How to Increase Win Rate by Changing with the Seasons

Catherine Jeltes,   Purple Leaf

Catherine Jeltes, Purple Leaf

Breaking the year into seasons (or planning quarters) just might be the key to increasing your team's win probability while decreasing wasted energy.

Most of us align our internal account planning to our firm's fiscal year-- almost without regard to what is going on with our clients. Usually, there is an annual exercise in which the leadership team and key staff look at the opportunity set holistically, do some market research, then add a couple things and maybe let some go.  We write it all up in polished PowerPoint slides. It's just how we do things.

But, there is a better way.  By changing the mindset from internally driven (by company fiscal year) to aligning action with what is generally going on in the agencies by quarter, you can better time the introduction of an innovative approach, know when to intensely focus on delivery, or give the team a breather.

It strikes me that the government seasons are these: 

  • Open to New Ideas (February, March, April)  Everyone is back from the winter holidays, is working their New Years Resolutions, is optimistically looking forward to Spring and warmer weather.  This is a great time to introduce new concepts, alternative approaches, and better ways to do things.
  • Heads Down, Work Hard (May, June, July)   It's a little counterintuitive but the summer is really all about focusing on delivery and not letting any of the balls drop with vacations and changing school schedules interrupt the team's progress.  Our clients depend on us to get a lot accomplished during the summer months.  It's actually a frustrating time for a lot of them because (unlike the winter holidays), vacations are planned throughout the summer making it difficult to "get everyone in a room".  This generally isn't a time that they want to make any big moves because many of the people they'd be looking to for feedback or buy-in simply aren't available.
  • Proposal-me! (August, September, October)    Of course, we're all familiar with proposal season.  Like or not, this is often your chance to win projects that will sustain you throughout the year. Some years are busier than others.  If your agency was super organized and did all their buying throughout the year, this is a good time to pitch smaller, more narrow scope ideas that clients would be willing to fund with end-of-year money. Otherwise, get to work-- your section is late!
  • Productive Hibernation (November, December, January)  Between the holidays and "use or lose", these three months are absolutely terrible for any new idea pitching. However, projects tend to slow down, as well. So, these winter months are a great time to bring the team together back at the office and work on developing prototypes or whitepapers that will be ready for clients when everyone is back and energized in early Spring.

Of course, idea generation and successful pitching to clients does goes on continuously-- that's not going to change.  But building seasonal rhythms into your own planning and pitching cycle can improve the win rate while reducing frustration and missed opportunities to present your concept to the most receptive audience.

All week, I'm writing and thinking about building a pipeline of opportunities.