Features, Advantages, Benefits and Evidence

Many proposals and bids fail to distinguish between the attributes of a firm and what these mean to the Client. Far too many bid submissions concentrate on the firm, its history and its competences. The most successful bids are those that show an understanding of the Client's requirements and state how the firm's solution will provide tangible Client benefits.

If you would like to test your understanding of the differences between features, advantages, benefits and evidence, try the following exercise attributed to Marketing Improvements Group.

FEATURE,ADVANTAGE, BENEFIT, EVIDENCE EXERCISE

Indicate with a circle around the appropriate letter which of the following statements made by account managers in presenting their ideas to a prospective Client. For suggested answers, see Appendix 3.

We have specialists with long-term practical experience working with many Clients in your sector.

F...A...B...E

Our expertise allows us to create services that meet all of your requirements.

F...A...B...E

You've said that you want our service to be delivered more quickly. Here is how we can do that by changes we've made.

F...A...B...E

We advise our Clients on their asset holdings.

F...A...B...E

Our Client service team will ensure that delivery arrives correctly and on time.

F...A...B...E

We have an international reputation in the marketplace.This case study shows how we helped a global company achieve better results.

F...A...B...E

If you want to upgrade your quality as your Clients are demanding, our new system will help considerably.

F...A...B...E

If you want advice on how to further improve your quality, we can give you that advice to ensure optimum performance.

F...A...B...E

Using the methods we are proposing will ensure that your staff can understand how and where improvements are possible.

F...A...B...E

You said that timely information on your orders is a major concern. We can provide you with state-of-the-art technology responses.

F...A...B...E

Source: Marketing Improvements Group.

HOW TO ESTABLISH AN EFFECTIVE BID TEAM

Anne Blackie is Head of Bids & Client Care at business advisers Grant Thornton UK LLP. When Anne joined the bid team in 2007 there were three senior managers, two bid managers and one executive, to support the firm's significant bids. Recognising that different markets and sectors had different procurement methods, Anne split the team into public sector and corporates. 'The tendering approaches are so different that it made sense to reflect this in the structuring of the bid team.' The team is now ten strong with a matrix structure covering service lines and investment sectors. 'It's flexible enough to cover the major bids that we are asked to take part in. As part of the advisory service we provide to the firm we ensure that bids are strategically aligned to the firm's key markets when deciding whether to bid. Depending on the size and complexity of the bid, a senior manager or manager will work with the bidding team. They will be involved at all stages of the process from the bid/no bid decision to the de-brief at the end of the process so that lessons are captured and acted upon.'

Motivating People in Remote Locations

'Two of the members of the bid team are located in the regions. We have a strong team ethos and everyone is very supportive of each other. If someone needs extra help they will usually ring someone else in the team for support.'

How to Deal with International Bids

'If it is decided to proceed with a bid with international requirements, we very quickly reach out to partners in those countries where the Client has a requirement. One of the advantages of a firm of our size is that more often than not, someone on the bidding team, be it a partner, director or manager, will have worked with someone in the other jurisdiction. If not the firm's International Business Centre is asked to locate suitable partner contacts. The key is establishing a team as quickly as possible and certainly within 48 hours.'

Identifying Bid-Critical Relationships

'We identify and map out the known decision makers and influencers in the Client to ensure that we have no gaps. We identify the strength of each relationship. Careful DMU analysis is important'

Managing the Bid Process

'For every "go" decision we work on project management principles, establishing key tasks and a timeline, following a staged process including a bid-evaluation. And we always follow up bids to establish why we won or lost to ensure we are enhancing our approach.'

Well-managed Bids and Proposals Help to Grow the Business

Proposals shows the importance of managing bids and proposals. Having an effective and robust bid management process is considered best practice by the leading professional services firms. Once firms reach a certain size, they often decide to create a dedicated bid team to manage the larger, and often more complex, opportunities that may arise. Given the importance of winning tenders and major assignments, considerable investment is usually made in preparing bids. A bid evaluation process that maps the situation against strict criteria is important to enable decisions to be made on whether to respond to, or decline, a bid opportunity. Showing an understanding of Client needs and stressing the benefits of a solution are key elements of a winning bid.

Proposals and Bids

CLIENT MANAGEMENT REVIEW QUESTIONS

To what extent:

1. Do you have a formal bid evaluation process for large-value opportunities?

2. Do you operate a minimum value policy before working on a bid?

3. Do you have a dedicated team responsible for managing large bids?

4. Do you understand the difference between features, advantages and benefits?

5. Do you know your bid success rate and regularly take action to improve it?

6. Do you always seek feedback from prospective Clients when losing a bid?

7. Do you always aim to meet with a prospective Client prior to bid submission?

8. Do you always include a clear value proposition in bids and proposals?

9. Do you always include a time plan with bids and proposals?

10. Do you always include a risk assessment with bids and proposals?

These questions also form the basis of the Proposals section of your Client Management Profile™, which can be found in Chapter 15.

Client Management Model™

 
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