Feeding Jellyfish: New Biz, a New Way
The way of the Jellyfish starts with one simple concept. Everything is opt-in. Nowhere is this more evident than within the new business process.
In the traditional business model, service companies are always searching for good leads. They often have cash flow problems, pipeline concerns and unregulated growth, all of which can lead them to take on anything they can find. I like to think of this as feeding the monster. The monster isn’t picky, it just needs more. So companies on this slippery slope chase every opportunity. Not only does this make it difficult to have any control over the quality of work or type of client you get, it leads to burnout and frustration as well as missed opportunities.
In the Jellyfish Model, we invert the traditional process. When a prospect shares a new business opportunity, we explain that we need a good understanding of that opportunity to share it internally and see if it’s a fit. This can be in the form of a high-level call or the prospect can write an overview. Then we post the opportunity in an internal message where everyone can see what’s available. If enough people show interest, a team forms organically; if not, then it wasn’t the right project and we move on.
Being at Choice
There are many benefits to inverting the traditional new business model. When a service company is busy posturing to prove its value, it often strips itself of equal footing, which leaves the hiring decision and negotiating power on the prospect’s side. We forget that the prospect needs us, and act as if our world will end without them. In the Jellyfish Model, a prospect knows they may get rejected by the team, and this is good. It’s human nature to chase the things that retreat from us. The fact that we start off by saying we’re very careful in selecting the work we take, versus “selling” the prospect on our skills, makes a jellyfish company more appealing.
Finding a Love Connection
This process works great for the potential client as well. If their project is accepted by the team, the team has committed to the opportunity. It wasn’t sent down from the mountaintop, and the team is not commanded to do the work as part of keeping their job. The team asked for it, and in some cases team members fought for it. When the team owns the responsibility for a project’s success or failure there are no excuses. Smart prospects get this and want a team that’s excited to work with them.
Difficult control-freak prospects won’t play this game and they go away. Big corporate clients may not be able to follow the process. RFPs cease to make it through the door unless the opportunity is truly special and the team asks to deviate from the norm. While big logos can seem very sexy, too often they come with big headaches. By putting our egos aside, we enable ourselves to take the best opportunities, not the ones that “look” the best to the outside world.
Empower The Team
When a team does form, they hold a call with the prospect to talk about next steps. The prospect and the team work together to determine the process, timeline and cost of their project. For the team, this means it chooses every aspect of the way it will work. For the prospect, they are involved in decision making with the actual producers for the project and not the “owner” of the company or a salesperson. This avoids all kinds of issues as the project takes off.
Teams Run the Projects
Too often, prospects imprint on the owner of a company or whoever they spoke to about their project first. Once the prospect is through the door, that person normally isn’t involved in the project. Three months into the schedule the new client says, “but I was told XYZ.” Suddenly the team loses its footing. What else was said or promised? By taking the traditional owner out of the equation early this can be avoided. In fact, some members of the team may offer to start handling new business opportunities to keep the owner completely out of the mix. We’ve experienced this recently and connecting new prospects with the teams that manage them feels right to us.
We’ll be sending out the first Jellyfish Newsletter very soon. In it we’ll be offering a sneak peek at the actual conversations that led to a new project coming on board, jellyfish style. We’ll dissect it to give you more detail on the actual push-backs and resolutions we reached.
Next week on the blog, we’ll be talking about the roles and responsibilities of people in a jellyfish company.
Even if following the way of the jellyfish isn’t in your future, we hope you’re getting some good insights and ideas for different strategies and tactics you can implement in whatever business model you follow.
As always, let us know what you’re thinking and dive in with any questions.