This is part two of the Aidpreneur.com training on pipeline management for RFAs RFPs and RFQs.
The goal of this section is to talk about the first filtering process you should use in your pipeline management. This is also known as the go or no go decision for each of the opportunities that you have identified that you or your company could possibly pursue.
The first thing you want to make sure of is that you do not have too many opportunities to consider. This may seem counterintuitive; the more choices you have, the better chance you will have to win new business, right?
However, what we found at ISG relates to the simple and well-known principle of staying focused. Said another way: “if you try to do everything, you end up doing nothing”.
If you find that the pile of opportunities you have on your table seems too large, or too diverse or, as a part of your review process (which we will discuss in a subsequent section), you have an extremely low percentage of wins, it’s probably a good idea for you to reevaluate your decision criteria about what you identify as a real opportunity for your practice. This is directly related to how you define your niche. (For a more complete discussion on how to define your niche and what that means for your business a success, please check out our other trainings on this topic).
The short story is, the better-defined and more laser-focused your niche is, the more likely you’ll be successful at winning business within that particular area of expertise. For example, my company, International Solutions Group, focuses on helping development and humanitarian aid organizations perform better. This could mean a lot of different things – we could focus on financial systems, we could provide solutions for human resources, we could provide solutions for strategy development, or any number of other services.
However, we’ve decided to focus our business on high-quality evaluations of development and aid programming, with an emphasis on enabling technology and regional or global frameworks. While this may seem to limit the number of opportunities available to us, we find that it allows us to be much more specific about what we can provide, who we provided for and how we deliver value for those organizations who are our clients.Once you have a reasonable pile of opportunities identified, your next step is to meet with your team in order to review those opportunities. Depending on the nature of your business and the type of services you provide, this could be daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly or some other timeframe that suits your particular cash flow and organizational growth needs.
To be prepared for this meeting, someone in your organization should have the responsibility of ensuring a quick and thorough presentation of each opportunity so the group that’s meeting to make a decision can understand the opportunity quickly and make that fast go or no go decision.
At the meeting, the next step is to apply your high-level decision criteria to each and every opportunity in turn. It’s important that each opportunity be considered and a decision made. At this stage it’s not even necessary to ask for more information; diving deeper into each opportunity is a part of the next filtering process. This training is not designed to provide you with your high-level decision-making criteria (again as mentioned in the prerequisites, please see our other training here at Aidpreneur.com about how to develop these criteria), however some of these criteria might be: 1) does this opportunity fit our niche? 2) can we respond to the tender in time? 3) have we worked with this potential client before? 4) do we have an “in” in some way for this opportunity? Or other high-level decision criteria that may be important to you or your organizational goals.
Ultimately, if the answer to any of your high-level decision criteria is “no”, then toss the opportunity and move onto the next for consideration. One of the most important lessons we’ve learned at ISG is the empowerment and improvement in quality that comes from learning to say “no” often. This really is a muscle you should develop as either an independent professional or a small company. There is plenty of work out there.
At the end of this process, you should have a very manageable (in other words small) list of potential opportunities that you can take to the next step of the filtering process in your pipeline development.
Thank you very much for watching this section of the training, and please if you have any questions, give us a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org.