Our decisions and actions are driven by perceptions. Sometimes these are accurate, sometimes not. Perceptions are hard to change - we tend to look for evidence that reinforces, not challenges them.
Your clients and your prospects will have their own perception of your business. How they view your strengths and weaknesses will heavily influence their judgement about the types of contract you could deliver and the value you add as a business. The perception might not be accurate. And who knows how they formed it (could even be hearsay). But in their minds it’s real and it affects their decisions.
Once businesses grasp the importance of perceptions they are on the road to more successful bidding. They can then understand the evidences, proofs and language needed to change those perceptions in their favour.
Can You Really Change How Others See You? The good news is that it is possible to change how a business is perceived. Think about Skoda in 1990 compared to Skoda now. It isn’t easy or instant and it needs consistency.
Here are a few pointers:
Face to face meetings. With the right kind of positive relationship you can have a frank discussion. With careful questioning you can tease out how your organisation is perceived and why. You then have something to work with and specific perceptions to target.
In my experience few organisations want to face up to these questions or will have the persistence to go beyond bland responses. Those who do so tend to be more successful. Getting expert external support to help plan, structure and role play these conversations will help enormously.
Subsequent meetings then have another purpose - to reinforce the perception that you want to create.
Documentary evidence. Every communication and every piece of marketing collateral can either help build the perception you want to create or reinforce what your client already believes. Look for evidence that supports the perception of the ‘real you,’ perhaps projects you’ve executed for other clients (it’s so easy to get pigeon-holed).
Make sure your information reaches the right people, especially those not directly involved in the decision but who may influence it.
Professional help with the content and phrasing of your tender submissions and supporting material can help accelerate the perception-changing process.
Presentations. The appearance, content and delivery of your presentations are vital aspects of building the right kind of image. It’s all too easy to unintentionally send out the wrong messages, which is why an ‘independent eye’ can be so valuable. And there really is no substitute for rehearsal and constructive feedback.
Has Your Business Suffered from Inaccurate Perceptions? When you previously put a lot of work into a tender that you didn’t win, did you find yourself saying: ‘they just don’t understand our business’? Consider this: your prospect can only measure potential contractors based on the evidence that gets put before them in the RFP documents. Perhaps they were seeing what they expected to see because you didn’t try hard enough to help them see something different? In the next article we’ll look at some of the practical ways you can help your clients form a more accurate and positive perception of your business.
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.