As we continue to move forward in 2021, I sense a high degree of optimism – although it is tempered by an expectation that the value of each new opportunity may be lower. This means that meeting past revenue targets means companies will need to win more pursuits. Fortunately, for companies willing to change their approach to capturing new business, that’s quite possible.
So many business leaders are carefully mapping out a strategy for emerging from COVID-19 by planning how they can get off to a quick start renewing or earning the confidence of their people, their customers, and the market. Key to achieving success won’t necessarily mean simply going back to the way things were done before the virus. The new math of the post-COVID-19 era tells us such a strategy is not likely to work.
Pre-coronavirus, many companies approached business development as a simple numbers game: Get into as many pursuits as you can, and then receive – and respond to – as many RFPs as possible. This often meant turning things around quickly, leaning on your resources, and repurposing relevant materials from pursuit to pursuit.
On a pure numbers basis, this was an efficient way to operate. Under the new set of rules, however, sheer efficiency plays miss the mark. Buyers today are devoting more time and attention to proposals. They can tell who has put legitimate (even extra) effort into the pursuit and who hasn’t. There’s a high correlation between this observation and winning or losing. I call this difference maker “intensity.”
Intensity goes beyond the amount of time you put into a pitch. It involves the depth you’re willing to go to learn more than your competitors about decision makers and what really matters to them. It’s the perception you create that communicates your passion for the project and for the well-being of the prospect and their business. It’s replacing generic materials with focused, customized communication. Ultimately, it’s how much you show that the entire pursuit was about them and not about you.
Achieving intensity – and the win – involves a number of behavior shifts:
“High intensity” is demonstrated through the deep understanding the pursuit team demonstrates about the opportunity, the prospect, and the issues that matter. It’s there in the discussion or document that feels like it was prepared just for that prospect. And it shows in the well-prepared, confident, relaxed team that is easy for the prospect to connect with.
Intensity might not guarantee a win. But a lack of intensity almost certainly guarantees a loss. And, as we all know, winning is better!
Bob Wiesner is founder and managing partner, Americas, for The Artemis Partnership, a global consulting company helping clients win more new business and improve success rates for their most important pursuits. He is also the author of Winning Is Better.