My last post on new business process was on qualifying pitch opportunities – specifically how to empower your new business team to assess opportunities as they come over the transom. In it, I talked about selection criteria and their importance in serving as guide posts to keep you on your strategic path.

Selection criteria are guide posts to keep you on your strategic path.

Selection criteria span from broad to specific, quantitative to qualitative. The most basic should be considered barriers to entry (the answers being pretty obvious) and include:

  • What the monetary value of the account or assignment is and whether it meets your financial goals
  • Whether it’s free of any conflicts of interest with any other clients
  • If it’s a scope of work that you are qualified to (or that you want to) perform
  • The next layer of criteria tend not to be black and white and are often harder – sometimes gut-wrenching – to answer:
  • Is this an aspirational assignment and if so, can you position your agency in a way the client will find credible?
  • Even if this is every agency’s dream account, do you realistically have the capacity to staff the business?
  • Who are the decision makers at the client and do they have a track record of working well with their agencies?
  • Often answering these questions honestly means sometimes saying “no” to a prospect or search consultant (that’s the gut-wrenching part). But if you’ve taken the time to map out a strategic plan, you’ll make your decision with confidence.

    But here’s the thing – as important as the selection criteria are, there will be times that you’ll betray them. Sometimes an opportunity comes along that is simply too appealing, important, game-changing, etc., to turn down. By using your selection criteria to filter that pitch opportunity, which just might turn the agency on end for weeks, you’re at least going into it with your eyes wide open, knowing what the risks and the rewards are. And don’t forget to communicate that to your team. You’ll minimize confusion and will be more likely to generate enthusiasm and eagerness. Given how much work a pitch like this can entail, you’re going to need all the willing participants you can get!