Building an effective in-house Price To Win practice
No question, we live in trying economic times. It’s bad enough that Federal budget cuts are the new reality; it’s worse when our elected officials can’t even pass a budget on time. Forget fear and doubt; uncertainty is the big thorn in our collective paws.
For most companies, severe belt tightening has been the response. Benefits are cut; overhead is eliminated; general and administrative expenses are examined through microscopes; insourcing, not outsourcing, becomes the new norm.
Can you build an effective internal price to win practice? Absolutely – if you understand and accept both the benefits and the costs. Here are a few observations from many years of practice…
First, effective PTW efforts require effective research. Is your staff trained in open source research and elicitation techniques? Do you routinely FOIA contracts? What kind of a knowledgebase do you have on hand? Do you maintain contact information for all of the key people in your industry and adjacent spaces? Do staff members religiously record conversations with customers, partners and competitors? Is the responsibility for gathering this information shared across your entire company – and is the resulting data and analysis equally accessible?
Second, effective PTW analysis requires the ability to see both the forest and the trees. PTW results represent clear projections based on accurate data and defensible assumptions. It’s great to have gray beards that can describe how Competitor X has won over the past 40 years – but you also need young turks who can see how these tendencies will be shaped by the dynamics of the current and future marketplace. And can all of these folks work collaboratively? (If so, can we convince them to run for Congress????). PTW is a team sport; one-man-bands can make a lot of noise, but they will never make beautiful music – or help you win.
Third, effective PTW requires repeatable processes and accurate tools to provide the results needed to make informed decisions. Can you consistently produce the 20 answers your executives need before they commit increasingly scarce corporate resources to an opportunity? Can you even define them?
Fourth, effective PTW requires the ability to tell the emperor that he has no clothes – and live to see another sunrise. PTW efforts offer no value if they simply regurgitate safe information everybody knows. Analyses that run counter to your beliefs are uncomfortable, but your ability to effectively respond to them marks the difference between a win and a loss. Does your culture encourage the telling of painful truths, or do you ignore (or worse, shoot) the messenger?
Finally, effective PTW takes time. Like a fine wine, price to win processes, analysis and results mature and improve over time. If you expect immediate success, you will be disappointed – and if you promote that notion, you will likely find yourself on the street.
Effective PTW represents a long-term investment – in knowledge, in processes, and in people. The continuing success of Richter & Company and the handful of other established external PTW firms in today’s market proves the benefit of this investment – for themselves and their clients.