Strategic Client Planning Process for Major Purchases
When proposing or bidding for major assignments, it is vital to plan and prepare accordingly, with sufficient attention to detail to ensure a good probability of success. One process adopted by many firms has 10 steps. These are as follows:
1. Select opportunities.
2. Pre-contact analysis.
3. Gain commitment of the decision maker.
4. Identify and gain agreement on needs.
5. Develop a solution.
6. Cost-justify the solution.
7. Obtain agreement.
8. Prepare proposal.
9. Present and close.
10. Build a continuing business relationship.
We must have some idea of whether the prospect or Client is ready or likely to purchase our services. As resources are finite, we should evaluate whether the time and effort in preparing a proposal is worth investing in. It is also worth prioritising this opportunity with others in our remit - should this one be pushed back to allow more probable opportunities to be captured?
At this stage we check for any possible gaps in our knowledge about the Client's business and industry sector. If we discover any gaps, we need to secure additional data accordingly and know where to find it. At this point we should also be assessing the primary concerns and likely requirements of the Client.
GAIN COMMITMENT OFTHE DECISION MAKER
At this point we need to check whether we know the DMU (key decision makers and influencers) and who is the person most likely to sign an order of the size to be proposed. If we have some knowledge of the DMU, are we aware of each person's key interest and concerns? At this stage the Client can be 'qualified' in the sense that funds are known to be available, we have the attention of the key decision maker and an agreed upon need. We also need to establish whether the Client is committed to buying our services given that there is an acceptance that our solution works. There may be specific requirements that the Client may be willing to reveal through a short survey.
IDENTIFY AND GAIN AGREEMENT ON NEEDS
We are now in a position to check that we fully understand the Client's specific needs and requirements. We have also established how important the solution is to the Client and that it is likely to work. Given this position, we now prepare to gather factors to cost-justify the sale. We prepare solutions that are cost-justifiable and consider whether these still meet the Client's needs. These can be tested with the DMU to ensure that we are still on track and that we have full Client involvement and support. We also need to establish whether our solutions will cause any dissatisfaction with existing procedures and systems.
DEVELOP A SOLUTION
We need to establish that our solutions agree with the needs and requirements of the Client. We should clarify that the needs identified carry top priority with Client management. We have to identify and tailor the appropriate services that match the Client's specific needs. We have the cost data and have prepared our cost-justification. We are now ready to test the desire of the Client to move forward.
COST-JUSTIFY THE SOLUTION
We should identify the probable impact areas of our solution on the Client's operations; these may require changes to the way the Client works. We need to be ready to determine the tangible value of these projected changes along with non-tangible values of the solution we are proposing.
At this stage we check whether the DMU and influencers have agreed with the solution and cost-justification. We should identify likely objections or disagreements with the solution and be prepared to resolve them if they arise.