We’ve been writing about the March-April 2018 issue of Harvard Business Review (HBR) feature article on how to measure, and define, what B2B customers most value from suppliers. To ensure high win rates, it is essential to understand what Business To Business customers’ decision triggers are, and therefore your accessible and useful value levers.
So, the core premise of the HBR article is that ‘table-stakes’ compliance, e.g. “meeting specifications at an acceptable price in compliance with regulations while abiding by ethical standards” is not enough to stand out and win any more.
This idea equates to the opportunity ‘iceberg’ model familiar to Shipley-trained businesses, – where the ‘above-the-waterline’ stated requirements require compliance, but rarely provide the customer with differentiation between you and your competitors.
In other words, you can lose a bid on these ‘table stakes’, but you cannot realistically expect to win a bid solely on compliance with these criteria.
At Level Two, buyers perceive functional value – economic and performance benefits. At Level Three the customer value elements sitting above functional value are the solutions positively impacting their ease of doing business.
In Level Four, customers are looking for ‘additional types of subjective value’. These often speak more to the individual buyer than the organisation e.g. better industry connections or marketability, reduced anxiety and stress, enhanced design and aesthetics.
And at the highest level, Level Five, customers are seeking ‘inspirational elements’ – these include solutions that help improve a firm’s vision of their future or enhance their social responsibility.
For Shipley clients, these are real below-the-waterline issues. These subjective needs are challenging for the customer to have identified in isolation, and the seller can only discuss and reach agreement on with strong pre-existing relationships and high customer focus.
The good news? With suitable early customer engagement, such as pre-tender Capture planning and execution with more senior decision makers and influencers, identifying, offering and proving value in these areas can be more compelling for customers than any other topics or hot-buttons.
Doing this is only possible outside of procurement’s objective box-ticking for more compliance-based topics.
To stand out from your competition, to identify, claim and deliver higher value, requires early start Capture, ironically in of itself a sign of a good relationship between the parties.