Battle of the Bids: The Slumbering Giant

A large financial services organisation issued an invitation to tender for the implementation of a range of mobility solutions in order to provide their employees with a suite of modern collaboration tools to drive improvements in corporate communications.

The organisation already had an incumbent managed services provider for the provision of desktop and related services and support. It would be logical to assume this incumbent would be in pole position for the mobility tender…wrong.

The incumbent supplier produced a full proposal in response to the tender, including a proposed technical and service solution and supporting commercials, which the incumbent was subsequently requested to present to the senior management team of the financial services organisation.

Game, set and match? No! More like trounce, rout and quash as another managed service provider, new to the customer organisation, was ultimately awarded the contract for the desktop managed service. How could a complete outsider manage to vanquish an incumbent with all the customer knowledge that comes with that status? Well, the new service provider was hungry for the business and did their homework on the customer and indeed the industry, whereas the incumbent complacently thought they “knew it all”, only to discover they most certainly didn’t as they were comprehensively out-flanked on both the commercial and technical fronts.

Lesson Learned: The biggest enemy of the incumbent supplier is complacency. It may sound counter-intuitive, but incumbent suppliers need to work even harder than the new kids on the block to stay close to their customers and understand the problems they are trying to resolve and the outcomes they desire. Incumbents need to guard against falling into the trap that their inside customer knowledge equates to wider industry knowledge and should re-double their efforts to understand where the marketplace is at.

Incumbents should also be careful to build the best bid team they can – and perhaps that is sourced from a fusion of the team on the ground already working with the customer plus some new blood to shake things up. Be sure that if, as an incumbent, you put the B team on a bid, your customer will very quickly suss this and then what does that say about your respect for the customer?

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