My last post covered the views of our Proposal Guys’ panel of experts on the likely impact of the current economic climate on the proposal profession. I promised to share my own thoughts, which are broadly consistent with those of the panel.
Our business is holding up very well: we’ve never been busier. But we’re certainly seeing some clients who are starting to feel pressure – whether it’s on headcount, travel restrictions, or a general air of caution.
Here’s my own list of the likely impact on proposal centres – and hence some of the areas in which you might need to focus:
- A need for ever-sharper qualification – as clients use the RFP process as a tactic to benchmark their incumbent supplier, and as salespeople become more desperate (fewer opportunities meaning that they’ll be tempted to chase “anything that moves”).
- A greater need to protect one’s existing client base: hence a little more focus on pro-active proposals (creatively re-negotiating service levels, terms, rates and volumes).
- Similarly, a greater emphasis on pro-active proposals as sales folks try and target other customer’s accounts – seeking to create opportunities where the clients may not be initiating procurement processes themselves, and looking to exploit any competitors’ fragilities.
- An emphasis within those contracts that do come up for renewal on proven, creative approaches to driving down cost – potentially conflicting with internal pressures to increase margins as companies fight to stay profitable.
- Fewer contracts to be won; hence sales organisations realising the importance of the proposal process. Deals genuinely become “must win” when there are fewer opportunities out there.
- Fewer people employed in the business – hence the need for the proposal process to become even more efficient, and demands for proposal centres to become more flexible in regard to resourcing (i.e., potentially, to reduce fixed internal headcount and use more contract resource).
- The need for proposal centres to be crystal-clear on their value-add, role (beware scope creep as other departments contract!) and on time sizing (how many proposals need to be chased, how much effort needed on each, hence what size team is needed). Keeping close to your major sponsors is important – and now is not a time to be shy about singing your own praises by gathering good feedback and communicating it widely!