The key to new business wins isn’t bribery. But the answer isn’t a million miles away.
B2B markets are competitive.
Organisations must go through bidding/tendering processes to win new contracts.
It involves a number of people and can take years. And then you still only have an equal chance as the rival bidder to win.
Gaining a competitive advantage is difficult.
Getting on the inside of the process, however, isn’t so hard.
Rolls-Royce is one of the UK’s most recognised brands. Building aeroplane engines and luxury cars since the early 1900s.
Recently selling their automotive offering, they now focus on selling turbines and engines for passenger and military jets.
And in the last 28 years they’ve been superbly effective at winning contracts across the globe.
The product, the service, the brand was immaculate.
But something was working in the background to achieve this.
Now, Rolls-Royce has been ordered to pay £671m in settlements.
Because they were hiring “middlemen” to deliver money and gifts to key decision makers. Giving them bags of cash and designer clothes and brand new cars.
They were bribing clients to win contracts.
They were gaining an advantage by getting on the inside of the bidding process.
So these decision makers wouldn’t buy from rival organisations even if there was a business case to do so.
Corruption exists in more places than we expect.
Be it in sport, government or business – people find ways of gaining an advantage by means of bribery.
And they’re mostly caught out.
But there are other ways of gaining an advantage during such a process.
That may be via competitors (focussing on a strength that highlight’s a competitor’s weakness) or through innovation (showcasing examples where you have adapted to difficult and unforeseen scenarios in the past) for example.
It could be even simpler.
And it does involve the decision maker within the organisation you are targeting.
What we’re looking to do is break away from the win-or-lose bidding situation and add something more meaningful to the decision-maker within this process.
Not gifts but experiences. With you always at the centre to create conversations and collaborations within those forming B2B relationships.
1) Identify the person’s goals and values. Can you find something in common? A hobby or even a vulnerability to connect and move the relationship forward.
2) Show that you have that person’s back. Introducing the decision-maker to your friends, family and colleagues works – offer that person more than a transaction.
3) Then provide something meaningful that’s fun and personal. It can be as simple as taking clients for food or on golfing days or sports matches on an ongoing basis.
4) Listen, help and be generous. Proactively doing this works wonders and will get you on the inside track.
But this isn’t a day out.
Organisations should never forget that this is a sales process where all the staff are salespeople.
Who must always look to get on the inside of a potential client if they are to do their jobs as salespeople.
Otherwise, it’s anyone’s game.
Rolls-Royce was gaining an advantage by getting on the inside.
They knew that written bids and presentations didn’t convert.
They had to do more.
They were hiring people external to their organisation, knowing too well that this sort of bribery transaction needed to be dealt with by other people. Because it was illegal.
But gaining an inside track isn’t illegal.
Doing so this way is less democratic and is a little unstable. But that’s the world we live in.
There are other means of getting on the inside of a bidding process by influencing the decision maker ethically.
And doing it in a way that isn’t illegal can reap huge rewards.
Similar to the rewards Rolls-Royce were reaping in.