Bill Scheessele

OPINION

How to Work Left, Invest Right, and Grow Revenue

Times have changed, and with them the traditional ways of acquiring business. Clients and prospects have found new cost-conscious alternatives to address their problems. As we face this new reality, you may be asking the question – how can we acquire new business and retain a loyal client base?

The answer – we have to change the way we think. The first step is to work with customers before the RFP drops and identify opportunities that are right for your business. Or, in other words, “Work Left” and “Invest Right.”

Work Left

A thoughtfully executed, person-to-person engagement process can go a long way to develop new business with potential customers. Key phrase: potential customers.

The question is – how do we build a pool of quality prospects? The answer is to shift your thinking to the far left in customer engagement by establishing a direct client engagement process (CEP) that systematically allows you to hunt for new business. By “hunt,” we mean take a proactive state of mind and be independent from the market.

In other words, don’t just react, act. A well-executed CEP is an engine to qualify and drive a true opportunity forward or disqualify a suspect opportunity and delete it from the pipeline.

Yes, disqualifying is just as critical to winning business as qualifying. 

We want to be there to shape our clients’ needs and requirements; however, if they have already completed that step, the shaping train has left the station. If there is not a known need or requirement, we have the opportunity to work left and shape the opportunity through direct customer engagement or CEP.

Invest Right

In today’s reality, we can no longer fixate on a corporate internal business acquisition process (BAP). That is like setting the cruise control on an internal business-getting roadmap. An Invest Right plan for growing revenue allows you to focus on the right opportunities that are aligned with your organization’s core capabilities. The right investments include bid and proposal esources and person-to-person engagement. 

When your organization gathers external, human intelligence on a suspected opportunity, you can obtain the right information to qualify high probability opportunities and disqualify less than promising ones.  When you invest in the opportunity identification and qualification process, the probability of a win for your pipeline increases substantially.

A vice president and general manager of an intelligence and security business unit of a top-tier client shared that her team disciplines themselves to follow an opportunitye identification and qualification process in their customer engagement process.  Their win percentage is enviable because the focus is always on the right prospects for their time, talent, and B&P budget.

Their prospect pipeline might not be as large as those of other units in the organization, but we all know it’s the win that counts. That’s how powerful an intel gathering process is for your effort to win business and grow revenue.

Our client found that using person-to-person engagement to gather intel early in the process fosters a consultative relationship that trumps any kind of dialogue started after the request for proposals is announced. It’s logical. Why would anyone invest time in responding to an RFP from a customer they did not know or understand?

Likewise, we must continue to foster engagement and dialogue with our existing customers with as much focus and attention as with new prospects. We cannot take winning their add-on or repeat business for granted.

Work Left, Invest Right, and you will grow revenue. Simple advice for dealing with the realities in business development for the New Year.

About the Author

Bill Scheessele is CEO of MBDi, a business development professional services firm. He leads a team of government contracting business growth experts. Learn more about MBDi and their revenue growth resources at http://www.mbdi.com.

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