Sing from the Assessor’s Song Sheet

business shake 400 clr 3110Last week we looked at the building blocks for a successful tender response, and how you might use them.  A key point was not to leave preparation for a successful tender response until the last minute, but to have all the data, information you need available to minimise the stress and time in preparing a persuasive and compelling response.   It requires developing a database of files, images, case studies, CVs etc. you can draw upon when required.

It is how you use and present that information that makes all the difference.

As I mentioned: “Tenders take time, and effort".  If you have to put a lot of both into your response, you will put yourself under pressure. And you know what happens then; mistakes, typos, forgetting to add final details, not enough time to review and edit.

A poorly thought-through and presented response can do you damage and tarnish your reputation in the marketplace.”

I started with the Executive Summary, that critical document at the front of your response which compels the Assessor to want to read more – put a mental tick, not a mental cross in their mind from the start.

Now let’s move on to the other elements.

Technical Details

There’s not much you can do with the next, except make a mistake.  Somewhere in the RFT you will be asked for details about your business, that you are who you say you are, and can be checked upon.

Tenderer Details – Legal entity name, ABN, addresses, contact details etc.

Declaration by Tenderer – received any addenda, agree to Conditions of Contract, Business Status (not bankrupt etc.), validity period etc,

I’ll leave that up to you.  Just make sure it is error free.  Errors suggest possible objections.  They may only be a typo, but you don’t want to raise doubts.

Price/Schedule of Rates

This is not about your price, but how you present it.  My message is that having great technical skills is not enough to win such contracts.  Nor is discounting.  Price is but one factor, and rarely the most important.  You need to be able to draft persuasive and compelling responses that demonstrate you are the only logical choice for the contract.

Please do not do what one coaching client did; decide that the pricing format the agency asked for “was not how they did their pricing”!  That is lead balloon stuff.  If that is the way the prospective client wants the pricing information presented, give it to them in their format. 

Make it easy for them.

Don’t make life difficult for the Assessors by making it hard for them to compare prices.  When quoting, price is not the only thing.  

Basic Requirements

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill.  Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

But you must still comply.  Depending on the requirement, that may include certifications in Quality, Work Health & Safety, Diversity, and so on.  They may want to see that you have them.

You must check the compliance requirements – if you don’t tick these boxes, then all your persuasive responses will go to waste. 

Add to these the “Nice to Have” elements which reinforce the persuasive elements of your response.

Now you have to persuade them why the Contract should be awarded to you!

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill.  Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

You demonstrate that you have the capacity and capability to deliver in responding to the Assessment Criteria.  Draft a response drawing on your past performance to support your claims.  Show where you have undertaken similar jobs, and the testimonials that you have received in doing so.

Case studies, testimonials, images all help add credibility to your claims.   They validate your Value Proposition.  What makes you different from your competition.

It is about removing any objections to you being the “only logical choice”.  You must demonstrate, not just claim, that you have the ability, capability, capacity, and systems to deliver.  And in doing so, remove any doubts.

You need to “avoid blowing your chances with your tender or proposal”

The Role of Presentation

What I have learnt over many years of both writing tenders and coaching is the importance of presentation.

Your presentation has a role to play.  What will your proposal look like, visually that is?  And how will it read?  Does it get your message across?   Does your presentation make it easier to read?  If it is easier to read, then your communication will communicate. 

You want a stand-out presentation, one that will not have the Assessor’s eyes glazing over.  It reduces risk in the Assessors’ minds, makes you look professional, and reduces the emphasis on price.

Don’t forget the role of images to demonstrate – “show”, not just ”tell”.

If you would like to read more on this go to:
https://catalystnt.com.au/articles/152-the-importance-of-presentation-in-your-tenders-quotations-pt-1
https://catalystnt.com.au/articles/153-the-importance-of-presentation-in-your-tenders-quotations-pt-2

There’s One Final Step

As I mentioned above, not having time to edit and review leads to mistakes which could cause you to lose the tender, or cost you money if you win it.  The problem is we tend to read what we expect to see, so take a break, if you have time, before you read and review, and sign off for submission. 

Or get someone not involved in the preparation of the response to review and check.

Could your Tender Response be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your Tender Response, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.before the end of Christmas.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

 

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon,
6 December, 2019

Responding is more than “just fill in the boxes”!

business figure at finish line 2A client recently asked me if I could develop a “template” for his business to respond to Requests for Tender (RFT) and Requests for Proposal (RFP) or Quotation (RFQ). 

This is not a simple matter.  You may have a similar question, but perhaps you need more detail or explanation.  Let me see if I can help.

The first thing to understand is that there is no ‘one’ template for tendering.  Each procurement organisation will have their own requirements and call RFTs, RFPs or RFQs to meet their requirements, not yours. 

It is always important to respond in the order as laid out in the Request.  Don’t make it difficult for the Assessors to evaluation and compare – make it easy.  Sing from the Assessor’s song sheet, not yours.

Having said that, the following building blocks are likely to be a requirement in any RFT/RFP/RFQ.  You need to ensure that you have the information needed to meet the agency’s requirements which comes from these building blocks.   However, that won’t necessarily win you the contract. 

It is how you use and present that information that makes all the difference.

Let’s start by looking at the building blocks,

Covering Letter and/or Executive Summary – an opportunity to get the Assessors looking forward to reading your submission.

