Buying and selling of outsourcing is tough because it’s difficult to differentiate one faceless sport-coated competitor from the next. Raising the stakes even higher is the fact that the capabilities used to make a provider stand out are now just the price of entry. It is standard practice to control the competition and allow each competitor to have a time to orally pitch or in some cases host a collaborative sourcing session to illustrate the services they wish to provide and how they will be managed.
So how can the blue sport-coated consultant or provider win at Orals? There are five things you must do at what really becomes a provider audition—in many cases this is the first time you meet the buyer’s team and the last chance you have to make a good first impression.
- Understand the corporate and individual reasons to outsource. Instead of responding to the customer’s invitation by tweaking standard sales presentation materials, you must conduct proper due diligence to understand the driving forces behind their decision to initiate this effort, both from a company and individual perspective. It is important to pursue this understanding before investing in other preparatory work and try to connect the dots in what is truly going on in the buyer and the providers minds. This research will pay dividends by improving your decision making, avoiding missteps and tailoring an approach that will make the right impression.
- Customize Your Value Proposition. Outsourcing initiatives are always a big deal for customers, and they want to know that you feel the same way. Regardless of their size, they want a provider that is willing to create a value proposition uniquely tailored to their specific situation. Customers tune out when providers use their standard off-the-shelf value propositions.
- Mitigate Customer Risk. Consideration of risk is clearly on the rise in the buyer’s decision-making process. To make a winning impression on the customer, you need to confront the risks that they must address. The strength of your approach will be directly proportional to the degree in which they see you as the provider that can really alleviate their risk concerns. You must understand that at this stage in the process the customer team is concerned about making a decision that may inadvertently have a huge negative impact on the business and therefore their own careers. How will you be different?
- Use References that Resonate. By observing customers as they proceed through the buying process, we often notice that at some point they become confident with a specific provider. This shift from being just interested to one of confidence is often subtle. But it is a significant leap for the provider.
- Involve Your Operations Team. The customer must become confident with your processes, capabilities and the management team that will be responsible for delivering the services. The customer wants to be comfortable with the team who will be responsible for delivering the provider’s promises and achieving the customer’s objectives. Operating relationships and the resulting trust are key to the customer, and you need to advance them during the audition process.
Orals are important. Make sure you have a plan, regresses and think this through. There will be no next step if you fail.