82 topics to discuss with your customer

Here is a nice long list of topics to discuss and things to discover when you are talking with your customers. While they are presented as questions, you should not necessarily ask them directly. Rather you should weave them into your conversation and relationship. Obviously you won’t be able to touch on all of them in a single meeting. But they can help you create a contact plan, inspire you to dig deeper, and give you targets for follow-ups. All of them have the potential to produce intelligence that can help you win the pursuit.

The Customer’s Priorities and Preferences

1. What are the customer’s priorities?

2. How do their own goals relate to their organization’s goals?

3. What are their preferences?

4. What trade-offs do they anticipate?

5. Are they risk tolerant or risk averse?

6. What alternatives does the customer have?

7. What is the most meaningful in terms of value to the customer?

8. Does the customer prefer a single award or multiple awards?

The Customer’s Environment

9. What is their culture like?

10. What sources of pressure do they face?

11. What else do they have competing for their time and attention?

12. What problems do they anticipate?

13. What changes do they anticipate?

14. If they could do anything differently, what would it be?

15. What kinds of deadlines do they face?

16. Do they usually stick to their deadlines?

17. What kinds of hassles do they have to deal with?

18. What kind of challenges do they face?

19. What do they look forward to?

20. What do they dread?

21. What are they sensitive about?

22. What steps do they go through to get something new?

23. Do they have any insight into who/what/where/how/when/why?

24. Do they like their boss?

25. Are they centralized or decentralized?

26. What would they like to change?

27. What would they like to stay the same?

28. What platforms, formats, or standards are relevant?

29. What social networks does the customer participate in?

30. What trade shows or events does the customer attend?

31. Are there any ethical considerations you should be aware of?

The Competitive Environment

32. What companies have they worked with?

33. What are their positive/negative experiences with their vendors?

34. Are they satisfied with the current performance on the contract?

35. What do they think about teaming between contractors?

36. Do they like working with small businesses or large businesses?

Decision Making

37. How do they make decisions?

38. How do they evaluate RFPs?

39. Do they buy on price or value?

40. How will price be evaluated?

41. What does the customer consider to be the minimum that is technically acceptable?

42. How does their approval process work?

43. Are they consensus driven?

44. Who participates in making the selection/decision?

45. Who influences the selection/decision without actually participating?

46. Do they prefer off-the-shelf or customized solutions?

Executing the Process

47. Is their procurement process documented?

48. Do they have training materials you can download or view?

49. Do they have any other information you can take?

50. Do they have to issue an RFP?

51. How many different ways do they have to buy things?

52. How do they select an acquisition strategy?

53. What options do they have for making a purchase or getting a contract signed?

54. Do they already have a budget?

55. Is their budget funded?

56. Do they participate in RFP writing or evaluation?

57. What step are they on/what is the next step?

58. Do they have all the information they need?

59. Is there any information you can provide to facilitate the process?

60. How do they like to buy things?

61. Are there any potential conflicts of interest to be managed?

62. Would a demonstration be relevant?

63. Is a site visit an option?

64. Will the customer issue a Request for Information, Market Survey, or Draft Request for Proposals?

65. How well do the programs, procurement, and executive levels work together?

66. Do you have contacts to cover the programs, and procurement, and executive levels?

Expectations

67. What result is the customer looking for?

68. Do their expectations match what it will actually take?

69. How long until they expect to be ready to make a purchase?

70. How long after the purchase do they expect to take delivery?

71. How do they prefer delivery to take place?

72. How will they measure or define a successful outcome?

73. What do they expect regarding how the project will operate or be managed?

74. Does the customer expect to directly manage any staff involved?

75. Is the customer looking for a partner, or someone to take direction?

76. What action items are next for the customer?

77. What action items are next for you?

78. Are there any important dates to consider?

79. What deliverables will the customer expect?

80. When should you follow up?

81. Who else should you talk to?

82. Is there anyone else within your own company that you should introduce to the customer?

Readiness Reviews give you a structure into which you can insert questions like these to ensure that you are making progress toward being ready to win your pursuits. The Readiness Review methodology is part of the MustWin Process that we developed. It is fully documented in the PropLIBRARY Knowledgebase, along with many other items that provide inspiration, guidance, and acceleration for your business development efforts.


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Carl Dickson

Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY

Carl is an expert at winning in writing. The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is also a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant and can be reached at carl.dickson@captureplanning.com. To find out more about him, you can also connect with Carl on LinkedIn.

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