A guest post by Andrew Dietz Founder and President of Creative Growth Group, Inc. and the author of The Opening Playbook.

Kevin Costner’s new movie, Draft Day, just hit the theaters in time for the actual NFL draft that began on May 8. Both events illuminate the importance of deciding the prospects, people, and pursuits in which you invest your time and money.

How do Draft Day and the actual NFL Draft this week relate to professional services business development?

In an NFL Draft war room, a team may classify its player wish list by tiers – elites, blue chips and red chips – based on their ability, readiness and predicted impact.

Elites are draft pick candidates expected to immediately shine as top ranking players in their positions and to be early Pro Bowl invitees.

Blue Chips are draft pick prospects whose talent and prior performance foretells early team-changing contributions.

Red Chips are players viewed as having high potential but who may take slightly longer to evolve fully or who have unique skills such as special teams expertise.

Revised slightly, a similar set of categories can be applied to our business development client and prospect wish list. While you may place opportunistic prospects – those that are referred to you without prompting or that simply stumble upon you – in one of these tiers, your tiered prospect wish list is really meant to include organizations that you have thoughtfully chosen and wish to pursue on-purpose.

Gold Tier – These are your best existing clients, your “elites,” your key clients-of-choice that offer the highest probability of additional relationship and revenue growth for you. You can call them by a different name if you want, as long as you recognize them as your highest Opening priority. Yes, the relationship is already “open,” but that’s like saying the door to the vault is just cracked a hair’s width open, and there’s a treasure inside. Keep opening the relationship and make sure it stays open.

Blue Tier – These are prospects that you intentionally identify and will make a major difference to your business when they become clients.   Blue tier targets should match your client-of-choice profile and present the highest probability of opening into strong relationships and consequential revenue within a relatively short timeframe. These are next on your Opening priority list.

Red Tier – These are high value prospects that provide reason to believe that they’ll convert to client status though they may take slightly longer to evolve fully or who have strategic value to your organization or practice.

Orange Tier – Three types of organizations fit in the Orange Tier.   These are clients that are profitable to maintain but which offer limited growth potential. It also includes prospects with one-time or short-term engagement potential.

Question: Do you really want to draft someone who doesn’t want to play on your team?

Maybe not.

An Alternative:  Identify the top prospects in your market that are most likely to be attracted by your unique differences and claim to fame.   Not just the companies you most want as a client but, more importantly, who would most want you to support them. Those organizations should be at the top of your draft pick list.