In public works construction, the low bidder usually gets the job and there is little or no room for sales strategy or tactics. The best way to be the low bidder and awarded a contract is to have the lowest possible costs and the most efficient construction management and field operation possible. To keep your costs lower than your competitors, your field crews must be lean, productive, and well trained. There must be no downtime, job problems, quality issues, coordination conflicts, or mistakes. Your subcontractors and suppliers must also be supervised and managed tight without gaps in scheduling, productivity, conflicts, or quality. This can only be accomplished with diligent leadership, accountable management, and ongoing training focused on productivity and efficiency.
Now you are in the sales business!
In private work, it takes a lot more than just bidding and negotiating to win contracts. You’ve got to give customers a differentiating reason to hire your company. It’s not just about the price, inclusions, and exclusions. Now there are too many competitors who can do the same job as your company and will cut their bid below their cost to get a job. To win more contracts at your price, you must face reality. You are not in the construction business. You now have to also be in the $ALES business!
Estimating and bidding used to be the only sales tactic you needed to win jobs. Today that’s only a small part of the process. Sales involves more than pricing jobs, delivering bids, and negotiating with the decision maker. It is about giving your customer what they specifically want on each job you’re bidding. You need lots of sales strategies to make a positive difference in your customer’s decision making process:
1. Create the perception of best value
2. Offer completion, service, and quality guarantees
3. Be the specialist or expert in the project type
4. Professionally present your company
5. Use cutting-edge technology
6. Be well financed and bondable
7. Have well trained foreman and crews
8. Have large crews available to man the job
9. Be able to finish job faster than competitors
10. Offer more than the minimum required
11. Understand the contract terms and project
12. Understand the project goals and deadlines
13. Offer value-added engineering budget ideas
14. Build confidence you are the right choice
15. Be aggressive following up on proposals
16. Show appreciation for the opportunity
17. Have a trusted customer relationship
18. Do whatever it takes
19. Meet customer’s goals
20. Give customer what they want
What differentiates your company?
Imagine you are driving down the freeway and need to fill up your gas tank. Do you look for the best quality, service, or price? No, you look for the closest gas station because it doesn’t matter which gas station you visit because they’re all the same. The construction business is the same. It doesn’t matter which contractors customers use. Customers generate bid lists of 4 to 6 or more contractors or subcontractors who are all equal in the customer’s mind. Most of these contractors do a pretty good job, with expected quality, in an acceptable and professional manner. But what doesn’t set them apart from their competitors are their proposals. They almost always bid the minimum required per plans and specifications and don’t offer much different or value-added to meet their customer’s specific needs.
Next week we will continue this blog discussing how customers can really tell the difference between your company’s bid proposal and your competitors?