Great news! You’ve made your final presentation and your customer has let you know you are one of two finalists. The customer started with 38 providers, narrowed that down to six, and invited three to make presentations to a group of 11 stakeholders. The customer will advise you of the decision in one week. The opportunity is large and strategically important. What will you do over the week to increase your odds of winning?
It’s likely the customer will use this final round to negotiate with you, but the customer also will be carefully weighing the value of your solution against your competitor’s. Here are some ideas to help you tip the scales:
- Formally debrief the final presentation with your team. Strategize with your team, and gain agreement on next steps and accountabilities for keeping in touch with the customer.
- Call your contact within one day of the presentation to gain feedback. Start the call out with a thank you and transition to feedback — first in general, and then ask questions related to the customer’s priorities, lingering concerns, and about your competitor’s position. Elicit feedback from your customer coach and other contacts you and your team members have forged to give you as much data as possible.
- Share feedback with your team, and make adjustments to your strategy to remove obstacles you have identified.
- Within one day of the presentation, send a customized, follow-up e-mail to your contact and other stakeholders in the presentation. Customize to each person based on the questions or interests they expressed in the presentation (during the presentation, make note of which customers asked what questions or objected, and tailor your e-mails to address those points).
- Be creative, and use your team to stay connected/in touch with the customer(s). For example, ideally, you earlier involved a senior who can contact/leave a voice mail thanking the customer for the opportunity and reinforce the competence and commitment of the organization, you can provide data the customer has requested or you feel will add value, or you can forward a blog to the customer that is relevant. Continue to ask for feedback from you coach, and take steps to mitigate any concerns.
When your customer contacts you with questions and pushes for concessions, be prepared with measurable proof of value to preserve your price and terms and, as necessary, trade carefully. The time between the presentation and decision is one time when SILENCE is usually not golden. Of course you don’t want to be a stalker, but you must be creative in finding ways to keep the communication going in a way that is relevant to your customer. Contact is an indication of your motivation to work with the customer. Continue to express your desire and ability to be the partner who will deliver the business outcome.
Once you win the business, thank your customer and act fast to move forward to make it public. Have your contract ready, and ask your senior to call to say thank you and express your organization’s commitment. Communicate clearly with your implementation team to get them started. Remember, the deal isn’t really sold until, as one of our customer says, “The first dollar is in the door.” Stay involved to get feedback from your customer and your team post-close to gauge customer satisfaction, prove you were the best choice, identify additional opportunities, and strengthen the relationship. When you stay involved after closing, you show your customers they are more than just a transaction.
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