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Supply Side Series - How to stand out from the competition

image of Elliot Daly Elliot Daly
Elliot Daly 2 May 2022 Time to read: 

As we see a rise in political instability, economic turmoil and environmental volatility for all businesses it is necessary to not only adapt to the changing market but to also remain one step ahead of competitors by differentiating their services..

As experts in sourcing, we often receive a high number of tender responses simply differentiating the product or service by price alone – this is no longer enough. Suppliers need to go the extra mile to stand out from their competitors. Highlighted here are some examples of how suppliers have distinguished themselves to ensure they were remembered by Peru’s sourcing experts.

  1. Be engaging- make sure you’re remembered

It’s a simple concept, but one that works. The number of times we’ve sat in supplier presentations where they’ve exhibited a ‘death by PowerPoint’ slideshow. Whilst clearly nice people, it’s not the most engrossing sales pitch.

Suppliers who not only display expert knowledge in their field but deliver with passion are much more likely to be remembered than those who might show expertise but no enthusiasm.

Furthermore, going the “extra-engagement-mile” can show a supplier in a much more positive light. For example, sending through an article you think might of interest or dropping an email out of the blue just to ask how a customer is displays a caring side not often seen, , though make sure it’s appropriate!For instance don’t do this during a tender where it could be perceived negatively.

  1. Mutual gains

Since the dawn of time, procurement and sales have been pitted against one another, being judged on how large a saving (procurement) or high a price (sales) is achieved at the point of contract signature. This immediately induces an adversarial relationship from the offset. Focus should instead be on the value gained, on a win-win outcome rather than the traditional approach of ‘sacrificing’ one negotiation point for an alternative win.

Think about alternative benefits for both parties:

  • Is there an appetite for collaboration or innovation?
  • Is there any even training you can undertake together?
  • Can you share some costs?

Raising the expertise of both Parties can have achieve significant long-term benefits not just commercially but through building strong relationships.

Consider what you can do for the customer, not what you can gain from them (and vice versa from the customer perspective) and this will serve to improve rapport and potential for longer term value.

  1. Quality of tender responses

When responding to invitation to tenders suppliers can spend significant amounts of time crafting the responses. Given that most responses will be unsuccessful suppliers tend to rely on a library of previous bid responses and adjust according to the new tender requirements. However, suppliers must make sure they proofread every response as we have seen on several occasions references to other bids and client names. This lack of attention to detail has serious implications as tends to highlight a lack of attention to detail and cast’s doubt on suppliers’ competence. So the rule here is read, re read and check again before sending responses back

  1. Change

As Bill Clinton once claimed, “The price of doing the same of thing is far higher than the price of change.”

If you’re not prepared to be in a state of constant transformation you’re standing still and even for a short period could lose competitive advantage. For suppliers it is critical to maintain market awareness, and where possible, innovate to stay ahead of the competition. If you’re the only supplier offering a particular service using a ground-breaking new methodology, communicate your approach and successes to prove your value and you will give yourself a greater opportunity to be etched in the minds of the buying teams.

  1. Be Unique

The Trusted Advisor relays a story of a supplier who made significant efforts to submit unique bids by ensuring the bid was always hand delivered, and in a format unique to the organisation – for example in a pizza box to an Italian Restaurant head office, or a Saddlebag to a Law Firm. These unique approaches as opposed to boilerplate approaches can sometimes be the difference between ‘good’ and ‘memorable’.

  1. Listen

When Sourcing experts go out to tender there is always a requirement to find a solution, whether that be a upgrade, an alternative or a new service or product. Whilst vendors may be invited to offer solutions, it is critical to fully understand the ask before offering a solution. It is more common than you think to receive bids which have had hours of effort put into them, only to discover the vendor has based their proposal on the solution it thinks the customer should have, not what the customer was actually asking for. Whilst suggesting alternatives is a great way to stand out, it should never be to the detriment of the requirement.

  1. Trust

Putting time and effort at the start of a relationship to developing trust  invariably results in longer term gains. Simple acts such as admitting you don’t know the answer to a question rather than attempting to convince the buyer you do is a great way to foster trusting relationships. Trust is not easy to gain yet can be easy to lose. By showing you’re committed, expert, passionate and truthful will create better relationships and more successful bids..


This list is by no means exhaustive however provides insight into some actions and characteristics adopted by suppliers which have led to them being indelible. For extended discussion or to gain further insights into our Sourcing services please contact us directly, we’d love to help!

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