The hottest news yesterday in France was the big contract won by the Canadian firm and world's biggest trainmaker Bombardier with the French Railways company SNCF. A $3.4 billion contract to supply commuter trains for the Paris region, won over the French incumbent Alstom.
The politicians and the medias are desperately trying to explain the deal, provided that Alstom was the only supplier of the SNCF since decades.
For the majority of those guys, the fact that a foreign vendor won such a deal is a scandal. They all claim Bombardier shouldn't win because SNCF had to protect the domestic industry. No one claims Alstom has lost because of its lack of understanding of the customer' needs.
That is what I wanted to hear from all those people, politicians first : " We (Alstom, the french industry, whatsoever) lost because we haven't done our job right. We (same) lost because Bombardier did a better job. We (ditto) lost because we didn't hear the customer's voice." Something like that, you see what I mean.
Now, this story reminds me one of the best coaching sessions we've got at Agilent Technologies, back in 2000. This was the time when the company wanted to catch up the telecoms networks installation & maintenance train, which was running at full speed thanks to the Bubble. A R&D + Manufacturing vendor per roots (HP), Agilent was to invest into a new market for most of its senior management people : Installation & Maintenance. Totally opposite markets, with totally different (sales) cycles and winning methodologies. Hence the need for most of the people involved with this new adventure to get some knowledge on the best practices for gaining marketshare (and then leadership) on the telecommunications networks I&M market segment.
One of the training session we've got was about winning tenders. Hal Stitt, co-founder of DeltaNet Consultants together with his lovely wife Carene, our coach for those business-oriented training, built a pretty efficient presentation based on a book " The ANATOMY of a WIN ", by J.M. Beveridge, 1964, Advanced Reprographics, El Segundo, CA, USA.
Here are the six * must * for success when bidding to a tender. I wish the big heads at all those big French companies know them already. And I am pretty much convinced that the folks at Bombardier have done their homework ;-)
post-scriptum : DeltaNet website features a tremendous amount of downloadable presentations which are worth the reading for all of us marketeers, business developpers, and entrepreneurs. Also, you may want to learn how DeltaNet refers to Peter Drucker, Sun Tzu, and nobelized Daniel Kahneman to accomplish their mission. More info here and here.
Bid To Win
Applying six superbly simple criteria, honestly and without emotion, has consistently produced 80% win rates, for the past 42 years.
Criteria for the No-Bid Decision
1. Is there a Real Requirement ?
• Do we understand the benefits expected by the Users, Choosers, and Approvers ?
• Has everyone up to the top-level approver decided to buy ?
• Is it Funded ?
2. Have you Done your Homework ?
• Do you understand the beliefs and feelings of the individuals with a big stake in the purchase ?
• Do you truly understand the strengths and weakness of those who will win if you do not ?
• Do you fully understand the relationships between the internal stakeholders and your competitors ?
• Do you know the internal champions, those who will drive this purchase ?
3. Is there Significant Prior Customer Contact ?
• Have you had significant, pertinent face-to-face interactions with the internal stakeholders and champions ?
• Are you in their in-group ?
• Have you helped to create the RFP ?
• Will the RFP permit only one winning response – yours ?
4. Is your Superior Proposal only a part of the Total Marketing Effort ?
• Do you fully realize that a superior proposal is necessary, but not sufficient to win ?
• Do you fully expect that the evaluators will find absolutely no surprises in your proposal ?
• Are the internal stakeholders convinced that your solution is the best – before the RFP ?
5. Are you willing to give a Totally Dedicated Effort ?
• Do you truly understand that any effort less that that required to tip the scales in your favor is a wasted effort ?
• Are you committed to working harder to win this than your next-best competitor ?
• Do you understand that a defensive bidder and a loser are the same thing ?
6. Do you really believe you are the Logical Winner ?
• Do you believe in your heart that you have the winning combination ?
• Have you done all the prior steps as the Logical Winner would have done them ?
• Have you assigned resources as the Logical Winner would have ?
• Is your behavior consistently the behavior of the Logical Winner ?
If You Cannot Answer Yes to All Six Criteria
You have two mutually exclusive choices:
1. Find solutions to convert the No answers to Yes.
2. Decline to Bid
Convert Answers to Yes
If you can apply effort to satisfy all of the criteria, you will increase you chances of winning. This means the bid will be more expensive, but your return will be far higher.
Decline to Bid
If you cannot satisfy all the criteria, and if you cannot find ways to do that, decline to bid.
Your customer will be pleased. She will not have to find grounds for rejecting your proposal and telling you the bad news.
Then, you can apply your scarce resources to tasks more productive than writing a losing proposal.
The Purchase Decision Point
• It is not in the customers’ interest to leave a large purchase decision to chance.
• The champion in the customer company will have decided what he or she wants before the tender is issued.
• We frequently meet champions who have successfully done that for decades.
• If your only prayer is to bid low, that precisely describes your chances of winning – a prayer
• Requirements you cannot meet are in the tender because you cannot meet them.
• This makes the evaluators’ jobs easier:
They can move your proposal to the losers’ pile in a few minutes.
It can be irritating to search for hours for reasons that are harder to find.
• If you meet the six criteria along the way to the proposal stage, you will have no exceptions to take – but your competitors will.