Knowing your customer by Ed Ardrey
Posted in Latest Updates on May 23, 2012 by Alex
It is essential in any capture that you develop a rapport with the customer and that you have a good understanding of their mission and buying objectives. As part of this, you must have a good understanding of their “must haves, needs, hot button requirements”. These are the specific items that the customer will demand of the procurement.
Each has an underlying driving issue that helps to shape a discriminating approach-something only we can say that has a quantifiable payoff to the Customer. These issues may be an aversion to some type of risk or the result of something that had previously gone bad. By investigating the underlying issues you will discover the Customer’s tolerance thresholds. You can use this information to build your strategy against these needs and around specific issues. This will allow you to synch up with the Customer mindset, lessen perceived risks, and leverage specific win factors. It is this understanding and ranking of the needs and issues that will drive your overall capture strategy, approaches, customer contact plans, as well as the actual proposal.
So how do you discover their “hot buttons” and the issues driving them? One of the first steps is to examine who the actual customer is for the procurement. No customer is monolithic, especially on large procurements. One of the objectives in executing the customer contact plan for your capture is to determine the roles of the various “players” in the procurement. On a procurement there are usually three basic roles that people play. The first is the Decider or the Source Selection Authority (SSA). This person is a senior person in the organization that makes the final decision on who wins. They normally take the recommendation of the Evaluators/Source Selection Board (SSB). This board is normally made up of mid-senior level individuals that evaluate the responses from Industry. Finally, there are the Influencers. These individuals do not have a formal role in the selection process but many times can have a significant impact on the decision process by their relationship with the SSA or a member of the SSB.
As with any capture, determining who fills these roles can be quite challenging as the customer in many instances does not make the formal roles known to their own people until late in the procurement process. One of the tools that we use to help determine the “players” is the Customer Contact Plan. We will discuss next time how we utilize this and other processes to shape the acquisition.
Ed Ardrey, AM.APMP, has over 14 years’ experience as a senior business developer in the Federal market with a focus on the Department of Defense and Intelligence Community markets. A Senior Associate with the Cortac Group (www.cortacgroup.com), Ed provides capture and proposal management support to both large and small businesses.
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