How to make a bid managers life easier

A tender notice came out in mid-February which helpfully listed all the grounds on which a bidder would be disqualified from bidding for the tender –great idea, could avoid a wasted bid.
Lower down in the tender contract notice though the procurement officers wrote:

A required minimum level of turnover for companies wishing to participate in this process is identified in the PQQ documentation.

A turnover limit could be a major stumbling block for some smaller companies, so wouldn’t it have been more sensible to state the limit in the OJEU contract notice and save a lot of time getting to the PQQ only to find they’re too small to bid anyway?

Public Sector Pricing

One of the differences between government and other public sector tenders and private sector tenders or Requests for Prices (RFP) is the flexibility allowed in the private sector.
By flexibility I mean the opportunity to add pricing or service delivery options different to those originally envisaged by the buyer when putting the tender together.
You still have to put in a compliant bid but private sector buyers will often welcome alternative price structures which could be in the form of payment terms, discounts or the provision of cheaper but fit-for-purpose alternative products or service delivery methods.
By not allowing alternative pricing suggestions the public sector is giving itself an easy ride (they just have to compare identical pricing tables) but it is missing an opportunity to tap into private sector commercial creativity.

Why are some customers paying more than others?

The first question though is: “how do I know if some customers are paying more than others?”

It is not surprising that when I go into a new client  and ask which customers are paying the highest prices, the answer is usually that they don’t know. This is because they are used to being asked who is the biggest customer by sales value? This is not the same as which customers  are  paying the highest prices.

To get to the answer you have to compare customers against some sort of volume / service benchmark so that you are comparing like with like.  Setting this benchmark isn’t always easy because when it comes to B2B services  customised changes are often made to the service and the moment you start doing this comparing like with like becomes difficult.  But this benchmarking progress is the only way you will get the  transparency that enables you to:

  • Improve the lead qualification process;
  • Identify  profitable customers;
  • Identify hidden discounting.

So it is worth doing and once you’ve identified the higher paying customers you can then address the question- Why are they paying more?

Some customers pay more than others because:

  • They are new and unaware of market rates – you can get away with high prices once but you can be sure they will start to look around before long and certainly when you try and impose a price hike.
  • Super Salesman/woman has sold into them very well – on value rather than price – and the customer perceives a higher value in your product and all that comes with it such as after sales service and account management  than they perceive in competitor products
  • They do not buy on price alone and understand the value proposition of your product and so offer little price resistance to even your weakest sales execs. i.e they buy without being sold into.

Understanding why some customers pay more than others allows you to do two things:

1. Identify and learn from your best sales people. Look at their qualification process, you can guarantee they have a good idea of how to identify the best prospects and  this is an important part of choosing the right segmentation in item 2 below, but beware of listening to too many anecdotes regarding what makes a good customer- use them to validate the objective findings and vice versa.

2. Objectively Identify the characteristics of customers who you’ve established buy on value rather than price. You can do this by segmenting your best customers along objective lines such as:

a. Size: turnover, employee numbers

b. Vertical market e.g leisure, electronics, automotive etc etc.

c. Geographical location.

These are just examples, you will know what segmentation is most appropriate for your customers.

Having segmented your customer base you can then build a profile of your preferred customers and direct the sales force accordingly.

Hopefully, since higher paying customers are usually also the easiest customers to service you will also have freed up account management resource in the process.