If a decision-maker is considering two, three or more vendors for a project, how does he decide which one is the best choice? The easy — and generally wrong — answer is “lowest price.”
Granted, if it is a simple product, low price indeed may be the deciding factor. However, most businesses are built around providing services as well as products, and this is where multiple decision factors come into play.
Essentially, decisions are made by people when they determine the best match has been made for their needs, within their budget. The challenge for most business-people is to first understand, and second, clearly state what makes their service/product the best match for that prospect.
This is a huge challenge, and most businesspeople fail miserably because they feel compelled to market one-size-fits-all benefit message to prospects. This is a strategy for failure, because every prospect wants to think that s/he is unique or has a special need that only a special vendor can satisfy.
In the book Differentiate or Die, author Jack Trout talks about the critical differentiators that will help a company survive in this era of killer competition. He explains the concept of “unique selling proposition,” also called “value-add” or differentiators.
In the federal and private sector marketplaces, the companies that can clearly identify and tailor specific marketing messages to meet the needs of individual prospects will see greater sales and rapidly rising revenues — even in the face of tough competition.
Well-defined differentiators distill the “what makes you different” into well-worded, concise statements that match the needs of the prospect. One of the simplest differentiators (and the most often ignored) is geographic location. This is important, because most people prefer to do business with someone who is convenient to their location. If your office is located within a 10- (or 30- or 60-) mile radius, state as such. Decision-makers like knowing a vendor can respond quickly, and if the competition is from a different state or region, you can make the short list on that qualifier alone.
Other differentiators may include professional training or certifications, quality assurance standards, patents and trademarks, outstanding service records, impressive project metrics, bonding levels, past projects and awards. Identify specific criteria that match the needs of a prospect to see win ratios dramatically improve.
Read the list below for local firms and their recent federal contracts. If you are not ready to pursue contracts as a prime contractor, consider contacting them for possible subcontract opportunities on these and other contracts.
• A2Z Environmental Group, Baltimore, won a $33,000 contract from the United States Coast Guard for grit removal in the Coast Guard Yard. www.a2zgroup.com/contact.html
• AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, won a $600 million contract from U.S. Special Operations Command Headquarters Procurement Division to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance service in support of U.S. Special Operations Command with the Mid-Endurance Unmanned Aircraft System II. www.aaicorp.com/contact_us/suppliers.html
• Capitol Carbonic Corp., Baltimore, won a $55,200 contract from the National Institute of Standards and Technology for solid carbon dioxide (dry ice). http://capitolcarboniccorp.com/index.cfm?page=contact
• Crockett Facilities Services, Bowie, won a $1,725,240 contract from the General Services Administration for operation and mechanical maintenance at the Prettyman Courthouse and Annex. www.crockett-facilities.com/contact-us.php
• DSM Properties, Columbia, won a $13,440 contract from the United States Coast Guard for pipe covering services.www.dsm.com/en_US/cworld/public/home/pages/contact_general.jsp
• Honeywell Technology Solutions, Columbia, won a $28,979,511 contract from the Specialty Center Acquisition to provide Anti-Terrorism Force Protection (ATFP) ashore global sustainment, including all system-related hardware and software. Services to be provided include corrective and preventative maintenance of the equipment/systems, and the response and resolution of service calls. http://honeywell.com/Pages/contact-us-v1.aspx
• Lawrence Street Industry, Hyattsville, won a $1,557,711 contract from the United States Department of State for trash and debris removal. www.lsindustry.com
• URS Federal, Germantown (with Raytheon, Dulles, Va.; Northrop Grumman, Herndon, Va.; and five other firms) won a $97,361,843 contract from the Fleet Logistics Center for education training products and services for the Naval Education Training Command.www.urscorp.com/About_URS/index.php?s=16
Gloria Berthold Larkin is president of TargetGov in Elkridge. Visit www.targetgov.com or call toll-free 1-866-579-1346 for more information.