After a couple of months of recent discussion, we were unable to initiate an engagement with a client we desired to work with a great deal. After the initial depression and disappointment wore off, we took some time to reflect on the experience and a couple realizations came to the fore that apply to a great extent in any new collaborations as well as to business development opportunities:
· Keep the passion of the moment in check when evaluating an opportunity. When this particular client opportunity first hit our radar screen, it seemed unlikely to be a good fit for us from a resource perspective. The demands of the client and the logistical challenges involved were simply at odds with some of our core operating principles and even the foundational reasons we formed our consultancy. Through the lens of business development opportunities, this was the equivalent of a giant customer that would dwarf other customers and as a result, dominate our focus and reduce our flexibility to assist others. While the opportunity itself was attractive from day one from a mission, vision, and focused passion perspective, we allowed that attractiveness to overshadow the questions and concerns we should have been raising and evaluating about how this business would impact our future direction as a firm as well as our day-to-day existence in the short term. In some sense, the thrill of the pursuit created blinders to what actually closing the deal would mean.
· Avoid the sour grapes and see the whole vineyard. It is easy to look at a deal that was not done and dismiss it by saying you are better off without it, never really wanted it in the first place, or blaming the client/customer. It is natural, but after you are done venting (privately!), evaluate what the process taught you. How can you avoid going down such a potentially detrimental road in the future? Should you consider changes to your structure/approach that would position you better to take advantage of similar opportunities in the future? Are there other opportunities in the same or related spaces that you could capitalize on today without fundamentally altering your organization and its trajectory?
You cannot catch a whale from a small fishing boat, so take the opportunity to learn from the ones that get away to decide whether to get a bigger boat or to adjust your fishing targets.