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Using value props in bids

 November 27, 2018
by Paul Heron

We’ve devoted this month’s posts to value propositions. Now that we understand how to build value propositions for economic buyers, technical buyers and user buyers, let’s translate that knowledge into bid wins. Take the following actions to put value at the centre of your bid effort.

Build value propositions as part of your strategy

Create value propositions during strategy making, right after making the decision to bid and before kicking off the detailed solution design and writing. Too many teams jump right into proposal writing without a solid strategy—and their results are poorer for it.

The act of creating value propositions forces you to clarify your offer and address various evaluator perspectives. Value props give subject matter experts and writers clearer direction.

Build the executive summary around your value propositions

Draft your executive summary as part of the strategy phase.  Organize it around your prospect’s key strategic drivers, and then use your value propositions to make the case for how your proposal aligns with and satisfies those strategic imperatives.

Give your writers the draft executive summary as part of their kick-off meeting package.

Test value props as part of your reviews

Disciplined bidders constantly test the “win-ability” of their bids. The initial bid/no-bid decision, while critical, should be revisited after the strategy stage and before committing resources to fully develop a competitive proposal. (See Bid Life Cycle schematic.)

Bidders involved in large-scale efforts typically schedule a Blue Team Review and sometimes a Black Hat Review at this stage. The Blue Team tests the strength of the bid team’s strategy, including its value propositions. Black Hat reviewers assume the role of competitors and probe for ways to sell against your bid strategy. This feedback helps the team see where they need to improve their offer—including value propositions—before committing resources to preparing a bid.

Use value propositions to maintain client focus

Train your writers to build section summaries around value propositions, so the summaries have selling power, instead of being a features list. The requirements for each section will indicate the most relevant value proposition(s).

Draw on value propositions when writing graphics captions. To have selling power, captions must always include benefits for the prospect. What is the value created by the information conveyed by the graphic?

Constantly revisit value propositions when writing narrative. Writers should always ask, “What is the value to the prospect of this information?” Value propositions can help them better understand and express value.


Need help translating strategy into a winning proposal?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




User Buyer value props

 November 20, 2018
by Paul Heron

Our last two posts looked at value propositions for economic buyers and for technical buyers. This week we’ll focus on value props for user buyers.

Evaluation teams for large RFPs always include user buyers. As the name implies, these individuals will use the solution in their daily jobs. They won’t catch the blame for a bad decision (the economic buyer will), but their job performance will suffer if the solution under performs. Implementation issues will also hit them directly. Think of a CSR evaluating a new customer relations management platform.

Let’s look at user buyer value propositions for the ShipPro productivity software we used as an example in the past two posts.

User buyer value propositions

In the case of ShipPro, you can naturally expect an evaluator from the shipping department. Expect a customer service evaluator too, since CSRs will need information generated by ShipPro to respond to customer inquiries. The accounting department may provide a user focussed on how data is stored and transferred.

Here’s a potential value prop for shipping:

  • BuyerCo’s shipping department will have access current rates from all shippers with any negotiated discounts automatically applied . ShipPro will also be configured to compare costs and delivery times across a range of SKU-defined shipping options. Users needing assistance can choose from online tutorials or chat or toll-free telephone support 24/7 from a North America-based call centre.

And here’s one for customer service:

  • BuyerCo CSRs can easily view pending and shipped orders using ShipPro’s advanced search capabilities. Orders can be accessed by invoice/order number, client name, street address, postal (zip) code, or phone number. CSRs using our systems report that ShipPro retrieves shipped orders two to three times as fast as the systems it replaces.

Be specific

Any user invited onto evaluation teams has almost certainly experienced labour saving innovations that didn’t deliver. Assume a sceptical reviewer and write very specific, fact-based user buyer value propositions. Vague claims and promises will provoke a negative reaction.

Added value in creating value propositions

In addition to sharpening client focus, developing value propositions provides at least two other benefits, especially when developed collaboratively with your client:

  • They inject discipline into your sales process, since value props must accurately reflect what your solution will do and how and when—and the business value it delivers.
  • Value propositions also clarify your competitive position. By identifying gaps in your feature list, you can develop priorities for building stronger solutions.

