Bids – most sellers dread them. Request for proposals (RFP), request for information (RFI) or request for quotes (RFQ) are all met with a collective groan by sales professionals. For most sales organizations, a bid means hours of extra work with a low probability of a positive return. Even a winning decision usually results in lower profits. However, responding to bids is a necessary part of sales so the trick is to optimize your chance of victory.
Over the years, the single tried and true strategy to achieve your desired results in bid situations is to give yourself (or your team) a long runway. You need time to ensure client's objectives are understood, a foundation of customer satisfaction is established and a comprehensive sales plan is underway.
Uncover Weak Areas… and Fix Them
Top Line Sales (TLS) offers a tool, the ‘Pre-Bid Success Calculator©‘ which allows teams to calculate their chances of success based on 28 criteria and their respective importance to the sales situation. Using any assessment tool early in the sales process allows teams to measure their ‘current state' but more importantly offers a clear path to reach the ‘desired state'. For example, one TLS client improved their likeliness of winning from under 40% to over 70% in a three month time horizon. What changed? The team was able to focus key resources on the critical areas which promised the greatest returns. They fixed several small but pesky problems to ensure their client was happy, they cultivated an internal champion and they creatively communicated the benefits of their services throughout the client's organization. The greater the time horizon, the more you can affect your success rate.
Don't Be Afraid to Ask
If you want to win more bids, make sure you understand your client's buying cycle. Will they go to bid and if so, when? Some sales people believe that if they ask about a potential RFP, it will remind their prospect to go to bid. This is generally not the case. Most companies have an established buying process, which may or may not include issuing an RFP. The risk of not understanding their unique approach and reacting to a bid when it arrives is far greater than incorporating a couple of well timed bid inquiry questions early in the sales cycle.
It would be great if there was a quick fix to put your company in the driver's seat 100% of the time. Yet, each bid progression can differ dramatically. However, the one commonality in successful situations is time to work a well-constructed sales plan. This approach works for current customers as well as potential prospects. A long runway ensures that the sales effort is deliberate and focused on the goal. Test this strategy and watch your award percentage trend up and to the right!
Lisa Magnuson, sales strategist and founder of Top Line Sales, LLC, guides high potential sales people and account teams to land larger deals and accelerate sales. Lisa is passionate about her mission to help her clients win more business. How can we help you? You tell us! We craft solutions around your requirements.