It’s a core Artemis principle that’s been proven in hundreds of competitive bids that we’ve tracked: You establish yourself as a favorite (or a longshot) long before you receive an RFP. Basically, if you haven’t won the bid in the minds of decision-makers before they start the formal evaluation process, your chances are slim.
That shouldn’t be hard to believe. Remember, you might not have had much contact with the prospect prior to the RFP. That doesn’t mean all your competitors are in the same position. The playing field is never even. If you don’t have the advantage of a strong pre-RFP relationship and reputation, then someone else does. That firm is the favorite. You’re the longshot.
This is a very timely message. Vaccinations are accelerating. We are hearing of a return to a new version of pre-pandemic life by the end of the summer. We can anticipate significant government spending. There will be more corporate projects out for bid in sectors like architecture, engineering, construction, aerospace, defense and others. Businesses will have a greater need for advisory services as they prepare to compete in a stronger market. Marketing communications programs and innovations will be more highly valued. FinTech and AdTech will gain tremendous momentum.
That’s all down the road, and in some cases nearly here. So here’s the question: What are you doing NOW to get ahead of these opportunities?
Perhaps it’s already too late.
The Best Offense is a Good Offense
The authors of this HBR article, “Should Midsize Companies Play Offense or Defense in a Downturn?” (find it here) make a persuasive case for immediate, assertive action.
“…mid-size companies that made significant increases or decreases to their investment plans during a recession experienced contrasting results during recovery. When comparing market value, sales growth, and return on equity.”
Most striking to us is the contrast in sales growth. Growth was no less than +40% in companies that invested, and as high as +57%. Companies that didn’t invest saw declines of -1% to -8%. Here’s just one of several implications they noted:
“There’s an opportunity to attract dissatisfied customers from competitors by offering superior products and services.”
Let’s unpack that from the Artemis perspective.
There’s no doubt that having “superior products and services” is vitally important to growth. Here’s the challenge: How do you convince a prospect that your products and services are “superior?” Especially in very competitive markets, when most of the top firms pursuing high-value projects will be viewed by decision-makers as essentially equally capable?
The Window of Winning
There’s one foundational truth in highly competitive new business pursuits: Real differentiation of products and services is damn hard to achieve. Yet firms can have a better chance of establishing the possible superiority of products and services by all they do before they respond to the RFP.
It’s the period before an RFP drops that you can contact decision-makers and influencers with insights and wisdom that establish you as a legitimate option for them. This is also the time when you grab a virtual or literal cup of coffee with a prospect to exchange ideas. To align values. To demonstrate culture. To understand politics. To tilt the uneven playing field in your direction.
Success also depends on investment as this window remains open. To improve your chances of winning, consider doing any or all of the following, starting ASAP:
Sadly, we’ve come across too many firms that are still hunkered down in their bunkers. Not yet ready to invest in growth. Or willing to invest, but not sure how to do it effectively. Or investing, but doing so ineffectively.
The “window of winning” is open now, before the expected increase in new business opportunities. It won’t be open for long. Now is the time to take a very hard, very honest look at your growth strategy and available investment supporting it. You’re hearing this term a lot: “Big Bold Moves.” Let’s add “Smart” to it, and you have the mission you need to embark on right away.
- Bob Wiesner, Managing Partner, The Americas