Whether your business has been positively or negatively affected by the changing economy, there is still an opportunity to strengthen your firm. That’s because there’s one unalterable truth in business — regardless of whether there’s contraction or expansion in your industry, there’s always an opportunity to grow your market share.
That is, your chance to outsell your competitors never goes away.
In the unfortunate event that your markets shrink, there’s still the chance to take work away from your competitors and emerge in a stronger financial position than they will.
You’ll be able to retain the best talent because they won’t lack for work.
And you’ll cement your relationships with your most profitable clients at the expense of your competitors, which will pay off handsomely down the road.
On the other hand, if you’re fortunate enough to be in an expanding industry, as always, you can grow at a faster rate than your market does as a whole. After all, why be content with your usual share?
So what’s the best way to outsell your competitors?
Right now, uncertainty in some industries means that projects and contracts have been delayed or canceled, therefore it’s important to close on immediate opportunities that have been funded and will proceed. Spend extra time and care on these proposals.
If you’re the front-runner for the project, it’s not the time to assume that the work is yours to lose, but rather it’s time to slam the door shut and remove all doubt that you deserve the work. Ratchet up your proposals a notch.
If you’re neck and neck or within striking distance, it’s time to distinguish your proposals and separate yourself from the pack. Pull out all the stops.
Have Discipline in Your Go/No-Go Process
Be honest about whether you’re in striking distance or if you’re a long shot.
If you’re a long-shot, now may be the time to no-go those opportunities and instead put more care and attention into your higher probability pursuits.
Desperate consultants will pursue everything they’re qualified for in the hopes of hitting the elusive jackpot. Unfortunately, because those rare events do happen from time to time, principals and project managers will point back to them as justification for long-shot pursuits.
I may be wrong, but for your clients in vulnerable industries, unless they perceive you as a lower cost option, your chances of winning a long-shot drops to near zero. Clients in vulnerable sectors will likely consolidate their work around their top go-to consultants. If you’re not in their elite pool, you are probably a long-shot in the short term.
In all cases, your best bet is to write superior, not routine, proposals.
Strategies for Preparing Superior Proposals
In my next series of posts, I’ll share my best tips to help you separate your proposals from those of your competitors, including these:
- The most powerful way to begin your proposal
- How to put the focus on the client rather than on yourself
- Win themes that sell
- How to strip your proposals of marketing blather that clutters your best ideas
- How to describe your strengths in a way that differentiates you from your competitors
- Graphic design choices that make your best ideas shine through
- Twenty proposal mistakes that can sink your proposal.
Much of the advice I share is also captured in my book Win More Work: How to Write Winning A/E/C Proposals. Since writing it, I’ve built examples that I’ll be sharing with you that didn’t make it into the book, but the book is the best place to start.
My first article in the series will help you kick off your proposals in a way that makes an immediate positive impact on the decision maker.
If you have a high-stakes proposal in the works and can’t wait for all these tips, email me at Jim@SellerDoerAcademy.com. I may not be able to help, but I usually can. Jim