I’m assuming you’ve heard this cliché at least once or twice before: “Trust me, this is going to hurt me more than you, but it’s for your own good.”
This is exactly what went through my mind when I had to send a “no-bid” notice to a prospective new PeopleSoft deal. As a seasoned sales executive, I can honestly say the toughest thing for me to do isn’t prospecting (although, that ain’t easy or fun), but rather it’s walking away from a potential opportunity. While this most recent one wasn’t my first nor will it be my last, it still stings. I suppose that’s why I’m writing this blog post now – it’s allowing me to think out loud.
So, why in the world would we no-bid a PeopleSoft opportunity? Here are a few reasons.
- We just don’t have enough information about the customer. It helps us to help you if we know your strategic initiatives, what you are trying to achieve, what would happen to your productivity or efficiencies if you don’t do this? A solid value proposition is important, and if we don’t have one, it’s hard to walk into a bid situation with your objectives in mind.
- What is your culture? Does the company rally around new initiatives and is Change Management a key element of success? Do you typically do projects internally and this a new endeavor with consulting? What’s your appetite for consulting?
- Does your culture match the consulting company culture? This might sound foo-foo, but it’s very important, because it determines the intangible ‘fit factor.’ The product is the product, but people are, well… unique. Common values and culture are important keys to success.
- Philosophical alignment between consulting company and customer. There are situations where we may not believe the approach you want will achieve the results you desire. This is a tough one, because this is where, if we engage, we will tell you what you need to hear rather than what you want to hear.
You are probably saying to yourself, “Well, if you have a good business relationship with a customer, you should know all those things.” And you are correct.
Yet, sometimes we are recommended by a third party, or we met initially at a RUG or other conference and haven’t had the chance to get to know you very well. We sometimes refer to this as a ‘Blind RFP’ or proposal. Customers sometimes don’t like to have salespeople call on them, or meet with them until there is an opportunity. But as you can see, there really is value in investing a few hours getting to know each other so when that RFP is released, everyone is ready to rock and roll.
No-bidding a project is tough, but we do it in the same vein that we refuse to tell customers what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. We’d rather avoid being part of a problem we see coming downstream, or entering into an arrangement whose inherent demeanor will mean difficulty down the road for the project’s success or our relationship with the customer.
We’d rather take a pass on an opportunity than walk into a landscape where we know, from our experience, there’s likely to be problems that compromise the entire equation.
This doesn’t happen very often (thankfully!), but when it does, it makes you reflect on why we just don’t rush into everything, guns blazing, and go for whatever we can.
Because that’s not how we built our company and reputation. It’s not what our experience has taught us. Frankly, it’s not what we consider right.
A no-bid is a true bummer, but not nearly as much of a bummer as a relationship set ablaze by miscommunicated objectives or uncertain strategic direction.