To go or not to go...that is the question: Secrets of Successful Business Development

Posted by Brian Lamee on February 11, 2015

Project Team

I HATE having my time wasted. I only have so much of it and as of writing this post, I have yet to figure out how to get that 25th hour in the day. So, when I think about the time I have wasted on things that I knew I should not have…it bugs me. But when I think about all time I wasted chasing opportunities that I knew I was never going to win…it REALLY bugs me.

The hardest things for a business development professional to do is to walk away from an opportunity. But as I look back on my career, I think about all of those deals that I knew I should have walked away from or I look back and realize how much time I wasted chasing something I shouldn’t have been chasing. I know hindsight is 20/20, as the saying goes, but what if I had a way to to score the opportunity and it could help me decide if this is worth the effort or if I should walk away?

How much time will you waste knowing that the odds really are not in your favor? How much time (and money) is saved if you walk away? Experienced professionals start to learn the nuances and warning signs of a bad opportunity and when they should walk away. For example, if I want to position my firm for an upcoming proposal and I go and meet with someone in the client’s office, but the person I’m meeting with is not the decision maker. My contact has to then convey my value proposition to his boss (meaning I am not allowed to present to the true decision maker), then I know that my fate is in the hands of someone that I hope can covery the value our firm brings. Sorry, but that rarely has worked out for me, so if I can’t have access to the decision maker, then I am out. But, it took me 16 years to learn that.

What about the new business development professional we just hired last year? They have not learned those lessons yet. And is it really fair that they should have to learn the hard way? Can you afford to wait 16 years for them to learn?

That is the idea behind the go/no go evaluation. Many firms have built checklists that will visually show them and even score the probability that they could win a project and that it will be profitable. For example, say you had a list of 10 things that would make it a perfect opportunity to pursue. What if only three of the items on the list are met? By trying to standardize or template this, they can leverage the experience the firm has and not rely on the individual lessons that specific business development members have had to learn on their own. This also gives the leaders of the firm confidence that the opportunities being pursued, see what the risks are and if the risk is worth the reward.

Many firms are even building this into their CRM tools like the sample below.


By having your go/no go in your CRM system, the go/no go checklist is filled out when the opportunity is created and everyone involved can see what risks are and the odds of winning based on opportunity intel and experience. That way, nobody is running around chasing a deal that experience says is not worth the time…because we can’t make more of it.

To learn about the other 7 Business Development Secrets of the Most Successful AE Firms, check out the recording of our webcast with PSMJ.

To learn more about Deltek Vision CRM, click here.