Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The New Deal

The industry continues to be stressed and challenged. In this environment – a bird in the hand is truly worth many in the bush. From a marketing context, while we remain segment and campaign aligned – the trick is to leverage our competencies to improve deal win probability. If good campaigns are run – the pipeline should be healthy. But pipelines need to convert and the time has now come to bring the marketing engine to the party to make this happen.
Lets take a look at what a Category Manager can do to improve deal winnability. We have begun calling this the “Win Theme Custodian” role.
1. Bid Qualification : Large RFPs land up on our desks for many reasons – not all of them with a view that we are the party who can deliver. Does more the merrier work in large deals ? Not really. A large deal pursuit is not only a significant cost – it also saps organizational energy with high quality professionals dedicating themselves to winning a deal. When a deal comes in, it is important to do some secondary and primary research – including speaking to relevant analysts and influencers to gauge if it is the “real deal” with a fair win chance. Marketing needs to bring market intelligence into play in a bid – no bid decision.
2. Bid Discovery : The better the situation analysis of the clients industry, environment and business performance – the better the chance of hitting the right win theme. This is the stage where the CM should create a bid primer for all involved. The Bid primer should marry primary and secondary research to detail the clients industry, environment, competitive reality and business model. It should create deeper understanding through P&L and balance sheet analysis, news and earnings announcements and investor briefings. The situation analysis should lead to a deep understanding of the client hot buttons, sourcing problem statements and criteria for final provider selection. I cannot downplay the importance of this stage – in a large enough deal, it makes sense to bring in an Analyst / Advisor to help in this activity. The input is now ready to design the win theme.
3. Bid Solution : At this stage, it is critical that a solution team for the deal is in place. The CM and the solutioning team need to go into a brain storm involving the sitanal and study all documents relevant to the deal. All solution components should be put on the table in a holding framework so that there is an overall solution hypothesis and not a jumble of discrete pieces. The CM needs to marry the solution and the hot buttons into a high value win theme for the deal.
4. Bid Response : This is the stage at which output starts going back to the client – in the form of an RFP response etc. This is really the time the custodial part of the role kicks in. Every single output going to the customer – including the exec summary and relevant solution documents; need to be run through the WTC to ensure synergy with the win theme.
5. Bid Engagement : Post response, there are typically some facets of engagement. These may include client visits, bid defence etc. What is interesting at this stage is it offers interaction and an experience for the buyers. The WTC role becomes crucial in thinking through experience “wows” and keeping every element of the experience aligned and value adding to the win theme.
6. Bid Closure : There may be certain things which can be tactically / opportunistically done when the buyer team goes into a huddle to close the decision. At this time the WTC should be on call to provide appropriate responses. More importantly – there must be a communication plan put in place for either eventuality of a win or a loss. Both are opportunities to expand the relationships which would have been formed during the bid lifecycle.Focus on deal conversion is good stuff. It is actually reminiscent of the retailer who focuses more on conversion rather than footfall. This is good strategy – especially in a downturn. If the business engine is a healthy convertor – investment can easily be made at any appropriate time to increase footfall. That my friends, seems to be the new deal.


Blogger Vineet Dahiya said...

Hi Krishnan
Your post on 'The New Deal' is fantastic and brings out the role marketing should play during the bid lifecycle to ensure the closure of deals.

I have few observations:
1. I think communication with the propects througout the lifecycle is quite important. This helps in challenging lots of assumption (which might come from earlier won/lost bids). Also it helps the entire team to focus on relevant issues and most importantaly stay focussed.
2. Who holds the final responsibility of the bid success/failure....CM or Sales guy?
3. Where does sales figure throughout the bid lifecycle? Whats sales role in such deals?
4. I think creation of the business engine which repeatedly and consistently wins deals should be the priority (of business sstakeholders) to ensure growth. How do we create such engine....what team (skill composition)do we require to achieve this?
Before I signoff....excellent insights...quite practical...keep up the good work.
Vineet Dahiya

1:22 AM  
Blogger Krishnan said...

good to know it engaged your mind. To answer your questions as I see them - final responsibility should lie with a deal principle (could be sales, delivery etc). For large deals a bid organisation needs to be created where sales will clearly play the customer interface role. Question 4 is clearly Utopia. == Cheers, Krishnan

6:04 AM  

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