It seems the capture plan is a point of contention in the land of business development. But have you ever asked yourself why?

Intentions are good– capture plans are, after all,  important to any business that employs a business development staff. They offer a repository for client information, help you determine if you are positioned for an opportunity, and prompt you to ask questions you may otherwise overlook.

But usually, the roll-out of a capture plan is a disaster from the get-go.

You can predict exactly what’s going to happen the moment the meeting begins. It starts with a standard nod of agreement and some uncomfortable chair-shifting. It then graduates to under-the-table texting amongst the business development team members on the call, spurring into a flurry of messages:

  • WTF?
  • Who has time for this crap?
  • Are they giving us a raise with this, too?
  • How dare they suggest I don’t know my clients?!?
  • They just want me to do all this work so they can replace me.

These are all common irritations from us whiny business development professionals.

Now the presentation is over, but the grumblings and resentment and pushback continue. If no one speaks of it, it will just go away, right?

Nope. Now it just becomes a corporate mandate.

So maybe the corporate roll-out lacked purpose and pizazz. But the truth is, all of the excuses you can possibly come up with to NOT use the capture plan are selfishly motivated and all lead right back to you.

  • Excuse: I don’t have time. Translation: About You.
  • Excuse: I don’t want to deal with another form. Translation: About You.
  • Excuse: How dare they suggest I don’t know my client. Translation: About You.Go ahead. Try your it for yourself with your personal favorite excuse.

So now, let’s reframe this. What if the Capture Plan was about YOUR CLIENT?  

GASP! What if you change your perspective? Your corporate capture plan may have grown into a tired SWOT analysis and a prescriptive, stale questionnaire that makes you want to scratch your eyeballs out, but let’s take it back to the basics.

A capture plan is about getting to know your client. As a professional. As a business owner with pain-points. As a friend. As a human.

Now how do you feel about it? Are you still self-obsessing about how much you hate having to fill out another form? Probably not.

Take that capture plan and turn it into something that works for you.

Let me tell you about a friend of mine that embraces capture planning. We’ll call her Eva (because that’s her name). Having moved from Spain to the United States, she has fought tooth and nail to get where she is. She’s a bad-ass lady boss architect, multi-lingual, responsible for running an office, is raising toddler twins, has learned to navigate a brand-new city, studied for and became a US citizen, and is managing some of the most iconic projects in Houston.

Want to know why she loves the capture plan?

Eva is open, chatty, and passionate. She is going a mile a minute. She might need the capture plan just to keep her life straight. But the NUMBER ONE reason she uses the capture plan with such conviction is because when Eva meets with a client, Eva is ALL IN with a client.

She doesn’t show up to a client meeting to cross it off her list. She shows up because she is genuinely interested in learning the details about the person sitting across from her. She listens, she takes notes, and she asks meaningful questions. Not only is she listening, but the entire time, you can see her wheels turning and she is taking brief notes in the margins of her capture plan. Her notes look like this:

  • Loves wine; beer gives headache
  • Daughter-Sophomore-Basketball… Championship next week
  • SBA conference in Nov
  • Some structural and surveying on project
  • Tons of hotel and industrial
  • Annoyed with current Arch – non-response

BOOM. And just like that, Eva has made her follow up list. She now has several new touchpoints with the client and she can

  • Bottle of red wine for Christmas (and if a federal client, maybe just suggest some good red wines to stay out of trouble!)
  • Ask about daughter’s basketball championship on Wednesday
  • Sign up for the SAME Small Business Conference in November
  • Introduce favorite structural engineer and surveyor in an email
  • Send industrial qualifications and introduce to hotel and industrial leads
  • Set a special ringtone for client and make sure to check in weekly

Let’s put this in perspective.

Eva goes to the store with a mental list of three items. Eva buys seven items. Eva has forgotten two of the three items that she originally went to the store to get.

If Eva experiences this at the grocery store, do you REALLY think she is going to remember the nitty gritty details from her client meeting two weeks from now after she has met with four other clients, closed out a project, has hosted a weekend party, and has two new employees starting this week?

Eva’s amazing, but we need to give Eva a fighting chance! TA-DA! The capture plan.

Here’s the deal. When you make it about yourself, the capture plan will never be embraced and will always be dreaded. It has to serve a higher purpose. So change the motivation behind the capture plan and focus on how YOU can be a better human for your client.

And as a final note, since we business developers and we want everything to be about us, then make the capture plan your own! Customize it based on the conversation YOU want to have. Delete the questions that irritate you or don’t “feel” like something you would say. You are a grown adult. Change it. Make it a different color. Retitle it. Do whatever you have to do to fall in love with this process, because it will help you and your business development efforts!

Need help building a capture plan? Contact us!

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