The momentum of continual improvement

The most successful suppliers fall quickly into a pattern of continual improvement as soon as they win a contract or customer. Unfortunately, others – who are really just doing no more than keeping up with the basic requirements – are probably setting themselves up to lose.

Newton’s first law of motion – the law of inertia – tells us that An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

When it comes to important contracts and customers, the procurement process is the “unbalanced force” – something outside ourselves that propels suppliers into a kind of recurrent stop-start motion.

Bid, deliver, and then bid again.

But that doesn’t make this a pattern for suppliers to aspire to.

For incumbent suppliers, what happens in the delivery phase – which is usually the longest and most significant in the relationship – is what sets the stage for winning again.

What customers usually see from a supplier is this.

Energy over time bid_before.png

There’s the initial flurry of excitement when competing for the business, followed (usually) by a short lull while the customer makes up their mind. When we win, it’s a steep climb to get everything set up right, and then we settle back into a comfortable level of delivery until we need to compete again.

But what they EXPECT from us is this:

Choosing the path of continual improvement is what really helps to sustain a customer relationship over the long term.

That’s because not everything is within our control.  We can’t control how customers choose to buy, and we can’t control what competitors do either.

But we CAN choose our own state of mind.

We do get to decide how much of our energy, enthusiasm and ideas – in short, how much of ourselves - we’re prepared to commit to making sure our work gets better and better. 

Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant who helps helps service-based businesses that compete through bids and tenders to articulate the value in what they do, command a price premium, and build an offer that buyers can’t refuse. Don’t let others dictate how far and how fast your business can grow – take your power back! Email robyn@robynhaydon.com to request the white paper for the Beyond Ticking Boxes program.