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In business, it’s easy to imagine that, because you’re not getting any complaints, you’re providing a great product or service. But, the larger your business gets, the harder it is to know for sure. It’s so easy to focus on the technical aspects, the processes, and logistics.

Because if you get those nailed, everyone will be happy. Right? Not quite. I’ve seen many businesses with really great products and services, fail to win targeted prospects.

They all missed a basic fact.

People are business.

Whatever you buy or sell starts, and ends, with people. Customers, suppliers, and employees all have needs, thoughts, emotions, and relationships. It’s all too easy to think you know these people, who they are, what they do, their skills and their achievements.

But that’s when you begin to fail.

Just because your workforce isn’t complaining doesn’t mean they are happy. Just because customers are buying your stuff doesn’t mean they love it. And just because your suppliers are turning up with the goods, doesn’t mean that you’ve got a great relationship with them.

It takes courage to stand back and recognize that.

So how do you fix it, and harness all that people-power?

Well, not by imposing your ideas and systems on them, that’s for sure. Not by selling them stuff that you think is great. And not by assuming that the information you already possess about them is accurate. It’s out of date, pretty much, as soon as you’ve gathered it.

Engage your people constantly, celebrate their achievements, listen to their ideas, and empower them to act. Have the courage to hear any criticism, and don’t have a ‘too difficult to deal with’ attitude.

Talk to your customers regularly. Ask them what keeps them awake at night, and what their dreams are. Better still, get your people to do it, they’re closer. Find out what they really like about what you do, and what they don’t.

Consult your suppliers early to help meet your customer’s stated aspirations. Better still, introduce them to your customers. Pay them on time, or even early, so they can stop worrying about it and use all that energy to improve what they do.

All of this takes real investment. I’m talking about time. I’m talking about face to face contact. I’m talking about questioning, listening, and acting. That’s where you’ll add value because that’s how you capture all the amazing things that you didn’t know you didn’t know!

Jim Cheetham Potts

Click to connect with Jim

About author
As Bid Factors’ founder, and lead consultant, I create persuasive content for proposals, technical submissions, web pages, brochures, case studies, and curriculum vitae. I started my career with Stockport Council in 1989 as a Civil Engineer. Over the next nine years I successfully delivered a wide range of projects. Along the way I learned to engage effectively with the public, politicians, landowners, utility companies, and statutory regulators. 1998 saw me move into the private sector, initially as a Contracts Manager, and later as a Design Coordinator. I focused on bringing suppliers, designers and end-users together, to deliver outstanding value-added solutions over a seven year period. In 2005 I became involved in proposals and bidding within the rail, highways, water, industrial process, and nuclear sectors. I’ve worked for both small-medium enterprises (SME’s), and multi-national blue-chip companies. I learned how to win work, and I also learned how bids are lost. For over 13 years I led successful bids for major infrastructure projects and frameworks in ranging from £50k to £750 million. I’ve also advised on corporate rebranding exercises and developed new sustainability and social value policies and strategies. In 2018 I set up Bid Factors to help SME’s to compete for new work and to develop effective engagement strategies. I’ve worked with people from every background to achieve the very best outcomes. I’ve led workshops that have coaxed people out of their shell, stimulated great ideas, trained them to think differently, and mentored them to effective writing and presentation skills. Quite simply, I’ve helped people to achieve their very best.
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