Tenderer Details – Legal entity name, ABN, addresses, contact details etc.
Declaration by Tenderer – received any addenda, agree to Conditions of Contract, Business Status (not bankrupt etc.), the validity period

Price/Schedule of Rates – depends on the nature of the RFT/RFP/RFQ

Local Content

•    Location, sub-contractors, suppliers, policies, future opportunities

•    Employment – FTE, apprentices, Indigenous, training (accredited?), policies

•    Social and Community Contributions – what do you put back into your community

Past Performance and Timeliness

•    Overview of your business

•    Experience in providing Services of similar nature, scope and scale – specific examples, value

•    Evidence of your achievements in providing these services – performance, testimonials

•    Referees – preferably for the above examples

•    Capability to consistently achieve agreed timeframes for services – facilities, equipment, project management, etc

•    Certifications and Processes used to monitor compliance with timeframes and contingency plans – contract administration, reporting, risk management, QMS etc.

Supply Specific and Capacity/Capability

•    Organisational structure

•    Key personnel involved in the contract, role, experience, qualifications and certifications, business relationship 

•    Proposed Subcontractors – scope, value,

•    Overall capacity to provide – in conjunction with existing and planned commitments

•    Identify issues and assumptions that may impact your Organisation’s ability to meet the contract

•    Issue resolution - you will deal with issues that arise with the client in a timely manner

•    Facilities and equipment

You need to have a database with this information readily available to be crafted into your response.

Now to craft the building blocks into a compelling and persuasive response

Successful tender writing isn’t simply about answering the questions, providing a technical description and putting in a price.  Success comes from understanding the tendering process, careful preparation, differentiating yourself from the competition, and putting in a professional sales document.

I have explored the subject of the tender response a number of times, so I’m going to give you some guidance to using the above, and then refer you to the detail in those posts.

Tenders take time, and effort.  If you have to put a lot of both into your response, you will put yourself under pressure. And you know what happens then; mistakes, typos, forgetting to add final details, not enough time to review and edit.

A poorly thought-through and presented response can do you damage and tarnish your reputation in the marketplace.  Your response gives the client an impression of the overall professionalism and capability of your business; lack of attention to detail, or signs of being rushed, will not fill the prospect with confidence.  You need to be TenderWins ready.  

The Executive Summary

Tender proposals are like presentations - they need to be engaging. And it starts with your Executive Summary. You need to draft a compelling Executive Summary so that the Assessor wants to read more.

The Executive Summary summarises the key elements of your response the Assessor reads before getting down to the detail.  You need to condense your understanding of their requirement, the problem they’re trying to solve, demonstrate your value proposition, briefly describe how you are going to deliver the solution, and why they can be assured you will.

It lets the Assessors know upfront you clearly understand what the outcome they are seeking and tells them where they can find the information that meets their Assessment Criteria.

Simplifying the complex issues you deal with in more detail in your response is no easy task. But, it’s definitely beneficial for the Assessor (and you) when you can do it and do it well.

But there’s an issue here - A benefit does not always create an emotional reaction that leads to a buying decision. Emotion is certainly important. As has been said many times, people buy for emotional reasons (even in business), and rationalise their decision with the facts (the features).

However, are those emotional benefits you put to the prospect the ones that are really important to them? You have to dig deep to find, and understand, the real pain the prospect is feeling, or fearing. You have to find their “hot buttons”.  And that means asking questions.

By the time the Assessor has read your Executive Summary you want him to already have a tick in his mind about you.  Your Executive Summary should be persuasive and make a compelling case for the contract to be awarded to you.  Don’t blow your chances.   

Does your Value Proposition solve their problem?

Remember, a good proposal is about the prospect, not you.  People don’t want the product per se, they want what the product will do for them – the benefits.

Next Week

There’s more to come.  Next week I’ll look at

•    Technical Details,

•    Price/Schedule of Rates,

•    Basic Requirements,

•    Persuasion,

•    the Role of Presentation, and

•    One Final Step.

Could your Tender Response be Improved?

There’s nothing like an outside view, a second opinion.  Very often when we read something we’ve written, we read what we expect to see.  And miss the mistakes, or lack of logic, or lack of persuasiveness.  

If you would like to discuss how you could improve your Tender Response, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.before Christmas.  There’s no cost for a consultation.  It is my gift to you.

AG2Signature4 2

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon,

29 November, 2019

There’s money out there!

In fact, there are a bewildering number of sources of grants.

Grants are non-repayable funds or products disbursed or given by one party (grant makers)

The challenges are to know what you need, to find the right source of the grant you need, and to draft a compelling and persuasive submission.

And that is very like writing a winning tender submission.

The Purpose of Grants

The first thing to understand is the grants are not really about you.  They are about those providing the money, not those receiving it. 

Again, that is a very similar situation to when a government agency calls a tender.  Misunderstanding this can cause failure.

Grants are generally a method for a government to enact their policy in a particular area.  Governments want to make something happen.

Billions of dollars in grants funding is provided each year. The trick is to make sure your organisation gets what it needs.

An important thing to know about grants is that they are generally given for projects or programs, not for your core funding.  Wages, administration costs, etc. are almost always excluded unless these are part of the project or program.

Project-specific funding is the most common. There are grants that provide funding for new organizations, operational costs, and endowment funding, etc.  They can be for new initiatives, technology, employment, regional development and so on.

Who Provides Grants?

