Technical buyers are gatekeepers. They don’t have the economic buyer’s power to make the final decision—but they can keep your proposal from getting shortlisted.
Technical buyers use specialized knowledge to analyse whether solutions meet the RFP requirements. Because their arguments are based on facts, technical buyer findings command respect.
Technical buyers are not all techies
The label “technical buyer” suggests a technology specialist. But the term refers to any evaluator applying specialized knowledge. Technical buyers include:
- A contracts manager, who evaluates how 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 a solution’s impact on corporate security, liability and insurance
- A regulatory manager, who can evaluate for compliance with applicable laws and regulations
Writing for technical buyers
Technical buyers are not swayed by general arguments. They typically use checklists to search bid responses for specifics. They aim to gather and marshal facts on which to base their recommendations.
To appeal to technical buyers:
- Begin by understanding their needs: Identify all technical evaluator issues as a part of your strategy and create checklists by section as part of pre-kick off planning.
- Prove your solution meets requirements: Create a compliance matrix of all features required in the RFP and show how your solution satisfies each requirement. Use quantitative measures wherever possible.
- 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 citing an authoritative third party.
- 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 sections containing the information they need. So keep any explanations close to the facts they’ll seek.
Use fact-based graphics and/or callouts to highlight your defence of any features that could be considered non-compliant.
Respect the technical buyers’ credibility
Their fact-based reasoning enables technical buyers to express their conclusions more objectively than other evaluators. This often gives them outsize clout with decision makers. In a close competition, it’s usually technical buyers who cite differentiators that give one or two bidders an edge over others.
For this reason alone, it’s critical to anticipate and satisfy technical buyer needs.
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||Paul Heron, MBA, is the founder and managing partner of Complex2Clear, and leads our bid response practice. LinkedIn