With that in mind here are 8 ways to maximise your chances of keeping your existing business when it’s time to rebid. As you’ll see, some of these should have started the day after you won the contract last time around.
Run a re-bid strategy workshop almost as though you were new to the contract. Look closely at the client’s requirements and avoid the assumption that what you’re currently delivering is exactly what they need.
Create a capture plan for the re-bid – treating the bid as though it was a new opportunity. Take a fresh approach to the client’s challenges, create an outline solution from scratch and compare it to what you currently deliver.
Make a specific point of identifying where you could be adding even more value – you can be sure that this is what your competitors will be doing.
#2 Be honest with yourself
Well before rebidding time comes along you need to sit down with the delivery team and assess how well you are performing. Review your current contract and check that promises made in the original bid have been kept.
Doing this ahead of time will mean you can rectify any issues or shortcomings, or at least work with your client to make sure you have a shared understanding of the reasons why things might not have happened.
Shortcomings could have been caused by issues on the client’s side and they may need some help to acknowledge this. But avoid mud-slinging, blame shifting or looking for excuses. Your aim is to neutralise the effect of any issues before you get into the bidding process.
Check any changes to service specifications have been accurately documented.
#3 Prepare well in advance
Identify the bid team well in advance and get them working on specific tasks. There is always a temptation to think that rebidding for existing work needs less preparation because you’re familiar with the contract. You then run the risk of having a presentation or proposal that is under-cooked. You might also notice specification changes too late to respond to them properly.
Better to notice that nothing significant has changed at the start of the process than to spot a major specification change with a week or two to go!
#4 Think like your competitors
What are your competitors likely to be saying to knock you off your perch? Where will they perceive their strengths to be and what will they be saying that might undermine your position? An exercise in putting yourself in your competitors’ shoes and asking yourself how you would approach the bid if you were them will identify some of the issues you need to address and neutralise.
Make sure you understand what work your competitors are already doing for the client and document any links or overlaps with the work you are doing. These can be your biggest areas of risk, particularly if the client may see opportunities to achieve efficiencies or synergies by placing the contract elsewhere.
#5 Refocus on your client’s needs
Understand your customer’s needs for the next contract. Make sure that you are 100% certain about how their needs have changed (which may not be in the bid document) and make sure you are addressing the new needs rather than repeating what you said last time. How are the needs likely to change during the course of the next contract?
Make sure you understand and document where the project fits within the strategic priorities of the client so that you can reference these in your proposal and presentation. Again, these will have changed since your last bid.
When you’re busy delivering a contract it’s easy to overlook how the client’s needs and priorities have changed over time. Creating a ‘what’s changed’ log can help you focus. It also highlights why dusting off and amending your previous pitch isn’t a good idea.
You should also log how the way you do things is having a direct impact on your client’s most important goals. Again, it’s better to get into the discipline of recording this during the course of the contract. The performance goals that you set for the project should include measures that are directly linked to your client’s strategic goals so that you can quantify how you are helping them succeed.
#6 Understand why you were successful
Are you clear about why you won the contract the last time? Was it a clear-cut decision or were there some aspects of your proposal where the client had reservations? This is why it’s so important to ask for feedback on your bids – even when you win them.
If you know the areas where the client perceived that you were not the strongest bidder you can make a particular effort to demonstrate that their concerns were misplaced.
#7 Recognise the value of continuity
The biggest reason that incumbent suppliers have an advantage is that change represents risk. Even when things aren’t perfect it’s often easier to stick with the devil you know. You will probably appreciate better than anyone the potential impact of any disruption to service delivery.
Never try to give the impression that you think you are indispensable but there’s no harm in making sure your client fully appreciates the risks involved with changing supplier. It always helps to know just how risk-averse your client is.
And try to present continuity as a positive benefit that will allow you to build on your experience of delivering the contract to deliver even greater value.
#8 – Celebrate success
When you go back to the original contract specification you’ll almost certainly see many areas where you are delivering more than you promised. There will be innovations that your team has brought to the contract that eventually become seen as part of doing the job. Make sure these are logged and that you take the opportunity to remind the client of the additional skills, knowledge and creativity you bring to their business.
These are all techniques that will help you avoid complacency while making the most of the factors that work in your favour.
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