The Federal Government and the separate state governments have business development grants, business assistance programs and incentives that are available to businesses. You can browse through the various sites of the individual government departments and, based on your business you can select the grant program most applicable to your situation.

  • Federal Government funding is generally provided for projects with a national reach or benefit
  • State Governments are a likely source if your activities are focused in a particular region.  In the business sector, the State grants generally complement the Federal grants by filling the gaps.  State level grants are usually available for businesses that meet the State’s development agenda. This could be regional development, focus on a particular industry, job creation or to fund research in a particular subject.
  • For the community sector, much of the Federal funding is delivered through State Government agencies.
  • Councils are also very active in funding both business and community organisations. They may coordinate networking events and other services to further support economic development.  Similarly, other local council grants may be available for businesses that run local conferences, expos and seminars within the locality or otherwise contribute to local development.
  • Philanthropic trusts and foundations also offer significant funding for a wide range of projects, particularly in the community sector.These grants can be hard to find, especially when donors wish to remain anonymous. 

Business Activities Funded

For business, grant funding is available for a broad range of activities. The focus, however, is generally on the following areas:

•    Research & Development

•    Innovation

•    Sustainability and Green Technology

•    Export

•    Manufacturing

•    Agriculture

•    IT & Communication Services

•    Medical & Biotechnology

Writing Your Submission

You have identified a likely Grant!  Don’t stuff it up with a poorly written submission.

Grant writing, like drafting compelling and persuasive tender responses, is a complex process and if you are not familiar with the field then your organisation should look at options and support.

It is also a competitive process.

Good grant applications clearly state:

  • Who will benefit?
  • What is going to happen?
  • Where is it going to happen?
  • Why does it need to happen?
  • When is it going to happen? and
  • How is it going to happen and
  • How much will it cost?

You have to know this clearly in order to communicate it.

Drafting submissions is a skill that you can learn, and improve.  If you're willing to work at it, you can rapidly improve the quality of every submission you make. 

But if writing is not your skill, consider getting professional help.

Managing Your Grant

Before you accept any money from a grant-maker, you must be sure you have the capacity to carry out the terms  of the contract.
After you get the money you have to deliver exactly what you said you would deliver, in the timeframe that you said you would deliver it in.

If funders believe you can deliver projects on time, on  budget, and in the same form as they were approved, you’ll have more hope of achieving a second or third grant, or even ongoing funding (though it’s wise to treat every  grant as a one-off).

Take the Next Step

Don’t you just hate it when you put a lot of effort into a submission, and fail.  Whether it be a Grant Request or Tender, all require time, effort, and resources. Who wants all that to be wasted by a mistake which causes you to lose out?

It is an old adage that we learn from experience.  When it comes to writing requests and tenders I’ve made my share of mistakes, and hopefully I’ve learnt from them.

And having coached, trained and mentored many businesses in drafting proposals and requests I’ve also seen many mistakes made.

How many more times do you want to submit a grant request without getting the results you want, or need? 

I want to offer you something to implement the issues I have been discussing here, a stepping-stone to more successful submissions.

  • A 30 minute chat about some of your submission issues
  • I will identify your opportunities for improvement
  • If I can’t help, I’ll recommend someone who can
  • There is no cost for the chat.  This is my gift to you

If you are tired of wasting more time and not winning those grants or getting the results you want, then contact me right now – go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and type “I’m interested” into the subject line, and I’ll contact you.

Adam Gordon
© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon

How to Use the “Vital Few”

A recent article in My Business “Shedding clients grew a business sevenfold in 5 years” discussed how a business sacrificed short term revenue and shed less profitable customers to focus on more high-value ones – and grew by “six to seven” times in just five years. 

It is an excellent example of the application to a business of what is known as Pareto’s Law.

Back in 1906 an Italian economist, Pareto, observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.  He later investigated other countries and found, to his surprise, that the same principle applied.

Many years later an American consultant, Joseph Juran, named the principle Pareto’s Law.  He also referred to it as "the vital few and the useful many".  Juran used it as a tool for continuous improvement in businesses, initially in quality management for manufacturing, but then on systems and processes throughout businesses.  It became a great tool for reducing costs.

If there were production, quality or service problems, he wouldn’t try and fix all the problems, but rather identify the “vital few” that caused most of the problems, and fix those.

You may know it as the “80-20 Rule”.  And very useful it is too!

In later years, Juran emphasised the remaining 80% should not be totally ignored.  And I agree with that.

I’m sure many of you have used this Rule in your business, even if you didn’t know where it came from.

The first thing to understand is that of course the ratio is not going to be exactly 80-20.  What you are looking for is the ‘vital few’.  The vital few could be 33/67 or whatever. 

You probably know of the 80-20 Rule in relation to sales; 80% of your sales come from 20% of your products or services. 

But what about profitability?  80-20 can gives us a different picture.  Which of your products or services produce the majority of your profits?

Might it be useful to apply the 80-20 tool to our customers?  After all, we sell products and services, but customers buy them.  Their decision, not ours.  It is also suggested that 80% of sales come from 20% of your customers. 

In my experience, it does.  And equally importantly, which customers provide the majority of your profits?  More customers doesn’t always mean higher profits.

So what does the 80-20 Rule mean for your marketing, future cash flow and profitability?

The whole point of this Rule is that you will get most of your sales and profits from a small proportion of your products, and customers.  

