Ignore features and focus on solving pain

Ignore features and focus on solving pain“We’re pleased to say that you have successfully passed the first stages of the tender process and would like to invite you to present your solution to us…”

If you’re anything like me those words sound as horrifying as they are promising. We’ve sunk man days of effort into this. Blood, sweat and tears preparing an articulate document that (we feel) directly fits the client’s statement of requirements and it’s come down to standing in a room trying (and sometimes failing) to get across why you are the right fit and how fantastic a job you will do for them.

It’s an exciting and nerve wracking thing to do as a lot of organisations who enter into a tender process may well have already made an emotional decision about the partner they want to work with. The presentation is merely a sanity check to ensure that something suddenly hasn’t changed during the bid process.

Significant spend for businesses, not-for-profits, schools and large enterprise typically requires some formal investigation to ensure that they are getting the best deal. On the whole, I have to agree with the process, yet sometimes I feel that it’s not necessarily about the best partner for the client delivering the work, it comes down to who is best able to respond and tick the boxes.

Our Marketing Manager (the fabulous Alice) has a great phrase – “so what?” So what? is designed to get to the root cause of something – the what and the why of doing something. What benefit are you getting from it? What can you learn from asking that question? Why are you asking the question in the first place?

When we read tender documents there are often questions that make us scratch our heads so we always now ask “so what?”. This allows us to respond with business benefit and solve peoples’ pain points, rather than give a typical response focusing on features and benefits that whilst sounding exciting, doesn’t necessarily make an organisation function or perform better. We’ve changed to this approach in our presentations and the way we deliver our proposals. It should turn our customers on to the point that their business is their business; they should focus on that and let a subject matter expert focus on turning IT into a service.

I think we’re changing as a business and constantly improving our engagement processes. It’s great to hear feedback from a client that says we engaged in the most technical and business-focussed discovery process, as that means we’ve done our job well. By engaging in a business fashion we consider a broader spectrum and deliver what’s needed, not necessarily what’s wanted.

So, our presentation went well, let’s see if we get to work with the client, I know we’ll do a great job.

Author: Dan Parsons, Client Manager
Dan is responsible for business development and client management. He has been working in the IT industry for nearly ten years, delivering solutions that help clients to benefit from the data centre and end user computing. In particular, Dan is passionate about helping companies in the education, charity and government sectors.

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One thought on “Ignore features and focus on solving pain

  1. Pingback: An inward look over the past year | Foundation IT

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