In Position to Win It: 14 Sales Actions for Better Odds

by Chris Arlen on June 17, 2011

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14 Sales Actions to Position You for More Contract WinsThese 14 sales actions improve your chances for winning contract bids during the quiet phase – the period after the first meeting and before the contract is out for bid.

These sales actions are grouped by the objectives in “Increase the Odds of Winning Sales Before the Bid Process“. Accomplish the 5 objectives and you’re in the optimal position when time comes to submit proposals.

1st Objective: Get on prospect’s bid list

Remember, you’ve already had your first meeting with prospects and have presented your sales pitch, brochures and PowerPoint (Didn’t get that first meeting yet? Here are “23 Ways to Get a First Meeting with Prospects“).

If after that first meeting your prospect hasn’t pre-qualified your firm then:

1.0 Leverage the reason they met you in the first place

Why did your prospect meet you?

Simple, because your service is relevant to them. Whatever you said to get that first meeting is important to them. Use it, here’s how:

IF THEY ARE already buying the service you sell, then they’re wondering what else is out there.

THEN YOU request a meeting 1-2 weeks after your first meeting. In it present a selection of your leading-edge innovations (hold back one or two for the proposal). Include validation of your innovation’s effectiveness, i.e. testimonials, references, before and after data, case studies, etc.

These must be truly leading edge, not me too’s where you’ve just caught up with the rest of the industry.

--> Then ask to be on their bid list.

IF THEY ARE currently performing their service in-house, then they’re wondering how it compares to outsourced providers.

THEN YOU request a meeting 1-2 weeks after you first meeting. In it share industry benchmarking data AND compare it to your benchmarks. Also, connect the latest trends in your industry to a case study of how your firm solved an industry wide problem – a problem your prospect likely suffers from.

--> Then ask to get on their bid list.

2nd Objective: Learn prospect’s insider info

Congratulations, you’re on the prospect’s bid list and it’s time to uncover their insider info.

This needs face time, the more the better. But not for artificial reasons, such as repeating your sales pitch.

2.0 Meet prospects face-to-face every month

Plan to meet your prospect face-to-face at least once every month, twice is better. Reasons to meet them in person include:

* attending a 3rd party seminar together
* volunteering together on a charity project
* typical sales lunches, dinners or sporting events

The prospect will determine the type and frequency of meetings, but they’re all chances to learn more about their business situation and challenges.

It may take several meetings for your prospect to open up and share insider info but you must get it. Insider info is the fuel that powers you ahead of the competition and gets you the contract when it’s bid

3rd Objective: Raise seller’s credibility

Being on the bid list isn’t enough. Use this pre-bid time to raise your firm’s credibility in prospects’ minds.

3.1 Become a valued Internet filter

You can add value by sifting through the Internet for your prospect. Don’t shove just any old info to them, really dig in and find information and get it to them

* Set up an RSS feed to easily
* Monitor their industry’s trends as well as your own (here’s How to Build a Free Social Media Monitoring Dashboard)
* Filter out the Internet noise (useless information)
* Share the useful, important stuff

3.2 Invite your prospect to a client’s site

With the permission of your golden client, bring your prospect over to review how you solved problems similar to theirs. Your ecstatic client’s words are a bazillion times more meaningful to your prospect than yours.

3.3 Invite your prospect to a closed seminar

You host an educational seminar (your clients only), provide lunch, a speaker, and the opportunity for your prospects to talk with your clients (bliss).

3.4 Present industry reports or benchmarking data.

Present valued information to your prospect. Be certain to connect the data to how it impacts their business. Ask your prospect to include other decision makers to attend, try and get Procurement, Safety, HR, Production, whatever departments will likely be involved when in bid evaluation process later.

3.5 Introduce your Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) to their SMEs

Request a meeting for a technical conversation about your technology, processes, innovations, etc. You’ll bring your SME and request they have theirs present. Pre-socialize the meeting by sharing the impact on the prospect’s business and point out the necessary integration between their company and yours. This is the reason for having SME to SME talks.

4th Objective: Stay visible to prospects unobtrusively

There are two strategies to achieve this, both rely on technology to efficiently stay in touch with prospects. More importantly both rely on prospects’ permission.

4.1 You go to where your prospect is & comment

Learn where your prospect hangs out online and participate in their conversations. It may be an industry forum, association blog or on Facebook, Twitter, or Linked In (if you’re not already connected, ask to be).

Linked In is your best bet for business conversations. Visit your prospect’s profile and see what groups they belong to. Join those groups and comment in discussions when appropriate. This is commenting for the sake of the discussion, not to pitch your service or link back to self-serving web pages.

When you find a discussion your prospect is active in, be sure to participate, don’t lurk. Use Linked In’s function to get email notifications when comments are posted – so you won’t miss anything.

4.2 Your prospect follows you & you provide good stuff

This is an opt-in, content-based approach where your prospect:

* Receives emails from your blog (2-5 times/week is good)
* Reads your blog’s RSS feed (same as email)
* Follows you on Twitter (2-4 times/day)
* Gets your updates on Linked In (2-4 times/week)
* Gets your status from Facebook (2-4 times/week)

These all require you to consistently and constantly produce valued information (original content or sharing others). But once setup with prospects signed up you don’t have to focus on individual prospects, the technologies do the distribution and management – you work on content.

5th Objective: Strengthen prospect relationships

Many sellers look on this quiet phase as the time to strenghten relationships. Savvy sellers do this too, but they also work the above activities that provide compelling, business reasons for prospects to choose them, in addition to liking them personally.

Here are several relationship building opportunities that only require your time, and your prospect’s interest:

5.1 Help your prospect learn how to better use software, i.e. Excel, PowerPoint, Word, etc.

5.2 Help your prospect learn how to use social media, i.e. Twitter, Linked In, Facebook, etc.

5.3 Show your prospect how to setup an RSS reader with links

5.4 Volunteer to work with them at a charity event

5.5 Volunteer to work with them on an association committee

Now What?

Work these 14 sales actions, accomplish the 5 objectives and you’re almost assured of winning. No guarantees, you do have to get all that intelligence and insight into your proposal, and price your offering appropriately.

But you have done what you can and used the quiet phase wisely. You’re positioned favorably in your prospect’s mind and other decision makers, and as importantly you’ve acquired your prospect’s insider info.

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