Wouldn’t it be nice to be free of competition when you sell? You would not have to submit bids and compete with competitors to win bids in an ideal sales world. That world unfortunately doesn’t exist. There will be times you will have to submit a bid. It’s the only way for you to get business. There are strategies to work on bids that make it more likely for you to win bids.
1. Avoid customers asking for bids if you can.
Too many people decide bids with an incomplete view of the buying process. Price is not the same thing as total cost of ownership.
Just imagine you are going to bid on a product for a customer and he tells you that he’s looking for the best price. What if your product helps a customer reduce his costs? Your product lasts longer and causes fewer problems. What if your product is 30% more expensive, but saves the customer far more than it costs? Your price is higher. You’ll lose the bid because you won’t be the lowest price.
Avoid bidding when you hear, “We only look at price.” Here’s why. You will have to cut your price and still have to provide service. Not making a profit is a bad strategy because you won’t want to serve that customer and you probably can’t afford to serve him in the manner you need to. You could try to educate a customer based on total cost of ownership. Avoid that bid if you don’t make that total cost of ownership sale.
2. Help write the bid in your favor to win bids.
You are in a good position to help customers write their bids when you know your products well, your competitors’ products well, and your customer’s business. What do you offer either through service or product characteristics that make you the better choice? Now think about including that as requirements in the bid.
You are more likely to win the bid when you are the only one offering a required spec. Or if many suppliers can meet the minimums of that spec, perhaps you far exceed the spec. That increase offers far more protection, product life or other customer benefit. Be sure to explain why your differentiator is important to the customer so he includes the requirement that skews the bid in your favor.
What if the bid is already written? Offer to add to the required specs if the bid hasn’t been sent out for bid yet. Customers can modify their bids with additional input. Look for those opportunities.
3. Make your bid the strongest it can be.
I’m often surprised when I ask my customers about the bids they submit. I’ll ask, “How is the bid going to be decided?” They often don’t know. You must learn how the bid is going to be decided before you submit your bid. The question to ask your customer is, “How will the bid be decided?” or “What are the criteria to pick the winner?”
Often customers will weigh different factors based on what’s important to them. You want to be sure that you strengthen your bid with what is most important to your customer. Be sure you provide everything they ask.
There are other situations where a customer wants you to be the winner. How can you help him? You ask, “What do I need to do to include to win the bid?” You might not know about some internal politics. With the insider’s recommendation your bid becomes stronger. You can only strengthen your bid if you know what to include.
Bids take time to prepare. Be sure you write the strongest bids to become the clear winner and win more bids.