In the thick of it
Sometimes when we are in the heat of the battle we don’t always take time to stand back and review what the current position is. Where are we against our strategy? What tactics are going to move us forward? Etc, etc.
This situation can be caused by our competitors moving into a leading position and we are just blindly reacting to the situations that they create. It can also be because a customer or prospect takes off on a fork we did not foresee. Whatever the situation we need to regain control.
Review your position
The first step is to stop. That’s right, just stop what you are doing. Take some time out and try to reflect on how you have gotten into this predicament. You will usually be able to trace it back to one meeting, call or conversation.
Once you have worked out where things went off track, think about how you were hoping to progress and how you are actually progressing. You may find that you are actually in a better place. More often than not though you are moving away from your goal. You are painting the wrong wall!
If we imagine that your bid process is like decorating a room with a feature wall as the centrepiece (your solution) you are in fact putting the feature wall behind the customer rather than front and centre. You need to move things around.
Painting the right wall
To get back on track and start putting your solution front and centre again you will need to create a few tactics to start going forward. Firstly write down a set of questions that will help you understand what is behind your customer’s thinking. Once you have your questions you need to raise them with the customer. This could be tricky as there may be a number of hidden reasons that they don’t want to divulge.
I have often found something along the lines of “Well Joe, you have come up with some interesting points there. I will be more than happy to action that approach,but to help me could you just fill in some of the blanks I seem to have?”
With your questions asked and armed with the information provided you should be able to start to steer things the way you want or even change tactics to better align yourself with your customer’s needs.
Stopping, taking stock and creating a relevant questioning strategy can help immensely in situations like this. Your customer will usually appreciate your professional approach rather than a knee jerk reaction to every request.
Asking questions is a sign of engagement and interest and will only help you become more and more successful.