Working Outside Your Comfort Zone

There is no “normal” in the new normal we’re all experiencing. No matter our role in our jobs, we’re likely working outside our comfort zone. Hopefully, our “zone” is expanding because there is no normal.

The normal in business development, capture management, and proposal development is not so normal. From early opportunity identification and qualification through contract negotiation, most activities have shifted.

Here are a few tips for being successful outside our comfort zone:

Prospecting: Opportunities do not just appear on our doorstep—we have to look for them. Using the pandemic as an excuse to not establish new relationships and expanding our prospect list doesn’t work. We can’t sit around and wait for the phone to ring. Expand your horizons. Post meaningful content on LinkedIn or other professional sites. Be present. Make contacts. Leverage existing relationships to build new ones.

Qualifying: During our new normal, we’re tempted to bid on everything and anything. Stop. Don’t do it. Keep your qualification standards high. Make smart bid/no-bid decisions—use established qualification gates to advance opportunities. Your comfort zone says to go ahead and bid anything—don’t waste your time and resources. Stick to your probability of win criteria and standards.

Capture Planning: Though in-person meetings and demonstrations are limited, making contact—meaningful contact—with prospective decision-makers has never been more important. Some have reported that it’s actually easier to reach and connect with key customer personnel. Don’t let the restrictions be a barrier; use them to your advantage by stepping outside the comfort zone to build a capture plan with specific, actionable strategies and tactics.

Proposal Development: This long and winding pandemic has forced many of us to work on key projects virtually. Old dogs can learn new tricks! Stepping outside our comfort zone means increased collaboration, using virtual tools, more regular team huddles, and synch-ups. Virtual proposal development forces early collaboration and adherence to key decision and quality milestones—decision gates and color team reviews.

Distractions are just that—distractions. We need to be nimble, flexible, and more collaborative than ever. This takes many of us outside our comfort zone. To be successful, we must adapt and accept new ways to compete for and win business.

Opportunities are there. Customers are buying. Relationships are evolving. Jump in and step outside your zone. You’ll win more work!