Soft approach wins

Do you lose out on many of the contracts you prepare bids for? Do you have good relationships with your customers? Do you understand the culture of their business? Are you good at communicating the benefits of your products?

It is easy to dismiss these softer issues that help you win business. For manufacturing companies, technically advanced products, low costs, high quality standards, and innovative engineering are top of the list of skills needed to win contracts.

But as we report this week, there is an elite of superbidder engineering companies – just one in 25 – who win more than three-quarters of the major contracts they pitch for. And they all agree on what they do and how they do it.

The analysis makes compelling reading. The winners all agree on the softer skills – such as personal relationships and clear understanding of a customer’s business – that make a difference.

There are some clear lessons for the engineering community. For example, look at the attention given to understanding a buyer’s business environment. A huge majority of the top bidding companies think they are very good at it, but just a quarter of engineering firms make the grade.