Who killed the Sale?

I recently heard about a Government Department providing feedback to a potential supplier who had just failed to secure a “preferred bidder status”. The meeting was very professional and polite, covering all the technical and operational parameters where apparently the prospective supplier company was ever so nearly the best and where the price was good value for money but not quite as good as the winning bidder. The whole exercise told the company nothing that they could really take away and learn some valuable lessons from.

I have witnessed similar situations before and nine times out of ten if the bidding company is short- listed to bid and the customer, or one of their key stakeholders, has never worked with the bidding company before, then the bidder fails. Unless you have a product or service that is so different with a brilliant pedigree and good value you will not succeed as the outsider. So, why do so many large organisations still try and bid everything which only serves to diminish their bid budgets and prevents the technical or operational people from doing their vital day job, due to them having to provide resources for bidding activities?

The Marketing team could have killed the sale by not sowing the seeds early enough to make prospective customers aware of their capabilities, particularly in the export markets.

The Sales team could have killed the sale by insisting that they know all the stakeholders and all their various drivers and that the bid team should trust them because they know the win themes and the price to win the job.

The Bid team? The Delivery team? No, the sale is often killed by the customer’s procurement process which tries to reflect a requirement that is cobbled together from so many different internal stakeholders and which keeps changing over time and only serves to benefit the incumbent suppliers.