Quite liking Sxoop.com. I’ve just been looking around their site and I really like their philosophy on coding.
I’m using their Twitter Mosaic tool for a project I’m working on. More news on that later.
Erbut sees a plethora of missed opportunities when it comes to companies looking to win a bid. Here are some of the biggest mistakes we see:
1 – Your team does not look like a group of experts
Forget the product or service you are selling for a moment. Look at the bigger picture. Ask yourself if your team members look like (and are widely recognized as) trusted partners.
Fixing the team’s position takes the most time but pays the biggest rewards. When you’re responding to a bid, this is the hardest thing to fix in a rush.
When you come across a team of people who are supposed to be experts, they need to look like experts. But often, no one on the team sits on advisory boards, has written books or has made an effort to stand out as a leader.
Sure, biographies and online positioning can be fixed quickly. But introducing yourself by saying, “I have 20 years’ experience in banking,” tells me you’re just an average employee who has clocked in and clocked out for two decades.
Congratulations – you have validated that you can turn up to work and follow orders. You deserve a window seat.
2 – Editing by committee
We see people getting in a right tizzy over exec summaries. By the time they’re finished editing, re-editing and editing some more, the exec summary looks completely confusing and inconsistent. It’s lacking one voice throughout the piece.
Take our advice: appoint an editor. Give him or her the powers of Darth Vader and silence the critics.
3 – Focusing on the solution
So you’ve got your company to trusted-adviser status, but your team spends all its time bickering over solution-based features. Wrong!
Ultimately, when you’re submitting a bid, you’re talking to the buyer – the CEO, the CFO, the COO or the CIO.
These guys DO NOT CARE about technology. They care about annihilating the competition and delighting their customers (and shareholders).
So start talking like a trusted partner. Help the client to save money, sure. Help it to cut its risk. But ultimately, you have to show how you make the business go faster – and you can’t just use go-faster stripes.
4 – Putting cost above all else
Whether you know it or not, you’re selling on three overall features:
- Business agility
The procurement director will care about cost.
The arse-covering middle management people care about risk and business, as usual.
The C-level execs want to know how they can win more business and take a strong market position.
How you explain the delivery of your product or service is therefore key. You must cover all bases, but carefully target the right message to the right person.
Low costs do not make you a better bet. They make you cheaper and that’s it. So first work out what the client needs (ie, what the problem is) and then go from there.
5 – Keeping up with the Joneses
Watching the competition is never a bad idea – but worrying about their approach and forgetting your own is dumb. If you can’t think of a better approach than focusing on your competitor, you shouldn’t be competing in the first place.
6 – Using the wrong language
“We have solutioned for your requirements as set out in the request-for-proposal (RFP)”.
Yeah – you’ve really done your homework to get the attention of the CEO with that line.
Bad writing is such a turn-off, especially these days. There’s so much information and text out there – you have to rise above the noise.
Think about what you’re trying to say. Don’t be scared to keep it simple.
There seems to be a fear of using clear, simple language. Some universities teach the use of complicated language that excludes people.
But remember this: “university” comes from the word “universal.” So keep your language universal – not exclusive, elitist and dull.
7 – Marry the message to the business problem
“Here’s my solution, Mr. Customer. No – I don’t really understand your business problem, but I have a solution for you to try today. And it’s ready out of the box.”
Examine the problem of your customer with all your skills. If you can show you understand this better than your client, congratulations – you have just been promoted to be a trusted partner.
8 – Using industrial thinking for a digital age
This is one of the biggest offenders. It’s the notion that everything will be okay because you’re a big enough organization to take on anything.
Look at the banks that had that attitude and where some of them are today – they played a game that no longer works.
Forget industrial ways of working – it’s box-ticking for transactional nine-to-fivers.
Get these people away from your bid if you want to give it a chance of success. Build a team of people who are passionate and ready to get the job done – and who understand the value of quality engagement with a client.
9 – Fear of the unknown
Again and again we hear: “But our competitor could undercut us. Or they might come up with something different.”
You can only do your best. Use your spies to get all the info you can, but ultimately, your competitor will be having the same worries as you – so they cancel each other out.
Focus on the value you can deliver and validating it.
The economy is gridlocked. It’s jammed up so tightly, the M25 looks like an open runway compared to it.
The UK government is running out of tools to jump-start spending and it’s really down to two things:
1 – There isn’t any money in the pot.
2 – The government can’t make money.
The deal is that we can’t keep taking from the economy without putting something back into it first. I’m not spouting a party line here – it’s a fact. No pay, no play. We live in a coin-operated society.
The government is cutting back on spending, upsetting a lot of people. The Bank of England is printing more money. But as working adults, we can’t expect to hit retirement with the same level of pensions that our parents did. We will have to work a lot harder to achieve that – and the question is, how should we do that? It’s not just a question of putting more hours in.
Today we import more goods than we export – one-third of our food is imported. Our service economy props up our balance of trades, but emerging markets are taking little bites out of our strongholds – financial and legal services. The UK is a global champion in these two sectors, but how much longer can we claim credibility in these areas when our economy looks so bad?
The government is more or less powerless in solving this problem. It can tax. It can spend. And it can legislate – sometimes quickly – but ultimately it cannot do the one thing that the entire economy is crying out for, yet no one speaks of. It is an unspoken word that has become so dirty in our society, some of us would rather it did not exist. It may even cause you to do a little bit of sick in your mouth.
That word is ‘sales’.
We have banished it and its ambassadors from our day-to-day vocabulary.
Why? You could argue it’s our inherited cultural values of the feudal system. You could argue that we’ve got comfortable doing jobs that have nothing to do with selling. Or you could argue that it’s something we’re a bit scared of because it inherently involves taking a risk, speaking to people we don’t know and the possibility of rejection.
Truly skilled sales people are a rare breed. You don’t get many folks who are willing to put themselves on the line to hunt down the money and actually do it constantly. That’s because it’s hard, but there are some very simple things you can do to make it easier – namely knowing what problems need fixing, who needs them solved and openly communicating with them.
That’s what pipeline should be about. Not just a list of names on a chart.
The UK and its businesses needs more ambassadors for products and services. You can only take money from a pot when there is money to take. There is currently no money, so we have to go and get some in ways we’re not accustomed to – entrepreneurially.
We can’t borrow any more. We actually have to go and make it. So how will you go about it?