Vendor complacency as a common client complaint in long-term contracts. If complacency extends to your rebid, you’re at high risk of losing the business.
Few companies set out to be complacent. Instead, it’s the cumulative result of various blind spots, including perceptions of client loyalty and habits of working and communicating.
Instead of simply vowing not to be complacent, we recommend taking specific actions—including starting rebid preparation early and enlisting your business developers in the rebid effort.
You also need to engage the proposal team in shaking off complacency, starting with the following ideas.
Five ways to shake off complacency
- Make fresh thinking a kickoff theme: Don’t warn the proposal team against complacent thinking. Instead, challenge members to brainstorm three fresh ideas for each key deliverable, based on your customer’s hot button issues and known competitor strengths.
- Send some ringers on the site visit: Take advantage of the site visit invitation to get input from another business team managing a similar contract. Ask your colleagues to be tough markers. What shortcomings would they pounce on if a competitor held the current contract?
- Turn speed bumps into lessons learned: Don’t ignore issues that arose during the current contract, hoping your client will have forgotten. Instead, explain the steps you took to address root causes. If the process involved significant investment (of your own money), state the amount. Use non-recurrence of the issue to show your remedy was successful.
- Find specific cost savings: Identify new ways to reduce costs or add value. Choose examples that involve an investment and business case—otherwise the client will wonder why you didn’t introduce these improvements in the current contract.
- Ghost your competition: Try to anticipate your strongest competitor’s moves and decide how to offset them. For example, if a hungry competitor offers to waive its transition costs, what other valid arguments can you make for not switching?
Be sure to do Blue Team and Black Hat reviews
Successful teams use Blue Team and Black Hat reviews to test strategy. Both provide good value in rebid situations.
A Blue Team review tests strategy, using internal resources who understand the project and the competition—but who haven’t been closely involved in building the strategy.
A Black Hat team is tasked with attacking the strategy from the perspective of your toughest competitor. In high stakes situations, companies often engage outsiders with deep industry knowledge to perform Black Hat reviews.
Tackling some of these ideas may be painful—examining performance lapses, for example.
But, by keeping the image of smart and hungry competitors looking to steal your contract front and centre, you and your team can take steps to avoid complacency—and produce lean and forward-looking rebids.