Winning commercial tenders is a key component of success for professional services firms.
In order to win, your firm must invest time and resources in gaining knowledge that provides a competitive edge.
Relationships are vital: remember that you are not aiming just to win one contract, but to establish a long and mutually beneficial partnership with your client.
Use tendering strategically; when successfully deployed, tendering can be the catalyst for developing new skills and exploring new markets.
Understand the power and scope of your pricing principles. These can garner greater profit than simple pricing techniques and exploit market positioning for the bidder.
This chapter refers primarily to professional services firms, though the application lends itself more widely across the commercial, if not the manufacturing, sectors. The chapter will follow the headings of an appreciation of what it is that the client is after, followed by an analysis of the market and then the competition. Vendor selection will be discussed and of key consideration, the role of price in formulating a bid.
Determine the Desired Outcome
Before a vendor or bidding contractor can consider whether his or her deliverable output is aligned with the client’s desired outcome, the client must fully understand what it is they want to achieve by the project. A clearly defined project will greatly assist the vendor in removing the element of second-guessing the client.
Fundamentally, the scope of a project comes down to three things:
Understanding the client: Appreciate where the client is relative to his or her competitors, and where, with existing resources, he or she would like to be.
A plan: To get them from their current position to where they would like to be—even if the aim of the project itself is simply to gain greater knowledge of the competitive marketplace. Such insight could be a development milestone and lay the groundwork for implementation.
Implementation of the results: the application of the operational and strategic recommendations that arise from successful completion of a project.
Of course, the fact-finding may result in a fuller understanding of the client’s environment, and so a better proposition than the client originally requested. Firms that are able to outline this additional benefit are more likely to be selected by potential clients.
Analyze the Client
Knowing all about the buyer is crucial—have they been in the market for this type of project before and, if so, who did they use last time? Did they act on the vendor’s recommendations? Is the client easy to bid for? Are they likely to have clear expectations, or is the initial bidder selection going to be a time-wasting process because the client has left areas open to interpretation? Do you, as vendor, know how receptive the client may be to recommendations? Is there scope for the client to use your services further—for example to implement the project or to identify and develop an additional plan?
Of all these questions, this last is the most important. Time spent bidding for contracts is vital to winning new work, but time misspent in bidding for the wrong contracts can waste valuable resources and distract attention from more appropriate and winnable contracts.
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