both client leadership and business development roles at Austin Kelley Advertising. Her career began in New York and has also included stints in publishing and market research.