Capture is finally having its moment and it’s very exciting!
Capture is still somewhat misunderstood and under-used. This is despite its growing popularity and the increasing recognition of the value of better capture and pre-proposal engagement. However, when used well, it can be a powerful, business-winning technique that delivers excellent results.
What capture is not
Capture is not solutioning when the ITT is released or something you start when a contract notice goes up on the internet. It is an ongoing series of activities that starts long before the concept of the ITT was conceived by the client.
Doesn’t the salesperson do capture?
Not quite. Everyone involved with a client has an opportunity to participate in capture. Often there are key players such as salespeople, project delivery teams (on incumbent contracts), support functions and members of the leadership team who are most often involved in capture tasks.
Some larger organisations employ Capture Managers or Capture Coaches as discrete positions; otherwise these may be roles that individuals take for the duration of an opportunity.
Why does capture go wrong?
In my experience, issues mainly arise in three key areas:
- Competitor intelligence – this is often addressed once (big mistake!). Like client engagement below, competitor intelligence gathering is an ongoing process and not a one-time event.
- Client engagement – if I had £1 for every time someone said to me, “My clients won’t allow us to speak to them”, I’d be very, very rich. It may be true that you don’t have a strong enough relationship with a client and they don’t want to have that conversation with you right now – but client engagement is a process of consistently showing up, adding value, building trust and looking for ways to serve that client.
- Timing – too many companies start capture too late, and this applies to re-competes as much as it does to new business. The companies that do capture better than others see it as a continual process and not something they just decided to do to win ‘this time’.
With these three issues in mind, better capture can be framed as a consistent approach to building relationships, gathering data and building solutions for clients in a harmonious way.
How can you get better client engagement and competitor intelligence?
There are many ways companies can create opportunities to meet clients, engage with them and learn more about their interests. The prevalence of social media makes a lot of data readily accessible and, like many things in capture, it requires consistent effort and creativity. Trust isn’t built overnight and neither are relationships. Winning companies take a long-term view and start their capture efforts early.
In re-competes, I’m often surprised that incumbents aren’t consistently talking to clients at multiple levels and instead rely on a single point of contact. Winning companies engage all levels of the company in capture efforts and make it a priority to build relationships at peer-level within the client organisation.
It also surprises me (read: beating my head against a wall) when I learn that companies don’t conduct informal or formal customer satisfaction reviews on long-term contracts. They don’t ask why they were selected on a contract as a way of understanding what the client’s buying drivers really were. It may be that after the win, business development is onto the next opportunity and the delivery side of the business doesn’t see the value in these conversations when revenue can be generated. These are all lost opportunities for better capture.
I still encounter too many examples where the competitor analysis is an exercise in guesswork. AI-driven tools can go some way to helping map the market, but these tools can’t go to events or meetings and talk to the decision makers.
Where I have seen capture executed well, it has involved the entire organisation engaging with a client to develop deep relationships or where trade-offs in solutioning have delivered irresistible value that incumbents were too entrenched to see.
An added benefit
One overlooked benefit of good capture is better and stronger no-bid decisions. People mistakenly believe that engaging in capture means they’ll always win.
I’m looking forward to the new APMP Capture Certification and I’m curious to see how it will shape our industry into the future.
This article was written by Tim Snell.
Tim is a freelance Capture Specialist/Trainer, Business Winning Consultant and Executive Coach. He has shaped his career helping companies create successful, high performance bid and proposal teams in the U.K., the Middle East and Australia. He volunteers as the Deputy Chief Examiner for APMP, is a professionally trained and certified Coach, and holds APMP Professional Level certification.