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Win strategies for when the customer tells you what to bid

How do you submit a better proposal when everybody is bidding the same thing?


Sometimes the customer tells you exactly what to bid. Other times, they tell you what the problem or need is and ask you to propose a solution. When they tell you what to bid, everybody is bidding the same thing and it’s hard to stand out from the pack.


When everybody is bidding the same thing, to establish a better value you must either:

  • Offer more than what they asked for. If you focus on the deliverables, this can be challenging, because delivering more usually means incurring higher costs. And when everyone is bidding the same thing, cost gets a lot more attention. The trick is to identify things that you would either do anyway, or can do without adding cost.
  • Provide a better way for them to get what they asked for. Better delivery terms, quality assurance, risk mitigation, faster delivery, training, and better maintenance are all examples of ways to add value.
  • Don’t just meet the requirements, be the company that can deliver their goals. It’s not about you. If the customer can get what they want from anyone, then who cares about the company providing it? It won’t matter unless you make it matter, but it’s got to matter to them.  Relate everything you will deliver to helping them fulfill their goals.
  • Be more credible and trustworthy. You want the customer to believe they have a better chance of actually getting what they want from you. People buy from businesses they trust. A performance history, references, demonstrations, samples, insurance, back-up and risk mitigation plans, transparency, real-time reporting, availability, guarantees, and clear, un-evasive speech/writing are all things that can reinforce trust.
  • Write a better proposal. When everybody is bidding the same thing, the way you describe and position yourself matters a whole lot more. Once you’ve established credibility and trust, it’s important to tell the right story. If they can get what they are asking for from anyone, why would they want to get it from you? If everybody is offering the same thing, then outside of the price all they have to impact their decision is your proposal. So what kind of story does it tell?
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