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You just discovered a lead. Now what should you do?

Don't just make it up as you go along...

First you need to qualify it. Qualifying a lead means making sure that it’s worth pursuing.

See also:
Information Advantage
  • Is it real?
  • Is it big enough?
  • Is it the right type?
  • Is it worth pursuing?
  • Can you win it?

But the truth is that you should be qualifying the lead continuously. You should be constantly proving that the lead is worth pursuing. 

Once you qualify the lead, you need to prepare to win it. This is a combination of things you need to do and things you need to find out. You do this by seeking the answers to more questions.

When most companies get a lead, they ask themselves what they can find out about it. They go fishing. Sometimes they discover good information and are quite pleased with themselves. But usually, when the RFP is released and they start asking the real questions that they need to answer to guide the proposal writing to the win, they find that they are unprepared.

This is because they have not used the time before RFP release to the maximum advantage and because the information they stumbled across did not add up to what they need to know to win. The only way to overcome this is to bring some structure to how you approach the pre-RFP pursuit.

Start by breaking down the time before RFP release into parts, so that you can allocate action items and information gathering activities and then hold reviews to track their progress. Tracking the progress of leads means you need check-in milestones and some way to measure progress. Monthly business development meetings tend to become routine and ineffective.

The way we approach this in our process is to break the time before RFP release down proportionately into four reviews. We take the questions that articulate what we need to know in order to write the winning proposal and allocate them across those four reviews. When we get to a review date, we grade whether the answers we’ve gathered are sufficient for us to be ready to win at RFP release. 

We call our approach to the pre-RFP pursuit phase Readiness Reviews. They enable you to measure whether you are becoming more or less ready to win before the RFP is even out. Even if you have passed a prior review, if you find that it's no longer worth the investment to continue it may be best to drop the pursuit. When you assume all leads should be pursued and are incentivized to show a full pipeline, companies have a difficult time dropping the pursuits, even when they haven't succeeded at developing an information advantage for them. But when you see the Readiness Review scores, it’s a bit more objective. If you track the metrics, it becomes concrete.

Grading your progress at set reviews enables you to collect metrics that can help you determine exactly what drives win probability. If you divide the questions and action items into categories like customer awareness, opportunity awareness, competitive awareness, and self-awareness, you can measure how your score at each phase in each area correlates with your win rate. Over time, this can help you decide how to prioritize your efforts.

Holding onto every lead means your win rates will go down and those you do win will have lower margins. But to develop an information advantage and be able to know which leads are on track you need to implement a structure like we’ve described. In a more competitive environment, those that do will gain market share. Those that don’t will starve and fade away.

Let's discuss your challenges with preparing proposals and winning new business...

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More information about "Carl Dickson"

Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing, with more than 30 year's experience. He's written multiple books and published over a thousand articles that have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

Click here to learn how to engage Carl as a consultant.

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