And once you know that, your marketing can be targeted, and not sprayed.  You can more tightly define your ideal customer, and refine your marketing, so you are more directly talking to them, and not to “everybody”. 

As I said in “Does your Marketing Tail Stretch to the Sea?”, if you spend $500 on a promotion from the mountain to the sea, i.e. to everyone, your promotional message will be about everyone, and no-one.  The first thing any potential buyer looks for in any promotion is WIIFM (what’s in it for me). Because your ‘landscape’ message will of necessity be general, no-one will be able to say “that’s me”, and be enticed into your message.

Good businesses work on the important tasks, not just the urgent ones; improving sales, improving margins, and reducing costs. And the 80-20 Rule is a good tool to do just that.

Remember you don’t have to fix everything to close a performance gap.  You just have to fix the few things that are causing most of the problem.

I’m know many excellent businesses who use the 80-20 Rule to improve not just the profitability of their sales, but to improve the business behind them.

Good businesses keep getting better.  They keep getting better because they continually work on all their key processes, only one or two at a time if necessary, to build a better business. 

I have written further about this in:

Why the 80-20Rule is so Useful – And Where should you Use It

More Uses of the 80-20 Rule

How to Remove the Impediments to Progress

Take the Next Step

When clients find it difficult to achieve their goals, it often comes down to a lack of clarity of what is happening in their business, and not being able to identify Vital Few.  If they could, they would have used them, and achieved their goals.

You need to know what is happening in your business, and that means more than acting on PHOGY thinking.  The road to success is paved with good information, so you can see where you have been, and where you are going, and not be fog-bound.

For more than 30 years I’ve been helping small business owners use the right tactics to plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them determine their Vital Few and free them up so their goals are achieved.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  There is no cost.

To your profitability and enhanced cash flow.

 

Adam Gordon
© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon 

Clients who provide consistent work, clients who build your business’s reputation.

What would life be like if you could consistently win tenders, and do so on the basis of the value you provide, rather than the lowest price? To have clients who are more interested in the value of your solution to their problem, rather than trying to beat you down on price. Once they have agreed to your proposal, that’s it. You just have to keep your side of the bargain, and deliver the value you promised.

Governments are such a client. They operate at three levels; Federal, State/Territory, Local. And they spend many millions of dollars every month on the products and services from industry.

A Government contract can call for delivery of a one-off specific product or service such as ‘construct a building’, or provide repeated products or services over a period, such as ‘cleaning services for a government building’,

As I posted in my article, Are you Missing Out on Lucrative Contracts, “businesses are losing out on lucrative projects as they are not submitting for work through government tenders.

In particular it is SMEs that are not recognising the ongoing opportunities for business projects, and these opportunities span across all industries and sectors.”

The Profit Leak Detective is dedicated to assisting small and medium businesses get the attention of their ideal prospects in government, and convert them into paying clients for their services and programs by submitting persuasive and compelling tender responses.

Picture a bright future where:

  • You feel absolutely confident in the value you provide to government, and can clearly communicate that value in your tender response.
  • You present a response which the agency congratulates itself on accepting.
  • Your position yourself as an authority in your market through regularly winning government contracts, which in turn leads to a steady stream of high-quality leads calling you
  • You know you’ll hit your annual sales and profit objectives.
  • You are a contributor to the governments agency’s success, not a supplier they can easily replace.

As a result, you have peace of mind knowing your cash flow fuels your growth, and your business is an asset which gives you choices.

This is the world you live in when you’ve learned, implemented and mastered my TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula methodology for submitting winning response and closing more highly profitable business.

My message is that having great technical skills is not enough to win such contracts. Nor is discounting. Price is but one factor, and rarely the most important. You need to be able to draft persuasive and compelling responses that demonstrate you are the only logical choice for the contract.

Now this may not be for you, but as the above article suggests, it can be a lucrative market across a broad range of activities. There is almost certainly an opportunity for you – if you can win the tender!

Even if you are winning, you can’t rest on your laurels.

Tendering is one of those skills in which you have to keep improving, because the competition is also looking to continually get better, and times are getting tougher, despite the opportunities.

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance. Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill. Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

If you are business which:

  • Would like to crack the government market, but don't know how to do so.
  • Continually tender for these contracts, but don't win many.
  • Can't afford to lose a government contract which underpins your business

My TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula online course will help you to develop the skills you need to submit.
You will develop the skills to submit well presented, compliant and compelling responses so that you win more tenders, without stress or feeling under pressure.

Later in the year, I’ll be running a full version of the course, but I’m starting with it as a Pilot. However, because of the high amount of personal interaction with me that's involved in this first pilot, I have to limit this to only 20 people.

The TenderWins Course

Each lesson is an action step that helps bring you closer to your ideal outcome. The course is simple, structured and achievable.

Modules will cover:

  • Preparation
  • Planning
  • Determining your Win Strategy
  • Pricing
  • Presentation
  • Submission
  • Post submission

The cost is only $497 and here’s the link to PayPal. Once you pay, you will get a link to the course so you can register.

As an added bonus, you will get free access to the full course, which will be priced at $1,497 once it is launched.

You can win more – and here is no reason why you shouldn’t do so. Follow the formula and turn frustration, stress and time into celebration and profits, as my clients have.

But you will need to be quick!

The first Module will be available online on Monday 29th July at 6.00 am AEST, and continuing with weekly Modules at the same day and time each week for a total of [4] classes, with our last class commencing 19th August. There will always be an activity to complete.

