It Takes a Village to Win Contracts

In talking with more with clients, fellow SMPS members, & others in business development roles, a common theme is becoming evident – it takes a village to get a new client. Also, it only takes one idiot from that village to sabotage that same relationship. We’ve written about empowering your employees to be Brand Ambassadors for your company, but this is a different way of thinking.

Step into your prospective customer’s shoes. They are about to make a very expensive decision, possibly a multimillion-dollar decision. For some of your clients, this is something that happens once in a career. Even those that do purchasing for a living, each decision can tank their careers. They have to get this right and it is your job to make them confident in selecting you because you’re more than safe & reliable, you are incredible. Many times as business developers, we think our neck is on the line for not bringing in the business when our clients’ necks are also on the line if they bring in the wrong company. You don’t want to be that wrong company.

Let’s start there. Your team needs to perform day in and day out on each project. If your team falters, your company will get a reputation for unnecessary work change orders, poor performance, and false promises. How can you compete with this? You can’t unless you only go after low-bid work. Even in low-bid environments, there are ways to avoid you. I’ve been warned not to work with a local construction company by both their competitors and by government officials. These officials have re-written low bid laws to include past-performance evaluations to avoid working with this company that bids low and spends years in court with work change orders.

Next, look at your jobsites. Could you walk a prospective customer through a jobsite any day? Probably not. We try to always have our office “camera ready” for a last minute meeting. Obviously a jobsite is not the same as an office setting, but do you ever think about that same prospective customer driving by your sloppy jobsite every day because it is near their home or office? Scary thought to many business developers out there.

Company vehicles can be the kiss of death for you as well. Have you ever been cut off and curse out by someone driving a company vehicle? Probably so. You may have felt powerless because it’s not something worth calling the police about and you do not even know what that company does anyway. What if that company vehicle was your company and that person they cut off was a prospective customer with your proposal sitting on his/her desk? Ouch! It doesn’t matter that you spent 3 years cultivating that relationship and your team spent endless days on the bid, that driver just cost your company your next multimillion dollar deal and you have no idea why.

I’m not saying to get rid of company vehicles and to remove your jobsite signs. You need to train your team that they are all part of the brand and they represent your company, for good or bad. This extends to your subcontractors on your jobsite and to employees off the clock wearing their company shirt after work.

Train your team that they are the brand experience and they control the company’s future success.