The days when sales teams held the power as the ‘keepers of the product knowledge’ are gone. As it was then termed, caveat emptor (buyer beware) ruled. With the web that’s all changed and, as Dan Pynk says, “It’s now caveat venditor” (seller beware).
In relation to tenders and competitive proposals, our prospects have done their research on the web, they’ve read reviews or testimonials about you and your competitors and spoken to their networks about who’s who (and importantly had discussions with companies that have had 1st hand experience of working with you).
They know what they want and they’ve already developed a reasonable scenario for what they want and who can provide that (aka who is going to win ‘the gig’). All of this is done before the RFT has gone out, or the company has been asked for a proposal.
Now this isn’t the case all of the time, but it happens more often than it doesn’t. What I do know is this:
When we turn down the volume on what they are saying and look instead at their behaviours we have a much more strategic approach. In short, we sit with clients and ask:
- Why are they considering moving from the current state of play?
- What are they looking for that they currently aren’t getting?
- Yes they have asked for you to submit a response but why are they speaking to you?
- What issues aren’t actually being addressed that have them going out to the market?
- What are their specific “value for money” drivers (that aren’t related to cost)?
It’s an old cliché that not everything that sparkles is gold. It’s the same with being invited to tender. It’s expensive both in financial outlay to develop the pitch as well as soft dollar costs (time and effort). It’s time consuming and win rates sit around the 15-35%. You fill in the rest…
Proposal/ tender submission processes are like the proverbial iceberg: the RFT is only the very visible tip. So much that lies beneath winning lies in tackling the unspoken agendas, the unspoken expectations and the unspoken risk drivers.
Let me say, ‘caveat venditor’ to those that don’t address the “unspoken”.
Author: Adette Goldberg