First post in a series
This post is the first in a series where I will use my own past experience to pattern-match topics from other BD, sales and bid silos, that I believe have insights and lessons not previously brought together.
- Delivering successful projects requires active stakeholder engagement and communication, with a clear agreed vision or common ground of the desired outcomes. This experience helps shape compelling content and nuance in winning proposals.
- Multiple revenue performance and BD process engagements have provided insights into the issues to be overcome to successfully implement change.
- Half a decade in the negotiation arena often involved teaching procurement people how to deal with supplier organisations and their salespeople – giving beneficial ideas for the pre-tender pursuit or the Capture stage of the BD Lifecycle.
Where do most BD & proposal people come from?
Some people in the Business Development (BD) world – including those supporting #revenuegrowth with bid and proposal management – began their career in product or solution roles with a technical or engineering background. Some began as writers, some as project managers. Many BD people, like me, have a sales background.
Where have I come from?
Along the way, I’ve been fortunate enough to have developed experience in product management, sales, sales management, marketing, sales process consulting, negotiation training and consulting, and revenue performance management. And I had to do some proposals along the way of course. But I’m a deal fighter, not a proposal writer.
My biggest learning over the years?
One of my biggest learnings is the extraordinary amount of time and effort wasted by good people working in immature business processes.
So 15 years ago, when I was first exposed, as a customer, to the #shipleyassociates BD Lifecycle – a considered and useful end-to-end set of proven process steps and tools to more effectively #winwork – I was hooked. Because, applied, it works.
Now, as one of several hundred Shipley Consultants globally, it is a great pleasure to work professionally with clients who want to do BD better, and are prepared to invest in some work to get there.
The role of negotiation in the BD-Lifecycle
We begin this series with this topic- the role of negotiation in the BD-Lifecycle.
Pre-tender ‘left shifting’ to win work
Many experienced BD, bid and proposal people and business leaders are familiar with the benefits of ‘left-shifting’ BD efforts and investment to improve win rates and cut the cost of sales.
Rather than waiting for the tender to drop, left-shifting effort to pre-tender phases shapes customer awareness of ideal solutions and and better positions your ability to provide them. This pre-tender work is known as the pursuit phase fo the BD-Lifecycle and is a part of the broader Capture process to win work.
Individuals get it, organisations don’t
In every Shipley workshop, there are a few individuals with vast experience and knowledge to share on this topic – but few would say their entire organisation is aware of and supports this process improvement well.
So your first idea to consider is how aligned, good practices in negotiation can directly apply to pre-tender Capture during the BD-Lifecycle, and therefore potentially increase your effectiveness.
Negotiation is like Capture – not an isolated activity
Why highlight this topic? Because I learned in the negotiation space that most people regard negotiation as the ‘sit at the table and haggle’ aspect of the BD-Lifecycle. Something you do over the price, and terms and conditions in the contract.
Nothing could be further from the truth. This is like thinking that the proposal or tender response is something your writers and subject matter experts will do later, as an activity entirely separated from the earlier BD efforts. This very common #saletobidgap (disconnected BD silos) will be the subject of another post – but here’s a video to watch now if you are interested in this topic.
For now, I offer you a post from the Rain Group – one of the sales process and performance support organisations many Shipley clients work with to improve sales team effectiveness.
Read their post by their President, Mike Schultz. Consider the structure, and critical points suggested. Look at the extent to which your organisation, and BD teams/silos, are negotiating effectively across the BD Lifecycle.
7 Categories for a Sales Negotiation Checklist – Raingroup
- Action Plan
- Power and Leverage
- Buyer Tactics and Objections
- Objectives, Requirements, and Possibilities
- Agreement and Alternatives
Read the Shipley Capture Guide
You will find the points made in the article also covered, with a broader context, in the Shipley Capture Guide. In other words, irrespective of the name or label you give it, better customer focus, pooling of situational data, and effective team execution of win strategy help ensure better sales and bid outcomes.
The Rain Group sales negotiation topics map to the BD-Lifecycle and Shipley Capture Guide as follows.
1. Team – This is similar to the People aspect of the People & Issues stage of the Shipley Win Strategy process steps – with more detail on individual rather than organisational styles and authorities.
2. Action Plan – This aligns to the Strategy Execution steps in Capture. Similarly, the planning and preparation of sales and negotiation meetings is a Critical Success Factor (CSF) in winning work.
3. Power and Leverage – This is also found in the Shipley Win Strategy – built on work done to complete a Bidder Comparison Matrix – establishing your likely value proposition is the key to positioning ahead of your competitors (making substitution harder)
4. Buyer Tactics and Objections – This is key sales or negotiation preparation to include in your over Capture Plan. This is more detailed behavioural mapping and planning. Rehearsals for this are powerful in effective negotiation.
5. Objectives, Requirements, and Possibilities – This is covered in your Shipley People & Issues step – more specifically the development of the customers organisational Hot Buttons – their CSFs for making their supplier decisions. What this covers and the Shipley process does not, is the similar mapping of your own needs out of a deal – as the supplier. As Mike suggests, without also knowing YOUR Hot Buttons, how do you know where and how to negotiate to and fro with your customer.
6. Agreement and Alternatives – In this context, it is mostly about the customer’s likely behaviours. We would suggest this is largely driven by an understanding of what they feel their alternative supplier choices are. So, a good capture plan has done preparatory work on this topic in several areas. Most important is the testing of your solution (including terms and conditions, and price) versus your competitors – through the eyes of your customer, not yourself. And, running a Black Hat Review to best test likely competitor responses and win strategies.
7. Emotions – This is a very helpful topic to understand and be clear about – especially as we see many bids de-railed by seller behaviour misaligned to customer needs and styles. Often overlooked but worth considering.
Whether you call it BD, bidding or negotiation, documented, consistent and well managed pre-tender Capture process is the secret to improved win rates, customer satisfaction and repeat business, and profitable revenue.
As a leadership team you can best support top-line growth by understanding, developing and championing this area of your business processes.
And you will have happier staff, and less wasted time and money – both pre and post tender.