Given the cost of acquiring and onboarding a new client, it’s near-tragic to lose the rebid on a profitable services contract. And yet it happens.
Why do incumbents lose?
Some fail to win because they don’t make the effort to submit a lean, forward-looking rebid proposal. Others price the rebid based on realistic costing, while one or more hungry challengers base their price on overly optimistic assumptions. In other cases, a challenger overtakes the incumbent with better technology or some other business advantage.
But often there’s another, less tangible factor at play. Call it fatigue or “time for a change.” The fact is the client has fallen out of love with the incumbent.
Since services contracts can run for a decade or more, maintaining a positive relationship is not unlike managing a successful marriage. Imagine the impact on already-high divorce rates if every spouse in the country were given the option to walk away from his or her marriage on a given anniversary date with no legal consequences and no responsibilities.
So how do you keep the client in love?
The ability to execute is central. If processes and systems fail frequently, you’ll wear out your welcome—and your rebid chances. But even with industry-standard or better reliability, clients will remember your response during a service interruption. That’s why operating teams need latitude to make decisions in breakdown situations—even if it means incurring unplanned costs.
Execution and rapid response will keep a client satisfied. Moving from satisfaction to delight takes a manager with the right temperament. So, in addition to technical and management know-how, choose people with good relationship skills.
Assessment tools, now increasingly available online, reliably indicate whether a candidate is a natural at relationships. And that’s important. We’ve all learned to be social and show empathy – but if it’s not in our nature these traits won’t survive over time and/or in stressful situations.
An added benefit of delighted clients is their willingness to share their aspirations for the next contract—gold for the proposal team writing the rebid proposal.
The power of a relationship natural aligns with our experience at Complex2Clear. After seeing a project manager win over clients with skills we didn’t know she had when hired, we’ve assessed project managers for relationship orientation ever since.
We’ve also borrowed her favourite phrase: “Make sure they feel the love.”
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