Why didn’t you close the deal?
You worked hard to go beyond meet the customer’s requests. You added all the bells and whistles. You delivered far more than they could have hoped for… at a competitive price, nonetheless.
Or maybe you offered exactly what they wanted (so you thought). You delivered their requests and came in well below the other competitors.
With such great service or such a great deal, why didn’t you win the bid?
Perhaps your problem is in exactly that — you either undersold or oversold your customer. Your bid missed the mark, and here’s how:
Why You Didn’t Win
I love doing forensics on customer opportunities. I like to examine what we accomplished, what we didn’t accomplish, what the proposal looked like compared to the original RFP, and how we responded.
Most of all, I want to understand why we did or didn’t win the bid.
While looking at why we succeed in winning a bid is obviously more fun, understanding why we didn’t win is equally (if not more) important. When we don’t win an opportunity, I typically find we either oversold or undersold our services.
What is Overselling?
Overselling is when we over-engineer a solution. We exceed the customer’s expectations (because we’re ‘that good’). We start piling services onto the job to fulfill the vision we see for it.
We make the mistake of selling the job we want to do instead of the job the client wants to buy.
That’s a great way to lose a piece of business. It’s pretty self-centered to try to sell a proposal based on what’s important to you instead of satisfying what’s important to your client.
In the AV industry, we fall into this trap far too often. We over-engineer projects and try to push our vision on the client. When we do, they likely won’t buy.
What is Underselling?
We also lose potential customers when we undersell our services. We devalue what we’re providing.
Typically, we undersell because we misunderstand the client’s sensitivities and overall goals. We fail to see the level of quality they want and project a cheapness on them that isn’t warranted. Particularly in creative projects where it’s difficult to put a value on the work, we offer something extremely dramatic and powerful but put too low of a price on it.
Price is credibility. When we undersell our service, we undermine our credibility.
Think about it in a different scenario. If you want to hire a brain surgeon, do you want the cheap doctor? Or do you want someone who’s so expensive you can’t imagine being able to come up with the money to hire them? You want the best, and the price is one indication of their level of credibility.
When we undersell, we wreck our own credibility. We essentially tell our clients we’re not worth more money.
If the price doesn’t match the credibility you’re trying to convey, you’re not going to win the business. If a client is more concerned with quality than price, who cares if you’re the lower bid? You’re not the credible bid because you undersold it.
How To Avoid Over/Under Selling
The key to winning more bids is to understand why you’re losing them. If you’re losing potential clients because you’re overselling or underselling your services, there’s good news and bad news: You’re the right person to fix it.
You don’t have to depend on a new initiative. You don’t have to ask your clients to change. You don’t even have to offer more for less.
It’s up to you to investigate your projects a little more closely to make sure your proposals match what customers want and need.
If they want a creative, quality service, price yourself high enough to be credible. On the other hand, if they didn’t ask for all the extras, don’t price yourself out of the job by sprinkling them in.
There’s one more scenario you are thinking about. What if the customer needs an honest rebuttal to their request? What if the job they are asking for won’t meet their needs (or exceeds them)?
In that case, consider an unbundled, 3-tiered proposal approach like this.
Winning clients comes when you understand them. The more your proposal aligns with their needs and vision, the more likely you are to win their business.