You should respond to every request for tender or proposal that comes your way, right? Or should you?
Before committing time, resources, money and reputation it’s important to qualify the opportunity.
1. How well do you know the buyer?
Do you know the company, what they do, what drives them and who the key stakeholders are? Is this a company that you’ve been building a relationship with for some time and understand their needs, challenges and company vision, or is this a company you know little about other than what’s in the public domain?
If the latter, do you have time, and are they agreeable, to you engaging with them to learn more about their needs before submitting a response? Often once a formal request has gone out communication is limited to a defined channel and process within the response guidelines and will limit your ability to deep dive into their needs. However, with less formal processes, the company may welcome your approach to understanding their requirements better. If they are open to the idea, be prepared to justify why they should let you in and spend time with you. For example, can you prove you’ve delivered similar solutions to their peers? Can you clearly define the value to them of inviting you in?
Do you know who the key decision makers and influencers will be in the process? Who in the company will have final sign off on the decision, does someone have power of veto? Do you know the buyer profile for each of these individuals? Is there someone in the organisation that supports your solution and can act as a coach?
If the answer is no to these questions, is there an opportunity for you to map this out before responding? Perhaps you have contacts in other companies, or areas of your business that can help you with this.
The proposal that nails a solution that addresses the company and the decision makers’ drivers is most likely to succeed. Do you have access to the necessary information to do this?
2. Do you have the right solution?
Firstly, can you identify the key reasons for the company going out to market?
Then secondly, do you have the solution to truly address these needs?
Take an unbiased assessment of their needs against your solution or product and assess whether you can deliver a proposal that creates true business value and a strong business case.
Do you have a unique selling point, of value to them, that will differentiate you from your competitors or compel them to move away from their current provider? Or, when you look objectively at your solution, does it have serious gaps and will not address this company’s stated needs?
If the latter, is there a benefit in submitting a proposal this time?
3. Do you want the business?
This may seem like a no brainer, of course you want the business. Why wouldn’t you? However, have you done an opportunity analysis and determined whether this business will be good business for your company.
Will the account be profitable or do you need to win it on too low margins and therefore eat into your profits and risk delivering poor service, resulting in a dissatisfied client.
Are you both the right fit for each other, will winning the business result in a long-term business relationship, and an advocate client, or will the relationship rub like an ill-fitting suit for the term of the contract, leaving everyone unhappy and the client keen to go back out to market as soon as the contract expires?
Do you have the capacity right now, or ability to upscale quickly, to service the business or provide the products? Will you meet their expectations?
Not all business is good business, and not all clients and vendors are a good fit for each other. And sometimes you’re not the right solution for this business this time, but will be in the future. Know when to walk away and plan for another day.
If you answered positively to the three qualifier questions, then what are you waiting for, start working on that amazing proposal and pitch for that new client! Good luck!
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