The more confident a customer is about his purchase, the easier he finds it to contract with a provider. This makes sense. However, the reverse is also true: if a customer is unsure of his purchase, the more difficult he finds it to make a choice. To be more specific, the customer will ask for more information from the provider and try to gain time in the purchase process.
So it is very relevant to know how sure your (potential) customer is of what he says he will buy. After all, it has a lot of impact on your chances of winning over competitors.
How does buyer (in)security work in an RFP or tender?
Simply put: the most confident customer knows precisely what he wants. This is what he then asks out. Therefore, a good answer (and prize) immediately provides a high probability of winning (read our article Influence on win ratio if you want to know more about win ratio). It is easy for a customer in a market where the product or service is obvious, and there is minimal distinction between providers. The information needed to distinguish between providers is available. You must “only” figure out that you are comparing apples to apples. And then you choose the one with the best price and with whom you have a good feeling.
However, for the selling party, this is precisely a challenging puzzle. Make your offer stand out without having to be right on the price button. If you, as the selling party, know the market well, you also know what to do to be the best deal. That dramatically increases your chances of winning.
An insecure client does not know very well what he is asking out. Based on the response, he may change his query or withdraw it altogether. This means that a conversation with a competitor can send an entire bid in the other direction without your control or even knowledge. The more uncertain the client, the greater the risks of other insights. This reduces the odds of winning.
In what way do you know how confident a customer is?
To find out if a customer is insecure, you can use these three clues:
1. The number of pages indicates much
Unfortunately, we do not have a standard number that can be used to determine uncertainty. But it should be clear that a request for specific office supplies can be made in about five pages with hardly any attachments. And a request for a proposal to provide IT infrastructure quickly produces a request for submission of more than thirty pages. By the way, always pull out the pages that deal with legal matters, such as procurement terms and conditions. Because that has nothing to do with the security of a customer but more about the procurement procedure of the organization itself. So in your business, what is an “average” demand? And compare this average with the application you received. If the number is significantly lower, the customer is ignorant and will get more questions during the process. If the number is much higher than the average, then in all likelihood, the customer is insecure.
2. An external consultant betrays many
Consultants who guide tenders and RFPs cost an average of €150 to €500 per hour. A tender process quickly takes more than 100 hours. No organization or company spends that money lightly. It indicates they do not have the people to make this purchase internally. In almost all cases, it is a purchase they do not know for or have turned their noses up at before. The hired consultant wants to do a good job. And will proceed carefully. This means they would instead charge providers too much than too little.
Always look up who the contact person is and check their expertise.
3. The more steps in the process, the more uncertainty
Is the customer just asking for a quote, and they decide who to go with based on that? Then you are dealing with a confident buyer. Are there multiple rounds of questions and presentations, demos, and/or interviews? You can bet they are excited and want to put you to the test to see if everything you put on paper is true in practice.
What do you do with the knowledge of certainty?
Every request is different, and it certainly makes a difference whether you are in a tender or RFP. A tender is subject to many more rules, giving you less leeway. Using the directions above, you can make a score.
- Does the query consist of many pages?
- Does the client use an external consultant?
- Does the request consist of a large number of process steps?
Now count the number of times Yes and the number of times No. Based on the score, we’ll give you some practical pointers:
- 0x Yes & 3x No
Your customer is pretty confident about his purchase. He wants straightforward answers. Here, the shorter, the better. At most, add one extra thing to make a difference over your competitor.
- 1x Yes & 2x No
Your customer is reasonably confident about his purchase. He does still seek confirmation whether he is on the right path. Give sporadic advice on how he can do even better, but stay close to his outreach. If you can, within your means, look for a surprise that allows you to offer something extra without costing much.
- 2x Yes & 1x No
This is an insecure customer. He needs a lot of affirmation and especially the advice. Answer all his questions in detail and, where possible, add advice on improving. Give lots of examples and take the time to put the references down well.
- 3x Yes & 0x No
This is a very insecure customer. The customer doesn’t like the purchase, but he has to. Here, solid credentials are fundamental. Weave these references into your texts: Customer X has had the same question. This is how we solved it. Customer X is happy with Y. to Take all the space you have to elaborate, explain and provide valuable information. The customer will likely be buried in information from the other providers, so ensure your texts are clear and structured. Funnily enough, these clients do not read the information provided from A to Z. They have too little time and too much information. So make sure your texts are so good that people want to read them.
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