Get the Information to Win Your Next Contract
We have a motto at Lohfeld Consulting—Best Informed Wins! The offeror who gathers information to produce a proposal that offers the greatest value at the most economical price usually wins the contract. But it can be challenging to obtain the right information from customers to create a winning proposal, especially when working with remote clients. How can you do this effectively? Here are our five tips.
#1: Do your homework
Do your research before planning a meeting with the customer. Never waste your or the customer’s time by asking a question that can be answered through a simple internet search or research. Do your homework, and read all you can about the customer’s goals, objectives, requirements, challenges, risks, stakeholders, and other relevant topics.
#2: Plan your questions
You are lucky to get 30 minutes of a customer’s time, especially if the customer doesn’t know you well. So, plan your questions and bring backup questions. Create questions that span the entire breadth of the evaluation criteria and are central to developing or refining your solution. Ask your capture team to review the questions and provide recommendations for improvement. For example, I often see capture managers only focusing on technical questions, leaving out critical management and staffing concerns.
#3: Schedule the meeting
Schedule a meeting with the customer using their preferred meeting time, channel, and location. Ask if you can bring a note-taker so you can focus on asking questions and paying attention to the customer’s responses rather than worrying about note-taking.
#4 During the meeting
Create an atmosphere of trust, respect, and gratitude during the meeting; customers are likelier to open up to people with an ethical demeanor. After posing a question, listen carefully to the customer’s response; if the customer is not answering, try another question to redirect their response.
If the customer pauses, don’t interrupt them; let them gather their thoughts. If they need help responding, they will ask you. If the customer cannot answer a question, ask who in the organization might answer it and request a referral. Also, watch their body language to determine if it is time to move to another question or dive deeper. Finally, give the customer a reason to meet with you again and thank them for their time.
#5 After the meeting
Immediately after the meeting, transcribe all meeting notes and upload them to your content management system (within 24 hours). Follow up on any action item resulting from the meeting and send the customer a thank you note.
If the customer referred you to another stakeholder, make an appointment to follow up on unanswered questions.
Continue to analyze customer information as you gather information from new customers who support your bid and update the notes you created in the content management system.
In summary, preparing before and after customer meetings will help yield the information you need to win your next contract.
By Brenda Crist, Vice President at Lohfeld Consulting Group, MPA, CPP APMP Fellow
Lohfeld Consulting Group has proven results specializing in helping companies create winning captures and proposals. As the premier capture and proposal services consulting firm focused exclusively on government markets, we provide expert assistance to government contractors in Capture Planning and Strategy, Proposal Management and Writing, Capture and Proposal Process and Infrastructure, and Training. In the last 3 years, we’ve supported over 550 proposals winning more than $170B for our clients—including the Top 10 government contractors. Lohfeld Consulting Group is your “go-to” capture and proposal source! Start winning by contacting us at www.lohfeldconsulting.com and join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter.
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