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Using the Go/No Go Decision Process to Your Advantage

October 26, 2010

or, How I Learned to Take Charge and Stop Throwing Spaghetti against the Wall to See What Sticks

This column was written by Chuck Raymond, CPSM. Chuck is Marketing Manager at Geosyntec Consultants, and Director of the SMPS Boston Sponsorship committee.

I have heard more times than I care to remember when it comes to pursuing new work that “the more you bid on, the more you win.” Now don’t get me wrong – that may be true if you sell some kind of commodity or “widget” (which I have never had to do), but when it comes to selling professional services where you need to differentiate yourself from the pack, it is the farthest thing from the truth.

Bidding on anything that moves is not only costly, but it’s also time-consuming and frustrating, because inevitably you will lose far more than you win. That’s not fun. It may also open your firm up to business risk factors that could cost you far more than just the cost of putting the proposal together. So how do we go about deciding which opportunities to pursue? The best way is with some type of objective “Go/No Go” decision process.

To thoroughly describe a Go/No Go process would take far more space than I have in this format, but whatever form it takes, it involves evaluating several factors that, taken together, can you help you come to a more objective decision about whether or not to bid. Some factors I have used or seen used by others include:

  • Prior relationship with the client – Does the client know your firm (and the proposed Project Manager), and have you done work for them before? The better that relationship, the better chance you have this time.
  • Quality of the client – Does the client have a history of suing their contractors? Do they pay on time? What is the potential for repeat work? Do they appreciate value, or are they “basement shoppers”?
  • Incumbent and their performance record – If there is an incumbent, have they done a good job, or is the client honestly looking to make a change? 
  • How did you get the RFP? – It’s best if it was sent to a specific person at your firm by name rather than to just the firm. That means they sought you out. 
  • Hot buttons for the client/selection committee – Do you know what specific problem(s) the client or selection committee is trying to solve? What is it that keeps them up at night?
  • Compatibility with the firm’s expertise – Do the services being requested fit in with your firm’s area(s) of expertise? 
  • Do you have enough time to put a winning proposal together? – If your proposal resources are too tied up, then submitting a less-than-stellar proposal will do more harm than good.
  • Can you differentiate yourselves? – Can you show and prove obvious value and relevant past experience to the client?

There are many other factors that can and should be added to this list, but when all is said and done, and you have done an effective job evaluating each and every opportunity, this will help keep you from pursuing projects that are simply not worth the time, effort, risk, cost, or other factors. In fact, anecdotal evidence suggests that being more selective actually allows you to win more work. So stop throwing spaghetti against the wall to see how much sticks – that gets messy!

Other Resources

  1. SMPS’s Marketing Handbook for the Design and Construction Professional Chapter 2.9 “To Go or Not to Go: That IS the Question” by Bernie Siben, CPSM, can be purchased at 
  2. Sample Go/No Go forms and tools. A variety of forms and planning tools are available free to members to download from the SMPS Marketing Resource Center, found on > Marketing Resource Center > Sample Documents > Go/No-Go Forms. These tools were donated by SMPS members.
  3. Articles from Marketer. A search of the Marketing Resource Center turns up some articles on Go-No Go decision-making covered in .
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