Our capture managers are maintaining contact with potential customers throughout our business development process, but they’re still not turning into actual customers.
Yes, capture managers should establish frequent communication with potential customers early as this can help your company build a relationship and shape the RFP for later in the business development lifecycle. But just reaching out and “checking in” is not enough to secure this type of business relationship. The capture manager and capture team must discover the potential customer’s hot button issues and then focus on those issues in every interaction. Customer focus sells the solution during capture efforts and can increase your win rate and generate more revenue.
Much of effective, customer-focused capture involves gathering information on the opportunity and then maintaining it. A capture team has no substitute for good opportunity intelligence. The more the capture team knows about the customer’s program, key issues, and biases, the more persuasive their capture planning positioning activities. How can you show customer focus without knowing what your customer cares about? As you gather intelligence on the customer and the program, ask questions like the following:
- What type of project/program/service is it?
- Is it real?
- Does the customer have budget cuts looming on the horizon?
- Does the customer have a history of project cancellations?
- What is your history with the customer?
- Do you have any biases to overcome?
- Is the customer cost-sensitive?
- Is there an incumbent?
- Is cost or capability a more important consideration in awarding the contact?
After gathering initial information on the opportunity, capture teams develop a capture strategy—keeping in mind key customer issues—and then implements that strategy. The capture manager, with support from the capture team, manages implementation tactics, evaluates feedback, assesses progress, and repeatedly updates implementation tactics.
Because the objective of capture planning is to influence the customer to prefer your organization and solution, balance planning and implementation, Persuasion takes time and repeated interaction ad collaboration with the customer. Persuading individuals in the customer organization with different hot button issues requires coordinated actions by your capture team to repeatedly deliver aligned, customer-focused messages.