The Ideal Client!

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For us, Capture Management is all about finding out who looks like they will be a good client, uncovering what they really need and then working out how we can give it to them better than anyone else. If we can get this right, writing the bid is a complete doddle!

Of course, you can swan around and get a list of likely prospects, research them and then send them a proposal. Generally, you will have more success if you do these steps in this order! We have come across some organisations who start from the back end and don’t do so well. We have, however, discovered there is a much better way.

We start our Capture Management activity with a session we call “The Ideal Client”. It is a fun brainstorming session to which you need to invite a full spectrum of disciplines within your business. Get them together, put a pile of sugary buns in the middle of the table and brainstorm all the attributes a client would need to have to be absolutely the best for your business.

Get everyone involved and get as many wacky ideas as you can. Then consolidate the list to the most sensible and important ideas. Your final list might include companies which:

  • Pay what is due on time
  • Are headquartered close to our business
  • Use a compatible technology
  • Have high ethical standards
  • Have a good reputation in the marketplace
  • Do not have a good solution for the problem we are really good at fixing
  • Have staff numbers over 100 but fewer than 500
  • Are desperate to increase market share
  • Have a business similar to the most successful of our existing clients

Think of everything that would make a client superb to deal with from your perspective. Don’t temper this list with the experience of your existing client business.

When this is done, we know that if a potential client could meet all of these ideal points, we would already be trading with them – wouldn’t we? But nothing is as simple as this and no potential client on our list is likely to meet all the things we are seeking.

So, the next step is to take the list of prospects you have already got together and test them against our Ideal Client profile. We normally put together a matrix and score each target client as High, Medium or Low against each attribute. Of course, you could use a 0 to 5 scale and weight each attribute with its relative importance to you. Either way, you should be able to quickly get a shortlist of the very best prospects. Pick the top three or five and go on to the next step.

Does this sound familiar? It should do if you have ever bid for Government business. In essence, this is the process the Public Sector uses to decide which bid will win. We use the same approach to find out which prospects to go after. And it works.

All you have to do now is the research and then put together a communication plan including:

  1. Who is the right person in the prospect’s business to contact first?
  2. Who will make that contact?
  3. What will they say that will “bowl the prospect over”?

We have a way of doing this too, based on the approach set out in Selling to VITO by Anthony Parinello. This is a brilliant way to work out what you can do for a client and then get their senior staff to want to talk to you about it. When this all works, you might find you are given the business without having to put in a bid at all!

Ultimately, we think that Capture Management is all about the client. If we can really understand their problems from their perspective and we think we have the best solution to solve those problems, the rest of the sales process should be easy. We can try and be clever and sell what we have, irrespective of whether this is the best solution for them – but we don’t believe this leads to a sustainable business for us. We prefer to be valued by our clients for what we can do to help them, which will come down to us having just what they need at the moment they need it. We need to pick the very best of the spectrum of potential clients and make sure our business really works for them. We need to capture the best and deliver our best to them.

This article was written by Andy Haigh.

Andy is an expert in bidding and tendering, specialising in competitive formal bids into EU Public Sector organisations. He is an authority on EU procurement legislation and can bring all these capabilities together to initiate and drive major complex bids through to a successful completion.

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