Nine ways to re-think the competition

Most of us tend to think of our competitors as the firms or organisations that are the closest match to ourselves – what I call ‘peer competitors’. This is a dangerous assumption, particularly as an incumbent supplier, because we don’t want to underestimate the field of competition and the other options the customer could be considering. 

In my practice, and in delivering my Persuasive Tender and Proposal Writing Master Class, I’ve read and provided feedback to hundreds of people about their past proposals and tender responses. I look for evidence that the writer has thought about what competitors might be offering, and come up with ways to better promote their own strengths and combat the strengths of competitors.

In fact, very few proposals adequately address the issue of competition.

We are not selling in a vacuum, and in a competitive tender the buyer will consider many proposals along with than yours – maybe a handful, or maybe hundreds.

Getting your head around what others might be offering is also a good way to test the validity of your own offer and ideas.

Aside from peer competitors, here are some ways to think about potential competitors that might pose a threat to your ability to win. Start by making a list of all the competitors you can think of, and consult your team to make sure you have covered them all.

Where could your competition come from?

1.     National organisations, if you are local.

2.     Local organisations, if you are national.

3.     Much larger or much smaller organisations.

4.     Organisations that already work with your customers in another capacity.

5.     Organisations with expertise in an area of current or future interest to the buyer.

6.     Organisations with expansion plans that include your market space.

7.     Potential partnerships among competitors, including joint ventures and consortia.

8.     Offshore and multinational organisations.

9.     The customer – they might do nothing, spend their money on other priorities, or decide to do the work in-house.

It’s essential to analyse competitors regularly, and even more important when you have a contract you don’t want to lose. This work will give you some good insights into where are placed in the market, and where you may need to improve your offer to win again.

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.