Buying Agendas – Silo & Individual

SilosHumans have organized into silos since cavemen hunted in groups. Henry Ford’s assembly line standardized work, then squeezed out inefficiencies. Voila! Higher productivity at lower cost.

That’s why businesses organize in silos. They specialize work (finance, operations, etc.), increase accountability and crank up production.

So what’s the problem?

Silo Agendas

It’s a huge challenge for service contractors to sell to a team of decision-makers from different silos (aka cross-functional, decision-making teams).

Cross-functional decision-making teams are common on large contract bids. And they bring conflicting agendas.

For example, a finance analyst, a buyer, an HR rep, and a plant manager sit down to review your proposal. What do they each want in a contractor?

As contractors, are we to believe these decision-makers magically remove their silo-based agendas and attempt to choose a contractor for the good of their company? I don’t think so, not entirely anyway.

Individual Agendas

There is always a customer-manager, our contact person, who is responsible for the service once the decision is made.

However, in large contracts there are other spoons stirring the decision. And it’s these varying agendas that make selling contract services complex.

They all want something different. Their bonuses are calculated differently. Their job security comes from achieving different goals.

We’ve all heard about personal agendas being played out. About the decision-makers who try and make a name for themselves by raising unrealistic questions or concerns during a selection process.

And we’re all familiar with decision-makers who try to improve their organization using outsourced partners. Those who understand and are capable of team building and creating a shared vision, even including contractors.

Sales Goal for Agendas

Our sales goal is to fully understand as many of the business agendas as possible, such as:

  • Customer’s company agenda
  • Decision-makers’ departmental agendas
  • Agendas of the decision-makers themselves

By understanding these various agendas we can be more creative in the design of our service solution. We can configure our service delivery to serve multiple agendas.

And when our customized solution helps multiple decision-makers get what they want, they’ll select us.

It’s All About Preparation

Preparing for a large contract bid begins long before the RFP comes out. Because once it’s out, the cone of silence descends on the decision-making team, imposed by procurement.

So the time to prepare is weeks and months before the RFP is expected. Here are some things to try and find out:

  • Who will be the members of the decision-making team & their titles?
  • What departments do they represent?
  • What internal initiatives are in progress, completed, or planned? How successful were they?
  • What is the internal political climate – whose star is rising & whose is falling?

How successful are you addressing multiple customer agendas?

Chris Arlen
President, Service Performance

Technorati: buying, RFPs, proposals, agendas

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