Each Module will be followed every Thursday by an online Q & A session in which you can ask me questions you may have, and share the experiences of the group.

For our Q & A session we’ll be using an online video conferencing program for all of the calls, and you can access the meetings with the link I’ll send.

And shortly after the call, you’ll get access to the recordings as well.

Then there's the real work, which gets done “before” the Q & A calls, following release of each week’s lesson material on Monday - that's when you apply the lessons you’ve learned, complete and submit your assignments, and ask me any further questions.

We’ll be using a Case Study throughout the course. It would be ideal if you could use an unsuccessful tender or major quotation to practice on. All exercises will be based on your Case Study, rather than a theoretical exercise. I’ll have a back-up for you, but it would mean more for you using your own example.

We can discuss your response to the assignment on the Q & A, but you may wish to contact me before then. You will also have personal access by telephone and email once a week.

I’ll do everything I can to support you, but there's no way around it: in order to make this program successful for you, you have to DO THE WORK. Then you will know you’re making progress.

Let me know if you would like toThis email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, Profits Leak Detective

Remember, it’s about them not you.

I cannot imagine that you would walk up to a prospect, and start spruiking your products, without first trying to get some understanding of his business, the issues he may be facing, and whether he had a need for your products or services.

Remember, your products or services are a “solution” – they exist because they solve people’s, or businesses’ problems.

So, to understand the prospects problems, you have to ask questions, to probe and to dig down to the point where you can demonstrate that your offering is the only logical solution.

My friend Rashid Kotwal of Revealed Resources provides an insight into the questions you need to ask in this posting.  You will, as I did, find this useful.

Take it away, Rashid.

Do you sell high end, complex products or services to senior decision makers?

Decision makers want to feel you truly understand them and the outcomes they want. Both on a personal and business level.

You accomplish this is by doing your research to find out what issues they may be facing. Equipped with this you bring new insights and approaches to your prospects. New ways of thinking. You’re collaborative in your approach. Senior buyers want to meet with you as they get real value from the interaction.

Once in front of a prospect, you delve deeply into their issues through questions which uncover needs, both explicit and implicit and the consequences of getting their desired outcomes or not. And then to show how your products/services will serve them.

Given this, there are four broad categories of questions.

  • Situation
  • Problem
  • Implications & consequences
  • Needs & payoff

Situation Questions:

Situation questions delve into facts about the buyer’s existing situation. For example, a welding machinery supplier might ask:

  • What sort of welding do you do?
  • How many people do you employ at this location?
  • How many welding machines do you have?

But beware! These are shallow questions. Buyers don’t want to waste their time answering basic questions a few Google searches will uncover. So do your homework!

Problem Questions: We’re starting to dig beneath the surface here.

Remember, no problem equals no sale.

Successful salespeople think in terms of the problems they solve for buyers. They home in on issues, difficulties or dissatisfactions that the buyer is experiencing with the existing situation.

For example:

  • What prevents you from producing a product with lower return rates?
  • Why do you find it hard to recruit skilled people?
  • Is any part of the process costing more than you’d like?

Implication Questions: Digging deeper!

Okay, your buyer acknowledges there’s a problem. But is it worth solving?

What are the consequences if not solved? What benefits would accrue if they did?

Some are obvious while others are not. Your job is to help your prospects articulate these.

For example: “What happens if you can’t hire the right people at the right time?”

They may reply that they can’t service their clients. Which leads to unhappy clients. Leading to losing business and a bad reputation.

Eventually they fold. And of course, the opposite applies if they can find the right people at the right time utilising your services.
 

Having a prospect truly understand the implications of the issue both personally and for their organisation is key to moving a sale forward.

Need/Payoff Questions: Getting to the bottom of the swamp.

You can’t convince someone to buy. They have to convince themselves they want the solution.

Your job is to create the environment where they will by cementing the value and usefulness of your solutions in your prospect’s mind.

How much could they make or save by implementing the solution now. How specifically would an improvement in production quality impact on the bottom line?

Payoff questions are a mirror image of implication questions.

For example, an implication question might be”

“Could the higher return rate of your products add to your costs?”

Whereas a needs payoff question might be:

“If you had lower return rates would that cut costs and improve profitability?”

Wrapping up, to be successful in the sales game you must prove you have a deep understanding of your target market’s issues and be able to bring new insights to them.

That is a prerequisite to even getting to first base.

Wrapping up, one of the best ways to glean market intelligence and be relevant is to ask your current clients why they buy from you!

Our Value Gap Analysis (VGA) method will give you the tools to highlight what’s really important to your clients, where value gaps could exist and how to fix them.

You can read more about this here.

Thanks Rashid.

Take the Next Step

The understanding this approach provides you will greatly improve your responses to Requests for Tender, or for Proposal and Quotations.

How many more times do you want to submit a tender or proposal without getting the results you want, or need?  There are other mistakes you can make that will derail your hard work.

Don’t you just hate it when you put a lot of effort into a bid, and fail.  Whether it be a Request for Tender (RFT), Request for Quotation (RFQ) or Request for Proposal (RFP), all require time, effort, and resources, and can then be wasted by a mistake which causes you to lose out.

I’ve have summarised these in “How to Overcome the10 Common Mistakes in Tendering”

If you would like a copy, and there is no cost, go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and type “10 Common Mistakes” into the subject line, and I’ll send it to you.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, except for the articel by Rashid Kotwal

But, it must be practised!

