“The person who figures out how to harness the collective genius of his or her organization is going to blow the competition away.” Walter Wriston
Competition, this is a word that excites me rather than conjure up images of losing a deal. It wasn’t always like that. You begin to appreciate this a lot more when you repeatedly get into the David vs Goliath scenarios. From the very beginning of my forays into business, I have learnt that the one thing which keeps you on your toes even more than your customers, is your competition. Complacency is a word which should not be in an entrepreneurs dictionary. If you want to win, then you have to do everything you can to go out there and fairly, ethically and passionately convince the customer why they should choose you. Jack Welch had the same philosophy at GE, it was either striving to be 1st or 2nd in the industry or quitting the business if you didn’t have the necessary competitive advantages.
Your proposals must reflect this attitude. I have received proposals where the competition has blatantly bad mouthed or down played competitors. Others have conveniently and completely forgotten to mention them. Unfortunately, your client may share a very different perspective on the competition. The proposal has to include counters to your competitor in a clear and precise manner. You have to highlight your strengths in relation to your competitors.
If your firm is much smaller than the competitors use your agility, speed and client focus as advantages. If you are large, then leverage on your size and resources. Play to your strengths with both your customers objectives and achieving those in relation to your competition. In one of my earlier print media based business there was tremendous pressure from larger players who were bidding for the same university contract. However we had an office based in the university campus and had the ability to designate resources to work closely with the client. Even though we weren’t the cheapest alternative, we won. If there is one thing I learnt from that business was NEVER get into a price war. It is not in your clients or your interest in the long run. Focus on developing value and your client will pay.
Use the competitive analysis section of your proposal to help draw lines on how your offering differs from your competitors. If it doesn’t, then that, is something you need to build upon; focus on customer support, the internet, human resources or your supply chain to help you develop that competitive edge. There is no room for complacency, do whatever it takes to win.