There’s a lot of talk about unique selling propositions, but clients often see far less difference between suppliers than we think they do. It takes work and commitment to identify your point of view about a new business opportunity, build an offering and a strategy around it, and be rewarded for it. Last week, two of my clients were announced as big winners in the Department of Health’s sector reforms of mental health and alcohol & drug treatment in Victoria. One, a consortium headed by UnitingCare ReGen and Odyssey House, grew their business in all the metropolitan Melbourne regions that they pitched for.
The second, the Australian Community Support Organisation (ACSO) won intake and assessment services across both drug treatment and mental health services in regional areas of Victoria, a significant chunk of new business that adds 30% to their annual operating budget and means they can employ more than 50 extra staff. Both had been setting the ground work and scaffolding that led to these wins for a long time. I worked with Odyssey and ReGen for six months before the RFT came out, and have now been working with ACSO’s business development team for almost a year. All are great people who do great work that helps a lot of people take back control of their lives, and I am beyond thrilled for them. (Congratulations guys!!).
In The Challenger Sale: Taking Control of the Customer Conversation, Matthew Dixon and Brent Adamson set out a solid base of research proving that clients value suppliers who challenge the way they think about how they operate and compete. “Customers appreciate it if you can confirm what they already know to be true”, Dixon and Adamson say, “….but there is vastly greater value in insight that changes or builds on what they know in ways they couldn’t have discovered on their own.”
When the client has bought a service before, every formal tender is a red flag for change. It doesn’t matter whether the Request for Tender explicitly spells out an agenda for change (as the Department of Health’s did) or not.
“Improvement in the status quo” is the underlying expectation that sits behind every Call for Submission, Request for Tender, or grant proposal request you will ever see. It’s a warning for incumbents to up their game, and an opportunity for challengers to come up with something new and exciting for the customer to buy.