There’s an old sayingBusiness is what, if you don’t have, you go out of”.

It is an apt saying for a small businessman who recently contacted me for assistance in winning a government tender.  Bill (not his real name) largely relied on being a sub-contractor to two bigger businesses – but both unexpectedly took that away, expanding their operations into Bill’s field. 

Another old saying is “the most dangerous number in business in ONE”, as in one market, or one product.  In Bills case it was two.   And it had been a very cost relationship for a long time.  Bill had no need to market or sell, just be a good operator in his field.  But in the end that was not enough.

He did know there were a good, on-going contracts around through government, but Bill had never worried about them.  He never had to.  Now he did, but tendering to acquire such contracts was a skill he had yet to acquire.

Jim had a similar lack, but was in different position.  Young and ambitious, with a growing business, he set his sights on winning a major government contract as a flagship for his business.  But like Bill, had had never crafted a tender.  The road ahead was very foggy.

Both had a common aim, but with a common lack of experience in tendering.  They both seek to transform their business.

What they were after, why would tendering solve their problem?

Government tenders can be important to a small business.  A government contract can provide a solid base to your business, stability of income, and help stimulate growth.  This is even more so with contracts that run for a couple of years, with the option for an extension.  

Are you in that position – vulnerable if you lose a couple of key markets?  Or are you planning on a new direction, and want to establish a solid base for growth?

Submitting tenders for new business opportunities is ‘no brainer’ when it comes to small business growth.

As I posted in my last blog, Are you Missing Out on Lucrative Contracts, “businesses are losing out on lucrative projects as they are not submitting for work through government tenders.

In particular it is SMEs that are not recognising the ongoing opportunities for business projects, and these opportunities span across all industries and sectors.”

My message in that post was that having great technical skills is not enough to win such contracts.  Nor is discounting.  Price is but one factor, and rarely the most important.  You need to be able to draft persuasive and compelling responses that demonstrate you are the only logical choice for the contract.

And that means learning a new skill, just as Bill and Jim are doing.

When you master that skill, you remove a key barrier to the growth of your business.  You now have options for the road ahead.  The fog stars to clear.

But there is more to it than just learning the skill.  Remember, tendering is one of those skills in which you have to keep improving, because the competition is also looking to continually get better, and times are getting tougher, despite the opportunities.

It’s a mistake to leave it until you have a tender opportunity in front of you.  Tender turnaround times are becoming increasingly truncated.  You can have as little as 10 working days to complete a response, and usually no more than three to four weeks. 

My “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula” online course, which I am running initially as a Pilot Course to fine tune delivery, is what you need.

Imagine having pushed the ‘Submit button’ and being quietly confident about your response, and not having to have spent late, stressful night putting your tender together.

Like a good football team, learn the winning moves, and keep practicing them so they become second nature.  Practice makes perfect.

Bill and Jim are preparing to be in a winning position.

Take the Next Step

How many more times do you want to submit a tender without getting the results you want, or need?  How much more time do you want to spend over trying to figure this out, when the Tender Winning Formula can give you the answers.

My experience, my results, with past clients have shown that you can win key contracts.  “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula” can help you do that. 

If you are tired of wasting more time and not winning those tenders or getting the results you want, then contact me right now – go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and type “I’m interested” into the subject line, and I’ll contact you.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon

Here’s what to do about it!

An interesting article online from DynamicBusiness suggested “Businesses are losing out on lucrative projects as they are not submitting for work through government tenders.

In particular, it is SMEs that are not recognising the ongoing opportunities for business projects, and these opportunities span across all industries and sectors.”

The article went on to say:

“There is a broad range of work available from maintenance, marketing, to building and consultancy – and everything in between” says Darren Frearson, the founder of Australian Anti-Corruption Certification Register (the country’s first national register of businesses that have certified to be corruption free).

According to Darren, smaller businesses are assuming that they will be unsuccessful due to their size. There is potentially a feeling that they cannot compete with larger scale businesses when in reality there is no minimum requirement for company size. 

It can be a great income stream for SMEs, without any lead generation required.

There is a significant amount of untouched opportunity throughout all tiers of government including federal, state and local.

With most advertisements available to view and respond to online, there is no excuse for small businesses not to find the projects relevant to them.”

Now this may not be for you, but as the article suggests, it can be a lucrative market across a broad range of activities.  There is almost certainly an opportunity for you.

Do you tender for government work? 

•    If you do, are you successful?  If not, what is impeding you?

•    If you don’t seek good government contracts – what holds you back?

Is the road block concern that you can’t compete against the big boys?  You can you know – a number of times I’ve worked with small local businesses where the incumbent contract holder has been a large national company, and we’ve managed to take it off them. 

It can be done!

Or is the problem that while you have great technical skills, after all, that is how you built your business, but you haven’t had the opportunity to learn how to submit compelling, persuasive tender responses?  And yes, it can be stressful, and hard work.

Tendering is one of those skills in which you have to keep improving, because the competition is also looking to continually get better, and times are getting tougher, despite the opportunities.

It’s a mistake to leave it until you have a tender opportunity in front of you.  Tender turnaround times are becoming increasingly truncated.  You can have as little as 10 working days to complete a response, and usually no more than three to four weeks. 

