If you agree with the final sentence of the previous paragraph you might have a problem.
I’ll illustrate why with a straightforward example.
The experience, awards, accreditations, processes and procedures, and USP’s were all marshalled in the expectation that they would ‘wow’ the client and win the project.
What do you imagine their competitors were doing? Yep, making a list of the experience, awards, accreditations, processes and procedures, and USP’s that would win them the business.
In reality any number of potential contractors could have delivered the work competently to an acceptable budget.
What really matters?
With a bit of research we established that the council’s strategic plan aimed to make the town THE most desirable commuter town in the Thames Valley.
We positioned the street lighting and pavement contract as helping the council achieve their objective by making the streets safer and more attractive for residents. We specifically referenced how it would improve the experience of commuters leaving early and returning late from jobs in London.
We won the contract. While there were other factors, the interview feedback showed that the client was impressed that the contractor had taken the trouble to understand their aspirations. They appreciated how they had made reference to them during their proposal and in the interview.
So why doesn’t everyone do it this way?
It’s not hard to grasp that addressing the issues, worries or pressures clients have – now and throughout the course of the project - is likely to be more engaging.
In my experience two factors get in the way of focusing pitches in this way.
The first is human nature. When we’re in a competition it seems natural to focus on our own capabilities and the reasons why ‘we are better than the others.’ This behaviour is often so entrenched that an outside influence (like a coach) is needed to shift the perspective.
Second, it’s usually much harder to focus on somebody else’s challenges. We naturally know about our own business. Unearthing the factors that are driving our clients takes research and, often, effective relationships based on mutual trust. Relating our solutions to those challenges is a more demanding task than trotting out a list of credentials.
Questions to ask:
- Which of my client’s main business and strategic drivers are affected by this contract?
- What are they most likely to be concerned about before, during and after the contract delivery?
- Can we adapt the way we deliver the work to have a more positive strategic impact?
- How can we demonstrate that we understand and share the client’s objectives?
- What questions will they need answers to (even if they don’t actually ask them)?
During the interview:
- Make it clear from the outset that you will be addressing the client’s needs – this will get their attention.
- Reiterate during and at the end of the meeting how those needs are being met.
As a final thought I’ll leave you with this quote from Abraham Lincoln:
“While I get ready to reason with someone, I spend a third of my time thinking about what I’m going to say, and two-thirds of the time thinking about what they’re going to say”. That pretty much sums up how to divide your energy!
Need help preparing for a big client interview?
Call me on 01963 240555