Waiting for a contract before you start developing your customer relationships is doing business development backwards. There are more ways to get ahead of the RFP and start relationship marketing than most people realize. This is a critical first step towards being able to influence the RFP.
A lot of people focus on customer intimacy as something that improves your chances of winning. Plus, it sounds cool. No company is going to say they’re not interested in customer intimacy. It’s pretty easy to convince the executives that it’s something you just have to have. But then you have a problem... How do you achieve customer intimacy?
It has more to do with being helpful than it does with being conversational. Relationship marketing is largely about demonstrating your value to the customer by sharing information and insight. To help you get started, here are 82 topics to discuss with your customers.
Relationships are vital for winning contracts, only not for the reasons that some people think. Relationship marketing isn't about winning contracts because the customer likes you. Relationships alone aren't enough for you to win contracts.
Relationship marketing is about winning contracts by having more insight into the customer's needs, and being able to translate that information advantage into a better proposal. In addition to understanding your customer's needs, you can also gain a competitive advantage by understanding your customer's acquisition and decision process.
When you start late and can't write a proposal based on your insight into the customer's needs, one strategy you can use is to make the proposal part of a conversation and approach it like the start of a relationship. Another approach is to share a vision and invite the customer to be a part of it. In many ways you can think of the entire customer relationship as one big conversation. Only you need approach this conversation by trying to be helpful and as a chance to demonstrate your ability to deliver value, instead of as an opportunity to talk about yourself.
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Carl is the Founder and President of CapturePlanning.com and PropLIBRARY.
The materials he has published have helped millions of people develop business and write better proposals. Carl is an expert at winning in writing. He is a prolific author, frequent speaker, trainer, and consultant.
In addition, the groups Carl moderates on LinkedIn provide a place for tens of thousands of business development and proposal professionals to discuss best practices and network.
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