I have had a few contracting opportunities lately where the suppliers have dropped out of the bidding process. Suppliers work long and hard to get the opportunity to compete but when faced with the demands of competing at the corporate level, it is disappointing when suppliers determine they are not ready, especially after the request for proposal process has begun. No matter the reason for withdrawing from the bid, this will impact the supplier not only for this opportunity but most likely future bids.
So before you consider approaching a corporation about doing business, there are a few questions you need to ask yourself:
Do the products or services you offer really fit the needs of this corporation? Before you make contact, do some research and be prepared with a pitch that will effectively explain how you can support that corporation. Don’t contact a corporation just because they have a supplier diversity program and you hope you will be a fit.
In your zeal to win business with a corporation, don’t overstate your capabilities. No supplier can do it all and I am very wary when I encounter a supplier who answers yes to every question I pose when it comes to their competence and proficiency. If you are invited to bid based on an overstatement, it will be a disappointing outcome for everyone involved.
Corporations will research the financial stability of your firm. Are you ready to demonstrate that you have the necessary financial strength to support the service and insurance demands corporations require? If the corporation wants to expand their business with you, do you have the financial backing to grow?
Who currently supplies the corporation with the goods or services you offer, and what makes your firm better? Is your pricing competitive and your service on par? While your status as a certified diverse supplier is valued, bids are awarded based on price and service.
Not all relationships with corporations need to be direct. Second tier provides another avenue that can bring you business. If you are not yet ready to compete at the corporate level, second tier may serve you well.
Before pursuing corporate activity, you may want to consider establishing a track record with other members of your local council. Your local council is your business partner and its members are potential clients, too. Look for opportunities to collaborate by strategically aligning your businesses, buy and sell to each other and where appropriate consider partnerships.
But no matter the size of the company you are looking to do business with, a few general rules apply: be patient, be ready to build a relationship, and be ready with the right products and services.