16 March 2017
The primary function of a field sales force is to build relationships
In a B2B environment, relationships are critical. It seems a common complaint, however, of the BD/Sales Manager that they are spending more time in the office responding to requests for tender, proposals and quoting, than they are in getting out and meeting with customers and relationship-building.
Preparing tender and proposal documentation requires substantial time and resource input. There are no short-cuts. However, proposal development is only one component of the overall BD function in supporting the opportunity pipeline, winning new business and developing existing and new customer relationships.
Let’s face it, no matter how good a proposal, relationships have consistently shown to be a stronger influencer on potential bid outcomes. Knowing your customer will always stand you in better stead than going in cold. A good proposal can tip the balance with a ‘warm’ prospect – (just as a bad one can put them off completely) - but a good proposal of itself is just that; a good proposal, and not a contract.
Further, it's a common mistake for companies to accept an invitation to tender without ever meeting face-to-face with the potential customer. While this isn't always necessary (or possible, if the customer is located interstate) not doing so will reduce your chances of winning...
- Are you just "cannon fodder?" Being invited to tender to satisfy procurement requirements to "get three quotes" when the company has already selected their preferred supplier?
- Are their true needs explicitly described in the tender spec? In their haste to prepare the tender specification, crucial details may have been left out, not clearly articulated (not everyone is skilled at business writing), or the writer's version of the requirements doesn't align with everyone involved in evaluating the tender. Tenderers who make the effort to meet with the potential customer may have an advantage having gleaned the truth.
- Have you built rapport? It's harder to build rapport over the phone than face-to-face. The people letting the tender may prefer to deal with a company they trust.
It’s clear that there is a need to free up existing salesforce capacity to focus on client prospecting and relationship management activity. In short, proposal preparation as a function should support your organisational BD efforts, not take up all your existing BD resource effort.
And, quite commonly, the skillsets required for selling and proposal preparation are simply not the same.
At JWPM, we’ve assisted many B2B companies achieve their business development objectives through providing expert proposal management support in responding to: Requests for Tender (RFT), Requests for Proposal (RFP), Pre-Qualification Questionnaires (PQQ), Invitations to Tender (ITT) and Expressions of Interest (EOI), and providing client Capability Statements.
Our proposal services aim to:
- Enhance the company’s ability to effectively and rapidly respond to bid (tender and proposal) opportunities.
- Improve the quality and professionalism of a company’s bid and tender response documentation.
- Further ‘position’ a company’s professional corporate brand presence in the market, relative to competitors.
- Clearly articulate the company’s core value proposition.
- Build internal bid capacity - processes, tools, systems and documentation.
Find out more about our Tender & Proposal services.