Most of the businesses I work with are medium sized, at best. Most have a significant functional capability that can deliver great value, but they often do not have the ‘grunt’ in other areas to get over the line with large customers.

Many of them are in businesses where competitive tenders are a fact of life, it is a characteristic of many B2B markets, and whilst it is breaking down, the bias towards ‘The big guy’ remains. As they say in corporations,  ‘You do not  get fired for buying from IBM’ which is just a way of expressing the risk aversion of those in many large businesses where making a mistake is career-toxic.

So, why celebrate when you lose?

Here are 6 reasons:

  1. You did well to get on the radar. A key component of B2B marketing is getting on the radar of those in your ideal customers who have some influence, if not always decision making power. Being included in a tender list is evidence that you have succeeded crossing that first hurdle.
  2. Customer intelligence. The information in a tender necessary for tenderers to adequately meet the specifications can tell you a lot about the business. What are its priorities, their capabilities in your areas of competence, their budgeting and  buying rhythm,  and how the buying process works. All great information. It is also extremely useful to assess weather or not they are someone you want to do business with. Selling is a transaction, a 2 way process, as the seller, it is your choice to work with a potential customer or not, so do not be afraid to work only with those who will not only pay you, but value what you bring to the table.
  3. Know the personnel & process. People buy from people, not corporations, the better they know, like and trust you, the greater the chance you have. Getting to know like and trust is a human process, it happens over time, face to face. Preparing and submitting a tender while painful when you lose, is a great way to create other opportunities during the process. Even after you have lost, don’t waste the opportunity to reinforce the relationships that will serve you the next time.
  4. Follow up intelligence. Keeping in touch with a project you have missed out on can tell you a lot about the client, and also a lot about the winning tenderer.  Knowing your competitor better than they know you is always an advantage.
  5. Other opportunities. If the tender you lost was the first tender you did for the customer, you should not be surprised that you lost. Change is hard, and risky, those managing tenders like a simple easy life, so they tend to stay with what they know. However, it is also in their interests to have options, so being around and interested, making yourself an option, might open up  other small opportunities that would just normally get missed. Getting a foot in the door with a small job and doing it really well is the best way I know of to get on the next big tender list.
  6. You get to know where you are not wanted. Sometimes there are opaque barriers to success. Try as you might, make the tenders truly great, and you still do not win, or even get any useful feedback, get the message. Our time combined with our expertise is the most valuable resource we have, don’t waste it where it is not valued, or where there is some invisible barrier to success. Move on.

Remember as well that those awarding tenders are just people, they like to he liked and valued. They like to think that they are awarding business to those who really want it, and are determined to do a great job. So, be persistent and committed, although never ‘needy’, seek to assist them in ways not necessarily associated with a tender, it will help keep you on the radar, and build a relationship.