Technical buyers are gatekeepers. They don’t have the economic buyer’s power to make the final decision—but they can ensure your proposal doesn’t get shortlisted.
Technical buyers use specialized knowledge to analyse whether each solution meets the RFP requirements. Because their judgements are couched in fact, technical buyer findings command respect.
Technical buyers are not all techies
The label “technical buyer” immediately suggests a technology specialist. But in the case of large bids, examples of other technical buyers can include:
- A contracts manager, who will ensure performance, cost savings, on-time, on-budget delivery, service levels and other specifics can be built into an enforceable agreement with appropriate remedies
- A risk management specialist, who will examine your solution’s impact on corporate security, liability and insurance
- A regulatory manager, who in the case of some industries will evaluate for compliance with applicable laws and regulations
Writing for technical buyers
Technical buyers are not swayed by general arguments. They are more likely to use checklists to search bid responses for specific information. They aim to gather and marshal facts on which to base their recommendations.
To appeal to technical buyers:
- Begin by understanding their needs: Use a Competitive Solution Matrix as a part of your strategy and pre-kick off planning to identify all technical issues.
- Prove your solution meets requirements: Create a table of all features required in the RFP and show how your solution satisfies each requirement. Use quantitative measures in every case. This table is different from a Compliance Matrix, but the idea is the same.
- Address potential technical concerns: For example, in an IT proposal, clearly explain that you’ve recommended an older technology or software version to ensure compatibility with legacy systems. Alternatively, show that your next-generation solution is robust, well accepted and compatible with the prospect’s existing systems. If possible, prove your arguments by including an authoritative source as an appendix.
- Ghost your competition: Use phrasing such as, “some vendors will offer . . . but we” to position your solution’s strengths against those of other known bidders. This is especially important if you offer a disruptive or new-to-the-market technology and the RFP calls for old technology.
Localize technical information and arguments
Many technical buyers don’t read proposals. Instead, they immediately jump to the contents page, and then to sectons containing the information they need. So keep any explanations close to the facts they’ll seek.
Use fact-based graphics and/or callouts to to defend any features that could be considered non-compliant.
Respect the technical buyers' credibility
Their fact-based approach enables technical buyers to express their conclusions more objectively than other evaluators. This often gives them more clout with decision makers. In a close competition, it’s usually technical buyers who find the differentiators that give a few bidders an edge over others.
For this reason alone, it’s critical to anticipate and satisfy technical buyer needs.
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