Do You Have an Opportunity Pipeline or an Opportunity Pipe Dream?

Do You Have an Opportunity Pipeline or an Opportunity Pipe Dream?

This quote was provided by a recent participant at one of our workshops. The wisdom of this quote is that it raises an important question… what is a real opportunity? As we teach in our training, a legitimate opportunity exists when the following three criteria overlap.

  1. There is a potential customer issue (requirement);
  2. You have a solution that will solve the issue; and
  3. The business case meets your organization’s financial/risk hurdles.

If you can validate these three criteria, then you have a potential opportunity that is real. If the three areas are not overlapping, it will require “shaping” to make anything happen. If they don’t overlap at all, then this “opportunity” will never result in a win. Unfortunately, too many individuals will take a limited amount of data and information mostly focused on their solution and business case, spin it up to their own liking, and convince themselves and others that an opportunity exists when it really doesn’t.

Early in the opportunity identification and qualification (OI&Q)i phase of your Business Development or Business Acquisition Process, if you haven’t validated enough data, personal knowledge and human intel by engaging the prospect so you can objectively assign a good probability of win, then you are building more of an opportunity pipe dream than an opportunity pipeline.

Webster’s dictionary defines a pipe dream as “a fanciful or impossible plan or hope.” For many organizations, this describes what their pipeline really is. Their pipeline is loaded with nothing more than names of potential contracts and department or agency opportunities that have little more than a hope and a prayer of ever being won. Most of the contacts tied to these “opportunities” have never been engaged and nothing has ever been done to qualify them. However, investment of capital, time and emotional energy of Business Development, capture and proposal staffs has been allocated to chase “opportunities” that will never result in a revenue-generating contract.

Too many organizations take the Peter Pan approach which states that, “All you need is trust and a little bit of pixie dust!” However, pixie dust is hard to come by in this day and age. So, if you are running low, you might want to try a different approach.