Next week: How to use value propositions in a bid proposal


Need help achieving client focus in your bid proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Technical buyer value props

 November 13, 2018
by Paul Heron

Last week’s post explained the importance of focusing client relationships on value creation. We included a value proposition for a company selling shipping productivity software. That value proposition was aimed at the economic buyer, the decision maker we naturally associate with the buying decision.

But, just as we need to get beyond the single-client mindset, we also need to segment buyer types when we develop value propositions. An argument that appeals to an economic buyer won’t resonate with technical buyers and user buyers, who will also influence the decision in a large procurement.

Technical buyer value propositions

From an earlier post we know that technical buyers are gatekeepers. A technical buyer focuses on whether the offer satisfies the RFP specifications related to his or her area of expertise. In the shipping software example we’ve chosen, the evaluation team will naturally include an IT person.

Here’s a value prop aimed at that individual:

  • ShipPro will integrate with all BuyerCo legacy systems as part of our implementation guarantee. In addition, since ShipPro is a SAAS solution, continual updates are included in BuyerCo’s license. BuyerCo will stay current with all shipping related tax and regulatory changes, as well as browser updates. Current BuyerCo clients report average IT support cost reductions of 10 hours a month after adopting ShipPro.

Value props for other technical buyers

Technical buyers extend well beyond techies. A tax or regulatory specialist, for example, would find the continual updates mentioned above appealing. A purchasing specialist focused on contracting issues would want to know how the implementation and performance guarantees are worded, how you calculate cost savings and what risks your proposal expects the buyer to assume. A risk manager would want to understand protections in the event a seller became insolvent.

Brainstorm who else may be involved (or better still, ask the business developer) and anticipate and address their key issues with value props.

Value propositions improve client focus

A future post will explain how to integrate value propositions into proposals. But the act of creating them itself has great value. It forces your team to think from the prospect’s perspective, instead of simply trumpeting your solution. And that's the key to winning proposals.

Next week: Value propositions for User Buyers

Need help achieving client focus in your bid proposals?

Contact Complex2Clear



Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 




Economic buyer value props

 November 6, 2018
by Paul Heron

Last month we used buyer types to explore the ways evaluators’ roles and experience shape the way they review proposals. This month’s posts show how to use that knowledge to develop value propositions for each buyer type.

Anatomy of a value proposition

Every durable business relationship is based on value. The seller offers the buyer an economic benefit (e.g. reduced costs and/or increased revenue) at a specified price. The value is the difference between the benefit and the price.

The offer forms a value proposition.  A compelling value proposition is similar to a SMART goal. It’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-based.

Economic buyer user proposition

Here’s a value proposition for an economic buyer that meets SMART criteria:

  • BuyerCo will save 20% in order fulfillment costs using OurCo’s ShipPro software solution. Following a no-cost implementation (6 weeks), direct labour per package shipped will decrease by 5 minutes, based on tests using BuyerCo costing metrics. At a monthly cost of $1,800, ShipPro will save BuyerCo $3,750, based on 3,000 average monthly shipments and $15/hour labour rate.

Collaborate with clients on value propositions

Accurate and complete value propositions can only be developed with information from both parties. For this reason, business developers need to develop close relationships that include value propositions as part of client conversations.

In competitive bid situations, pre-RFP collaboration enables more targeted and complete offers. In the case of informal proposals, well-developed value propositions can become the basis for a sole-source contract. (Even we know winning without bidding is better!)

Despite these advantages, too many sales conversations never address the underlying value proposition. This ignores the fact that both buyer and seller are responsible for hammering out a deal that’s good for their respective employers.

What if you can't mention price?

In two-envelope systems, where you can’t include price in the narrative, you can still express economic value. Here’s an example using the value proposition above:

  • BuyerCo will save 20% in order fulfillment using OurCo’s ShipPro software solution. Following a 6-week implementation, direct labour per package shipped will decrease by 5 minutes as measured by BuyerCo metrics, resulting in a return on monthly investment of more than 200%.

Be sure to also include the full value proposition, with all pricing and costs, as part of the cost volume executive summary, if permitted.

Value propositions for other buyer types

The example above shows a value proposition aimed at the economic buyer. But value propositions are equally appropriate for technical buyers and user buyers. We’ll post on these in the coming weeks.



Need help expressing your value in a bid?

Contact Complex2Clear


Photo credit

Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn 





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