If you’re selling complex solutions worth over £100k you’ll be all too familiar with the tender process. When a sweet-spot opportunity emerges for your business, naturally you’ll want to be invited to respond to the tender, to get onto the shortlist and ultimately to win the work.
So how do you increase your chances of success?
They key to getting specified more often is to be there in the potential buyer’s mind before the tender is written. In fact you want to be firmly in mind before they’re even thinking of going to tender.
Ideally, you want to be front of mind just as they are becoming conscious of a painful issue which needs to be addressed, but before they’ve fully articulated it or started looking around to find a way to deal with it.
You want the prospect to be aware of your offer, and to have an idea of the unique advantages you bring to the table, but getting seen as the market leader takes a lot more than superficial attention. It demands a blend of studious account-based marketing and selling activity. It’s the work of months, not weeks, of consistent and diligent effort.
The level of effort required to be in pole position means it’s a good idea to seriously narrow down your prospect hit-list. Getting specified more often means focusing all your attention on the business you most want to win – and are best placed to win – as well as being proactive and committed in your efforts to do so.
Once that’s done, then take each selected dream prospect in turn and do your research.
Get to know who the key players are in each target organisation and understand which ones can drive the outcome that you want. You’ll want to find out who has influence over the operational, financial and technical aspects of selection and implementation, and draw up a plan to engage each of them.
Your individual plans will blend marketing and pre-sales activity. Put your energy into initiatives which will make your ideal prospects aware not just that you exist but also that in at least one key respect you lead the field.
Engineer any opportunities you can to start a dialogue with the key influencers. Whether it means setting up educational workshops, online demonstrations or webinars, do whatever it takes to position yourself as the helpful expert in your field who understands their unique needs, their functional responsibility and the peculiarities of their industry.
While you are working to position yourself as a market leader, you’re also expected to work hard to understand them and their world. It’s a learning process as much as a selling process.
You want to know what motivates them, what their challenges are, and to understand any issues which may get in the way change.
Your aim is to earn your stripes and create enough trust and respect to foster truly open dialogue. Do this successfully and you will see not only how to shape your solution but also how to help the prospect see why it is just right for the job, so that they specify in a way which means only your offer can tick every box.
Getting specified more often means taking a long-term and strategic view on who you really want to work with.
And by narrowing your sights and going broader and deeper on a handful of ideal prospects you’ll get a better return on your investments in both sales and marketing.
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Some obvious, some neglected, and some not so obvious ideas to help you get more face time.
After compiling your sales hit-list, take a moment to make sure the contenders are worthy.
And how important is volume, anyway?