Listening; Going Beyond Hearing

As the firm’s lead business development director (BDD) you meet with a key client for the upcoming solicitation. You ask your prepared questions. You hear what you consider to be valuable information that helps your firm propose the optimum solution. You bid the best solution and hopefully the price will be in line and your firm will win this mission critical program.

You lose! Not on price as you had a lower price than the awardee. You lose on the solution; your solution was not optimum. Yes, it addressed the higher-level requirements but it didn’t get to the root of the issue.

Where did you go wrong?

You heard what you expected to hear, perhaps what you wanted to hear. You understood the responses because you had played out this interview in your mind, practicing to get it just right. You even anticipated many of the responses. This information formed the basis of your solution.

Stop Right There.

Were you talking to the right person; the person that knows what the client organization wants and will pay for? Just as in any organization there are myriad views on any project. Very important, did you listen to the client? Sure, you heard what was said but did you listen from the client’s perspective, not your perspective? Did you listen to how addressing this challenge would help in the accomplishment of the client’s mission? Were you open-minded relative to the responses? You may find what was said is very different from what you picked up. And did you ask follow-on and probing questions based on client responses? Lastly, did you validate your resultant solution in some manner? To bid a solution that has not been vetted with the client in some manner is challenging, to say the least.

Assume you asked the right questions of the right person and listened to the responses.

Is your job as a BDD done? Far from it. The BDD’s job has transitioned to an important support role on the proposal development team. The BDD is the client advocate, the individual that represents the client and in this case, the most important element of the proposal – The Solution. The BDD has to guard against the process weenies that troll client web sites and think they know what is best for the client, often leading to an over-engineered solution. The BDD must be on watch all the time, never letting down their guard, always looking to protect the interests of their client.

It seems the BDD’s job is never done. It isn’t.

Stay tuned for upcoming posts on each skill/attribute of a bonafide Business Development Director provided by Bob Lam. Bob is the principal and founder of Bob Lam Solutions and is affiliated with GovProp.

Preview Bob’s book People Buy From People, Navigating the Federal Highway at his website BobLamSolutions.com or go straight to Amazon.com/books for a copy.

2018-05-08T18:49:23+00:00

2 Comments

  1. Rob Polster November 21, 2017 at 9:56 pm - Reply

    Great points Bob. I find that even when you are talking to the right person, you might not hear the full story if the customer does not trust you yet

    How can you accelerate development of trust? By offering insight. Tell your customer an Insight Story about another customer who succeeded when faced with a similar challenge.

    Then after you tell your story, you can ask, “So what’s your story?”

    See the link below for a good story-building strategy.

  2. Bob Lam November 30, 2017 at 1:01 am - Reply

    Good point Rob. Trust is key. Not that someone will share secrets but the individual will be more apt to meet with you, perhaps offering some insight you haven’t requested.

    I believe there are five stages of a relationship with Trust being the highest. 1. Contact, 2. Data Exchange. 3. Information Exchange. 4. Respect. 5. TRUST

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