Incumbents often underestimate the pitfalls they face when contracts expire. This month we’ll look at four must-do items that will help you win your rebids.
As the incumbent, your biggest risk is complacency. Your client likes you (or at least isn’t complaining), and your team is meeting its operational targets. So you should have a lock on the rebid, right?
Not so fast. Assuming your contract is attractive, other companies have been waiting for this opportunity. They’re wooing your client with exciting possibilities and probing for weaknesses in your performance.
And they may discover issues a conflict-averse client is reluctant to raise with you—especially if you don’t ask.
Describe an attractive future
Our first recommendation is to be future oriented. Every other proposal will stress improvements on the status quo. So, no matter how well you think you’re doing, you need to paint a future that's brighter than the present.
To accomplish this, take the following steps:
- Meet with your client: Seek a meeting about your future together. Ask open-ended questions. For example: “What improvements would you like to see in the next contract period?” and “How will your business change in the next five years?” followed by “How can we help you respond to these changes?”
- Leverage internal resources: Enlist your senior people to approach their client counterparts and have their own conversations. Separately, invite colleagues managing a similar contract to tour your operation. Ask them to be tough markers. What shortcomings would they pounce on if a competitor held the current contract?
- Get fresh input: Your regular contacts may be unaware of (or unwilling to share) the information you need—so be sure to connect with a wider group at the client organization. Seek out likely bid evaluators, including the economic buyer, technical buyers and user buyers. If your team directly impacts large numbers of client personnel, get permission to survey them on their experience. Bonus: You may discover and be able to correct an issue that might otherwise tip a close decision.
- Collaborate on value propositions: As an extension of the above, collaborate with your client on future improvements that align with its strategic direction. Use this post on value propositions as a guide. You can’t include out-of-scope investments your proposal—that risks losing on price—but thoughtful collaboration leading to operational improvements will enhance your perceived value and competitive position.
Document, document, document
Make detailed notes of every client interaction, including as many verbatim quotes as possible. Then you can reference specific meetings and cite client statements to support your proposal—demonstrating a level of client focus other bidders cannot match.
Bottom Line: Use your home field advantage
Take every opportunity to benefit from incumbency. Use your unique client access to create an insightful, forward-looking proposal.
Next week: Track your performance
Need help to improve your proposal strategy?