When are contracts really won?

Last Tuesday afternoon, 80 leaders, supervisors and managers from across our client contracts assembled in London for our annual Leadership Forum. We use this to update the teams on the past year’s achievements, and jointly agree how to face the coming year’s challenges and how to meet our business objectives. It’s also a great chance for people to meet colleagues from other sites and to celebrate the achievements of the past year.

I had the opportunity to talk to the team about the opportunities we’ll have next year and how the operational, management and business development teams need to work together to secure our existing and new business.

One thing I wanted to really emphasise during this, as it’s something I feel so strongly about is that new business is rarely won on the strength of a written submission or slick sales presentation. These things are merely vehicles to get the potential buying client to visit your sites, interview your client and assess the service against their own criteria.

For every transformational contract we have secured, there has always been a ‘moment’ when I had the feeling that the outcome would be positive. Every one of these ‘moments’ has been during client site visits, when we had the opportunity to showcase our teams and service. When the sales and director team take a step back, and let the onsite managers and team members talk about how exceptional service is delivered in their particular way and for their particular client.

The rise of e-procurement, reverse auctions and overtly cost focussed tendering has seen situations where contracts have been won or lost without site visits taking place. This is akin to buying a car without a test drive, or buying a house without a survey and is a trend that can be frustrating to companies who believe and invest in exceptional customer service

For me, last week’s forum was a great opportunity to thank our teams for their contributions to securing new business, retaining our contracts and to emphasise that the proof will always be in the pudding. The front line managers and team members for whom exceptional service is just business as usual will always be the most important asset in any bid for new business.

By Keith Seymour, Head of Business Development

Follow me on Twitter – @keithaseymour

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