I’ve now been writing government tenders for years for my business, plus helping many clients write them, as well as undertaking numerous one-on-one coaching sessions, running webinars on tendering, and conducting Tendering Essentials workshops for many years.

What I have learnt is the importance of preparation and planning, how to avoid a ME – ME response, how to use a Value Proposition, how to write persuasively, why presentation is important, the role of review, and more.

Because you must write to reassure and persuade, bid preparation, tender response, call it what you will, is more than just compliance.  Your ability to write effective tenders and proposals is an essential business skill.  Despite this, and probably because most businesses, like yours, are built on the technical skills of their owners, it is uncommon.

It has bothered me for a long time that there are so many business owners like you missing out on sales opportunities or are not able to seize those opportunities simply because they don’t have the skills to write effective tenders in response to requests for tender, and frequently resort to discounting to win the job.

Yet price can be worth as little as 10% in the overall assessment criteria.  So you may not be winning the contract, even through you may be the cheapest.  You may been undercutting your own prices to get your foot in the door. 

If you had understood all the other factors they consider you could have painted yourself in the best possible light. 

And that is just why I developed my “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula” online course, which I am running initially as a Pilot Course to fine tune delivery.

Imagine having pushed the ‘Submit button’ and being quietly confident about your response, and not having to have spent late, stressful night putting your tender together.

If you are interested in:

•    Learning how to prepare for, analyse and persuasively respond to tender requirements

•    Developing the skills to submit well presented, compliant and compelling responses

•    Winning more tenders, without stress or feeling under pressure

my Pilot Course is for you.

Turn pain into pleasure!  If you don’t take up this opportunity, what is life going to look like when it comes to that next tender opportunity?  Will it look any different? 

Take the Next Step

How many more times do you want to submit a tender without getting the results you want, or need?  How much more time do you want to spend over trying to figure this out, when the Tender Winning Formula can give you the answers.

My experience, my results, with past clients have shown that you can win key contracts.  “TenderWins – The Tender Winning Formula” can help you do that. 

If you are tired of wasting more time and not winning those tenders or getting the results you want, then contact me right now – go to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and type “I’m interested” into the subject line, and I’ll contact you.

Adam Gordon

© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon

3 Steps to clear the road to your goals

Is one of the goals of your business to make money?  I don’t necessarily mean to make enough to be filthy rich, but enough to be comfortable in your lifestyle, enough not to have to worry about money when you retire.  Retirement looms for all of us.

From another perspective, suppose you wanted to set up a new operation, launch a new product or enter a new market.  What would success look like, what do you hope to achieve, and by when.

Both the first example, making sufficient money, and the second, succeeding in a new operation are goals.

I’m sure you have such goals in your business!

What is holding you back, constraining you from achieving that goal?  Are there impediments, roadblocks, restraining your progress?

3 Action Steps to Remove the Impediments

Step 1 – The Critical Success Factors

To achieve goals, there are always a number of Critical Success Factors, things that MUST happen for you to achieve that goal.  In effect, if you were able to successfully control these factors, remove the impediment, then your goal would be achieved. 

You must clearly articulate your goal.  If you are not clear about what you want to achieve and you don't know what is necessary to achieve it, then obviously it's going to be very difficult to get there

Those Critical Success Factors then need to be pinned down.  They are not likely to be many, perhaps five or six for any one goal. 

Clients sometimes struggle with this when we’re doing business planning, but it is very important and well worth thinking through. 

Once you have established these you are looking for the roadblocks, the main impediments to your success.

Get out a piece of paper, do a mind map if you like, and set up a series of columns with each of those Critical Success Factors at the top of each column.

Under each factor, brainstorm and list all the obstacles, road blocks, barriers and impediments that are preventing that Critical Success Factor working properly for you.

The main impediment will be in that list.  There are a number of ways to determine which it is.  You could use:

  • Straight voting;
  • Weighting using the 80/20 rule – which few factors cause most of the problems;
  • Multivoting – use your team, they know what is going on in your business, to help you decide, give each member say 5 votes and get them to allocate the votes to those factors causing the biggest constraint. 
  • Urgency/Impact matrix – draw up a three by three matrix with Urgency on the vertical axis and Impact on the horizontal.  You are looking for the factors that have high urgency and high impact.  

Now you know the principal impediment to clear for your Critical Success Factors to work. 

Step 2 – Remove the Impediment

Next you need to determine the root cause of that impediment.  Use the “5 Whys”; keep digging down to the root cause of the problem by asking “Why is it so” for each answer generated for that impediment.  Do this five times.  When you know it, then you can fix it, properly.

But of course, that is not the end of the story.  Now is not the time to allow complacency or inertia to step in.

Step 3 - Rinse and repeat. 

Return to the second most critical impediment, and determine its root cause.  Remove it.

Rinse and repeat until the road to your goal is clear, and the travelling smooth and comfortable.

Having Difficulty Identifying and Enabling your Critical Success Factors?

When clients find themselves in this situation, finding it difficult to achieve their goals, it often comes down to a lack of clarity of what is happening in their business, and not being able to identify their Critical Success Factors.  If they could, they would have removed them, and achieved their goals. 

You need to know what is happening in your business, and that means more than acting on PHOGY thinking.  The road to success is paved with good information, so you can see where you have been, and where you are going, and not be fog-bound.

For more than 30 years I’ve been helping small business owners use the right tactics to plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting them determine their Critical Success Factors, and free them up so their goals are achieved.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  There is no cost.



© Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, Profits Leak Detective

So why don’t I have any money?”


A recent article in SmartCompany
bought to mind a comment from a client some years ago.  She was in a woeful mood, and said “I don’t understand what my accounts are telling me, and that makes me feel I don’t have control of my business!”.

Now she is certainly right, if you don’t understand what your accounts are telling you, the picture they are painting, then you certainly don’t have control of your business.

I have looked at this issue in “Avoid these 5 Mistakes in Small Business”, and “Do you have full control of your Cash Flow?”, plus a newsletter (PLD 63  Do you know what is happening in your business? - let me know if you would like a copy)

It is an issue that comes up repeatedly in the small and medium business world, and particularly if times are becoming tough, as they could be.  A plaintive cry from small business owners I’ve heard so often over the years is “The accountant says we are profitable.  So why don’t I have any money?”

And that is why I thought you might find Daniel Smith’s article in SmartCompany useful. 

Take it Away, Daniel

Don’t know the difference between cashflow and income?

A financial guide for aspiring entrepreneurs

Being an entrepreneur is no walk in the park.

While we often hear the success stories of so-and-so who quit their job, started a business and managed to turn a profit in just a few months, these stories tend to omit the not-so-glamorous parts of entrepreneurial life.

In fact, it’s common for entrepreneurs to face total overwhelm within their first few months, or even years in business, due to numerous factors, such as:

  • Not enough time and money available;
  • Lack of proper planning;
  • Having to take on additional roles in the business (such as sales, bookkeeping, marketing and systems administration without prior knowledge);
  • Little understanding of how to use financial resources; and
  • Stress and worry about not making a profit.

Simply put, the entrepreneurial journey can be full of trepidation, with constant worry, stress and fear nagging at the back of our minds.

Luckily, there are plenty of solutions to help navigate the throes of entrepreneurship, one of which is understanding how to use and leverage financial statements.

There are three types of financial statements you need to know: your cashflow statement, income statement and balance sheet.

When used correctly, these statements can serve as benchmarks and guideposts, helping you make better business decisions, assist with tax planning and forecast for the future.

1. Cashflow statement

Your cashflow statement shows you how much money goes in and out of your business within a certain timeframe.

A key point to mention is incoming cash is not recorded when the sale is made, but rather when payments are actually received. In the same way, outgoing cash is not recorded until bills have actually been paid.

Cashflow statements provide a crucial window into the understanding of how money flows in and out of your business. What’s important to understand, is even if you are hitting sales targets and have high-value assets, if your cashflow is stifled or you are waiting on receipt of multiple payments, this could significantly impact your businesses ability to operate.

With the knowledge of how much cash you have available at any given period of time, you will know:

•    When the appropriate times are to spend;

•    How much you have available to pay for necessary products or services; and

•    When to source additional financial resources if needed.

It may even guide you to make changes into the structure of your business to assist with better cashflowcashflow.

2. Income statement

Also referred to as a profit-and-loss statement, an income statement displays your income less your expenses for a specific time-period, showing whether you’ve operated at a profit or loss during that time.

This statement can be incredibly eye-opening for business owners. For example, often new entrepreneurs make the mistake of thinking high revenue or sales equates to financial success, without taking into account how much they’re spending. This is why some entrepreneurs find themselves in hot water, despite a heightened focus on sales.

On the other side, perhaps you’ve put attention on how to cut costs and in doing so your sales have taken a back seat.

In this way, your income statement is a trusted business partner, advising you on areas to improve. It holds important insights that will allow you to make better decisions, such as:

•    Where to spend your money for the greatest return;

•    How much you can spend while still making a profit; and

•    Where to focus your energy and resources during the following month.

This might mean focusing next month’s resources on sales, reducing unnecessary costs, or perhaps a combination of the two.

3. Balance sheet

Your balance sheet shows your assets in conjunction with your liabilities, giving you an overall financial snapshot of your business equity within a specific time period.

If your assets exceed liabilities, your equity will be in the positive (this is what you want). If the latter occurs, your balance sheet equity will be in the negative.

Balance sheets are very helpful in understanding the financial overview of your company over time.  By comparing your balance sheets month to month, and year to year, you will get a solid idea as to whether your company is:

•    Experiencing satisfactory growth;

•    Increasing in value over time; or

•    Seeing a decrease in liabilities.

Plus, it will help you forecast months and years to come.

Using the profit information from your income statement, you can also create a strategic plan for how to pay off liabilities, and invest in assets if and when appropriate.

Proper planning is crucial for any new entrepreneur’s success. Regular reviews of how financial resources flow through your company will help you plan for growth. Of course, nothing is certain, but armed with this basic knowledge, you have a foundation from which a strategic plan can drive your new business forward.

You May have a Profit Leak!

Very often, when clients find themselves in this situation, supposedly profitable, but no money, and approach me for coaching, eight times out of ten this comes down to a profit leak.  Profit leaks are a problem, because you don’t know they are there.  If you did, you would have done something about them.

For more than 30 years I’ve been helping small business owners use the right tactics to plug the profit leaks in their business and restoring their cash flows by assisting find their profit leaks, and plug them.

If you would like to discuss with me how you might do that, book a Strategy Consult here.  There is no cost.

 

Copyright 2019 Adam Gordon, The Profits Leak Detective - Except for all those bits by Daniel Smith

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