Xlnt! I hear "bid" and I hear "price". And I hear "low bid". And their ain`t no honor in being low bid (smile). But are my ass/u/mptions correct? Is that what the customer is saying or is that just a conditioned word? Does the customer even understand the effective components of a "bid solicitation"? Or, are they really looking for a "quote" which is an entriely different scenario?
And so.....in many cases.....the answer is education. Helping the customer to recognize that are more important factors to consider than just price. When somebody asks me about a "bid", I generally will ask them what that means. I will ask them is "price your only consideration? What about service, quality, support?" If they answer "price", I`m back to having my hair on fire (smile).
A bid also implies that they have solidified specifications for the product or service that they wish to acquire. And they provide this identical information to the competing companies. Meet or exceed. That is the only way I know of to get an "apples to apples" price. But, how many customers take the time to provide that information or are willing to pay someone to put that "bid package" together for them. Sure, if you are "Big Company", pretty common. If you are "Little Guy", not so common. And even then, unless I helped write the specs, my hair is still on fire (smile)
As the old joke goes, one guy walks up to the other guy and says "Got a light?" The other guy says "Got one? I am the light!". When the first guy gestures to his cigarette the second replies "Oh, what you seek is fire. Sorry, I don`t smoke" (smile). So when somebody says "Need a bid"....it`s not a bid they seek but a "quote" (smile)
Absolutley! I`m curious. Is there such a thing as an "apples to apples" bid in your industry? I can`t picture one but then, I`m not in your industry (smile). Sounds to me like you provide "quotes". Would that be fair to say? If true, very different from a bid. It allows us to add the "value" that separates us from our competition. The challenges are: 1. Explaining that to the customer. 2. Does that customer really even care or is it just low price? And, there are pople like that. If 2, there goes my hair again (smile)
I prepare technical specifications and bid packages for clients as a part of my service offerings. In addition, I assist my clients in reviewing bids/proposals and in helping them choose a vendor. I also respond to RFPs myself when I go after certain types of projects, so I have been on both sides of this issue.
I think you need to keep in mind that not every customer really uses the word "bid" correctly; they may actually mean "quote" or "proposal", or what they really may be saying is "please help me!".
There are true "bid" situations where the client is strictly looking for low price. This is most often the case when the entity solicting the bids is a government agency. Any attempts to try and convince the client that your bid, while higher priced, is actually a better value is usually futile in this situation as the agency is often bound by law to only consider price.
When going after private sector work, you have a much better chance of selling based on value rather than on price. However, many salespeople don`t listen carefully enough to what the client is asking for, and jump to conclusions about what they think is best for the client. The salesperson then prepares a proposal for something that is far beyond what the client asked for, and then tries to "educate" the client about why they need to buy something that wasn`t requested. I liken this to going into a restaurant and asking for a bowl of soup, only to have the waiter bring out a full five-course dinner.
One strategy that I have found to be extremely successful is this:
Prepare one proposal that is exactly what the client asked for, regardless of whether or not you believe that this is what the client needs. If there are written specifications, follow them to the letter in this first proposal, and provide pricing to give them exactly what they are asking for in the most economical manner. As long as you meet the specs, feel free to take the same short-cuts that you believe some of your lower priced competitors would.
Then prepare a second proposal that is for the scope of work that you believe is what the client should have, and explain the additional value and long-term benefits that this alternative would provide. Prepare a features and benefits comparision between each of the two proposals that makes a solid case for your recommendations.
As a sidebar, several years ago I was working for a client who was building distribution centers in about ten cities throughout the US. The client asked me to travel from city to city and sit in on vendor interviews so that I could help them choose a service provider for each location. There were usually three vendors being interviewed in each city. Without exception, in every city, every vendor said something along the lines of: "Well, if you are looking for the cheapest price, we are probably not for you, but if you want a top quality job and great service, then you should choose us..."
Since then, I have thought alot about how meaningless the statement "we aren`t the cheapest but we are the best" is. Everybody says this; what you need to do is be definative about how you are better and how this translates into real value for the customer.
Xlnt points! And your last statement goes straight to fundamental "feature-benefit" selling. Just saying you are the "best" means absolutely nothing if you can`t back that up with examples of "how" and "why" and where each of those address specific client needs.