Incumbency + innovation = guaranteed return on investment

Are you pursuing new ideas SPECIFICALLY to benefit your major customers?

If you are in a service business that is accustomed to getting paid for things before it will even contemplate doing them, chances are, you might not be.

Typically, we pitch for a contract and do the work later. The contract defines the scope and the performance measures, and everyone’s attention is focused on meeting these. In this environment, the thought of positioning new ideas and investing cash without a “guaranteed return” is often difficult for business development leaders get their heads around.

However, no matter how good your performance is, the biggest risk of losing a customer or contract is to do no more than focus on the day-to-day.

In my book Winning Again, procurement expert Neil Hubbard sums up the buyer’s perspective beautifully. “Don't wait until it's time to do a tender”, he says. “As soon as you're awarded the contract, your time starts. Be very conscious that in three years’ time, your contract will come up. Start working on innovation that will bring cost savings or benefits to our business and start telling us what you're going to do now.”

When you’re innovating in a way that is designed to help a major customer grow their business or to do business better, you ARE guaranteed a return: a better reputation and relationship with the customer that will help you to win again.

And there is another benefit too. When you start to think this way, you’ll find there are many people working in your business who would love to have an opportunity to do more for your major customers – provided that the leadership culture will support them.

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business won through formal bids, tenders and proposals. She is the author of two books on proposals and sales, including Winning Again: a retention game plan for your most important contracts and customers. Read more about it here.