Lessons about winning

Lessons about winning

A vital facet of any organisation is winning new business. Your company can grow significantly by securing just one new client. It's the bid process leading up to signing the deal that will decide whether or not you win the business.

Here are a few tips to implement when you're bidding for a new piece of business, to remove some of the frustration and deflation often associated with the bid process:

1) Understand the decision makers better than they understand themselves: Analysing your audience is the crucial facet of any bid. Meet everyone involved. Find out their individual needs and guiding values. Work out what it is that will make each decision maker want your organisation as their partner. Build rapport with each decision maker by probing and asking valuable questions. Don't ask simple questions to which you should have found out the answers yourself. Listen carefully to what every person has to say about the potential piece of business, analyse it, and use it to your advantage during the sales cycle.

2) Find the real objectives of the bid: Winning is not the only objective of a bid. Set out your key objectives for every part of the sales process. Ask yourself, "What do I want each person in the audience to do as a result of my presentation or meeting?" By understanding this, you'll be able to tailor the message to have the maximum impact on your audience. A persuasive bid focuses highly on your objective.

3) Know what persuades - and what bores: A winning bid team must understand that we buy with our hearts and rationalise the purchase with our heads. The majority of purchases are based on emotion - even business purchases. Rather than making your presentation too rational, feature-driven and technical, turn the features into messages that tap into the feelings and beliefs of the listener. Be passionate. Work with your emotions and their emotions. But be sure to back-up those emotional messages with facts.

4) Maximise the power of the visual: Use your visual aids to achieve specific objectives, by working on the values and needs of the audience members. Don't be afraid to vary your visual aids. Just because you're in the IT industry doesn't mean you always have to present using the same old technology. Great lessons can be learnt from the advertising, building and construction industries. Remember, variety keeps your sales presentation interesting to the audience members.

5) Rehearse until it seems impromptu: The importance of rehearsal cannot be overestimated. The goal of rehearsal is naturalness. Don't make the error of believing that without rehearsal, your presenters will look more natural, because they'll be more nervous, hesitant and unfocused.

6) Pay attention to detail: The winning bid team goes further than any other and focuses on the smallest details, fine-tuning constantly. This ties-in with rehearsal. The more you rehearse, the more you'll find areas of your sales presentation that need fine-tuning.

When the stakes are high and it's important for your organisation to win a particular piece of business, you need to rely on a strong, clear method to create a winning sales campaign. The key to winning that business is your team's willingness to go one or two steps further than your competitors.

Anna Raine is a senior consultant at Rogen International. Reach her at

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