Back when sellers had a greater influence over what people bought, it was often because we controlled the information that was made available about our products and services. This meant that anybody who wanted that information had to come to us, which gave us a lot of power.
But buyers, understandably, didn’t like this so much. They thought it made us lazy and greedy.
So they invented procurement and professional buying, including the discipline of competitive tendering. Since the 1980s competitive tendering has been growing quickly. In the 2014-15 financial year, one of Australia’s largest buyers – the Australian government — spent $59.447 billion on buying goods and services through its online competitive tendering system, Austender, and issued 69,236 supplier contracts.
At the same time, the internet - and social media in particular - changed the way buyers could access information. Now, it’s very easy for buyers to find their own information, and to seek information from other buyers (or customers).
What does that mean for sellers and suppliers?
We've gone from a time where we had a lot of power, to one where we it doesn’t feel like we have much power at all.
As sellers, when we held all the information, we had more power. Now we don’t, and most of us don’t know how to reassert our value. Within your team, this shows up as frustration and disappointment:
- Why don't customers understand how important this is?
- Why don't they ‘get’ us?
- Why do they insist on buying from that guy, who we know is not as good as us?
- Why do they insist on doing something that isn’t going to get them the great result we know we could get?
- Why won’t they listen?
- Don’t they care?
Actually, customers do care - but they don't care about us. Or our technical solution. Or our years of experience and impressive qualifications. At least, not specifically.
They care about one thing - themselves - and getting the results that they need to get.
Information is no longer a valuable currency in business-to-business sales. We need to turn our information into insight – making the connection between what we know and can do, and what makes commercial sense for customers to buy.
|Robyn Haydon is a business development consultant specialising in business that is won through competitive bids and tenders. Her clients have won and retained hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business with many of Australia’s largest corporate and government buyers.|
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