Strategically Positioning Your Firm to Win
We've all been there -- that RFP you’ve been waiting for has officially dropped and now it’s you against the clock to create a competitive, resonant response that puts your company at the front of the pack. But are you set up for success to deliver the winning proposal, or are you headed for a boilerplate response that misses the mark?
We recently joined SMPS Colorado for a panel presentation to share our recommendations and tactics for successfully positioning your firm to win pursuits through improved marketing strategy.
How Most A/E/C Firms Respond
In economic expansions when opportunities abound, marketing is reactive. In economic expansions when procurement of new projects slows down, marketing can become overreactive.
When we chase work for which we have not pre-positioned, and when we increase the volume of overall pursuits, we max out our marketing resources and watch our hit rates decline. The ultimate price we pay is opportunity cost.
What Firms Lose Sight Of
When marketing and technical staff find themselves swamped with low-probability pursuits we lose sight of the end-user of our proposals—the selection committee. It is all too easy to think of them as nameless, faceless figures that are basing their evaluations on some cookie-cutter template that exists in our heads. Every person on a selection committee approaches their evaluation through a unique lens informed by their wants and needs and motivations.
To truly stand a chance of winning, you have to be able to state with confidence that your response will resonant with all of them. If you only start to think about these individuals after the RFP has been released, you're just too far down the lane to truly research and suss out the key selling points and features each member of the committee cares about most.
Proactive Marketing through Pre-Positioning
Like it or not, every firm is perceived by the client or buyer as fitting into one of these categories. Proactive marketing includes steps to move from an unknown to the premier choice.
Commodities – Decisions are largely price-driven.
The Industry – Services are undifferentiated.
The Competition – Similar offerings with a handful of firms that you regularly compete against. Any chance you have to connect with your client is an opportunity for pre-positioning.
The First Choice – Seen as the preferred option because what you offer is difficult to replace.
Your proactive marketing should be focused on knowledge sharing and demonstrating and communicating your firm’s expertise so you can be seen as the top choice during the proposal stage.
Influencing the Selection Process
Your firm’s best opportunity to influence the selection process is before the RFP is issued. Before there is a project on the table, you can focus on learning about your client's needs and challenges.
It is not selling. It is listening and relationship building.
Using the Go/No-Go Process
One of the benefits of including a Go/No-Go assessment at the beginning of the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) or Request for Proposals (RFP) stage is that it takes emotion out of the process and focuses on the facts.
Without answering "yes" to the first two relationship-based questions it should be difficult to reach a "go" status. Remember that your statements of qualifications and proposals are an extension of your brand, and submitting a response when your firm is not positioned may not leave a positive impression with potential clients.
A Look at the Pre-Positioning Ecosystem
There are three main areas that must work in concert to achieve alignment and true intentionality in your pursuits:
Implementation & Measurement
Look for opportunities to share the pre-positioning load amongst your team, including marketing staff, business development staff, and the professionals in your firm by making assignments, setting deadlines for completion, and regularly measuring the results of your firm’s efforts.
The goal of pre-positioning is to build rapport and trust with the individual buyer -- making your firm the top (or only) choice.
Be a Great Listener
Connect the Dots
Do Great Work
Top the Shortlist
Secure an Unfair Advantage
If it feels like you know too much as you start drafting your proposal response -- you are properly pre-positioned!
Watch the full presentation (1 Hour)