Buyers’ Views of Bidders by Graham Ablett, Strategic Proposals

I enjoyed my first APMP event last night hosted by SAP, Feltham. Graham Ablett was the key note with his presentation on “Buyers’ Views of Bidders”.

You can download the white paper off their website here…

The evening started with a spot of networking over a fine buffet which seems to have confused my scales this morning! The conversation ranged from airport installations to dog whispering… no wonder I was retrieving sandwiches so readily…

SAP have some form of input with 75% of all commercial transactions these days… a library of some 6,000 software applications which can be blended to ensure your technological vision is met. Interesting to see their innovation space and a presentation room that had the audience on their feet… you must visit when you get the chance.

More retrieving, more networking and then up 4 flights in a glass lift… I’m not keen on heights!

Graham’s presentation wasn’t just about Buyers’ views, he also balanced it with Bidders’ views. Download the report to create your own picture but, as I heard it, Pareto is on the money again, even 20% of the respondents were from the public sector.

78% have the tender down as the most important factor in the buying process but most tender submissions are mediocre at best: 40% should be ashamed of what they submit.

Whilst 20% of buyers think they will just nail it at the presentation stage, skipping through the proposals, 75% of proposals are too salesy and 69% fail to understand the business objectives… and whilst 27% of ITTs don’t make it clear what they are looking for or how they are going to evaluate the tenders submitted, all those ego-fuelled paragraphs don’t make it, well actually they do make it easy for the buyers to choose… another for the bin, we best increase the shredder budget for next time!

It makes sense to be proactive with existing contracts, revisiting early to state your case for a continuation but you have to land it in the first place!

It would appear that, historically, there was a case for bitching about the likely winners of a contract when there might have been just one man making the decision but as we head for 2020, a clearer, more transparent decision process, requiring at least half a dozen interested parties to choose a winner, is in place… reducing the odds on the favourite’s chances and increasing the chances of a well-presented, well-researched, concise bid, that answers all the questions, ridden by a new champion jockey in the making to WIN by a short head and change the market place forever.

Businesses spend so much resource on trying to be first to the party, to spec out the tender document and make it fit their products and services…

My vision says you don’t need to be first; spend your time on writing a brilliant tender instead, be the 3rd team in the pitch with <20% chance of landing the opportunity. Spend that “being 1st” budget on a new suit and some great slides with even better content.

Be polite, be aware of who you are talking to and what they really need (show real empathy here) and “Go ahead punk, make someone’s day” ?.

Thank you.


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Worth a watch…

One thought on “Buyers’ Views of Bidders by Graham Ablett, Strategic Proposals

  1. Thanks very much Jon. Another thing that really leapt out for me is that the client typically doesn’t go out to market until 60% of the way through the buying process. Apparently, this is getting later which could imply that bidder response times are getting progressively squeezed.

    For me, this highlights the need for early engagement with the client to identify their requirements and the issues they are facing in their industry. The fact that 69% of buyers feel that bidders do not understand their objectives suggest there is still scope to spend a lot more time here. The sales and bids team need to work together as soon as possible to develop their initial win strategy. This can be done without all of the detail of the RFP and, if the client relationship is strong, much of the content of the RFP should already be anticipated. Of course, the win strategy should be validated when the RFP arrives but at the very least this will give the bid team a good head start and will lead to more successful bids.

    The high success rate of proactive renewal proposals was encouraging to hear and further highlights the need to engage early, be proactive, and potentially avoid the need to respond to an RFP completely!

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