Positioning to Win—Building a Business Case with the Client

The Challenge
Today we are in a fiercely complicated and competitive environment. Many companies have seen their revenue go flat or decline. In order to survive and thrive, we need to improve our business development and capture skills. We must be as good at winning business as we are at our core business. Companies that have high win rates are usually good in their technical area of expertise and also have the skills to build a good business case that improves the client business/mission.

To build value for the customer, top performers in business development and capture demonstrate effective skill sets in two areas:

    1. IQ: Intelligence Quotient
    2. EQ: Emotional Quotient

Lack in either quotient can be a fatal flaw in today’s competitive business environment.

IQ: Intelligence Quotient
Intelligence quotient in my terminology is defined as our technological knowledge and skill and the ability to understand the value that knowledge is to helping others.


  • Know our industry, products, and services
  • Use this knowledge effectively with customers
  • Have critical and creative thinking skills
  • Take an unbiased view of what’s going on
  • Have the ability to solve the customer’s problems
  • Organize a result that improves their business/mission
  • Are prepared when we meet with clients
  • Are not going by the seat of our pants

Those who are weak in IQ struggle to convert their observations into results. They think they understand what the client needs better than the client. They try to fit the client’s needs into their solution. They have creative ideas, but little useful application. They fail to build a business case that influences the client. When the RFP comes out, they are not in a favored position with the client.

EQ: Emotional Quotient
Emotional quotient in my terminology is a measure of how well we communicate and build relationships with others. In other terms, it is the ability to connect with our customer and build trust.

In his book The Speed of Trust, Stephen M.R. Covey says, “The degree of trust has hard economic consequences: as trust goes up, speed goes up and costs go down. As trust decreases, everything slows down and costs rise.”

Top performers have good diagnostic skills. They do not prescribe a solution for the client without understanding the client’s problems and the impact on their organization or the future results they want to create. The way they sell is a preview of how they solve the client’s challenges.

Top performers have an organized way to ask questions. They are patient listeners. They help solve the client’s problems and help clients achieve their desired results. When an RFP comes out, they are already in a favored position. They have built a strong business case and have good win rates.

Those that are weak in the emotional quotient usually initiate the discussion with their client by introducing their solution. They start talking solution before they have diagnosed. They guess or assume what the client’s issues are. Their solutions don’t solve the client’s high priority issues. The business case is weak, having little influence on the client. Because of these weaknesses, they have low win rates on competitive bids.

The Good News
The good news is that we can improve our IQ and EQ. Some cultivate these skills naturally, but most of us need training and demonstration. We need to learn skills that are repeatable and documented. As we develop and hone these skills, we help our client solve its problems, build a good business case for our solution, reach a favored and trusted position with the client, and have higher win rates for our business.