For those of you who have seen the blockbuster movie Minority Report, you will recognise the character here as Agatha, one of three pre-cog characters in the film. Agatha and her two brothers, who lie in a dormant state, can predict crime that will happen in the future. The key to the entire system however is Agatha. Without her there are no visions of future crime. Simply put, she is the main visionary or decision maker and without her the system cannot function. In business, it is much the same. There is always a decision maker. The questions are though, do you know who it is and can you deal directly with them?
Knowing who the decision maker in a company is can sometimes be the difference between winning and losing a tender. Last Friday we were thought this valuable lesson despite our best efforts. It was a very frustrating day as we lost out on a project that we had fully expected to win. From the initial enquiry, to advice on the best approach, to the creation of a detailed fee proposal to follow up emails and phones calls, we were text book in our approach to winning the work. What’s more, at the outset, we were the only company in the running. However, last Friday we were informed by our contact, that the Director of the company had taken the project in another direction. They had appointed a different 3D firm who could offer a different 3D solution within their limited budget. The problem however was that the different 3D solution is one we offer as standard. We were also never informed of the budget. Therefore, surely we should have been afforded the opportunity to re-quote?
The decision to go with another company was wrong on a number of levels but ultimately it boiled down to one fundamental issue. Throughout the entire process we were not dealing with the right person. We thought we were, but we weren’t. The decision maker was never in the equation when it came to our proposal. We were dealing with another person within the company, who in fairness, advised us on the scope of work they had received. So when the decision maker took a look at the bottom line for the initial scope of work they took it upon themselves to research an alternative that would fit within their budget. Unfortunately for us, we were never consulted after this decision was made. Had we dealt with the decision maker directly we are confident that a different outcome would have been reached. At the very least we would have lost the project on equal grounds.
So learn from our experience last Friday and in the future be a bit more like Tom Cruise in Minority Report. His character John Anderton identified the key person to help him and used this to his advantage. Whilst we all try to identify the decision makers in a company, sometimes the straight question needs to be asked. Who is the client and can we have a chat directly with them? Of course it is not always feasible to do so and many decision makers are kept at arm’s length. However, in our opinion, the effort we put in as suppliers to winning work should at the very least warrant contact with the person who will ultimately say yes or no.