Why I Hate the Idea of "Shopping Around" a Concept
Updated: Jul 11
If I could wave a magic wand and stop one thing, it would be any senior manager suggesting we "shop around" an idea. I should probably save my wand waving for something more pressing, but seriously, this annoys me so very much.
This is the antithesis of having a proper business development strategy.
As I said recently, most people in the business development world know that the most important thing you can do to bid like a boss is to understand what the donor/client wants. This means listening more than you talk. Understanding what makes your client tick is what will make a compelling bid. Nothing makes a client happier than telling them exactly what they want to hear - not in a regurgitating way, but in a way that echoes what their priorities are and reminds them why they want to fund your project at every turn.
Yet more often than not, I'll happen into a conversation with a client and even the most experience senior management will toss out the phrase as if it's just occurred to them. "Oh, we've got this idea we'd like to shop around." "Well, this proposal didn't win, but we'd still love to shop the idea around with other donors."
Can't they see the flaw in their logic?
The reason the proposal didn't win is because it wasn't aligned with what your donor/client wanted. If you take this same idea and "shop it around" you'll be wasting valuable time understanding what these new potential donors/clients want.
Instead, keep that idea in your back pocket. Take meetings with donors and clients and potential partners and hear what their biggest pain points are. Understand what priorities they have, what they're struggling with, and what they are interested in funding.
And if it sounds like they'd be interested in your idea? Great, mention it.
If not? You just learned amazing intelligence! Design a new project around that!
Anything else is simply a waste of time and resources.
Don't @ me. 😉