Evaluate each element of your offer
Many relationship managers keep a list of their prospect’s hot buttons and pain points as handwritten or electronic notes. For teams pursuing large bid opportunities, a competitive solution matrix is a better option.
Building a matrix not only lets you match up your solution against each need, it also helps you track your best analysis of each competitor’s offering. The result is a tool that pinpoints any weaknesses, informing both your technical response team and the proposal development process.
Setting up a competitive solution matrix
Create the following column headers on an Excel worksheet:
- Issue: Identify a specific need, concern, desire or preference expressed by the prospect.
- Requirement: Describe specifically what the client requires. What’s the ideal response?
- Available solution: How does your planned solution address the issue?
- Gap: What is the gap (positive or negative) between the requirement and your solution? Quantify the gap whenever possible.
- Competitor No. 1 Solution: How does your closest competitor address the issue? If you have two or more close competitors, add a column for each. Ensure you include any competitors who typically bid low. Highlight competitors who have an advantage in addressing this specific issue. In each case identify the gap in the same way as for the previous column.
- Differentiators: Identify your advantage/disadvantage relative to highlighted competitors. Include any offsetting factors.
- Strategy: How will you address disadvantages and leverage advantages? Options range from stressing advantages to redesigning your solution.
- Action: Who needs to do what and when to resolve this issue?
Complete the matrix for each identified prospect issue. Make a special effort to use quantifiable criteria for requirements, solutions and gaps, so you can gauge the success of any actions you take to improve.
Armed with this matrix, you can inform and align your team behind messaging opportunities and potential competitive threats in time to respond.
Develop your matrix early in the opportunity life cycle
The ideal time to develop this matrix is pre-RFP. During the needs analysis phase, your prospect can freely express all issues and opinions, including about vendor preferences. This is one of the key benefits of building a relationship early.
Do you use a matrix to track elements of your offer? How does it compare with our example above?