Step 3 decision time

How do you know if you have a qualified lead? Process the information that you acquire from the prequalification and discovery steps to determine whether the project is worth pursuing. Although every project, client, and consulting firm is different, if you can answer yes to most of the following questions, you should pursue the opportunity and submit a proposal.

► Client Qualification Checklist

► Are you qualified to perform the work?

► Has the budget been approved?

► Is this likely to be a profitable project?

► Are you comfortable with your relationship with the client?

► Do you have a complete understanding of the problem?

► Is the client ready to begin work? Or, do you have a date when the work will begin?

► Are your odds of getting the project greater than 40 percent?

► Are you in basic agreement with the client on timing, fees, scope, and objectives?

► Are the odds of a long-term relationship good?

► Are all nonconsulting resources readily available for the project?

► Is the proposed schedule realistic?

► Do you have access to the decision makers?

► Has the business case for the project been clearly articulated and approved?

► Has the client successfully worked with consultants in the past?

► Are key client executives supportive of the project and your firm?

► The Fruits of Due Diligence

Clients always seem to be in a hurry. When they call, they want action quickly and many consultants drop everything to oblige. Take your time and use the qualification process to your advantage. It can clear the fog that may shroud a project in uncertainty and improve your chances of winning more work with less marketing cost.

Thorough detective work during discovery will clarify the real costs of delivering the proposed service, in both time and effort. As a result, you will spend less time creating proposals. And the quality and accuracy of your proposals will be higher, improving the odds that you will be selected for the project. Plus, there will be few surprises once the project gets underway because your approach will be aligned with the client's objectives.

The discovery process gives you the chance to meet key members of the client's organization, which will build your network and could open up other opportunities. You also get license to walk the company's halls where you may spot additional problems that need attention. As you keep your eyes and ears open for potential opportunities, take the time to renew old acquaintances and start new relationships.

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