Without diving too deeply into the murky waters of modern politics it might be profitable to reflect on some recent events and personalities if you want to understand how perceptions can affect your business and your chances of winning major bids.
At the extremes, managing perceptions can overpower evidence and reality in the battle to shape opinions and determine actions. How else do wealthy, privileged individuals become seen as anti-elitists?
And what was the purpose of the Trump and Kim Jong-Un meeting? To avert a nuclear disaster or as a PR strategy to alter the perception of both leaders on the world stage? Whatever you think of Trump, he certainly understands the power of perceptions.
On less controversial ground, why do great sports teams so often implode when the guiding force departs? Was Sir Alex Ferguson’s impact as a manager down to tactical genius? Or was it down to the aura, trust and belief he created among the squad and the sense of inevitable defeat he created in opponents?
This aura (and the perception of expected success) began to unwind almost as soon as he resigned as manager. None of his successors have been able to rebuild it, despite spending huge sums on new players. Yes his players were good, but the same players couldn’t produce the same results under a different manager.
In sport and in business it isn’t necessarily about being the absolute best to win. It’s more about the opposition (or in business, the client) believing that you are that matters most.
Are You Expected to Win? How do your prospects perceive your business today? And what can you do to change those perceptions in a positive way? One of the most powerful perceptions you can create is one where your client believes that you understand their needs and concerns better than others. Link this to a perception that you are focused on their needs and concerns more than your own and you potentially have a winning formula.
In reality, the technical solutions proposed by a range of bidders may be identical, but the extra value of having the client perceive that you understand their needs better provides the value that differentiates you from them. With all other things being equal this should win you the work.
Your client isn’t just looking at the details in the bid. They are also subconsciously asking: ‘What happens if our requirements change or unforeseen problems throw the project off course, who's going to respond in the most positive way?’ Is there a simple trick to get your client to perceive that you understand their needs? Not really. It comes down to proposals and presentations that talk about your client more than your outputs, achievements and awards. It’s also about the questions you ask, how you ask them, and how you respond to the answers.
I have many years of senior sales and account management positions.
This experience taught me how to interpret exactly what clients are seeking, and what they need and expect to see and hear from the successful bidder. We draw on this experience to give your team an additional competitive advantage by building on their existing strengths while improving their team-working and self-awareness.